Monthly Archives: May 2016

werewolf-noises: viergacht: theonion: Friends, Family Admit…

werewolf-noises:

viergacht:

theonion:

Friends, Family Admit They Expected Man’s Mental Breakdown To Look Completely Different

MINNEAPOLIS—Though they had reportedly anticipated his psychological breakdown for the past several months, friends and family members of local man Lucas Whitford acknowledged Wednesday that the mental collapse the 32-year-old billing specialist was currently suffering looked entirely different than what they had expected. “I personally thought he’d be more or less normal, and then one day, when something pushed him over the edge, he’d just snap and have some sort of screaming meltdown in public or something, but it hasn’t been like that at all,” said Whitford’s older brother Samuel, 35, later adding that until recently, he had pictured his high-strung sibling responding to his mounting mental strain by quickly becoming enraged, yelling some paranoid nonsense, and perhaps even needing to be physically restrained, instead of gradually and silently retreating from all interactions with others as he has done over the past two weeks.

More.

Sometimes the Onion just likes to stab you in the gut.

Ouch :/

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Mental Health and Me

If the past year and a half has had a theme for me, it has been understanding mental health and what maintaining good mental health requires. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I have always been a worrier, constantly fretting about bad possibilities and such. When confronted I was always laughed it off with, “I’m a worrier; it’s what I do. It’s my hobby.”

Somewhere along the line I realized that maybe that’s not quite normal. Maybe being in a state of frequent anxiety, lying awake at night worrying about things I can’t change, wasn’t always necessary. It took me a long time to figure this out – years, actually. And it was a big step when I finally talked to my doctor about this a little over a year ago and started on a path to setting myself to rights. I can honestly say it was the right decision, and my life has improved immeasurably since. I admit that sometimes feel guilty concerning myself with self-care, but I need to remind myself that sometimes you need to bail out your own boat before you can sail to assist others.

I have given a lot of thought to stress and anxiety: what causes it, how to avoid it. I am fortunate that my current job, while occasionally stressful, is usually pretty easygoing. Travel is always stressful to me, so after consideration I realized that the smartest thing to do is to do what it takes to lower that stress – TSA Precheck, buying upgrades to premium economy (or first class, if the pricing is right), allowing plenty of time at the airports. This has made it a much more pleasant experience and business travel is much less likely to leave me a total wreck.

Similarly, I’ve given a lot of thought to social interactions. Over the past decade+, the organizational bug has led me to want to plan Big Events – big parties, restaurant outings, that sort of thing. I came to realize that while the sense of accomplishment was great, at the end of things I frequently wasn’t happy. I didn’t get to spend as much time with friends as I would have liked, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and sometimes I was just glad that it was over with. I finally recognized that I was creating stress for myself for no good reason.

From a social standpoint, we shifted to smaller gatherings at our house for dinner. While still a fun organizational challenge, it also allowed for greater interaction with friends and was a more enjoyable experience all around. The downside of this is that we can’t invite all of our friends to every gathering, which invariably means that someone will hear of something going on that they are not invited to. I feel quite guilty about this, because I hate the idea of anyone feeling excluded. The reality is, though, that this is necessary to help keep me balanced. To all of our friends, I can only ask for patience and your understanding. If all goes well, now that we are off the strict dietary program, I hope to make small dinner parties a more frequent occasion at our house and invite a constantly-changing group of friends each time.  (And yes, part of this this is a very long-winded apology in advance lest anyone ever feel left out.)

At conventions, while throwing huge parties has been a thing for us, I have to admit that I’d be OK letting that fall by the wayside as well. Smaller, more laid-back gatherings are more likely to occur. Something that will not change (overall) is Wuffmeet, our annual party. That is our one big fun event and I love helping to organize it. The one thing that must change, though, is finally committing to what we have said that we needed to do for a long time: offloading some of the responsibilities of the event to friends who have said they are willing to help. What this looks like is still to be determined, but it is something that needs to happen.

In all of this you have probably noticed I’m talking about “me” and “I”. What about my husband? Dan has been incredibly supportive through all of this, putting up with my ups and downs, and always helping to keep me grounded. While not a complete introvert, he has introvert tendencies, and I have come to understand that better. We have agreed that keeping our social event planning more limited is something that works well for both of us, and that there are times when it just needs to be us alone doing something together and that’s OK. I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am and how lucky I feel to have wonderful man like him by my side.

So this is where I am right now. I am in a constantly-evolving state, learning what works and what doesn’t, and making changes to my life as necessary. It’s not easy, but I believe in the end I will be happier and more at peace, and those dear to me will be happier as well.

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One more thing…

I edited the original post to include this, but I there was one more thing about M/M romances that I have noticed that I find rather bemusing:

Apparently in M/M romances, there are no tops and there are no bottoms.
Everyone is a switch. Cute in concept, not particularly likely from my
experience. There’s probably some interesting psychology behind this –
authors introducing a notion of equality between partners, perhaps,
although that gets into the problematic question of whether either role
is a sign of dominance or submission. Or maybe they just like to see
everyone having fun in as many ways as possible!

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Some Thoughts After One Year of Reading M/M Romances

I realized yesterday that I bought my first M/M romance book on June 7, 2015. They’ve all been through Amazon Kindle (read using the Kindle app on my iPad or laptop), which is good and bad – good for easy accessibility, bad for impulse buying! While musing about this over the last few days I made some observations:

  • Everyone in this genre is fit, muscle-bound, and well-endowed. As someone in the rather average-to-chubby side of the spectrum this was a little off-putting until I realized that as a gay man, I am not the target demographic for these books. The majority of the market is women writing for women, and as much as women are subjected to ridiculous beauty standards by men I suppose turnabout is fair play, particularly when it comes to fantasizing. And that’s OK – the beauty of reading is I build whatever image of the characters I like in my mind as I read. That said, it would be nice to find something well-written with guys who are average or maybe even a little bearish (which apparently exists!).
  • M/M romance novel covers range from OK to hilariously bad. To whit:

    I’ll assume this is due to self-published works or working with a small publisher of limited means. Since I’m buying ebooks it doesn’t really matter much to me, though I’ve learned to avoid looking at the cover before I read a book’s synopsis.

  • Dreamspinner Press is one of the biggest publishers of M/M Romance out there. They have a lot of good stuff…and a lot of dreck.
  • Goodreads is invaluable for exploring a new genre of fiction, but you can’t take the numerical ratings at face value. I find I need to read the reviews to see what the average reviewer is reading for – it’s often not what I’m looking for in a book. Even so, I’ve been trying to limit my explorations to books/authors whose average reviews run better than 4.0 (out of 5). The pickings are starting to get a little slim. This leads me to…
  • The more narrow the genre, the fewer the possible titles, and the even fewer possible titles worth reading. M/M romance, no problem. M/M Romance/Paranormal, ok but fewer. M/M Romance/Paranormal/Werewolves, you start to really narrow your choices. There are still some gems to be found, though.
  • The fans of each genre on Goodreads have their own jargon and acronyms. For M/M Romance you have things like MC (main character), HEA (happily ever after), Gay For You (GFY). The latter notion (“I’m straight, but I’ll go gay for you”) annoys me slightly because I believe the correct term would be “bisexual” but there’s no point in getting my hackles up over it.
  • I’ve found things that I adore in a book: a drawn-out courtship, good writing, a coherent plot, and likeable characters. I also like well-constructed conflict, though not to the point where everything bad in the world happens to the main characters. Many reviewers dismissively call this “angst” but I think it is an essential storytelling element.
  • Conversely, I’m not a fan of instant-meet-fall-in-love-and-directly-into-bed, more sex than plot, or ridiculous plot developments that only exist for an obvious non-plot related purpose (i.e. introducing a character for the next book in the series).
  • Many books follow a very obvious structure: Introduce characters. Introduce conflict between characters. Resolve conflict between characters. Introduce conflict between characters and outside parties/forces. Resolve conflict between characters and outside parties/forces. Happily ever after. Now, this is certainly not unique to this genre by any means, but this is the first time I’ve seen such blatant examples of plotting by numbers. Good books can follow this slavishly as long as it is well-written and well-plotted.
  • Writing a good first book is the easy part. Writing sequels is more difficult. Writing sequels that include the same characters as the first book and keeping the reader’s interest is really, really hard, particularly if you’ve already wrapped up their story with a Happily Ever After in the first book.
  • Finding one author you really like and working your way through their books is pretty awesome (see also: Amy Lane).
  • I have really enjoyed this year of reading, and I am still learning more about the genre and finding new and interesting authors (and revisiting authors whose other works I’ve read, too!). After taking literally a few decades off from casual reading, I am finding this a welcome and refreshing return to something that I have always deeply enjoyed.
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