A surprising amount of time went into this low-effort post.
I have learned my lesson and am composing this in an offline text editor (xed for those who care.)
Back in the old days, we’d do these posts that collected a bunch of stuff that didn’t fit anywhere else. This is one of those.
Yesterday, I cleared a lot of debt off the books that Wil From The Past had accrued. I put clothes away, I did the dishes, I went through half a dozen bags and boxes of stuff that I brought home from conventions this year. The biggest thing I did, the thing that most fun and most satisfying, was cleaning my game room from floor to ceiling. I got out the dusting thing and the furniture polish and the fancy vacuum, and I went to work. It took a couple hours, but with the constant companionship of Bony Danza and the occasional visit from Marlowe, those hours flew by. The air is lighter, the protective layer of dust did its job and the bookcases look great.
If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ve seen my high score posts from my arcade machines, right? You know that I have two different multicade machines, and one of them is the “hard” machine. I play Mr. Do! on both machines, and though I’ve always scored higher on the easy machine, playing the higher difficulty is generally more satisfying. I haven’t played much for the last few months (Cyberpunk 2077 attached itself to the Skyrim receptors in my brain and spent 194 hours there), so it was shocking to me that when I sat down for my first game in a long time, I locked into some kind of symbiotic groove with the game and ended up recording my highest high score of all time! ON THE HARD MACHINE!
…or so I thought until I looked at my high score on the easy machine last night, which is 2000 points higher. I left WAY more than 2000 points on the board during my unexpected run. Damn.
I’m doing a TON of Donkey Kong again, too. I’m working on this piece that Donkey Kong is central to, and I desperately want to talk about it, but I’m gonna hold that back so I’m motivated to finish it. (Level 4 elevators though. Fuck me am I right?)
ANYway, back to cleaning. I can’t recall, specifically, how it happened, where it started, but I ended up listening to a whole bunch of early 2000s pop punk and stuff while I unfucked the game room. After I’d shared I think three or four tracks on my Instagram stories, I just went ahead and made a little playlist for anyone who feels that need to put Warped Tour from around 2004 into their ear holes. As I wrote in the description, it’s an incomplete snapshot of a very specific moment in my life, and it makes me happier to listen to than I ever would have expected. Feel free to use it as the foundation for your own curated memories.
Speaking of early pop punk … I have to admit that in the early aughts, the part of me that is a First Wave Punk and Hardcore Kid was mildly disdainful to entirely dismissive of pretty much that entire genre. I felt like it wasn’t serious, that it was about girls and cars instead of ending systemic oppression and fucking shit up. I mean, I wasn’t entirely wrong, but WOW did that guy I was miss out on a lot of fun times as a consequence of that foolishness. As a 50 year-old (nope. still doesn’t feel okay to say that.) I can absolutely ADORE all of it, accept it on its own terms, and allow it to exist alongside Bad Religion and Dead Kennedys. I wish I’d had this maturity when I could have seen all these acts live, in their prime. Well, live and learn and always pick up anyone who falls down in the pit.
Anne and I went to the hockey game last night, and watched the Kings win a game they were supposed to win, which has not been the case as often as it should be this season. I posted a picture from the game like I do, and OF COURSE some dickhead needed to show us his whole ass because we each wear a mask when we are indoors, in public.
I know why this is a whole stupid thing, but I don’t understand it. Yes, dipshit McFuckface made it all political because he is a fuckface, and the single-celled organisms that worship him are dying as fast as they can to own the Libs by deliberately exposing themselves to infectious diseases. (Great job, y’all. I feel SO OWNED.) But I can’t wrap my head around being so fucking stupid that you deliberately make yourself and your family less safe, to make a point that the people you are trying to own could not care less about. I can’t wrap my head around choosing to believe a Fox News personality over an actual doctor or scientist with an actual degree and actual experience and expertise. I just … wow. These people are why there are warnings printed on everything.
So, since I’m already here, I’m going to say this so I can refer to when this happens next time I share a picture of us inside a public place:
When I wear a mask in an indoor public space, I’m not making a political statement. I’m making a choice to protect my health and the health of my family. I’m listening to the advice of experts who are better informed and educated than all of us.
A political statement is something like, “Republicans are fascists and domestic terrorists who don’t care if you die as long as they have power.” Putting on a mask when it’s recommended by every expert who works with public health has nothing to do with my endless contempt and disgust for right wing garbage. Read that as many times as you need to, until you understand the difference.
I realize that it’s VERY important to a lot of extremely stupid people that masking be part of the culture war they’ve been losing my entire lifetime. That’s pathetic, they are pathetic, and I could not care less what they think about me and my personal health choices.
It is a massive waste of time and energy to engage with these people, who only want to waste my time, and yours. I just block them and delete their bullshit, so they have more time to spend with their increasingly worthless not-NFTs.
Can you believe it’s Solstice already? If December crept up on me, Solstice jumped out from behind a hedge and shouted BLESSED YULE MOTHER FUCKER!
I walked Marlowe this morning, and maybe it’s the Yule in the air, but my neighbors were all extra friendly and chatty. I felt … well, I know that I live in a community, right? I know that, intellectually, but I really felt it, and it was just great.
I’m gonna wrap this up with a couple of media recommendations. Anne and I loved Wednesday and The English. We are about halfway through 1899 (loving it) and just started The Recruit (more fun than I expected). I finished my full rewatch of the first eight seasons of The Simpsons (it falls apart for me right at the beginning of S09 and never recovers) late last week. There are a few clunkers, but the worst one is still more entertaining than anything produced during the Zombie Simpsons era.
Okay, Blaine Gretzky needs to get out on the ice, so I’m gonna elbow and send this. Stay healthy, friends. Remember to be kind; everyone is going through something. And rest in Peace, Grimey.
And then it was December. Practically the end of December, in fact. The end of the whole year. That was fast.
I was a few words away from finishing when I realized that, without my noticing it, this thought I’d been drawing out for a little bit had become something I was going to post on my blog.
I haven’t been a blogger for a minute, I thought to myself. I remembered all the times we (the Ur-Bloggers, if you will) wrote the obligatory post about not posting. It was easy to fall off the radar in those days, and staying engaged with people who read whatever we wrote was important. After 20+ years, though, I don’t really feel that urgency.
Back in those days, there were two kinds of bloggers: those who wrote all their posts offline, and those who hadn’t had an entire post eaten by a Netscape crash, yet.
Guess which kind I was when I went to publish my shiny new post?
I can laugh about it now. But at the time, I was really bummed out. I’d put together good thoughts about boundaries and reclaiming something I loved that had been taken from me and perverted into something to hurt me. I had some nice turns of phrase, a good conversational tone that made me feel like I was really doing this writing thing, you know?
This year has been something else, man. I don’t have the stamina at the moment to do a wrap up (for one thing, my arm is killing me from patting myself on the back), but until I do… the first half of this year was all about publishing and promoting and supporting Still Just A Geek.
The second half of this year has been focused almost entirely on self care, therapy, healing, and recovery from all the trauma that the first half stirred up. Lots of therapy every week, lots of homework every night, lots and lots of private writing that I’ll never share with anyone. It’s helping tremendously. I’m healing a lot, but discovering that many wounds go deeper than I knew, or imagined. So there’s a lot of work to do and I’m centering myself and my family while I do it.
I’ve been posting short things on Facebook and Tumblr, and I haven’t missed old school blogging at all, until today. I miss the quick little posts that we’d do before we all moved to Twitter. I miss the lists of links and things that we did before newsletters replaced those posts. I miss the low stakes, when it felt like nobody was watching.
…okay, that’s not exactly true, now that I read it. The stakes were INCREDIBLY high for me back in the day and it was INCREDIBLY important to me that people were watching. But there were long stretches of time when it was just fun. Posts that were just about silly things like pictures of Gary Coleman and KITT, imagined scripts of Robocop as a sitcom, the joy of discovering my voice and where I fit in with other writers. Occasionally starting or participating in a conversation that had positive, meaningful, real consequences in the world. And, of course, a general absence of “Even if we don’t live in the house with the kid who wishes people into the cornfield, his house is in our town, and everything he does affects us no matter how hard we try not to let it oh god we’re all gonna die” in the world.
So in an effort to just kind of take the intense seriousness of it all off the table for a minute, I’m using the most ridiculous theme I could find, to inspire me to just blog like it’s 2003 and nobody’s reading. This post will make less sense in the future, when I change themes again, but if this trick works, it won’t be three months before I post something new here.
This came across my Tumblr and I have thoughts.
I can not remember a time in my life when I felt like the man who was my father loved me. He spent my entire childhood, indeed he spent every day until I ended contact with both my parents when I was in my 40s, bullying and hurting me. Nothing I ever did was good enough for him, and he made sure I knew it.
And my mother, who stole my childhood from me and forced me to work when I was seven, always made me apologize to him when he hurt me.
The very few times I spoke up to defend myself, or tried to say this wasn’t okay, or ever challenged his endless cruelty to me, he would blow up at me, fly into a rage, while she stood by and said nothing. By the time I was in my teens, I recognized this impotent rage for what it was, and I learned how to not react to it. It turns out that passive resistance was effective, I guess, because after he ran out of rage energy, he would pout and sulk. Then he would ignore me for a blissful day or two, before my mother would start the campaign of manipulation to make me apologize to him, because I’d upset him so much. And don’t I love my dad? Nothing is more important than family, Wil. Don’t you love your family?
The thing is, I never did anything wrong. I was never the aggressor. I was a child, reacting to cruelty and bullying from a man I desperately wanted to love me. I never broke any bonds between us, because he never built them in the first place. I watched him forge bonds with my brother, so I knew he was able to give love to his children, he was just choosing to withhold it from me. And my mother’s solution to this was for me to apologize to him more, apologize harder, be more, be better, be the best. Solve the impossible puzzle and I would be loved and valued just like my brother was. It was all on me. I had to do it alone.
I wasted three decades of my life trying to figure out the right way to apologize to that motherfucker so he would finally love me, before I figured out that he will never love me. He made that choice about 50 years ago and nothing I can do will change that, because it was never about me in the first place.
I just realized that my mother never even acknowledged how much, or how frequently, my dad hurt me.
It’s not like she didn’t know. I told her about it a bunch of times, and I know she saw it happen frequently. She was there when he screamed at me, called me names in front of my friends, jabbed me in the sternum with his finger, daring me to stand up for myself. She was there for all of it, and she pretends that none of it ever happened. And if it did, it was my fault.
I tried to confide in her. I tried to enlist my mother to help me deal with my father, and she was unwilling or unable to do a thing to take care of me, her son. I have no memory at all of her ever telling me she was sorry for how I felt when I confided in her, or that it wasn’t my fault, or suggesting that we sit down with him to talk, or anything like that. I can only remember her telling me (directly or by manipulation) that it was my responsibility to somehow win back his favor. She never protected me, never stood up for me, never even acknowledged that what I was experiencing was real. Gaslighted me about it for literal decades after I had realized she was never going to admit that her husband abused her son while she did nothing to stop it.
When he was … I want to say 68? Right before I divorced them, she proudly told me, “Your father is finally working on his empathy…” Okay, she admits he’s never had any empathy, but if I’d just apologized more, you see…
Jesus. What a shitty mom. What a selfish, shitty mom. After everything she took from me, she couldn’t be bothered to stick up for me when I was hurting in my own home. No wonder I spent so much of my life feeling like a thing to them, and not a son.
I know I’m not the only person in the world who has felt or feels this way, and I wonder if I could have saved myself at least some suffering and pain if I’d figured out sooner than I did that he was never going to love me, doesn’t even like me, never made an effort to get to know me, and that none of that has anything to do with me.
It’s hard not to take it personally, but what other choice do I have? I can not repair a bond I never broke, that probably wasn’t even there in the first place, because it has nothing to do with me. It’s just extremely bad luck to be born to a narcissist and his codependent enabler.
I guess I need to remind myself, and anyone else who needs to hear it today, that it isn’t, wasn’t, and will never be about me as a person. He doesn’t even know me, because he never made the effort. He hates me because he hates himself.
It sucks so much, and it’ll never not hurt at least a little bit. But I am doing everything I can to take care of myself, to be the person I needed and deserve. it is so important to remember that it’s not my fault. I didn’t do anything. He made a choice, she made a choice, and they’re both so selfish and emotionally immature, they don’t care how it affected me.
Because it wasn’t and isn’t about me, and I’m going to keep saying that until it stops hurting.
I had a wonderful time at Steel City Comicon this weekend. It was my first time at this particular con, so I didn’t know there was such a huge contingent of horror fans, creators, and vendors who attend.
I love horror, and I was pretty psyched to be in the same place as John Carpenter and Tom Savini, across the street from the Dawn of the Dead mall. Pittsburgh feels like one of the places horror was invented, at least to me.
A number of these horror fans came to see me, and asked me to sign posters and other things from a movie my parents forced me to do when I was 13, called The Curse. I had to tell each of these people that I would not sign anything associated with that movie, because I was abused and exploited during production. The time I spent on that film remains the most traumatizing time of my life, and though I am a 50 year-old man, just typing this now makes my hands shake with remembered fear of a 13 year-old boy who nobody protected, and the absolute fury the 50 year-old man feels toward the people who hurt him.
I told this story in Still Just A Geek, and I’ve talked about it in some podcasts I did on the promo tour, but I’ve never put it out in public like this, in its entirety.
I suspect someone at the publisher would prefer I tease this and hope it drives book sales from people who want to read all of it, but I honestly don’t want to have another weekend like this one where everything is awesome, except the few times people who have no idea (and why should they) put that fucking poster in front of me, and all the fear, abandonment, and trauma come flooding back as I tell them that I won’t sign it, and why.
To their credit, each person was as horrified as they should have been, told me they had no idea (if they didn’t read my book why would they), and quickly put the poster away. They were all understanding. I am grateful for that.
But I really don’t need to tell this story over and over again, so here it is, with a child abuse and exploitation content warning, so I can just tell people to Google it.