Here Comes the Storm

You can read all about it here, but right now there the remnants of Typhoon Songda are off the left coast making things very wet and very windy.

While not a hurricane this is a big deal. We haven’t seen anything this bad, in fact, since 2006 when another instance of bombogenesis blew down trees and powerlines during a cold November.

We’re hunkered down for the time being. Electricity and the internet are still working, but I don’t imagine that this will last for too much longer. If you’re in the path of this beast, take it seriously. These are hurricane force winds headed our way, and you live in a place stupid with trees that love to blow down given the least excuse.

I support I-732

This is a no brainer. Seriously, I strongly support I-732, the revenue-neutral carbon tax swap, which will help to reduce Washington State’s greenhouse gas emissions, lessen the regressiveness of our tax system, and serve as a potent bipartisan model of long-term action for the rest of the nation. More information here.

It’s Not About How Strong You Are

I’m going to ask you to pretend for a moment. I’m going to request that you empathize with me and try to imagine yourself within the context of my experience. I’m making this request because recently Donald Trump spoke to a group of Vets.

When people come back from war and combat and they see maybe what the people in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it,” he said.

The implication I and many others took away from this exchange was that some of us are somehow lesser because we can’t cope. Apparently, we lack strength, as if volition and an iron-will would be our only protection.


Now picture yourself laying down on a gurney. It’s one of those nearly solid, foam rubber ones that you find in hospitals. You can feel the cracked vinyl covering through the rough cotton sheet. It’s uncomfortable, but that discomfort is increasingly distant. This isn’t your first time, you’ve been here before. The IV in your arm and the plastic mask situated over your face are taking you very far away from the echoing sounds of nurses and surgeons preparing your body for yet another surgery.

You’ve got misgivings, unresolved concerns, but as the chemical cocktail suppresses your life — a mere breath from death — the drugs obscure all this. You couldn’t struggle even if you wanted to.

Now imagine that some hours into this surgery you’re suddenly awake. This time, it’s not a gentle wash of gasses and counter-agents the anesthetists uses to bring you back. This time, it’s an excruciating pain. Your mind is roused. Your heart races, thumping like a hammer inside your ribs. Bob Marley is blaring from a white and silver boombox in the corner of a room that smells of blood and antiseptic. There are people with instruments and masks at the foot of your bed. Your foot is flayed open. Wrenched open and held that way with metal hooks.

All of your senses are working overtime in an instant.

You scream.

This scream is not an act originating in your conscious mind. You don’t think Oh shit. Now the script says to scream. You just do. For the first time in your life, you experience a primal rage. You express this anger, as a response to the hurt coursing through your body.

Hands push you against the bed. Secrets, and there are many of them, spill from your mouth. Anything to make it stop.

Eventually, they put you out. Ultimately, you move on.

But this experience sticks to your soul, like fallout from a dirty bomb. You don’t know this, not on a conscious level, but you wake up sweating, heart pounding most nights. You can’t hear Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” and not break down in a quaking fear. Your animal brain is consistently coiled and ready to pounce. You leash this part of your mind, but it will push you to rampage despite your best efforts to contain it. Your relationships will crumble in your hands. You’ll add eternal shame to your pile of dysfunction.

Time passes and things will seem to be getting better. One day you’ll wake, you’ll begin your day like any other. Like every other. You’ll walk into the kitchen, bend over to kiss your youngest child and discover that the beast has found a new way to mess with you.

You’ll writhe and convulse on the kitchen floor. You’ve lost control of your mind as much as your body. Soon anti-seizure drugs will conspire to rob you of all the good left in your life. They’ll transform you into a husk of yourself. They’ll suck the color from your life. You’ll abandon hope.

They’ll do this for nearly two years. You’ll know what it means to disassociate. You’ll lose all grasp on reality, experience psychotic episodes, and end up in the ER more times than you can count.

You’ll unravel. You’ll lose your job, have to sell your car, your insurance claims will be denied by the VA and your private provider alike. You’ll spend your retirement trying to figure out exactly what could have gone wrong. Strangers will judge you. They’ll imply that you’re to blame.

Eventually, if you make it through that gauntlet, you’ll only find a little peace as your family struggles to prop you up. You know that they’ll love you despite all this for as long as they can. They don’t understand. You can’t put it into words.

You’ll brave this singular demon accidentally created in the middle of a surgical ward every day, whether you want to or not. Whether you have the energy necessary to confront your beast or not. You’ll do this all day, every day.


This characterizes my struggles with PTSD and later PNES. Yes, there were other events which may have contributed to my condition or subsequently complicated my life. Ultimately, this is what lies at the core of my experience. It’s fear. An animal fear that no amount of will or fortitude can overcome.

In fact, the only relief I’ve ever found from this fear has come in my vulnerability.

I think it’s important that I share this dirty secret because there’s apparently still much misunderstood about PTSD and it’s consequences.

As you probably know, I’m not a fan of Trump, but in this case, not for the reason you’re imagining. I know he tried to show a modicum of sympathy for Veterans suffering from PTSD. In doing so, however, he exposed his chronic lack of empathy. Beyond the very narrow bounds of his experience, Trump seems incapable of imagination.

Combat isn’t the only cause of PTSD.

Effective therapies that help people who have PTSD do not rely on the force of their will or the strength of their character.

PTSD isn’t about weakness.

PTSD isn’t about strength.

Getting Political, Just for a Moment


Okay, yes @NewtGingrich just made a ham-handed reference to Sonic the Hedgehog and his unmemorable buddy Tails. But that’s not the point, is it? Thousands of people are literally lining up at the blender to guzzle this amoral shills asshole-shakes about @RealDonaldTrump. That’s right. @Newtgingrich is our nation’s chief mixologist, his life’s work has been figuring out ways to plop a steaming dump in a blender, hit Frappé and convince Americans that “Yes, hum, I can taste the blueberries.”

Good grief people! It’s your constant desire to gobble down such obvious crap that makes this veteran ashamed he ever stood up in your defence. @RealDonaldTrump is unquestionably a self-possessed liar who couldn’t fix anything wrong with this country any more than he could name all 50 state capitals. Monday’s debate should have proved that to you. No doubt should remain. He couldn’t articulate a plan, not a single one, even when asked directly and coddled by a generous moderator. His ideas all sounded like something an underwear gnome might repeat.

The Underwear Gnome Plan for National Prosperity

The Underwear Gnome Plan for National Prosperity: A @RealDonaldTrump Story

A don’t even get me started on @NewtGingrich because that rabid shit-show of a dog has bitten the Republican hand that feeds it so many times I find it laughable that they haven’t put him down. Any fiscal conservative with even a shred of self-dignity still in their possession should meet anything this man has to say with derisive laughter. And you social conservatives? Good grief people, @NewtGingrich is an unpenitent sinner your own dogma condemns to hell fire and damnation. The simple fact that he doesn’t wear a crimson “A” around his neck is clear evidence that *your* convictions are lacking.

Let me repeat that, you lack the courage of your convictions.

Look, I know that people make mistakes and I’m all for cutting everyone some slack and even offering forgiveness or finding a reconciliation as each case may demand; if only so we can all move forward. And I’d be a lesser person if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that I’ve wronged others on numerous occasions, but here’s the deal. You don’t get to negotiate what is and is not “truth” when you’ve been caught in so many lies. You cannot be allowed to become an arbiter of justice if your advocacy always punches down. And for the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would consider handing the reins of government to an ignominious dolt who returns NULL when asked to provide even a glimpse of his outline for our future.

So, before you elect a madman to the Oval Office on the shitty advice of shitty people, for no other reason than because you “can’t trust Hilary” stop and think about where you’ve previously invested your confidence. Look, as a long-time Democrat with strong progressive leanings I’m not happy with Hilary, but I know she can be counted on to keep things moving. If not toward my personal ideals then at least forward. She has, at a minimum, clearly defined her plans, including the mechanisms she intends to use to achieve these outcomes. Conversely, @RealDonaldTrump has spent the last year and a half appealing to your baser instincts. He’s relied on liars, sinners, and crooks to provide him a veneer of credibility. And when that pretense has been peeled away he’s strong-armed his critics. Eyes on you Ted Cruz.

I’m aware that in the event of a Trump Presidency I’ll find myself up against The Wall. Got that. Ted Cruz and I can enjoy our first and last conversation, blindfolded, sharing a cigarette.

Given supreme executive power, how long do you think it will be before he strong-arms you? The GOP, which so often claims the moral high ground on any issue, remains compassionless and in putting forward people like @RealDonaldTrump they’ve failed their party’s mandate. Their continuing acknowledgement of @NewtGingrich just demonstrates how important those “values” really are.

Taking Responsibility

September, my birth month, has become sort of my Little New-Year. This year I’m starting a new fitness and nutrition program. Revitalizing my interest in endurance sports as well as training for those kinds of events. Renewing my commitment to my family, my friends and myself.

In short, I’m taking responsibility for all the things I influence. I’m taking ownership. This also means I’m going to take more ownership for my artistic vision.

Last night I re-read METAtropolis: Cascadia and this made me realized how far away I’ve gotten from the speculative-fiction vision I started with only a few years back. Yeah, in the last two years I’ve written almost nothing but space opera, a fact of which I’m keenly aware. I’ve been happy writing these stories, but this kind of fiction isn’t really what stokes my coals.

Consequently, even though I have many outstanding projects I’ll still be diligently working on, I’m going to add some more input to my vision. Writing for my perception of “what the market wants” often means abdicating responsibility for what I think it could become. I don’t need to repeat Ford’s Edsel failure to realize a Mustang is what most people would love to drive.

Love Yourself

Recently I was feeling pretty bummed. After a couple of, what felt to me, awkward social encounters I was beating myself up, generally feeling unloved and unloveable and wallowing in the self-pity that comes with that. Then to top it off, I watched a bunch of youtube videos of people rowing across some ocean or another. Adventure porn, but tinged with the understanding that I’ll likely never do those things. I felt like crap and then didn’t do anything to help myself.

What I wanted through all of that was for someone to show me that I mattered to them. An “attaboy” would have sufficed, but an “I love you Dad, ’cause you did blah-blah” would have been better, but neither of these was forthcoming. If I’m honest, I didn’t deserve them anyway. I made dinner, I folded some laundry, I watered some plants. Absolutely nothing noteworthy.

Then evening came, I ran the kiddo through the wash cycle, and Tess put him down for the night. My dog came and rested her fat head on my knee. At first, I was like “Hey, don’t do that. It’s hot, and I don’t want to pet you.” Then, when she started to press her chin into my joint and began to whine, her message made it through my thick skull. “I love you, let’s go for a run.”

I ran with my dog, not too far, but far enough for her. We had a pretty good time. Eventually, round about mile 2, I crawled up out of that pity pit and found that I could love myself once more.

A little triumph and a big reckoning.