12 May 2014 @ 06:58 pm

I tend not to post when I’m depressed. Not because I’m trying to isolate myself–I’m not.

Perhaps it is a symptom of the depression, or perhaps it’s just pragmatism. I figure it’s not interesting unless you’re directly effected by it. My boyfriend? Sure, he wants to know what I’m thinking because it matters to our life together. My mom? Of course. ‘Cause she’s my mom. The handful of friends I talk to on a near daily basis? Yes. My therapist? Well, duh. Aside from that, I don’t normally feel the need to tell people.

There was an interaction that happened over and over again when I was at Fogcon. Some friend I hadn’t seen in a while would start pressing me to come hang out. Meet their kids, meet their new SO, see their new place…  Really pressing. Not in an unkind way. But very emphatic. And I was trying to politely decline, and it just wasn’t working so finally I simply said, “I’ve been depressed lately. I don’t have the bandwidth.”

At which point, the other person would immediately back off. Most were incredibly solicitous and tried to talk with me about my depression and where it was coming from. And I appreciated that, though I didn’t really want to talk about it. And this pattern happened over and over again. Which made me wonder why we think it’s okay to attempt to press people into social interaction. Why is that the default? Why do we suddenly respect a boundary *only* when someone reveals an illness?

I felt like I was doing something wrong in telling people I was depressed. I did it anyway, because I also am in a phase of forcing myself to be blunt, to counteract my usual people-pleasing, conflict-avoiding ways (I’ve been in this phase for two years, and man, it’s hard but worth it). I’m thinking most depressed folks wouldn’t be able to say it. So they’d continue getting socially pressured. And continue feeling trapped. And have no escape. And then be even less willing to go out and interact with groups of people. Thus reinforcing isolation.

I’m lucky. My community is one where people make an effort to understand depression, or social anxiety, or introversion. Also one that doesn’t tend to stigmatize these things. Many communities aren’t. At least people backed off with me once I told them I was depressed. I can’t imagine the nightmare of dealing with people who don’t get it and won’t back off.


Originally published at Stuff and Things. You can comment here or there.

08 April 2014 @ 03:59 pm

So, Cormac and I are doing a start-up (which I will tell you all about at some future date) and we are trying to come up with a studio name. Please vote in the poll.

Here are some of our favoritest options:


Take Our Poll


For context, we’re working on a very character interaction focused RPG (interacting with crew member, building relationships/reputation). If you come up with a new name–and we use it–we will totally Tuckerize you.

Originally published at Stuff and Things. You can comment here or there.


I totally need to write a rant on tentacle porn and the true master race of the world. Totally!

Think about it. All those paintings of fishermen’s wives being sexed up by tentacled sea monsters. How far back do those paintings go? Okay, 1800s. Not that far back. But still. Tentacle porn starting in the 1800s. With the possibility that prior instances may have preceded it (wouldn’t be surprising).

And then there’s Cthulhu. The dark god, destroyer of worlds. Looks like he came into popular literature in the early 1900s. Huh. Wonder what was going on in the world at the time that might have created that kind of zeitgeist.

Tentacle porn

Tentacle porn

Anyway. Powerful, predatory, sensual, sexual squid things (and octopi) exist at the margins of those time periods. Seducing pearl divers on their good days, overwhelming the fragile minds of men on the bad days.

What if, what if…. in reality, we were their servant race. Slave race. Whatever you want to call it. Minions. Peeps. And they ruled the world, and had us two legged things to run around on land arranging things to their content. But then some enemy came, some mysterious enemy came, from which they couldn’t hope to defend themselves. It would be war. Death. Destruction. Human servant peeps tossed this way and that. Messy.

So instead, they all convened–or maybe they didn’t need to convene, maybe they communicated telpathically to each other– and agreed to sink deep under the seas and hide there. For however long it took the danger to pass. Leaving their servants, or slaves depending on whether they were Torries or Whigs, behind above the land. Wandering around kinda aimlessly, not knowing their purpose in life. Trying to find it, trying to come up with meaning and goals, but ultimately feeling kinda lost and confused. Poor little peeps.

And the enemy, it leaves the confused little fellers alone. Maybe it doesn’t know what they are. Maybe it does, and doesn’t care. Why go for abandoned hampsters?

Maybe, in fact, these deep sea tentacled world masters have been in hiding for longer than we know. The truly great stay below, growing into their full strength. The smaller ones serve as spies and scouts to the world above. Where, if they’re small enough, they sometimes get caught, dunked into formaldehyde and then dissected by bored little peeps who, in another reality, would have been serving their every whim. Or getting captured and put in cages by peeps who ought to have been providing some sexings instead of taking notes and babbling.

What if this has been going on for centuries. Millennia. And they’ve erased most of our knowledge of them. Maybe they sank Atlantis.

Maybe, maybe their great enemy is the whales. The largest of the whales. You sometimes see them scarred, with tentacle marks crossing their skin.

Maybe there has been a great battle between the sea behemoths. Maybe we worshipped both once, but the mammalian whales struck marketing gold when they hooked up with the dolphins and sent them out to help the poor stupid two-legs things that keep falling off their boats. They don’t swim so good. Get ‘em out before they pee in the water.

Maybe we have been the unwitting audience, missing the greatest battle of our planet, silently waging on the depths of the sea floor.

And while the gods of our era (squids and whales, kids, squids and whales) engage in their titanic struggles, we little two-legs-peeps-servant things are still trying to figure out our purpose, and we keep poking at shiny rocks that burn, and digging for oil, and putting crap into the air (with no one to tell us not to, since the big guys are underwater and totally ignoring us). And maybe, just maybe, after centuries of struggle, their battle ends in a wash of plastic bottles and pollution.

The great war is ended. What few remain struggle off to hiding places in hopes of healing. In hopes of raising their civilizations again, and finding whichever little fucker it was went and got the whole planet fucked up. And meanwhile, we keep wandering around on land, with our strange hats and shoes and shit, totally unaware of our impending doom, and occasionally giggling over dirty pictures of a cute Japanese diver girl getting sexed up by a bunch of amorous octopi.

Well, until the probe comes and starts wailing in the air over San Francisco and there are no fucking whales left to answer and the giant squid down below are thinking, “Yes! The plan will work. The whales are dead, and now this dumb probe will kill off the walkie-incompetent-peep things–and really, who let them stop worshiping us? That was a totally bad idea. But all we gotta do is chill and relax on our deep sea sofas and divans and wait for life as they know it to go kaput. Then the whole place is ours again. Rock.”

Until, of course, the peeps figure shit out because, man, they did that whole space travel thing in the time that they had no squids to worship, and hey, if you’re going to pick a purpose, building spaceships to fly to the stars is a pretty good one.

And so the peeps ruin it again, and the squids wake to silence as the probe stops wailing and goes away, and that wasn’t quite supposed to happen that way and then they hear it.

The ancient enemy.

Is back.


I guess I can take that rant off the to do list.

Originally published at Stuff and Things. You can comment here or there.

29 January 2014 @ 10:50 am

imagesI am on unemployment. I am on Obamacare. The vast majority of my friends and acquaintances probably feel the same way I do about both of those things: I wish I didn’t need them, but goddamn am I glad they’re there.

This, then, is the profile of someone benefitting from government aid.

  1. College graduate
  2. Masters Degrees (2, and yes, I am proud of that)
  3. Former adjunct professor/lecturer/whatever title means they don’t have to give me benefits
  4. Regularly working contractor in the video game industry, with six years experience
  5. No dependents
  6. White chick
  7. Female in her 30s

I’m not fresh out of college. I’m not new to my field. I’m a middle class white girl with all the privileges and disadvantages that go along with that state (middle class & white = privileges, girl = disadvantages). I’ve worked hard, sometimes for little pay, sometimes for good pay.

When I was teaching, I barely made the equivalent of minimum wage. UCI, USC, and Scripps all paid decently–for the field, but it’s not a field that pays well. The junior colleges… I made less than minimum wage between in-class time, office hours, grading, and lesson planning.

My first year in the game industry, I made twice as much as I made in a decent year of teaching. Six years later, I make twice as much as I made my first year in the game industry. Well, when I’m working. I tend to get contracts that last between 3-9 months. And then I get to go back to job hunting, taking on whatever small projects I can find in the meantime. And I go on unemployment.

You’d think, making 4x the money I made teaching, I’d be doing okay financially. But that’s because you don’t realize I went into debt teaching. It’s not a living wage. I’m not the only one. I remember handing in my resignation and saying, “I’m going into debt doing this.” The response? A sad sigh and, “Yeah, that happens.”

I’m also still paying off my school loans, so that’s $300 a month. As a contractor, I have to pay for my own health insurance. Up until recently, that’s meant I shell out $323 a month in premiums, and another $300-$600 for prescriptions (because the deductible is huge and I’m getting screwed). My half of the rent is $1100 a month. Add in utilities, groceries, car insurance, gas, cell phone, bridge tolls… Most months cost me a minimum of $3000, assuming there are no unexpected expenses and I don’t fill all my prescriptions.

So, I squeak by. Living in Silicon Valley isn’t cheap, but I always have a roommate. I cook for myself, almost never eat out, and have almost no luxury expenditures. Not absolutely none, although buying video games should actually count as part of my job. But then something will happen. My car will break down, I’ll get sick, my mom will get sick, my cat will get sick, unemployment will decide via some arcane procedure not to pay me for two months and then admit it’s their fault and still refuse… sorry, got a little bitter there.


Just one of those things happens, and I’m in the red again. Two of those things… and I have to borrow money from my little brother (which is awesome, in that he’s doing well and likes me enough that he would lend me money, but sucky in that… he’s my little brother, I should be helping him out, not him helping me).

Admittedly, spending the money to save the cat… for a lot of people, that’s ridiculous. But even without the cat, I’d be in trouble. Because of the cost of healthcare.

In the 13 years I’ve been working, only five of those years did I have employer sponsored health insurance. Most of that time, I carried my own. Or was on COBRA. Or I was on an ex-bf’s insurance (which was all of seven months; most of the time, he was on my COBRA).

I have chronic health conditions. Don’t get me wrong, on average I’m pretty healthy. But I have celiac disease (yes, fully diagnosed with biopsies and all) and hypopnea (which is like sleep apnea’s younger cousin, but not quite as obnoxious). Which means I need reliable medical care. I need to be able to see my doctor more than once a year. I need DME (durable medical equipment) coverage. I need regular vitamin absorption tests and bone density scans. I need to get my intestine biopsied every few years. Oh, and since my mom has had breast cancer, I should also be getting regular mammograms. Oh, and don’t forget the sleep studies! Between the hypopnea and a fatal sleep condition running in the family, this matters.

A sleep study can cost as little as $1k out of pocket (yes, that’s the cheap price) but usually will cost upwards of $2k. Then there’s the DME, which is a few hundred a month (depending on which equipment you’re using). I don’t even know the cost of the bone density scan or vitamin absorption tests, just that my insurance insisted I get the biopsy before they’d be willing to pay for either.

I can’t afford to be without health insurance. For the last year, I was paying the aforementioned $323 a month for a crappy health plan that barely covered anything. I was paying $300-$600 a month for prescriptions. The $300 months were when I skipped filling two prescriptions. Don’t tell my doctor. I was paying my therapist out of pocket because my health insurance refused to cover her. My insurance co-pay to see a psychiatrist–$273 per appointment–was higher than the out-of-pocket cost of seeing that same psychiatrist (did I mention it was a craptastic plan? it was a craptastic plan). I skipped the DME entirely for that whole year, instead making do on out of date supplies and hacking things together when I needed to.

On Obamacare? On one of their most expensive plans, that is way, way better than my old craptastic plan? I’m paying about $243 a month. And they cover my therapist. And I have a $10 co-pay for prescriptions. A $15 co-pay to see a psychiatrist. Let’s do the math here:

In a month in which I fill all my prescriptions, see my therapist, and see my psychiatrist (who I do not actually see every month), pre-Obamacare I would have spent $1756. With Obamacare I’m spending $518. That’s a $1238 difference. I’m spending less than 1/3 of what I did before.

Look at that $518, and don’t tell me I’m getting free healthcare. That ain’t free. That’s still a hefty chunk of change. But it’s a lot more doable. Again, for comparison’s sake, let’s show that info in a different form:

Pre-Obamacare = $1756

Post-Obamacare = $518

Difference = $1238

I’m not coasting along on handouts from the government. I’m not living big at the tax-payers’ expense. I’m working my ass off and being as frugal as I can while living in a high-cost city and dealing with chronic medical conditions. I am also paying my taxes without complaint when I have work, because I’m cool with my money helping to pay for unemployment, health care, ambulances, cops, firefighters, and roads.

So, hi. My name is Diana, and I’m on Obamacare.




Originally published at Stuff and Things. You can comment here or there.

15 January 2014 @ 07:39 pm
I've been out of touch. I'll try to be more in touch, but I can't guarantee it.
Current Location: Tortuga
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: Hey, Tomorrow - Jim Croce
15 January 2014 @ 07:07 pm

I love my blender.

Last night I was craving something sweet, but didn’t want to put too much effort in.  And then I discovered I could make pots de creme with my blender. It was really fast. About 10 minutes to make the recipe, and 45 to chill in the fridge.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz baking chocolate (unsweetened)
  • 3/4 cup cream (sub coconut milk for dairy free or paleo)


  • Set the cream to heat on the stove (try to take it off the burner just before boiling)
  • Chop chocolate
  • Mix eggs, honey, vanilla, and espresso powder in the blender
  • Add chocolate
  • Pour hot cream over the chocolate
  • Blend (I used ice cream mode on mine)
  • Pour into ramekins (2 of these guys, or 4 of these)
  • Refrigerate

Using ice cream mode on my BlendTec (have I mentioned I love that thing?), even the un-chilled pots de creme were edible. The blender thickened them up into a very rick chocolate pudding.

This makes for a rich dark chocolate, slightly on the bitter side. You can easily add whipped cream to the finished product if you want it sweeter (or have a significant other who would want it sweeter).

Originally published at Healthy Obsessions. You can comment here or there.


I wrote the supplemental logs for Star Trek Online’s Path to 2409. It covered the time period between the end of Star Trek Nemesis to the beginning of the reboot. This particular interview is with Annika Hansen, better knows as Seven of Nine.

Path to 2409 — 2385

[I meet Annika Hansen in a cafeteria at the Daystrom Institute. Formerly known as Seven of Nine, a Borg drone, Hansen now looks almost completely human. Her residual Borg implants are barely noticeable. She does, however, retain the brevity of words and directness her fellow crewmembers from USS Voyager described. I thank her for joining me today. As is typical for her, she cuts to the chase immediately.]

You wish to ask me about why I left Starfleet.

Yes. You yourself have said that one of your dearest aspirations was to belong to Starfleet. Why, then, did you leave?

Clarification. I wished to be counted among those I admired during my time on Voyager. Admiral Janeway, Captain Chakotay, and several other crewmembers convinced me of the honor and competence of Starfleet. Seeing that to be the case, I wished to also belong to Starfleet. However, I have found that, while many members of Starfleet are indeed quite admirable, the direction Starfleet, as a collective, is taking is neither admirable, honorable, nor competent.

You’re referring to the dissolution of the Borg Task Force last month.

Yes, I am. Starfleet has come to the flawed conclusion that the Borg are no longer a threat simply because the Borg have not attacked us recently.

There have been no signs of the Borg since Voyager’s return in 2378. That’s seven years.

That is nothing. Do you actually believe that seven years, or twenty years, or a hundred years, would be anything more than a brief setback for the Borg? The Borg do not reckon time as humans do. The Borg are not limited by the life spans of individuals. The collective lives on. What one knew, all know. What one remembers, all remember.

Isn’t it possible that Admiral Janeway’s actions destroyed the Borg?

That would be a lovely fairytale. Admiral Janeway’s actions likely destroyed that hub. But the Borg are far wider spread and have contingency plans dating back to before humanity achieved warp speed. We may have delivered a crippling blow, but it was not a killing blow. The Borg still exist. So long as they exist, they will not accept defeat. They persist. They choose a goal and continue until they achieve it. The Borg are infinitely patient. They can afford to be.

I understand that Starfleet may wish they were gone. I do not understand the stubborn refusal to deal with reality. We cannot simply ignore the Borg threat and assume they will not notice us.

The dissolution of the task force was unfortunate and ill conceived. Wishing that the Borg won’t return does not make it so.

So you left Starfleet and came to the Daystrom Institute.

The Daystrom Institute made me an offer long before Starfleet dissolved the task force. I neglected to accept that offer at the time. However, they were perceptive enough to understand the importance of preparing our defenses against the Borg and were amenable when I spoke to them again. They have provided me with all the resources I need to continue my work. We will have the Daystrom Institute to thank for preparing us against Borg attack. Unfortunately, without Starfleet maintaining vigilance, I cannot predict how effective our efforts will be.

What of the young man, Icheb, who I believe you adopted as family? Who was also former Borg. How do you feel about his continuing presence in Starfleet Academy?

That is Icheb’s choice, and I am proud of him for making it.

What do your former crewmates from Voyager think of your predictions?

They listen. They know, just as I do, that the Borg remain a threat.

Do you remain in contact with Captain Chakotay?

I’m afraid I do not see the relevance of your question.

Please, humor me.

Naturally, I remain in contact with most of the crewmembers from Voyager. We all spent a great deal of time together and remain close.

What do you think of the legal case involving the EMH known as the Doctor?

I think it is another example of Starfleet short sightedness. They are ignoring his individuality, and the significance of what this means about sentience, in favor of studying short term technological applications.

That seems like a strange approach coming from you.

Because I was once Borg? I am human, now. I am an individual. I have a better understanding of what that means, and what it means for the Doctor, than any normal human who takes it for granted.

When do you think we’ll see the Borg again?

I cannot predict when, only that it will happen.




Originally published at Diana Sherman. You can comment here or there.

14 March 2013 @ 08:27 am

My grandmother used to tell me a a story about how Uncle Stan sent her 110 red roses on her 50th birthday and a card saying he hoped she lived to 110 (she made it to 95, so, not bad). She would show me the card, even. And then she would ask me what happened. How did a boy like that go from sending his mother 110 red roses to not talking to her?

She would show me the letter my father sent her–the letter that started it all–and ask me what was she supposed to do? What did they (she and Harry) do that gave my father such a horrible childhood? That letter…

My father didn’t tell her he never wanted to speak with her again. He didn’t tell her he didn’t love her anymore. He didn’t tell her to get out of his life. He *did* tell her if she wanted to be a part of his life, things needed to change. She needed to respect his rules when visiting his home. She needed to treat my mother with respect and refrain from criticizing her. She needed to refrain from criticizing him. He asked her to change, to meet him part way. He could have been a hell of a lot more tactful, but he never told her to get out of his life.

She didn’t see that. To her, it was flat out rejection. She wrote him back, disowning him. Whenever my dad tells me about this, he always notes that she hit the typewriter keys so hard, every “o” cut through the paper, leaving empty circles.

The greatest tragedy of my grandmother’s life wasn’t that her sons stopped speaking to her. It wasn’t that her daughter died young. It was that she could never accept responsibility. For anything. Every story, it was someone else’s fault. It was her mother’s fault, or her brother’s fault, or Harry’s fault, or my dad’s fault, or Uncle Stan’s fault, or my fault.

She would ask me why I hadn’t written to her when I was a child. Why hadn’t I called? Why didn’t I try to write?

The first time she asked that, it flabbergasted me. I had no answer. And ever afterward, it was something she would use to guilt-trip me. Even though I did figure out the answer in time, it still worked on me.

I didn’t write her because I was the child. She was the adult.

I was a child who had been told her grandmother opted out of her life. Which was true. If anyone was to change that, it should have been the adult. It should have been the 65 year old, not the 5 year old. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my responsibility. But if it wasn’t her responsibility–which it couldn’t be in her world–it had to belong to someone. So she burdened me with guilt I’d never earned.

She had excuses for why she didn’t try to contact me. “Oh, your father would never have given you the letter.” Except, he would have. And she could have tried, even so.

If she had ever written such a letter during my childhood… I’m fairly certain my father would have tried to reconcile. Because he still wanted to, then. He just needed her to make a gesture. Or she could have given the letter to Kathy, my aunt. Kathy wrote to me. She came to visit. It would have been oh-so-easy for my grandmother to reach out to me through her.

She showed me the telegram Uncle Stan sent her, a few years after my father’s letter. It was only a few lines and, again, it didn’t ask her to get out of his life. Instead it said that he couldn’t talk with her by phone at that time and asked her to write him instead.

She never wrote. Instead she sat back and waited for him to write to her.

You can’t change anything if you never accept responsibility for your own actions. She gave up her sons rather than admit she was responsible for raising them and she’d made mistakes. Lord knows Fang made much worse mistakes in raising her than she did in raising my dad and Uncle Stan. She gave up her sons so she didn’t have to admit the ways she failed them. Was it worth it? Was living the next 40 years of her life without her sons worth being able to throw up her hands and say she didn’t do anything wrong?

My mother told me a story last week, about my uncle and my grandmother. She told me about the time Uncle Stan sent his mother 110 red roses for her birthday. Instead of thanking him for the roses, she complained. She complained that the roses wouldn’t last, they’d all die. She went through all 110 roses picking out the ones that didn’t bloom and went back to the florist, demanding a refund for the unopened buds, so she could get a houseplant.

(More to come)

Originally published at Diana Sherman. You can comment here or there.

06 March 2013 @ 01:08 pm

My grandmother and I went to China the summer I was 23. During that trip, one of our tour guides stopped to talk with me. “I had heard in America young people don’t respect their elders,” he said, “but you take such good care of your grandmother. It must not be the way I heard. Or she must have taken great care of you when you were a child.”

I just smiled and thought to myself, Oh, not even close.

I met my grandmother when I was 22. The first time I saw her was in the baggage claim area of the Miami airport. She was this tiny little termagant, with dyed red hair verging on pink. The first thing she said to me was, “You don’t smoke, do you? Your parents still smoke.” The latter statement really ought to have been a question, since she couldn’t possibly know. She hadn’t spoken to my father since before I was born.

Immediately after that, without giving me a chance to respond, she pointed at my chest and said, “You got those from me.”

She was not the kind of grandmother who baked cookies, or, if she did, you really didn’t want them. She’s the only person I’ve ever known who can make chicken soup from scratch and have it taste like it came from a can. There was a story my father likes to tell about her cooking–my uncle apparently asked for a tuna salad for dinner at some point in his early teens. She dumped out a can of sardines, mashed them with mayonnaise, and plopped that down in front of him saying, “There’s your tuna salad.” And then Uncle Stan ran away from home.

I’m sure it was more complicated than that. I do know that my uncle leaving was a big deal for my father. He left for yeshiva (intense religious school, for those unfamiliar with Jewish culture). His intent was to become a rabbi. Which he never did. Ultimately, he became a screenwriter (a successful one, too). But that’s a different story.

As my father tells it, Uncle Stan left for yeshiva because it was the one place Grandma couldn’t reach him. The yeshiva he went to was so strict, they would never let her enter dressed as she was (either sleeveless or short sleeved dresses). She, of course, wouldn’t budge on her clothing choices for anyone.

If you’re beginning to get the sense she wasn’t an easy person… you’d be right.

There are other stories I’ve been told about her. My grandfather married her, according to my father and my uncle, because she was pregnant with Uncle Stan. According to her, she and Harry eloped because her mother didn’t approve of him. They married in secret and kept it hidden for three months, at which point Fang (which is what my dad and uncle call their grandmother) found the copy of the wedding certificate and kicked her out. She went to live with Harry’s family, and oh! they were so wonderful to her! They were the ones who taught her how to cook and how to keep house. Unfortunately, she lost the wedding certificate and the court where it was registered burnt down. So… Guess who I believe?

According to her, she and Harry had a marvelous relationship. He adored her and it had been love from first sight. She came home from her first date with him and said, “I’m going to marry him.” Fang apparently said something along the lines of “That shusterszun!?” (That shoemaker’s son?!) Fang was not a fan of the idea, clearly.

Uncle Stan apparently bore the brunt of his father’s resentment. There’s a story about how Uncle Stan, when he was 3 or 4, dropped an oatmeal cookie on the floor. Maybe he threw it. The details are fuzzy. Harry took of his belt and made Grandma leave the room and forever after she would say she never knew what happened after that. This is a story my father tells with a grim look on his face right before saying that he was the lucky one. His mother protected him from Harry, but no one protected Stan.

There are so many stories, like the one in which she and Harry snuck out of the house because they didn’t want to tell my father they were going out and deal with him being distressed (as only small children can be) and my father saw them leaving and ran sobbing after their car as they drove away, believing they’d abandoned him.

Then there’s the story of her catching Harry cheating on her and using that to force him into adopting a daughter. They adopted Kathy, who was somewhere between 5 and 7 at the time, I think. My father and Uncle Stan were both away in college at the time, and their parents didn’t tell them about the adoption. Instead they came home during the holidays and discovered they had a new sister.

It was only because of Kathy–because of Kathy’s death, specifically–that I met my grandmother. My father and uncle had both stopped talking with their parents decades prior, but they still talked with Kathy. Sometimes lent her money to get out of a tight spot. Other times got held at gunpoint by her ex-boyfriend trying to track her down. She died of a drug overdose during my senior year of college. Dad and Uncle Stan wanted to to do something to acknowledge her death, but they didn’t want contact with their mother. So they sent the most extravagant flower arrangement they could find for her funeral. My grandmother wrote back saying that if either of her grandchildren wanted to know her, she wanted to know them.

I had always wanted a grandmother. Desperately. So I wrote back.

(There’s more to say, but later.)

Originally published at Diana Sherman. You can comment here or there.

20 February 2013 @ 01:43 pm

I have this pattern. If you’ve known me long enough, you’ve seen it. I’ll religiously submit stories and collect rejection slips, until I get an acceptance. At which point, I stop submitting stories. For a year.

I’ll get an exciting project I really want to do (develop the history of a dark fantasy video game world) and freeze. I’ll have a gig I love, and not be able to focus and get my writing done until the very last minute. I’ll be writing a bi-monthly serial that gets strong responses and an excited fan base, and I’ll come down with writer’s block. I’ll blog about health tracking (years before it hits mainstream), until I start getting 100+ hits a day, and I’ll suddenly have nothing more to say.

This sucks.

Therapy also sucks, in that painful oh-god-I-don’t-want-to-think-about-this-shit kind of way. But it’s useful.

Imagine you’re me. You grow up the child of a pediatrician and a stay-at-home mom. Both of whom have their own baggage. Your main model of professional success is your dad. Let’s look at his life, shall we?

He spends long days at the office, often 12 hours, and comes home exhausted. He has no free time. He’s a perfectionist and insists he has to get everything right and do it all on his own (by the way, you’re going to grow up to be a lot like him). But the business side of it escapes him. He loves the patients and being a good doctor. But he’s not so good at figuring out money. He has no free time to spend with his family or to even develop friendships with people who aren’t either colleagues or related to him. And he’s angry all the time. Who wouldn’t be, living like that?

This, you think, is success.

You look around for other adults who’ve been successful. There’s your mom. Stay-at-home mom isn’t quite what you were looking for, and honestly you’re kinda terrified at the thought of being someone’s parent, but on the whole, she seems a lot happier. She plays with you. She has friends she goes to Dim Sum with. She reads science fiction books, which she then lends you. She does have to put up with dad’s anger outbursts, and those suck. But her life seems richer. Of course, she also tells you never to be like her and be dependent on a man for your living.

So that’s not going to work.

The other examples you have are a professors (who is bitter about, well… everything) or a writer (who is also bitter and has retired at 40 to get away from Hollywood).

Looks like the only option is following in dad’s footsteps. Being miserable and lonely and angry. At which point you conclude you never want to be a grown up, because it clearly sucks.

So success… it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, you *want* to succeed. Your parents want you to succeed and are proud of you when you do. You like selling stories and making a living with your writing. But, but, but… The specter of your father is shaking his head at you. Then, just to put the icing on the cake, he tosses in his oft stated opinion that geniuses die young and are often poorly adjusted (and he tells you the story of a genius he knew who committed suicide).

To sum up: You are required to succeed, but don’t succeed too much because if you’re too good you’ll be miserable and die young, plus succeeding in general means you’re going to be lonely and miserable, so maybe succeeding isn’t such a good idea. But being dependent on someone else is a bad idea, and you’ve kinda been there, done that during a span of unemployment while you were with your ex, and yes, that sucked.

So, go. Figure out your life.


Originally published at Diana Sherman. You can comment here or there.