#iBlog 1, Bookkeeping, Apophenia

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Life changed a lot, and very quickly for me. So I’ve not been doing a lot of writing and other creative work lately.

In the past month, I’ve interviewed for and accepted a job as an associate producer with a video game company based out of Tokyo. It was a completely unexpected situation, honestly. I applied on a complete whim, and wrote it off as a pipe dream. I’d recently accepted a position teaching at an elementary school in my little rural mountain town. Then this studio called me up, we had some of the best interviews I’d ever participated in, and they told me they wanted me to start immediately. I had to leave my new teaching position. I had to relocate to Tokyo on about a week’s notice. Now, I’m adjusting to the new job. I’m making JRPGs for a living, which is one of those things I never thought I’d be able to say. Needless to say, I’m ridiculously excited. Also needless to say, this has been very taxing and stressful. It’s been a huge change, and the adjustment’s taking all my free time.

Now I’m getting a little more comfortable, so I have time to think about some of my solo creative projects. First off, some minor bookkeeping. Thanks to my amazing fans (which I guess you’re probably one if you’re reading this,) I won Long and Short Reviews’ September 2017 non-erotic book of the month with #iHunt. If you haven’t already seen their wonderful review of my book, they gave it GREATER than five stars.

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I’m actually up for another site’s October book of the month award. I’m really excited about this one, because it could net me some great free advertisement. And, as a poor indie author, that kind of thing means a ton. So, if you can, go vote for #iHunt over here.

There’s also a giveaway I’m participating in with a bunch of other great authors. It’ll be taking place between October 13th-19th. You can win a copy of Transylvanian Prince in Southern California, as well as a TON of other cool books. The contest isn’t live, but you can check out the details here.

Now I’ve got all that out of the way, I wanted to give you a little short introspective piece from Lana, the star of #iHunt. I’m calling these shorts #iBlog. I have a few more planned. This one’s about mental health. It’s about drug use. It’s about poverty. It’s about killing monsters.

Things Are Never Allowed Going Right

Humans have a problem called apophenia. It’s the tendency to identify patterns where there are none. Every person experiences apophenia at times. Some factors make groups of people experience similar manifestations. In my neighborhood growing up, everyone was dirt fucking poor. This meant we all sought out patterns in fortune and misfortune.

There’s a common saying that goes, “celebrate small victories.” It’s good general advice. It can help you through slumps, and motivate you to achieve things you otherwise wouldn’t get thanks for. But for poor people, it looks more like, “celebrate the small victories before they’re ripped away from you.” You get that gas station job? Great, celebrate, because in a few months, they’ll blame you when the till comes up short. You finally paid the electric bill on time for once? Great, celebrate, because your paychecks are going to be held up with other bills until the next shut off notice.

This can make a poor community look celebratory and optimistic—it’s not. These are people who have learned to celebrate not having the utilities shut off for another month. They have to, because next month they’ll be begging for extra shifts to get the gas turned back on. Working 40 hours sucks. Working 60 hours without hot water so you have to push yourself through those extra 20 smelling like shit sucks so much harder.

We live in a perpetual state of dreaming, tempered with perpetual harsh truths. At our local community college, they’d post fliers for study abroad programs. For the low low price of $25,000, you can spend a semester in beautiful Ireland! Almost nobody makes $25,000 in a year there, and nobody who goes to community college can swing that kind of cash. It’s like those fliers just exist to give us something to look at, to imagine how if we study hard and get real damned lucky, maybe our kids might get that kind of opportunity.

I feel like we’re a whole generation of people getting by on dreams and false hopes. What if my side hustle really starts paying off? What if I go viral? The only time any of us get our fifteen minutes of fame anymore is when we die from preventable medical conditions and a lack of healthcare, or we’re brutalized by bigots emboldened by modern fascism.

We all self-medicate. We don’t self-medicate because we’re lacking moral fiber—we self-medicate because we need goddamned medicine and we can’t afford the legal shit. We self-medicate because we can’t afford to take a day off to visit a doctor for the prescription. We self-medicate because we can’t trust an industry predicated on turning profits for our health.

Long story short: I do drugs.

Today it’s Thorazine. Technically, that’s “real medicine.” I’ve even been prescribed it as a teenager. Now, I buy it on the streets, because it’s cheaper than dealing with copays, deductibles, and missed work. Also, I can’t afford to keep a diagnosis. Most jobs find out you’re on Thorazine, and they’ll edge you out of the job faster than you can say “I take it for my…”

When I was younger, I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. This is a complicated diagnosis, especially considering I hunt and kill literal monsters for a living. If anyone found out what I do, and my diagnosis, they’d assume I was a character in a shitty exploitation horror movie. They’d assume I was murdering innocent people, thinking they’re monsters. I’ve seen this happen with other hunters—they end up institutionalized or shot by cops. I couldn’t say which is the luckier of the two.

When my brother died, I uncovered the truth about it. A demon was plaguing our community, our trailer park. It caused all sorts of trouble. But for him, it went further. The demon pushed him over the edge. It urged him to hurt people. To hurt us. And when he was worn down to his last nerve, the demon nudged him to attack a cop. I don’t even know if the demon even did that part—by that point, if you looked into his eyes, you knew he wanted to die. He was practically begging for it. Attacking a cop was just a sure-fire way to guarantee he went down.

I uncovered the demon. I learned its name. I found other places where it tore apart other communities. Everyone called me “crazy.” They tried to have me committed. I’d been committed before, there was no fucking way I was going back to that place. That hell. So I ran away. Most kids in my position die on the streets. They’re murdered. They stare. They fall to exposure. They fall to disease. I found a demon hunter willing to take me in and teach me how to kill monsters. I didn’t speak to my family for years after I ran away. Gotta celebrate those small victories, right?

I wish I could explain to the world that this isn’t how schizophrenia works. I wish I could explain that most people who suffer from schizophrenia never actually “see” anything outside the realm of normal reality, or even much of anything, really. I wish I could tell the world that monsters are real, and that some of us devote our lives to stopping the bad ones. I think the world would be more likely to believe in vampires than to stop stigmatizing mental illness.

They’ll never listen. That’s why I’m taking black market Thorazine tonight, so I can safely go out and save the world from monsters.

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