Personal Blog/Diary

Here I write about anything and everything.

Work in Progress: Ending finally worked

So I read the ending of my work-in-progress the other night in Writer’s Club.  And they loved it.  It worked.  Our published poet especially loved the final paragraph.

I’ve struggled with that ending for years.  I had trouble working out how it should go, what happened, how much to reveal, when it happened, etc. etc.  I’ve deleted things and changed things and rewritten it a bunch of times.  A while back, I showed a reader three different endings and asked which one she liked best.

This one finally worked.

Now, I’m finishing up the research, basically German culture and language.  I spent several years reading all about Nazi Germany and the decades leading up to it and how people thought; I think at this point I know all I need to know.

I’m bogged down in editing, though, because I struggle to find time to do it, and I’m working on Heinrich’s speech patterns.  I hear Germans all the time on the radio because I listen to Goth/Industrial, but I still have trouble getting it right.  I think next book everybody will be a native English speaker.  argh

In revising my first two books to get them ready for a new platform, the writing of my youth surprised me.  There were amazing passages I’d forgotten all about.  But with “Bismarck” I feel like I’m at the peak of my powers, as they say.  It’s probably because I’ve been running a website and blogging for some 18 years, writing all sorts of things, from political pieces to memoirs, while also reading all sorts of things.

It’s getting there, people.  It’s getting there…..

Description of my work-in-progress: Typing An Unwilling Time-Traveler, a novella I wrote in high school, onto my main website, revived my old passion for that story.  Ever since October 2015, I have been working on a full revision.  The original was about a teenage girl abducted to Nazi Germany by a time-traveler; the new version has become far more complex.  Now woven in are various themes such as narcissism, authoritarian religion, deconstructing from Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism, purity culture, and falling for a Svengali figure.  The themes of a Christian society falling for the lies of an authoritarian state, and how warfare is conducted, are also increasingly relevant to our times.  There are Gothic tropes as well as science fantasy.  You can read about my revisions in my writing blog.

Revisiting: Putin as Antichrist?

A couple of years ago, during the “Trump’s the Antichrist!” fervor on Twitter (sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes serious), I posted the following:

Trump, Putin, and the Antichrist

(I also wrote more on the subject here.)

I noted that people were seeing Antichrist signs in Trump–heck, I was, too–but that Putin seemed a more likely contender.  Of course, as even the Bible notes, you can have a bunch of antichrists before the end of the world (1 John 2:18).  And there are many potentials in the world right now, as we have many authoritarian regimes.  We voted Trump out, and cut off a large part of his power, which hopefully kept him from turning into Antichrist, even as people were revering him as the messiah and King Cyrus.  Of course, this is still up in the air, because he still has so many minions trying to make it easier to steal elections that don’t go in his favor.  But at the moment, he’s relegated to the old man yelling at clouds.

I also noted that even if Putin (or Trump) is the Antichrist, that doesn’t mean the world is ending, because so many Antichrist figures have already passed through this world without it ending.  Hitler sparked WWII and yet the world didn’t end.  But then again, I noted, we now live in a time of nuclear weapons and climate change leading to disaster.  Maybe the end of the world is indeed nigh–especially when that madman in Russia is threatening nuclear war.

Turns out many other people are looking into Putin’s eyes and seeing not a dedicated leader, as Bush did, but a psychopath with no soul, as I’ve seen for many years.

Ever since an article in US News and World Report 20 years ago exposed all the reasons why he could be dangerous in the future, I’ve been wary of him.  And this has been proved out over years of him invading countries, poisoning his enemies, fixing elections, jailing protesters, interfering with other countries’ politics, doing everything that screams “dictator.”  We were warned back in the early 90s of what could happen if the void in former Soviet Russia was not filled quickly with a strong alternative to communism.  In the late 90s, Russians were in poverty.  And look who swooped in and took over.  Now, according to experts such as Fiona Hill, it’s not Soviet Russia he wants to rebuild, but Imperialist Russia.

Now that Putin has invaded a sovereign nation without provocation and is bombing it into submission (and yes, it’s wrong for the US to do it, too), the cries of “Antichrist” are rising.  See the following:

CBN–Who Really Is the Antichrist? Bible Expert Explains After Ukrainian Archbishop Calls Putin the ‘Antichrist of Our Time’

The Bible expert in this article notes the difference between fundie and Orthodox versions of the Antichrist because the archbishop said “of our time” instead of “the End Times.”  He sees the many different antichrist figures throughout history.  But Kinley takes the usual literalist view of the prophecies, which doesn’t give you the full picture of what they’re saying.

With literalism, you miss that many parts of the prophecies were fulfilled a long time ago, or how segments of Revelations are basically an ancient worship service.  You miss how much is metaphor or allegory, and how the same prophecy can be fulfilled in the past, is being fulfilled in the present, and will be fulfilled in the future.  You simply can’t approach them expecting everything to exactly match when it’s talking about beasts with seven heads rising from the sea.  A more metaphorical, allegorical, and liturgical interpretation allows you to see how the Antichrist story plays itself out over and over again throughout history.  The maniacal leader rises up, gets a cult to worship him and act as his religious backer, gains power, crushes his enemies, persecutes the resisters, and finally falls.  Revelations is a primer on how to keep yourself from falling for the next Antichrist.  If people looked at it that way, a lot fewer people would currently be kissing the ring of Trump–or of Putin, for that matter.

Kinley says Putin can’t be the End of Times Antichrist because he uses war to get his way.  But that doesn’t fit my reading of Revelations, for one–the Antichrist is very warlike–and for another, we know that Putin has many dedicated followers.  We hear about dissenters, but from my own personal experiences and the stories of people who know actual Russians, it’s very common for them to think he’s performed a “miracle” in Russia and that Russian propaganda is the truth.  A couple of weeks ago, a dear online friend scolded us all for listening to “state media” when Putin was not invading Ukraine, but working to get rid of a fascist regime!  The Antichrist figure may not start out making war, but first gains the love of his people by turning their lives around.  Hitler did the same thing.

Now for articles about the Orthodox Archbishop who points to Putin as the Antichrist of our time:

THE PATRIARCH’S COMPLICITY IN THE INVASION OF UKRAINE by Igumen Vladimir (Tobin)
Ukrainian bishop says Putin is the ‘Antichrist of our current time’: ‘Against God’s law’
Ukrainian Bishop Calls Putin ‘The Antichrist of Our Current Time’
Ukrainian religious leaders liken Putin to anti-Christ, Hitler
Address by Metropolitan Epiphanius (February 27, 2022) (You can run this through Google Translate.)
The BBC interview with the archbishop (This seems to be it, though “interview” seems generous.  It was just a couple of minutes, halfway through the podcast.)

Update 3/10/22: Evangelicals are getting into it, too: Russia’s war on Ukraine has some Christians wondering: Is this the end of the world?

Update 3/13/22: Articles examining the religious element of the invasion:
War is Evil–So why does religion inspire it?
Next Year in Kyiv?  When it comes to Russian Orthodoxy, Kyiv is essentially Jerusalem.

Sam’s not a catfish: Tell the truth, Sister Wives

Several years ago, I wrote a bunch of posts about trolls invading my blog and Twitter and harassing and/or spying on me because I made friends with their target, S, who they accuse of being a woman named JO instead of a man.  After several years of blogging about abuse and checking out other abuse blogs across the web, I grew to sense the difference between an actual abuse victim telling her story, and a slander site.  There were sites about S set up by the trolls, but they all looked like fake slander sites.  That, and their harassment of anyone with an alternate point of view–their refusal to let anyone come to a different conclusion–looked like high school mean girls trying to turn the whole school against their target.  To this day, they are obsessed, and it’s been seven years at least.  I wanted to see a serious journalistic piece on this, but nobody ever bothered with it but the tabloids, and you know they make crap up all the time.

For years I felt pretty lonely, being the only one sticking up for S, at least that I could see.  Sometimes other people did, but then they’d vanish, driven away by the trolls.  I was the One Who Stood Up to Them.  But now, a lot more people are joining in.  In the intervening years, S has been posting all sorts of podcasts, videos, and now Twitter Spaces.  I’ve spoken with him on the phone.  He has a girlfriend of a few years, and yeah, they’ve actually met!  She repeatedly says they’ve been to each other’s houses and met each other’s children.  I’ve even texted to both of them.

Her real identity is a secret, but a few of us know who she is.  We heard them on podcasts together and got to interact with her and S on Spaces when she still had a Twitter account–and yes, S’s voice is that of a man.  They interact like people who know each other well.

Every now and then they’ll break up, and I’ll think, “Now she’ll start telling everyone that she was catfished.”  But that never happens.  Her story never changes.  They’ve been together as either friends or dating for a few years.

THESE ARE REAL PEOPLE.

S has also met a family friend of the Browns.  The trolls were merciless to her, too, back in ’15 and ’16, but she stood her ground, never changed her story that he’s for real.

Then there’s the businessowner on Yelp who said she set up the tech for his company and they were all nice, especially S.

S just got through yet another spate of troll attacks, new people duped by the trolls and fake hate sites and tabloid stories.  But more people nowadays just aren’t having it.  They yelled back.  They blocked and reported.

You guys do realize that tabloids and “reality” shows are full of fakery, right?  Especially TLC–They should be called The Lying Channel.  Breaking Amish, Amish Mafia–they have a terrible track record of making crap up and telling us that’s “reality.”  For example, one of the Breaking Amish seasons told us that a character (might as well call her that) was a witch with an abusive Amish husband.  She was portrayed as trying to sleep with some of the guys in the group and getting jealous when they didn’t give her attention.  The actress (might as well call her that) was actually just married, and very happily, to her NOT Amish soulmate, and probably wasn’t even a witch.  There have been a lot of other transgressions from that show over the years, which have been attested to by the people on the show, and well documented.

And Sister Wives won’t stop telling us that Meri was “catfished,” though I noticed they stopped using S’s name after he threatened to sue.  Every time the show comes on again (the new season is just finishing up), the trolls come out again, and they used the “catfish” word quite a bit on last week’s episode.  When S does something to draw attention, the trolls come out again.  It’s frustrating for him, as much as he tries and tries to ignore them.  He makes new online friends, the trolls tell them he’s a catfish, and he loses the friends.  He keeps having to show his driver’s license to Twitter staff to prove that he is who he says he is.  Seven years after a painful breakup, he’s still dealing with the aftermath.

I get so sick of it myself, especially since the trolls terrorized me five years ago now, then again four years ago.  I had to stop going to their accounts to report them, because just seeing their tweets (especially if they mentioned me) would send me back into a tailspin into the darkness.  I had to just block them instead.  This time around, I was able to laugh at one of the new trolls, especially when he said that the girlfriend was really a fake catfish account.  He accused yet another person of being a fake account, and she told him the truth, which led to him apologizing.  !!!

Over the years, I’ve seen my own proofs, things I don’t post about.  But aside from meeting, nothing compares to actually talking with a person and someone that person knows in real life.  At least two people confirm that they’ve met him.

Things are getting better now.  It feels good to be vindicated.  Now let’s vindicate S.  Tell the truth, Meri: Make these trolls look to the world like the fools they are, be honest with Kody and your sister wives about what happened between you and S, and move the frick on already.  S is a good guy and deserves peace.

Six years I’ve been following him online, and he’s never been predatory with me.  I’ve gotten answers to many questions.  These trolls, on the other hand, who insist he’s fake, obsess over him, apparently spend every waking hour harassing him and digging up whatever information they can find on his friends.  They send him disgusting pictures, made sexualized comments to the family friend of the Browns, and will even harass any family members or friends they can find of S’s friends.  Even when you don’t want to be found, they will search for you and your private information.  They dug through my blog using the Wayback Machine and VPN’s after I blocked them.  I occasionally get peculiar “friend” requests on social media even though I don’t use my real name out on the Interwebs; one was especially scary and mimicked a friend’s account with bad spelling.  These trolls are the very definition of Stalker, with vile and frightening behavior, yet they keep convincing people that they have the “facts” and are good people just warning others.

I see this happen elsewhere, too.  It seems common among any Twitter account with a bit of fame.  For example, people accuse David Weissman of being a different kind of catfish because of a group of trolls that goes after him.  Groups of people make it their life’s work to harass and stalk and accuse people of awful things, like a group that harassed the guy who plays Jamie on the Outlander TV series.  My favorite online DJ is regularly attacked in the website shoutbox.  Even being a public figure, when everybody knows your full name and sees you on TV, doesn’t protect you from such vileness.  And private citizens certainly don’t all want to put their full names and photographs and drivers’ licenses on the Internet just to prove they are who they say they are!  That doesn’t make them catfish.  You can’t just go to some tabloid or hate site and assume it’s telling you the truth.

If You’re Contemplating Suicide….

I’ve seen a lot of stuff on social media about suicide lately, so–as a person who was tempted by this in the past–I thought I should add my two cents.

I’ve been there.  I’ve been in the depths of despair and thought they’d never end.  I had no weapons, so I contemplated taking a pencil to my wrist or stepping in front of a car.  Or I longed to get some terminal disease.  But I couldn’t actually go through with any of it, fearing that my soul would go to Hell where the torment would never end, and probably thinking of the grief of my parents.  That, and there just wasn’t a way to do it.  Where I was at the time had no means.

I think this happened about three or four times in my life, after losing a friend or boyfriend and feeling devastated.  I still get depressed now and then, though nowadays I can regulate it better than I did back then.  Having NVLD can be very trying for many people, because you have this disorder but present as “normal,” so people think you’re just weird or stubborn or deliberately hurtful or defiant.  It can lead to social ostracism, or at the very least to difficulty making friends and getting along in the world.

But after the first time I felt suicidal, I began to make friends and have fun experiences with them.  I realized that I would have missed out on these things if I’d gone through with my thoughts.  I found a husband, worked, had a baby, wrote books and a blog, had a life.  I still have trouble making friends, and there has been a cycle of them in and out of my life, but I’ve found a few who have stuck around.  Facebook has kept me connected to old ones.  Now, if a friend has trouble with my husband (usually not with me) and drifts out of my life, I do feel the pain and wonder why they left.  But that’s only a few of them.

The more things I experience, the more I realize that I would’ve missed out on all of this if I had given in to suicidal thoughts 30 years ago.  There was another temptation in 2010, but once again, I stuck it out–just kept putting one foot in front of the other–and more good experiences have come.  Now the cause of my depression has flipped, especially during the pandemic as death surrounds us: Now I dread death.  Once I longed for it; now I do whatever I can to keep it away as long as possible.

I also learned–probably related to my Celtic heritage–that life is a wheel: Sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down.  Nothing lasts forever–not the good and not the bad.  I once saw an article that young people have a harder time seeing this, while older people understand it and it helps them get through depressed periods.  But once you get it, it reminds you to stick it out.

Death of friend, politics invading life, Buffy abusing Spike: Catchall

Dealing with several things all at once:

–1: The death of a dear friend of 30 years, the one in my College Memoirs whom I called “Pearl,” my confidante.  It happened two months ago.  But us college friends, the old roommies and InterVarsity people, the group who shared “Journal” e-mails until Facebook arose–we weren’t told.

One of us got re-married in mid-October.  I went to the wedding, disappointed to see that Pearl was not there.

She died later that week.

We last were on her page in September, when she posted about her child.

The Journal group found out around November 18, when somebody went to Pearl’s FB page and then posted what she discovered.

But that day, I was dealing with all sorts of headaches regarding publishing my books, and wasn’t on FB at all.  So I didn’t find out until a week ago Saturday, when I went to her FB to see what she was up to lately.

It took a moment to process the posts about her death, and once I did, I was just–stunned.  Heartbroken.

We were just coming off COVID quarantine when this happened.  (We’re all vaccinated, so COVID was just a bit of a cold that made the Hubby lose his sense of smell for a couple of weeks.)  I’d hoped to go back to church the following day, only to find this late Saturday night.  Instead, I was basically catatonic.

There was a day of deep grief.  Since then I’ve been hit with this intense midlife crisis, the sense of everyone getting older and older even though I could swear we were twenty just a couple of weeks ago, the sense of impending Death.  Same thing happened after my dad died in 2016; this and COVID have intensified it.  I’ll be fine during the day, then get hit with it in the middle of the night, or when I watch a 30-year-old TV show or look at a recent picture of someone from college.

And through it all I miss Pearl, who just isn’t there anymore.

And I wonder what happened.  The family was vague, just said she had health problems and died in her sleep.  I knew about the rheumatoid arthritis; she had that in college.  But all these years, she’d managed, she’d survived various health scares.  I wonder if it was COVID.  She was vaxxed, but there was the RA.  There are also the full ICU beds because of COVID anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers selfishly refusing to take the needs of their neighbors into account.  Did she die of COVID?  Did she die because she couldn’t get needed care because COVID is overwhelming health providers?  Did COVID take yet another friend/family member?  Or was it something else entirely?

Farewell, sweet Pearl….

 

–2: This part is a bit more lighthearted.  While I was away from church pre-vaccine, we somehow acquired a large group of converts.  They were attracted through studying the church intellectually–the same way I was.  But on Sunday I sat with them and discovered a strong sense of Convertitis and Orthodox Triumphalism.

It’s very familiar.  I suffered from it myself 15 years ago, and shared it with Richard, until I began to discover that people in my new church were human, too.

Until my priest said that River of Fire was too polemic and should focus on what’s good in Orthodoxy and not what’s bad in the other churches.

Until I heard somebody yelling at a parish General Assembly.

Until I saw that most people don’t follow the fast strictly, or care about the organ and pews, or even know a lot about their own theology that the converts find so attractive.

Until I began to see the drawbacks even in following the church that claims to be unchanged since the days of the Apostles.

We have our spats and flirting; we don’t just sit all coffee hour opining about the Filioque or hating on other churches.  You’re more likely to talk about gardening or kids or the next fundraiser.

Our new converts praised the church for being so welcoming, while I remember a time when people said the opposite.

My BFF and I are more likely to wear a Prussian uniform (him–this actually happened) or a Gothy top (me) than a prayer rope or a headscarf.

Part of staying Orthodox after the honeymoon period, is accepting that the people are not perfect.

Nowadays when I talk about problems in other churches, it focuses on harm being done by bad theology, or grifters, or abuse–things like that.  It’s about harm being done to the entire Christian body by certain attitudes.  I came to Orthodoxy not to be better than other people, but to stop worrying that nearly everyone alive was destined to end up in Hell.  I came to find a loving God.  I can recognize the good in other churches that are not Orthodox.  I can also recognize that various churches–including Orthodox–can be so obsessed with doctrinal purity that they don’t accept science or life experiences that prove some of their attitudes are wrong.

 

–3: I’m facing a writing club Christmas party today.  Normally I get into these biannual parties.  The conversation used to be interesting.  But lately, it seems like everyone who shows up is retired and I have nothing in common with them, so we sit and talk about very little of interest, if anything, before the food finally comes.  Well, there’s writing, but nobody talks about that, and half the people are spouses who don’t write.

We have liberal members, but we also have a bunch of people who are right-wing religious and/or Trumpers.  Our club party in July ended with a bunch of people getting into an argument about things like CRT, right-wing talking points being flung around, and me hearing a certain loved one’s disturbing attitudes on cultural issues.

I finally got up and walked out of the house.  I was shaken and upset for days, wondering if any of these relationships could survive.  I was finally able to put it out of my head and move on.

I don’t want a repeat of this.

Then last week, after a club meeting, somebody brought up a transgender issue and I became very uncomfortable.  Frickin’ politics ruining frickin’ EVERYTHING.  It makes you not want to leave the house, except even there it isn’t safe.

 

–4: Over the past several years, since we got Hulu, I’ve been rewatching Buffy and Angel, which I hadn’t seen since one pass of re-runs after they went off the air years ago.

Last night, I got to THAT EPISODE of Buffy.  I was so disturbed that I had to google and see if I was the only one to feel this way: Spike trying to rape Buffy was NOT AT ALL in his character.

Apparently that scene was one of the writers exorcising her own demons, because Joss wanted her to do so.  But it just wasn’t something that Spike would’ve done to Buffy.  Another thing that disturbed me was how Buffy had treated him for the past couple of seasons, especially during Season 6.  I guess the writers wanted us to hate Spike, but instead I was upset with Buffy for abusing Spike.  Spike was hardly a saint, doing his own abuse, but she’d punch him, she’d sleep with him and then say he disgusted her and she can’t love him, etc. etc.  Meanwhile, she’s letting her friends say bad things about him, too.

And yes, other people have indeed noticed this.  I found articles written by women complaining that Buffy had become an abuser.  For example: Defending Spike Part 1 and Kristen Smirnov’s Domestic Abuse and Gender Role Reversal in Season 6: My Letter to Mutant Enemy.

The writers were so intent on making us hate Spike, because he was an evil soulless thing, that they did this rape scene–

when the whole time they’d been showing us Spike on a redemption arc even without a soul.  We saw Buffy falling in love with him.  We sympathized with Spike because we saw that he was in love with Buffy and that it was turning him away from evil.

But after showing us this, the writers got mad at the viewers for seeing it clearly, and accused us of being the type to write love letters to serial killers.  It was gaslighting.  Them having Spike try to rape Buffy was like them abusing US now, along with Spike’s character.  They wanted us to think that Xander’s constant snipes at Spike were Xander seeing the situation properly.  They wanted us to agree that Buffy’s self-righteous abuse of Spike was how Good and Decent People™ behave.

While reading “Defending Spike” last night, I realized that Buffy treated Spike exactly the same as Shawn treated me back in college.  And there in black and white, I saw somebody else confirm that yes, this is extremely abusive behavior.  The writer saw it as abusive when a woman does it, and pointed out that a man doing it is clearly seen as an abuser.  And well, Shawn was male.  So hey.  That explains why I always sympathized with Spike here.

Abusers can so get into your head that for years afterward you wonder if you were the actual abuser.  Shawn and Phil (also in college) both did this to me, as did the so-called “friends” who abused me a decade ago, Richard and Tracy.  That’s part of the reason for my memoirs on both college and Richard/Tracy, to try to get into what really happened and sort it out.  It’s a lot of work and reflection.  And the conclusion is that I’m not the abuser at all.  But they can make you think you are, even 30 years later, even when intellectually you know that you were the victim.

And that’s my very-long catchall catchup post.

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