The Social Experiment

As some people saw, I released a poll asking what the content of the next update should contain. It was a success in some ways, and a miserable failure in others.

So, why am I calling it a failure if I got some input? I only had 13 votes, and that kind of hurts. It kind of tells me that there is a very small portion of people who read this, and possibly even less that actually care. I DIGRESS! To those 13, thank you. I really do appreciate it!

The winner was the topic “something else”. I have had a recommendation by the amazing Katie Maz (that should be your superhero name) asking me to do a book review. I think that’s a neat idea! There is a catch, however: I haven’t read a book since I ended up in a wheelchair. I would love to, but the damage to my oculare nerve makes it hard to focus on reading. Even typing this, I barely look at the screen, and proofread at the end. Red squiggly lines make that part easy. I will try, regardless. I mean, I will do my favourite book. I remember most of that one pretty well.

Can you guess what my favourite book is? You would be forgiven if you guessed 1984, especially because I yammer on and on about how amazing that book is. No, my top spot is filled by Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. The best part is, even if I read it today, I would still only be able to talk about half of it because it’s so full of twists and false-flags.

The word of the book takes place in a dichotomy of two existences. You have the people of the day: very similar to what we have now, and there are the people of the night: think midnight shift somewhat permanently. The two planes of existence rarely intermingle. Not by any expressed issue that may incur, but by just happenstance. It feels more natural than a government force imposing some sort of anti-mingle rule.

The story follows around the character of the title (Rant) as he experiences the world around him. He is accompanied by a collection of misfits and weirdos that he calls friends. They enjoy destroying things, and lead a very normal (or, “normal”) life.

The book becomes surreal when time travel comes into play. I am NOT going to go any further into the plot because it will ruin parts, but my GOD the path is worth it. To give an example of how convoluted (in the best way ever) this book is, it is NOT a massive spoiler to say that he is his own grandfather.

That’s right: him being his own grandfather is NOT a massive spoiler. More of “well” as opposed to a “NO WAY” when you read it.

The writing style is what you can expect from Chuck Palahniuk. Grotesque, unnecessary, overly descriptive, and completely perfect. One thing that I have championed for a very long time is that he is my favourite author. To call him unique is underselling his works, and also short-changing his very stark look on society.

Like Fight Club before it, this book has a way of looking at society. It is not bluntly chastising, nor does it feel like he is going out of his way to attack. It simply feels like he is focusing on aspects as literary expression as opposed to critical commentary. It’s more of a “this is how things are” as opposed to “look how things are.” The difference is how he doesn’t explain things: doesn’t try to fix them.

I will be keeping the poll open for the next little bit. Vote on it, and if I notice much of an interest, I will adapt.

Your Caring is Showing

I have been keeping quiet with all of the political turmoil going on. Not because I disagree with it, or am worried that someone will not like my point of view, but because I am woefully uninformed and do not wish to spread false information. Some of my friend would say that saying nothing is as bad as being on the wrong side, but I disagree.

To spread propaganda or hate based on ignorance is unacceptable. I have been making efforts to learn as much as I can over the last few weeks simply so I don’t spread false claims and sweeping allegations. Unfortunately, there have been so many reports of events as of late, the knowledge I gain is outdated before I finish learning it.

It got me thinking about sympathy v. empathy. Sympathy is feeling a way about someones situation. Emphathy is more understanding the feelings. So, in the case of the #blacklivesmatter movement, I sympathise greatly. As a disabled adult, I kind of empathise, but I will not pretend that is entirely true. To truly empathise, I would need to go through all the things that are being protested about for a similar, if not the same, length of time.

I have not been able to make it to a rally, though I would love to. I hate that I have seen this bubbling for the last two decades, but the police (especially in some cities in America) have clearly been over-funded. That is a selfish Canadian boy looking through his computer screen making that observation. We are talking about a country that monetized and glorified it’s police tactics by making a reality TV show based on exploits taken.

Personal confounded moment: why are there still so many racists? On that topic, if you’re going to say or do something racist, why not own it? We all see, we all hear, we all feel. There is a difference between accidental racism (saying something out of honest ignorance while having the best of intentions) and just being completely in the wrong. Have you learned NOTHING from WWII?

I get why they say there is no point in fighting irrational hate. I have sat with my keyboard in my lap trying to come up with a second paragraph on my previous point. I have thought about the scientific discoveries and debunking of the past 50 years, I have started mapping out charts and graphs showing how ‘X’ does NOT equal ‘Y’ in this instance. I gave up when I realized that this information is VERY available and far from news. It literally takes IGNORING facts to carry down that road.

Know what? I find it sad that it took the destruction of the world to realize just how wrong we have been about everything for everything to be considered being fixed.

 

Five Paragraphs

The “Five-Paragraph” essay style is just a framework. One cannot rely on that being useful for everything that they do. For example, I tend towards more of a conversation style when I write my blogs. The reason for that is simply that is how my brain works. The five-paragraph setup seems like a decent way to organize thoughts, but it has a few flaws.

One such flaw is that because someone has the intent of going with that style, they beat points into submission. I understand that this is to elaborate on a thought, but it bogs the reader down with information about a topic. Unnecessary details muddy up an otherwise clear purpose, and other points are left with little to no information at all.

It especially hurts the ‘essay’ because the points are all supposed to be mentioned in the initial paragraph. Again, I know that they are supposed to be sussed out in the subsequent words, but it feels redundant. It feels almost patronizing. The worst part is that it inhibits the author from expressing themselves creatively by playing with formatting. If the writer runs out of points for a topic, the reader can expect them to fill the space with text like this, or with recursive thoughts on the points already expressed.

The point of the third paragraph is to drive home the point before the conclusive paragraph is expressed. To force the writer to have another point when they feel like they have already proven their purpose is silly. This paragraph will just waffle about having no real purpose. There is also a good chance that this will be the paragraph with the most grammatical errors. But I digress.

So yes, the five-paragraph system is a bit silly. As a teaching tool, it works pretty well. It expresses the importance of organizing your thoughts, and the importance of planning ahead. To use this method as an adult shows an ongoing issue in regards to planning out ideas. Therefore, I am not saying that we should do away with this concept, but am saying that we should not expect it in every bit of writing. Especially when the writing is informal or opinion.

NOW, FOR ALL OF THAT THE WAY I USUALLY WRITE

So, can we all agree that the five-paragraph way of writing is silly?

It forces the repetition of ideas, stifles any form of opinion, and seriously hampers creativity. As a teaching tool, it’s a great way to start. As a crutch, it stifles ideas by forcing the writer to sit on a point for longer than may be necessary.

Maybe I’m alone in that. There is a good chance that my writing is unattainable and confusing. My language may be obtuse, and my opinions irreverent.

Damnit, there is a very good chance that I just don’t like being told what to do! I am, after all, just an old child. Forever having the mind of a thirteen year old who wants to do what they want to do and you cannot tell them otherwise or you will initiate the flood of hate and malice that comes when I am “forced into a box.”

Hey! I made my previous point in a much shorter line of words!

Anyway, fuck the five-paragraph setup. Fuck rules in writing that stifle creativity and originality. Fuck doing things for other people when you don’t want to.

Wheelchairs are Not a Death Sentence

I was talking to someone a while ago online so they could not see me. It was an old friend who I had not talked to in a number of years. We were talking about how last they heard anything about me, I was about to die. They explained that they were distressed by the news, and they wished they had been able to make it out to show their support to my family when the worst came to pass. They had not kept up with anyone, or looked on social media to see how I was doing. They then notified me that they were going to be in town and asked if they could come by to see me.

Not maliciously, I agreed and they made plans to come by. I was very excited: this was a friend I had not seen since high school. We were never that close, but the exchanges we had were pleasant when they happened. We had gone for coffee about a decade ago, run into each other at concerts, and we worked in close proximity. We never had many mutual friends, and our circles of connections were never close.

When they came to the door, I opened it. Imidiately, they broke down into tears and started murmering “I’m so sorry” between sobs.

I cannot say I was offended. I really did not pay much head until they gestured towards the wheelchair.

“I can’t believe this. You used to stand so proud.”

I was more taken back than offended. The implication that I was not at all the person I was before the wheelchair hurt. The judgement was made before they got to see what I had been doing: before they said more than ten words to me, and before I could even respond. The idea that the chair was a status instead of what it was: an aid.

Wheelchairs are NOT to be a reflection of who you are talking to. Yes, life is more dificult in some ways. Yes, I am in the chair because I cannot walk on my own. No, it is not dictating parts of my life.

To assume that my everything revolves around the chair is rather shallow. It shows a level of disregard for me the person, and a fixation on me the object. I cheated death twice, not being able to walk is only a minor repercussion.

Yes, being in a wheelchair does suck, in some ways. However, it is how I function and get around now. I will not say that it is preferred, but I refuse to bend to it being the worst outcome for any situation. I got out of my brain swelling with only minor brain damage that effected mostly superficial parts of me. I know it sounds bad, but I consider that a win.

No, I cannot work right now, and it sucks. So I write non-fiction to busy myself. To express creative endeavours, I write fiction. I am trying to get published because I know that, with proper support, I can do that. I am not even eluding to accessibility support, I am just terrible at marketing.

Tangent aside, if someone in your life finds themselves in a wheelchair, find out how they feel about it before jumping to condolences and depression. They might be in a good place, or even the best place they have been in for a while.

IMPORTANT [or, the long name; why cripple punk is important]

Today, I did something I should never have done. Today, I looked up the keyword ‘wheelchair’ on Twitter.

Sound innocuous, right? Should just be the occasional stupid thing followed by a bunch of like-minded people discussing wheelchairs, right?

WRONG.

The first page was entirely animals in homemade chairs. Pretty cool designs. Really nifty for the “I love animals” crowd. Then, it was almost a page of tech surrounding wheelchairs. Prototypes, interesting chair designs, cars adapted for wheelchairs… that kind of thing.

I would argue for these kinds of posts existing. They are general knowledge, to an extent. That is not to argue how adorable that puppy is running for, in some cases, the first time in its life.

There was the standard frilly “you can do it” bullshit that seems to be everywhere when dealing with wheelchairs. I get the message, but the words do not fix anything. Plus, it places an unfair standard on those who will never be able to be what you think they should get over. These lines say nothing for those born with physical or mental disabilities…

Again, nice try. The intention is there, and though I personally get frustrated by such public displays, they do not harm anyone. I have never heard someone in a wheelchair get actually offended by these sentiments. Like always, feel free to prove me wrong in comments or whatever.

Then, there was a collection of updates that I was not mentally prepared for, and it corrupted everything I saw prior.

Update after update of companies announcing that they are finally wheelchair accessible. It was all like they wanted a pat on the back or some sort of award for recognizing people as people. It was incredibly hollow and self-serving. People in wheelchairs are, well, people. If you have to MAKE your location wheelchair accessible, you have to MAKE your store/company/whatever usable to a percent of the general public.

Yes, I realize that there in a silly small percent of people in wheelchairs. I will, however, point out that there is a large percent of people with mobility aids. Announcing that your building finally has accessible parking should not effect your bottom line, not having accessible parking should be hurting your bottom line. Finally catching up with the rest of society does not make for a good image. As stupid as it sounds, it’s the wheelchair COMMUNITY. If your place of business is not acceptably accessible, we do talk to one another. We will pass that information to friends, family, and neighbours. We don’t like being patronized, and we REALLY don’t like being singled out because of the wheelchair.

I might be putting my opinion as fact, I am well aware of that. This does not, however, mean that my opinion is only share by me. How many people remain silent because they do not have a soap-box to stand on, or legs to do so?

~a bit of transparency about money

I try to keep the financial side out of this blog for two reasons.

  1. It always feels either preachy or like a plea for something. Either I feel like I am dictating to those who cannot get a foothold, or I am begging for more from the masses. Neither is 100% true, however. Yes, I do want/need help. Don’t we all? Also, it is very hard to get a handle on what exactly is available and what the limits I can push are in those directions.
  2. I HAVE NO IDEA all of the caveats and obligations. Like, if I beg people to gift me something on Patreon, do I have to declare it? Is what I do worthy of donation?Then, I self destruct into a world of “what makes me better than most?” and “what can I offer that no one else can besides this blog?” to which my self-worth gets eroded over time.

Those two point are why I never ask, or beg if you see it that way, for people to donate anything fiscally.

I HAVE (kind of) FOUND WHAT TO DO NOW!

I am on CPPD (Canadian Pension Plan Disability) which gives me just over $800 a month. It sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t break the poverty line. There are no benefits (like insurance) and I have to put the money out for things like my medication, wheelchair, and other necessities. It feels a bit broken, and a bit worthless.

WHY DON’T I JUST GO ONTO ODSP OR ODB?

They require a minimum income available, and look for any reason to not give me a helping hand. Since my wife had a decent job, I lived at home and/or my parents were well off, I was not eligible through the government of Canada for any sort of benefit. I am going to reapply, but the soonest that I can go through wit that is next month and the process takes about a month to complete. In the mean time, I have all three of my meds coming to an end, and I really need new wheels. Which actually segues beautifully into my next point…

DOESN’T THE GOVERNMENT FUND WHEELCHAIRS?

Easy answer is no. Harder answer is “explaining the caveats and bullshit reasons” no.

To get a new chair, the only way to government will put anything towards a replacement is if repairs cost more than a new chair would. If that is the case, the government (through ADP. I don’t know how it works with ODSP since they keep saying ‘no’ when I apply) will pay 75% back AFTER you put the money out for a new chair.If I am not mistaken, wheels are covered on a 5 year cycle (again, AFTER the money has been put out) but I have not looked into that yet.

My purpose for writing this all out is to demonstrate that being in a wheelchair does not create a win-fall financially unlike what I have seen the public assume it does. I cannot have a conventional occupation because of my epilepsy, wheelchair, and various other medical situations. They cannot NOT hire me for any of thees reasons, but maybe I don’t have the education that they like. Maybe my job experience isn’t quite up to their standards. There are many reasons not to hire someone without pointing to their medical and physical limitations.

I have ranted at you long enough. I basically wrote this for a semi-excuse to say PLEASE support me on Patreon. I will never ask for much. There are nine beautiful people on there whom I am forever indebted to.

Books I Read?

In the week before the first short story launches, I thought I would post some of my recommendations for other pieces to read. Now, to not delve into a rabbit hole, I am sticking to one book per author (in cases I love more, I will simply let you know what to read.) and I will also be keeping graphic novels and comic books to myself. There is just simply too many to list, and I do not feel like creating a war around fandoms. I simply do not know enough myself to justify why I would stick to one name or publisher over another. This does not even mention having to dive into the hundreds, if not thousands, of different issues.

1984 by George Orwell
I am going to start this list off with a classic that people have either read, or know out of its impression on the world, as a whole. The description of this horrible world that is too close to the one we live in now is what attracted me to this book. It describes things in our modern world almost too well considering that it was written over 50 years ago. Details are verseral and almost disgusting, but the book always maintains a glimmer of innocence. Please note that I said innocence and not hope. There is little to no hope in the world that is constructed by George Orwell. I love this book.

jPod by Douglas Coupland
Hilarious in the most bizarre way. The book follows a collection of programers at a video game studio based in Vancouver, Canada. With that said, the location does not actually matter all that much, the tale focuses more on the strange, yet relatable, experiences of one member of the tea, n particular.Pot, lesbians, and normality is the bread and butter of this tale, and if that does not even skim the surface of what is in this strange tale.

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
My favourite book, by far. I cannot go too far into spacifics without giving away parts of the plot, because it is hard to pinpoint what exactly is a spoiler. Maybe it is because I know the ending I am saying that, but it is one of those tales that you can figure everything out in the first 100 pages, if you are really good. Disgustng, beautiful, demented, hilarious: this book has everything. I want to recommend it to people who enjoyed Fight Club, but it belongs in Sci-Fi just as much as any other genre.

Wheel of Time by Brandon Sanderson
Fantasty. Next!

Okay, I will put a little effort into this. Think Lord of the Rings without being so impenetrable. It is a series, but it is good enough to keep reading past the first book, yet light enough to make it feel like you are not wasting braincells on trivial details and non-sense. No offence to LOTR fans, I love those book. I am most saying that if you like LOTR, you should have already read these books. If you did NOT like LOTR, I get it: reading those can feel like a never ending slog to figure everything out. Especially when you finish the main trilogy, find out and read the Hobbit, the realize the Silmarillion exists, then the extended universe created by the games and movies…

***

Oh, there are many more, but none stick out like these. This post was inspired by To the Salt of the Sea. She publises some amazing works and I am a huge fan of her. Show her some love, tell her I sent you.

Also, remember that I am publishing a short story on the first, as well as announcing the next piece. Without saying too much, I can say that it is amazing. As soon as I have the first bit fixed to where we are both happy, I will be posting a sampler for you to see.

NEWS ABOUT YOU’RE NOT DEAD
As I was writing this, I got word that it has been two years since I released my first book! With the contract I signed, physical copies will no longer be pressed as of the fifth of July. Digital copies will always be around.

Holy Fish (Shameful Sheep inspired)

  1. Does anyone else have things that autocorrect has changed for the better? Even if it is better in just your mind. My personal favourite was that my phone could never allow me to use such profanity as “fuck” and would therefore always change it to “fish.” It really does change the tone of what you are saying drastically. Usually, it would be for the better. “what the fish?” usually sounds less petty than the proper. Unfortunately, that very phrase can be used at the worst times, making everything you say sound sarcastic and dismissive. “I was just fired” is not a good time to have your phone correct your words for a PG-13 audience.
  2. I owe a couple of people huge apologies. I keep receiving EPs and albums for me to check out, and I always intend to do so. Recently, I have just plain forgotten. When I finally do remember, it is when I am getting another collection of sounds to listen to, then look up and thinkĀ FUCK! [SO & SO] SENT ME SOMETHING LAST NIGHT. I will just simply say that I am so very sorry, and I promise that I will listen to everything over the next few days. As I write this, I am already queuing up two more. That will take my number of forgotten gems down from eight to two. The one is actually from a producer I worked with on the Chance Procedure album, Ryan Prasad. He is a brilliant musician, and I am beyond excited to listen to his new work!
  3. You may have seen the announcement in my last post, but I am going to be giving Patreon supporters who back me more that $10CDN/month a free PDF of what I am working on. I do not think I made it clear enough, so allow me to elaborate. I write a lot of short stories that I do not post anywhere. I do, actually, write more than one of those a month. I am also looking to change my publication strategies over the next little bit. So if you have recommendations for my next step, please pass them along.
  4. I have stolen this whole numbered layout from The Shameful Sheep. I cannot even pretend to be as funny as her, or even remotely funny, but I love her style. If you have not looked over her works, I highly recommend it. She is funny, brilliant, and sarcastic as all hell.
  5. I almost forgot: WordPress wants my monies again. The orginal URL for this site (which is too long and complex for me to remember, let alone type out) has come up for renewal. I have decided against it, and keep getting little notices every time I open this blog up. If you are having a similar issue, please let me know somehow. I am working hard as balls to fix it but seem to have hit a kind of roadblock.

I am sorry for you dealing with it, potentially.

500 words, fuckers!