I Know You Love Me Today.

Dear Lover:

Sometimes, you’ll see me flinch when you say “I love you.” It’s not a bad thing. I’m startled.

I forget you love me a lot.

And the sad thing is, it’s nothing you did. I’m a depressive. That’s my disease. No matter how much adoration has flowed between us, no matter what grand gestures you make to prove your affection to me, I forget. I’m like an emotional amnesiac, my good feelings forever being erased to leave me with shadows of doubt and terror. Sometimes I read old texts of yours to try to remember what it felt like being loved, and all I come away with is cruel reinterpretations of how those kind words didn’t really mean what I thought they did.

I don’t want this. I merely survive with it.

And I know my inability to remember consistently costs me. My past is strewn with exes who exhausted themselves through increasingly grander gestures, convinced that if they kissed me the right way then all this depression would vanish like dew in the summer sun. And when it didn’t, they decided I was being stubborn, and left.

You haven’t. Not yet.

Don’t think I’m not grateful. Don’t think my endless, shivering fear that today you’ve stopped loving me means that I don’t love you – why would I be afraid of you going unless you meant something to me?

And don’t think I’m not trying. Like I said, I reread your old texts, I recall your warm embraces, I recount all the lovely things you’ve done for me, all in an imperfect attempt to transform cold memories into some flickering ember of love to warm myself by. I will flinch sometimes, and be shocked, and yes, sometimes be the pain in the ass who asks “You love me, right?” at the worst times – but I am trying, oh so trying, to retain what emotional memories I can.

Then there are the days when you ask the right question at the right time. A simple text: “Do you know I love you today?”

That “today” makes all the difference.

That “today” lets me know that I might forget tomorrow, and you’ll be here to remind me.

That “today” tells me you understand my illness in all the ways I need you to.

And yes. Yes, I know today. I know today, and it is wonderful because for a brief moment I can feel that love flowing between us like a river, and maybe I’ll forget the warmth of water tomorrow but for right now I know it yes I know it.

I love you.

That’s something I never forget.

Today Is My Birthday, And Here’s How You Can Help Me Celebrate!

Today is the most important day of the year – it is MY BIRTHDAY!  I was the first grandchild in my family for six years, and I was born on July 3rd, so it took me a while to figure out that the fireworks and the big beach celebration weren’t meant for me.

(I was generous. I magnanimously shared My Fireworks with everyone.  AS I STILL DO.)

Today I shall be celebrating by heading down to Amish country and eat cheese, which is a thing that old people do to celebrate. But if you would like to wish me joy on this occasion, here’s a few things you can do:

1) Call Your Senator To Preserve Health Care!
Looks like Trumpcare is about to pass – while Donald Trump has been making headlines with stupid Twitter-fights, Mitch McConnell has quietly submitted his revised bill to the CBO, indicating that he probably has the votes.  And yes, it’s exhausting and demoralizing because even if we get the Senators to halt this bill, they’ll come back with another bill…

So your birthday gift to me can be rising, grumpy and irritated, from your couch to pick up the phone and call one more time.  (To those of you going, “But my Senators are Democratic!”, call them and say, “GO BALLS TO THE WALL TO STOP THIS FUCKING THING.”)

I’ve written a still-mostly-relevant how-to guide as to how neurotic people like myself can call their Senator, so it’s as easy as possible.  Wanna make a weasel happy?  Act politically.

2) Preorder My Upcoming Book, THE UPLOADED!
People frequently ask me, “Where’s the best place to buy your book so you benefit the most from it?”  And as for all authors, the question is not “Where” but “When.”  As I’ve discussed before, ordering in advance of the release date is the single best thing you can do for an author’s career.

(Unless you’re an editor. Then buying their book and promoting the fuck out of it is the best thing you can do.  But most of you aren’t editors.)

Anyway, The Uploaded is coming out in September, and I’m nervous about its reception because – like every book – it’s hard to get traction when the world is actually falling apart.  So if you were planning on buying it, you can make me happier on my birthday by buying it today! And if you’re not sure whether you wanted to buy a book about what happens five hundred years after humanity perfected immortality, well, Barnes and Noble has the first two chapters available for your perusal.

(And yes, I’ll be doing a book tour of some kind, though there will probably be different cities. I’m gonna try hard to hit Ann Arbor, and Washington DC, and maybe Atlanta and Colorado, as well as other locations people have been bugging me about to go to. Feel free to contact me if you have a local bookstore you think would be amenable to hosting.)

Anyway, The Uploaded is ready for preorder at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and every good bookshop you can name.  If you’re up for it, geddit.

3) Treat Yo Self. 
If you’ve done those first two, well, do something nice for yourself. Go watch the fireworks, if you have them in your country.  My birthday’s awesome, and you’re awesome, so make yourself feel awesome.

Love to you.  Happy birthday to me.  Peace out.

Reviewers! Download THE UPLOADED! The Rest Of You! Preview It! If You Like!

So if you’re a reviewer and you’ve been thirsting to get my tale of genetically engineered superponies and immortal brain-gods who have made life positively unfashionable, well, The Uploaded is available for download at everyone’s favorite advanced reader review site NetGalley. Get out there and give it however many stars you think it deserves.

If you’re not a reviewer and you’re like, “Say, I want in on this pseudo-cyberpunk family drama!” then let us not forget that Barnes and Noble has two sample chapters available for you, so you can see what happens when your mother and father die and get uploaded into immortal perfection while you’re stuck on this filthy rotting Earth.

And if you like it, well, it’s coming out in September. Feel free to preorder it.  It’s at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and every reputable bookshop. If your local bookdealer of choice doesn’t carry it, explain to them that reputability is critical to their business, and there’s but one way to achieve that, and that is indeed ensuring they carry my book.  Funny, that.  But hey, I didn’t make these rules.

Vicariously Disabled.

I doubt he even remembers enraging me. But I almost screamed at him.

I’m still not sure whether it was his fault.

But let’s rewind. I have a friend who has pretty severe walking issues – he gets only so many steps in a day before he collapses. Most days he can get to nightfall without needing a walker – and he works hard, very hard, not to be seen as a burden.

More so, he struggles to be seen as a person. If you’ve never friended someone with a disability, you don’t quite understand how a visible handicap can eclipse someone’s personality. People tend to assume that everyone in a wheelchair acts the same – they talk a little louder, a little slower, they’re quicker to dismiss their opinions because really, do they know what they want?

Disabled people struggle to be seen. And my friend, well, he worked really hard to be more than his disability –

– which meant he pushed himself hard at conventions. Lots of covert sweating, casually leaning on bars, sitting down when they could. Because if he displayed weakness, the conversation would shift from all the happy things that made his life worthwhile and would focus on “Are you all right?” – which is a question he asks himself entirely too damn much as it is.

He wanted the con to be a vacation and not an explanation. Which was why his disability was, largely, not quite a secret among friends but something where the extent wasn’t entirely revealed unless you were in the know.

And my friend had held up well during the day but was starting to fade in the evening. He was looking for, well, let’s call him The Guy Ultimately I Wanted To Yell At, or Tguiwtya.

He was looking for Tguiwtya. Because he was good friends with Tguiwtya, and and wanted a few moments to hang with Tguiwtya to hang out before he collapsed. And my friend texted Tguiwtya to say “Hey, I’m on my way,” and Tguiwtya had said “I’m in the back of the ballroom.”

Tguiwtya was not in the back of the ballroom.

I ran into my friend, looking exhausted, who asked me if I’d seen Tguiwtya. I knew he’d walked all the way down from their room to meet Tguiwtya, exhausting the very last of his daily steps, and getting back up to the room would be an effort. I said I hadn’t.

He plopped into a chair, sweaty, miserable, waiting for Tguiwtya to show. I kept him company, brought him water. But Tguiwtya wasn’t responding to texts. And eventually, my friend said, “Well, let’s see if I can find him,” and staggered off, leaning heavily on his cane.

I wondered if he was going to make it.

I left. And lo, a couple of hallways down, there was Tguiwtya! Merrily laughing with a bunch of his friends. I collared him.

“Hey. Our friend’s walking the halls looking for you.”

He looked puzzled, as if unsure why I’d bring such a trivial thing to his attention. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s fine.”

I almost screamed.

What I wanted to yell was, “Do you fucking realize how much effort it takes for my friend to find you? You said your dumb ass would be at the back of the ballroom, and they exerted themselves to get to you because they like you, and now they’re straining themselves to find you again, and your answer should not be some pudding-faced ‘that’s fine’ but ‘Yes, sir, I will get right on that.'”

Then I saw Tguiwtya’s friends, crooking their necks at me.

Did I want to make a scene?

Was it worth looking like a fucking maniac in front of all these people, just to make a point about someone’s condition? Because they didn’t know. They couldn’t understand unless I literally barged into their conversation, twisted it, made it about this, and….

Oh.

Shit, that’s gotta be what it’s like all the time, isn’t it?

Let’s be honest: Tguiwtya should have fucking known how much effort it took my friend to walk all the way down to meet him. I know for a fact that my buddy had talked to Tguiwtya about his illness. He was one of the inner circle, one of the folks who’d pushed a walker for my friend.

But how many times do you want to call some able-bodied person out for not comprehending something that they cannot experience? For Tguiwtya, “walking to the ballroom and back” was such a trivial effort that I doubt he even contemplated it as an effort.

Would I be damaging Tguiwtya’s friendship with my friend by explaining what an accidental asshole they were being?

That was, I realized, a brief window into being disabled. People don’t see your illness, even when you make it clear to them. They can’t comprehend that this background static of their lives could be a deafening uproar to anyone else.

And you always get to choose: make an embarrassing fuss and maybe get accommodated, maybe get rejected – or keep the peace and keep a friendship that means less but at least you get to keep it?

To this day, I’m still not sure if I should have yelled at him. Maybe I should. But he wasn’t my friend, and even if he was, I’m not sure I wanted to dress him down in front of a crowd of people.

What I do know is that I doubt Tguiwtya even ponders that moment. If he does, he thinks of me as the asshole who gave him a vicious side-eye when he didn’t break off his amusing anecdote to rush to meet our friend in the ballroom.

But I remember.

I learned something that day.

I hope I learned to listen.

“Polyamory Doesn’t Have Limits.”

I was told the other day how true polyamory didn’t have rules. You just got to fuck whoever you wanted, and nobody could stop you or it wasn’t polyamory.

Okay.

Let’s break that down.

Because people forget rules weren’t inflicted on people wholesale by malicious bureaucrats. Rules are like pearls, which are beautiful to us but an irritant to an oyster. Oysters create pearls because they can’t get a piece of sand out of their tendermeats and layer it in nacre until they have a ball of Stuff stuck in their craw. That’s not great for the oyster, but it’s better than having sand ripping up their insides.

And like a pearl, every rule started with some Problem that was causing distress, and people decided to wrap a Rule around it – because as annoying as that Rule was, it was better than the initial Problem.

Now rules, as I’ve noted, are the failure state of polyamory. You’d be better served by utilizing expectations, which aren’t quite as brittle and lead to better understanding. But rules and expectations both are solutions to the same ultimate problem:

You’re hurting someone you love.

They feel abandoned when you don’t text them at the end of the night. They feel threatened when you cancel dates on them to go out with New Person. They feel exasperated when they’re spending their dates with you as a pseudo-relationship counsellor, picking apart the reasons you’re fighting with your other partner all the time.

But hey. You have no limits. So even if your partner’s cat just died and they’re desperate to not be alone tonight, fuck that! You had a date. And you’re not cancelling that because NO LIMITS!

What’s that?

That’d be cruel? You wouldn’t leave your partner alone during a time of need?

Well, I guess you have limits.

“That’s different!” you cry. “That’s what I wanted to do! I chose to do that of my own volition, not because of some stupid rules!”

Here’s the secret to rules, my friend:

Everyone chooses them.

There’s no legal contract for any poly relationship saying, “I have to stay with this person.” There may be consequences, divorce laws being punitive and all, but there’s consequences for any bad decision. You treat them badly enough that they refuse to talk to you, you don’t get the hot sex or the emotional support. If you’re really a shithead, you may lose friends over the breakup. There is no consequence-free decision.

As such, people may bitch about rules, but ultimately they chose to stay with the person who enacted them. Why? Because the irritant of the rules is better than losing that person entirely – or better than the less-critical problem of “I love them, so I don’t want to make them feel bad.”

You’re not better because you made a decision on the fly to alter your behavior to be with someone. That’s how relationships work. You negotiate, you compromise, you figure out where your elbow hits someone’s eye.

And in a lot of cases, you don’t do something that would bring you magnificent satisfaction because you know it would hurt someone. Unsafe sex. Taking someone else to the concert you promised you’d take them to. Disappearing for a two-week vacation with a new sweetie without letting them know where you’re going.

All those are limits.

“They’re self-imposed limits!” you cry – but now you’re changing the argument. Because polyamory was supposed to have no limits, man. Total and utter William Wallace-style FREEEEEEDOM!

…except that compassionate human beings, when given the choice to do whatever they want, will often choose not to do things that injure the people they love.

True freedom involves the ability to self-limit.

And so “Polyamory has no limits” often is a synonym for “I am a sociopath who is only out for my own satisfaction, and anyone who inconveniences me in any way will be shunted aside. I don’t give a fuck about you as long as I get mine.” It’s not so much an ethos as a warning sign that this person is not someone you want to date unless your Venn diagram of what you desire overlaps theirs perfectly.

And yes. It’s perfectly logical to stop dating someone whose feelings are so sensitive you can’t avoid bruising them; I’ve done it myself. But that’s not “I have no limits” so much as “Our limits were irreconcilable.” There’s nothing wrong with a hedonistic relationship based on pleasure, either, so long as everyone involved chose it honestly. It’s possible to have a relationship with such low limits that you never brush against them.

But I generally find that the people who bristle at any idea of limitations are the people who bristle at the idea of other people having needs. They want no limitations because really, anything that obstructs their satisfaction is an enemy to be destroyed.

Date these people at your peril.

Looking For Pro Bono Web Design Work To Help Protest The GOP’s Health Care Bill

Hey guys, I’ve got a quick-turnaround website to protest the AHCA – but while I’ve written the words and done the research, my web design looks like 2003 hot garbage.

If someone out there can commit to a professional, bare-bones web design to help me get out a three-page website this week, please email me at theferrett@gmail.com stat, along with a page or two that you’ve designed so I can verify you’re better than I am.  (It’s not hard, trust me.) And I’ll happily share details if you’re a professional who knows design and/or political protest and wanna email me at theferrett@gmail.com, because, well, it’s a last-ditch shot in the dark against the AHCA before it passes next week.

If you’re feeling volunteery, please email.  Thanks.

My Grandfather’s Bookcase, And Mine

In my basement sits a bookcase that, I am told, was built by my grandfather.  I don’t know; I never met him.  He died three months before I was born.

My grandfather's bookcase, I think.The bookcase has a huge, multilayered wad of gum on the side from when I was a teenager, and had no idea what the bookcase was – it was just in my room, and I owned my room, and besides the gum wasn’t where my Mom could see it.  It was my little act of dickish rebellion that, like a thousand other things I did as a teenager, I regret.

And that’s all it was for several years: my grandfather’s bookcase. My teenaged gum.

Now that I’ve taken up woodworking, I can now see the choices he made in making it: fixed shelves, because drilling in the holes for adjustable shelves is a pain in the ass.  He chose a little hand-carved decoration along the top to hide the boxlike construction – not exactly beautiful, but a step beyond everyday bookcase making.  It sits on a base for greater stability, which is something we haven’t done yet.

Now that I build things, it’s not a bookcase but a language my grandfather spoke.  Were he alive today, I could grunt in a manly way and ask what tools he used back in 1960 to make this thing, and discuss where he kept his workshop, and ask about the staining.

And he would, in the way of all woodworkers, be able to point out every tiny flaw he could not correct.  Every craftsman knows about them, because you cannot avoid them: that joint that isn’t perfectly snug, that router that drifted from the fence, that board that’s 1/16″ too short.  Experienced woodworkers – and me and my crew are getting there – know how to hide those errors with wood putty and on-the-fly plan alterations, but we keep them tight to our chest.  They are the secrets of furniture, an encrypted thieves’ cant of sorrow only told to others in the hobby.

Last night I made my own contribution to the house: a dye shelf I made for Gini in the basement.  It’s made of pine, my first natural wood project – not that you’d know that because at the last minute Gini insisted on switching from a dark stain to a bright purple paint.

I can list all its flaws: the squaring is off by an eighth of an inch because the pine was slightly warped.   There’s a gouge underneath the right third shelf where – you guessed it – the router drifted from the fence.  The paint was the wrong kind for woodworking, latex, too sticky to sand the brush strokes off, so there’s dribbles everywhere.

Gini loves it.

And soon, it will earn its place in the basement, just another fixture in the house, a useful engine.  And my garage workshop is filling other houses; we have two bookcases meant for Eric’s attic, and two customized shelves meant to fit in the gaps on either side of Jim’s fireplace.

And in a sense, I feel like I’m firing a flare into the future.  I will die, like my grandfather before me.  But my friends and family will know that Ferrett did woodworking – here, here’s the shelf he built for Gini, we didn’t have the heart to throw it out, can you use it?

Maybe some day there will be someone who never got to know me but can rest his hand on some shelf I built.  And they too will speak this language of craftsmanship.  And they’ll look at the speckly paint job and the uneven shelves and judge me, and they will look at the love it took to spend a few hours building something because your wife asked you to and adjust their thinking, and they’ll cock their head and look at this stolid thing as if trying to unravel what sort of man I am from the things I left behind.

I wish I could tell them.  But I won’t last.

My shelves might.

Let them talk for me when I’m gone.

"Project Gini"