The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal Below are 10 entries, after skipping 10 most recent ones in the "The Ferrett" journal:

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July 2nd, 2014
02:01 pm



WARNING: I’m going to swear a lot in this essay, because that’s what Gordon wants me to do.

Here is a very stupid pet peeve, but it’s actually highlighting shitty data analysis everywhere.

For the fourth time that I’ve seen, someone has gone over the seasons of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, where he storms in and “saves” a failing restaurant, only to show that – shocker – most of these restaurants have gone out of business.  So people go, “Only 40% of the businesses survived, hurr hurr, Gordon must be terrible at this.”

Except a flea’s amount of insight would show you these are terrible fucking numbers, and you should know better.

First off, restaurants are a bad goddamned business.  Most of the restaurants in existence, Gordon Ramsay-enabled or not, don’t make it three years.  So you have to deal with a pretty high fatality rate to begin with.

And then you have to deal with the fact that these restaurants were financially shitholed when Gordon Ramsay showed up.  They weren’t just your “average” restaurant, they were a restaurant that is usually around a hundred thousand in debt.

And then Gordon Ramsay came in.  Was he effective?  I don’t know.  I’m a huge Gordon Ramsay fan, so I like to think he’s effective – but if you’re going to show me an analysis, you can’t just compare against the restaurants themselves.  These aren’t businesses – they’re terminal cancer patients, pretty much doomed to be gone soon without any intervention, so treating them like Gordon should have a 100% win rate is fucking stupid.

What you should do, if you’re trying to do a proper fucking analysis, is find a bunch of restaurants in similar bad shape – say, a over a threshold amount in debt with falling revenue – and track their survival rate over eight years.  Then compare those to Gordon’s assisted restaurants.  The difference is the actual amount Gordon helps.  Yes, Kitchen Nightmares’ save-rate is pretty poor, but one suspects that if you were to examine the “no Ramsay help” vs. “Ramsay help” you’d find that hey, actually there’s a huge gap.

But that would require journalists to do some actual goddamned work as opposed to checking Wikipedia and Yelp, and who can be expected to work that hard?

(And even then, you’d still have the issues that some restaurant owners completely ignored Gordon’s advice and reverted to their old ways weeks afterwards, and still others were so in debt they closed before the show even aired.  Yet even without removing those factors, I still suspect you want a Gordon Ramsay in your failing chefery, not that you can get it any more because goddammit Gordon get back here, I need your Kitchen Nightmares on my reality TV, this is the unkindest closing of all.)

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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09:47 am


Here’s Why I’m An Introvert

A comment from Chess pointed out something interesting about my introversion: online communication doesn’t drain my introvert-batteries.  After a big party, I need to go somewhere quiet to recharge, but during that “quiet” time I’m replying to emails, I’m texting, I’m chatting.

And I realized: it’s because with online communications, I don’t need to monitor body language.

As a teenager, I was a very lonely kid because I didn’t really know how to talk to people.  And what you see here, in this journal, is the moral equivalent of some nerdy teen getting into Monty Python and memorizing every one of their routines – except instead of memorizing all of Monty Python, analyzing How People Work became my nerdy hobby.  So I spent a lot of time really thinking about how conversations worked, manually picking up on all the cues that tell you when someone’s interested and when they’re not, managing the flow and ebbs of conversations.

(Okay, I also memorized all of Monty Python.  BUT REGARDLESS.)

Yet for all of that effort I put in, when I am in public, it’s not a natural habit.  It’s like conducting an orchestra – I’m always glancing from person to person, going Oh, she’s drifting off and He looks like he wants to say something and Good, she laughed at my joke.  I’m weighing and conducting my potential responses, running everything through some algorithm to ensure that I’m not dominating the conversation.

Storytelling is natural to me.  But managing the responses of everyone?  That’s an effort.

I can do it almost subconsciously at this point, thankfully.  But even if I don’t have to explicitly consider all the elements any more, face-to-face socializing is a drain on my resources – to constantly be looking at all those faces and arms and bodies, calculating and recalculating what’s appropriate in this situation – and so after a while I get tired and need to rest.

Which is not every introvert!  My wife, when she’s feeling people-burnt, comes back home and doesn’t want to text, doesn’t want to email, doesn’t want to talk.  To her, I suspect, it’s the act of shaping thoughts into communications that drains her, whereas Mr. Blog here obviously does that without a second thought.

Yet every introvert, I suspect, has some aspect of social interaction which they can do well, but not subconsciously.  You don’t have to think about, say, brushing your teeth in the morning, but you do have to think about tying some new knot you’ve just learned.  And when you expend that kind of energy in something you’ve never quite managed to pick up by rote, it becomes a thing that you need time to recharge from.

For me, I think, if I was less thoughtful then I’d probably be an extrovert.  If I could just charge in and assume that everything was going well, then I’d never need to go home!  I’d be happy to spend time with people!  I like people!  I love people!  And I’d probably be less beloved, because I’d just assume everyone was happy if I was, but what the hell.  I’d be more comfortable in my own skin, instead of constantly thinking of parties as some complex biological organism that must be maintained through an elaborate series of feedback.

Which I do.  But they’re still fun for me.  I promise.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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July 1st, 2014
09:35 am


New Story! Totes By Me! “Four Scenes…” At Fantasy Scroll!

Today, you can read one of my beloved stories - it’s set in Cleveland, a little down the street from me, and it features one of my favorite protagonists.  It’s about time passing by new technologies, and friendships that form and never quite reset again.

This is an Ohio story all the way through, as it was inspired by a visit to a bed-and-breakfast where the owner was one of the first doctors to own an X-Ray.  It was an incredible, miracle machine when it all started, something that nobody could have imagined, and by the end of his career the X-Ray was barely even noticable in the welter of changes that had happened since then.  And Blockbuster was closing at the time, and I realized the little video shops were the same thing: this technological spasm that had started on a ground level as hobbyists, enabled a brief cottage industry of do-it-yourselfers, and then consumed.

So I wrote “Four Scenes From Wieczniak’s Whisk-U-Away, And One Not.”  The obligatory sample:

Have a seat, the two of you, and your little girl. You took a taxi here, as I requested? Oh, good. The mall owner, Mrs. Tiffin, she’s always hounding the police to tow away everyone’s cars. I tell her you’re my customers, travelers, you need a place to park overnight — but no, she claims you’re stealing spaces from the Hallmark store. That’s a valid complaint, I guess, since sometimes people are gone for weeks… but I’d like it to be more convenient for you. When you return, you should just step out of the dimensional gate from Perth, Australia, and into your car and whoosh, you’re home! Not sit around this old place waiting for a cab. But I have a taxi driver — a friend of mine, Gregor. He’ll get you back in a jiffy if you call ahead. He’s a good man. Reliable.

I’ll just put in the adjustments here — it takes a good fifteen minutes for the computer to figure out the mathematics of folding space correctly, even with the assistance of the computer on the other side of the gate….

You can read the rest of the story at Fantasy Scroll Magazine, an exciting new startup that, on its second issue, has already published tales by Mike Resnick, Ken Liu, Alex Shvartsman, and now me.  Watch out for these guys.  And now, read a tale of a small business owner who’s going to watch the world literally move for him

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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June 30th, 2014
10:16 am


I Am Not Celebrating My Birthday This Year

Long-term readers will know what a horrible birthday slut I am: I tell everyone weeks in advance about my birthday, I make up large and unwieldy Greed Lists, and it all culminates in a week-long orgasmic spasm of birthday celebration where large parties are held underneath a canopy of fireworks.

And I don’t feel like that this time around, which should tell you how bad things are at La Casa McJuddMetz.

I’ll probably push off the celebration to my book release parties in October, which will help.  But now?  In the light of Rebecca’s death, I’m feeling very introverted and not at all up to people.  Which is sad.  This is literally the first time in 45 years I haven’t had a big sloppy birthday party, and I hope it’s not some harbinger of the second half of my life.

In the meantime, if you feel like wishing me a happy birthday sometime between now and the Big Day on July 3rd, you can do it by ordering an advance copy of my upcoming novel, which if you’re pissed at Amazon for their recent shenanigans, well, Powell’s and B&N stock it.  Or you can donate to the CureSearch for Children’s Cancer in Rebecca Meyer’s name.

Or just send me some private happiness.  I like happiness.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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10:06 am


The Axis of Awkward: A Psychological Theory

My friend Mishell Baker thinks the introvert/extrovert scale isn’t quite enough.  She thinks there needs to be three scales, none of which have anything to do with liking people:

  • Introvert/Extrovert: Are you drained, or recharged, by hanging around people?  (Introverts are drained.)
  • Shy/Gregarious: How you deal with strangers and acquaintances – will you huddle in the corner, or march right up and say hello?
  • Awkward/Charming: How do you come off once you’re comfortable with people?  (Everyone’s at least a little awkward when they’re uncomfortable, so shy people get the hose here in new situations.)

And I think that’s a pretty respectable set of axes to work off of, because the three are entirely different skills.  I know that I’m charming once I’ve gotten to know people, but I am criminally shy, and as a result I won’t talk to people I don’t know well unless specifically invited.

Basically, I’m an introvert/shy/charming person, which means that once you get me in a room where I’m comfortable I’ll usually come off quite well, and then retreat to my lurky-place after a few hours.  But we’ve all known extrovert/gregarious/awkward people, who have no idea that they’re not particularly wanted in this conversation but boy howdy are they confident about inserting themselves into it.

Which is a problem with this trifold axis: it’s one internal measurement that doesn’t matter at all to your friends but matters to you deeply in terms of how you have to husband your energy, one objective measurement, and one measurement that’s determined entirely of an average of how people react to you.  And you may misrepresent yourself on that awkward/charming axis.  Internally I see myself as awkward, but I’ve gotten enough positive feedback over the years to know that most of the time I come off okay.  But a lot of people see themselves as “charming” when they are not.

Mishell also points out the living hell of the extrovert/shy lifestyle, where you absolutely need people around to function but are too nervous to talk to them.  The gregarious introvert, on the other hand, sometimes gets a rep as “weird and moody” because hey, they walked up to you and started a conversation, and now they’re retreating to their office and slamming the door now that their introvert batteries are drained.

The other interesting thing here is how on one level this trifecta is as utterly useless as simplified as a Meyers-Briggs exam, and yet on another level it’s a good shorthand for crystallizing some concepts you may not yet have internalized.  I know my life got better when I started recognizing that “introvert” did not mean “hates people,” and I think adding the range of “shy/gregarious” to the mix focuses my attention on the ways that I need to interact.  Being introvert/shy/charming, I know that I have to plan out parties in advance so that someone I know is there to introduce me around, and introduce me enthusiastically enough that other people will want to talk to me.  Once that ice is broken, I’m okay until about 1:00 a.m., at which point I’m going to run out of fuel and crash.

And that’s okay.  That’s just knowing how I work as a person.

Maybe there are other useful axes, but I think past a certain point the axes pile up and you get more accuracy at the expense of usefulness – which is to say that it becomes one of those indecipherable “geek codes” where someone’s a WMAKTRMA2BLP that summarizes every fandom they’re excited about and yet nobody knows what the fuck it means but them.  I think you could have one more useful axis on this trifecta, but it’d have to be an axis that doesn’t intersect the others at all.  And hell, maybe it’s useful as-is.

In any case, I know I’m introverted/shy/charming.  That helps me know what I need to do to come off as well as I possibly can.  It works.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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June 27th, 2014
01:40 pm


This May Be The Best Way To Get Cleveland’s Sports Teams To Stop Sucking

From the Cuyahoga County email:

Cleveland is the only city in the country with three major sports teams that hasn’t won a championship in the last 50 years, and second place, Oakland, isn’t even close because they won a World Series 25 years ago. And each year, Cuyahoga County taxpayers provide millions of dollars to benefit our three major sports facilities and the teams that play there.

That’s why I recently announced that I will be submitting legislation to County Council to establish a “Win Tax” bonus that links 20% of public funding for our sports facilities to how a team performs on-the-field. No fans wear their hearts on their sleeves like Browns, Cavs, and Indians fans, and it’s important that we create financial incentives that to ensure the teams that perform well each season are rewarded.

We’re going to continue discussing this issue in the weeks ahead, and I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me. Visit my Facebook page or Tweet @EdFitzGeraldCE to let me know what you think.

I gotta say, I don’t care about sports but I think this is a great idea.  From my non-sportsing perspective, all I ever see is “Oh, we got close this year” followed by “Our team’s owners sold off all the good players, what the fuck?” And considering that my taxes go to subsidizing huge investments that are supposedly tourist attractions, I’d like some incentive that the owners want to win.

I know nothing more of the Win Tax beyond what’s been stated here, and obviously legislation is all about the fine details.  But I like the idea of it.  And I’m curious what sports fans think.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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11:59 am


My Wife And I Discuss Pacific Rim

ME: “…And then Angie left this comment: ‘Yeah, the movie started and I was all “why don’t they just….how come they don’t…” and Ferrett said, “you are going to have to stop thinking if you’re going to enjoy this movie”. And I did. And i did.’”

GINI: “I don’t know why Angie thought Pacific Rim had issues. I mean, creating a giant wall that’s actually shorter than the monsters they’re trying to keep out?  At what kind of cost and expense?  How could that ever go wrong?”

ME: “Well, Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican director.  One suspects subtext.”

GINI (ponders): “Wow. I hadn’t considered that.”

ME: “Of course, it then follows that Del Toro thinks the best solution to American’s immigration problem is to suit up in giant SWAT team outfits and punch Mexicans in the face.”

GINI: “No, that’s a stopgap solution. Del Toro thinks the best solution is to nuke the border.”

ME (ponders): “…I love you.”

GINI: “I know.”

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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10:26 am


It’s Interesting, How I Work

People don’t think I’m an introvert.  But it is true.

Partially, that’s because people don’t get introverts.  They think, “Oh, introverts don’t like people,” but in truth, we introverts like people like tennis players love playing tennis: it’s great fun for an hour.  Maybe if you’re into it, you can go all afternoon.  But the idea of playing tennis twelve hours a day, seven days a week is fucking exhausting, a seemingly superhuman feat of endurance, and at some point you have to go plop in front of the couch and rest up for the next match.

It’s not that we don’t like people; it’s just that being around you involves putting out effort.  And so we have to utilize our socialization sparingly.

But that’s also partially because I seem comfortable at conventions and large parties.  I have zero problems speaking impromptu before large crowds.  In fact, I remember a friend of mine drunkenly accosting me at a convention, poking me in the arm jovially and saying, “You know, you are a liar.”

“How did I lie?” I asked, shocked.

You said,” he told me, sloshing his drink at me, “That you were lonely at conventions, and that anyone should feel free to say hello to you.  And here you are!”  He pointed at the four people I was engaged with in happy conversations, the pretty woman who was hugging me because I’d told her snuggles made me feel better.  “Every time I have seen you at this con, you have been surrounded by people!”

This was true.

It was also a sign of desperation.

I got really pissy at someone last week because they said, “Ferrett always makes himself look good in his essays.”  That was probably the maddest at any comment I’ve gotten in the last month, and that’s a month of dealing with douchy Alpha Male Men’s Rights Advocates popping by to pick fights.  Because I’m always shocked when people don’t get it.

This whole blog is basically spackling over some rather deep psychological flaws.

Because, yeah, I am lonely at conventions.  I freeze when asked to talk to strangers.  I freeze when asked to talk to friends, as unless you say “hello” to me I’m not only convinced that you don’t remember me, but I am convinced you probably do remember me and dislike me intensely.  I am totally dysfunctional when it comes to speaking to new people.

Yet I have a blog.

And I yammer on on various topics, and invite people into my little huddled cave of conversation here – a place I control, and can leave whenever I see fit, a perfect place for a socially anxious introvert – and slowly, by discussing my personal life with flair and consistency, y’all feel like you come to know me.

So when I go to conventions, people know me far more than they would if I actually had to meet them in person.  They wave me over to join them, because we’ve exchanged comments, and because they know from essays like this just how fucking neurotic I am, and even though I’ve only said hello to them once briefly at a con in 2011, we are now friends on some level that brings me comfort.

I am lonely at conventions.  But because I have a large online presence, it compensates.  I broadcast to the world, “Oh, hey, guys, if you see me please say hello because I’m stupidly paranoid,” and some people are kind enough to have heard my announcements and as such go out of their way to invite me out specifically, and then I can be happy and bouncy and tell my silly stories.

Yet that trick doesn’t work with people who don’t follow me.  There’s a Big-Name Author who I’ve met at conventions at least ten times, who taught a class I attended, who has never been anything other than kind and courteous to me in real life – and yet I can’t talk to him because he doesn’t follow me on Twitter, and as such I’m just this schlub to him, and even though he’s occasionally even waved hello at me, talking to him without him initiating the conversation is like trying to push past a wall of my own terrors.

My friends have ribbed me for this.  They are correct to.  Because really, why should I be afraid to talk to this guy?

Because he hasn’t interacted with me in the format of my choosing.

And that, my friends, is why I get a little pissy when people go, “Oh, Ferrett always makes himself look awesome.”  Even if I did do that – and I think the simplest Google search will pull up several instances of me being a total asshole – anyone who’s been reading me for a while knows that honestly, The Blog is my very introverted and skewed way of interacting with the world.  It’s not a bad thing, the blog – in fact, it’s a total positive for me on the whole, because I’ve tried to get around my social anxieties for thirty-plus years and have determined that like many deeply-embedded issues, it’s easier to do an end-run around the central problem than try to demolish a mountain with a sledgehammer.

Yet still.  The blog is basically an admission of failure.  You could call this whole thing FERRETT’S OVERCOMPENSATION, and you wouldn’t be too wrong.  Thankfully, I’ve got a nice voice, and a lot of people seem to think what I say is generally sensible and/or entertaining, so it works.

But behind the scenes?  You don’t have to look too far to see the duct tape and baling wire holding my personality together.  The blog’s brought a lot of benefits, but like a lot of showmen, if I was a quote-unquote “normal” person without problems, I wouldn’t need this stage at all.

The stage is a benefit.  But it’d be awfully nice just to be able to walk up to someone I’d met once, and never met again, and do that salesman’s-confidence trick of going, “Hi, I’m Ferrett, we met once in Birmingham?” without having to psych myself up for an hour first.

As it is: I have this.  And thank you, thank you, for stepping aboard.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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June 26th, 2014
10:17 am


Fuckin’ Congress, How Do They Work?

So I saw this photo posted to Twitter the other day:

Scumbag Congress

And it’s the exact kind of thing I should be suspicious of.

Not just because it’s a photo of an unsourced empty room that could ave been taken at any time – I have only this anonymous captioner’s word that this is, indeed, a Congressional hearing.  (Also see: all those annoying photos of “200,000 people showed up to this rally last weekend, and no one cared!” where all the trees are autumn-brown and the photo is actually from 2010.)  No, I’ll believe that this is a Congressional hearing on unemployment.

The question is, which hearing?

I’m prone to believing this because hey, I think Congress is fucking useless when it comes to unemployment, and I’m perfectly willing to believe that no Congressman really cares.  That’s my bias.  But before I mindlessly Retweeted this, I thought, “You know, Congress has a lot of goddamned hearings.  Some percentage of them are pretty useless, just rehashing facts we know before.”

And I thought about my career, and how many stupid fucking “Let’s discuss this issue again” meetings I would have skipped if my boss hasn’t made me go.

The problem with Congress is that, as Joe Schmuck, I don’t actually know what works.  I can bitch all I like that Obama should have gone for single-payer Health Care, but if you asked me, “So who should he have talked to to make that happen?” I wouldn’t have one name.  I know some subcommittees are useless busy work and others get shit done, but I don’t know which ones are the good ones, or even what the difference between “useless” and “funding” means.  I have zero idea how lobbyists work, or how to pressure Congressmen.

I am fucking clueless.

And so when I’m presented with this “evidence” that Congress doesn’t care, well, it fits with my established bias, but I don’t actually know whether this is actually true.  This could have been a photo taken from a who-gives-a-shit rehash hearing where dour people show up to go, “Yeah, it’s bad.”  Is this the meeting where unemployment would have been miraculously solved if all the members had shown up?

Doubtful.  Maybe.  But doubtful.

Now, I’m content in my biases.  I’m pretty sure if unemployment were a major concern of Congress, we’d see a lot more action on it, like the programs of the Depression.  And I’m not saying Congress doesn’t care entirely, it’s just that when you make a list, “unemployment” falls somewhere below gerrymandering and impeaching Obama.

But would this meeting have solved shit?  No idea.  Is my Congressman good at what he does?  No idea.  What metrics should I use to determine how things should get done, and to vote my Congressman out on any other level aside from “Democrat good, Republican bad”?

No idea. And that’s the problem.

I’m part of the problem.  Even if, you know, it’s understandable that I don’t want to acquire so much knowledge about politics that I might as well become a politician.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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09:53 am


No, I Am Clingy.

I’m the kind of guy who needs to hear “I love you” every five minutes. The kind of guy who, whenever you go out on a date, I’m going to be paranoid all evening long that this is over, once you’ve got a taste of him (or her), it’s over for me. The kind of guy who, when you don’t text for three days, assumes you’re either dead or have quietly broken up with me.

And I am here to tell you that you should not reassure me.

Okay, you should. In carefully doled-out segments. But handing me all the reassurance in the world isn’t going to fix the problem. Tell me you love me every five minutes? Well, I’ll need to hear it every three minutes. Then every one. Then every thirty seconds.

I am a bottomless pit of need, and goddammit, I need to self-soothe.

Look. I’m all for talking to your partners about love and what you need, but there’s a flip side of handling jealousy and strife that doesn’t get mentioned enough, and that is that sometimes in any relationship, you get to sit and be uncomfortable for a while.

That’s your job, to be a little dissatisfied on occasion. Sometimes your partner is going to do things that make you feel unloved, and upon dissection it turns out that s/he didn’t do anything wrong, that’s just you getting butt-hurt because inside, you have this dripping hole of unworthiness that doesn’t heal over.

(Cue people saying, “…but I never feel that way!” That’s awesome. You should then be able to cue into the fact that this wasn’t written for you. Move along.)

And if you, the eternally unworthy, are ever going to have a functional relationship, you cannot expect your partner to spackle over that trembling ball of uncertainty. If you do, you will drain them dry with constant requests, and they will come to think of you as more of a chore than fun-times, and eventually they’ll probably go. (And even if they don’t, I assure you, dating someone who sees you as an onerous duty isn’t half as good as someone who sees you as mainly happy fun-times with the occasional downside.)

Sometimes, your job is to go, “Hey, am I overreacting?” And sometimes – often – you are. And then it’s your job to go, “Since this is me overreacting, is there any way I can handle this without dragging her down?” And sometimes the answer is no, and you have to ask.

But every time you ask for reassurance, you’re introducing a mild downer state into the relationship. People will reassure you, and wonderful people will say they’ll reassure you all they want… but if you’re the kind of leaky bucket that I am, they don’t know the vampiric possibilities fraught within your soul. You’re often interrupting their “I was having a fun time” to remind them that you’re not, not entirely, which bums them out and obscures the fact that you were mostly having a fun time.

So don’t make them offer. Learn to be a little discomfited. There will be times you’ll have dark nights of the soul, and the proper answer is to just hunker down with that shit and be a little scared, but trust.

Because verifying that trust is all too often a self-fulfilling possibility. There’s only so many times you can ask, “Hey, do you love me?” before the answer comes back, “No.”

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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