Update On My Mother

So in addition to my usual SAD, I’ve been staying with my Mom while she’s been getting a biopsy and waiting for news on progress on her multiple myeloma. She’s been in chemo treatments (thankfully light ones, but still poison) for eight months now, and we didn’t know how things had gone.

As it turns out, pretty well. She’s gone from 40% to 5-10%, which means she’s responding well to the treatment and on the way to a potential partial remission. The bad news, such as it is, is that she has to keep going to chemo, but only because the rule here is “Keep blasting her bones with poison until the numbers stop going down.” (Or, in medical parlance, “The numbers plateau.”) So that’s good.

My brain being the asshole that it is, however, I’ve been pushing back all my Seasonal Affective Depression to go “Keep it together for Mom, keep it together for Mom,” and now that she’s (reasonably) okay my brain went “SHE’S OKAY! SLAM HIM!”, and this morning is a mass of detached anxiety tumbling over my doorstep. So it goes.

Anyway. My Mom’s okay. That’s what I need right now. So we’re good.

Paradise By The Dashboard Light: A Memoir.

We were alone in a car in a parking lot, talking and occasionally kissing.

I was still very new to this.

My adolescent years had been a seething hell of isolation, spending three long years without a single friend to call my name, and I had come to terms with the fact that not only would I die a virgin, I’d probably never so much as kiss a girl. And yet thanks to a chain of events that had led me to a group of friends who’d brought me to an Emmaus Catholic gathering had led me to a college girl being interested in me, I was alone in a car with an older girl who occasionally kissed me.

I did not know what to do, really. I was like a housepet, just grateful to be there. I talked, and we sang along with the radio, and occasionally made out and I got to touch parts of a girl that I never thought I’d touch and every bit was this immense gift from heaven.

We hadn’t discussed my virginity, but she had to know it; I radiated virginity, blasting this awkward eagerness like an antenna. And I was, apparently, cluelessly charming for all of that – I knew how to tell a joke, I knew how to listen, I had interesting opinions – but I was not going to press for sex because honestly, it never really occurred to me that it was an option.

I mean, I wanted sex. But I was so terrified of breaking whatever tenuous spell existed in this car, in this odd relationship we had, that I didn’t ask for anything. I just showed up, and did whatever she asked.

And in retrospect, I can see where she was coming from; here I was, this cute and clueless boy with potential, but did she want to take my virginity? Would I imprint on her like a baby duckling, turning this summer fun-time into an agonizing breakup when I tried to follow her to college? I was a bit of a fixer-upper, but how much of a project would I be?

Would I be fun, or a regrettable decision?

And that’s when “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” floated across the radio.

If you’re not familiar with “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” it is a rock operetta where a boy tries to convince a girl to have sex with him in his car, and the girl tries to deny him. It is a three-part, eight-minute song with a surprisingly downer ending; the boy promises to “love her ’til the end of time,” she agrees to do the deed, they become unhappily married forever.

But it does have a lot of harmonies.

And it is super-fun to sing.

And so we sang it, not really thinking of the sex part (or at least I wasn’t), just losing ourselves in the fun of bouncing around in the car and doing a little backseat karaoke.

And then we got to the end.

The end is a sad part where the boy and the girl sing two different parts, independent of each other, signalling how separated they’ve become. Meatloaf sings “It was long ago and it was far away, and it was so much better that it is today” while Ellen Foley sings “it never felt so good, it never felt so right, we were glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife.”

To Beth’s surprise, I was able to sing my part while she sung her part.

We got to the end. Her eyes widened.

“Everyone else gets confused at the end of that song,” she said. “They step on my part.”

“Not me,” I shrugged, not thinking much of it.

Later on, she told me that was the moment she decided to have sex with me.

And in retrospect, I wish I’d asked why – but I didn’t ask why then, that was my whole raison d’etre, I was the cheerful charlie accepting whatever she chose to give.

But I do think I know. I think that little harmony was the proof she needed that I was independent enough – that I wasn’t just following her lead, I was there for my own purposes.

Was it a great sign, a thunderbolt from the heavens? No. But she wanted to be with me, and it was a little push, that tiny nudge, that indicated that I would be okay if she chose to end this relationship at the end of the summer, which she did, which I was, which we were.

I lost my virginity in the back of that car for reasons I did not, and do not, fully understand. It wasn’t great sex – in fact, in retrospect, it was pretty terrible for me. But it was sex, and in that moment I broke a prophecy I’d made about myself that I would be forever alone, forever unkissed, forever shunned like I had been for the past three years running.

I still wear the shattered chains of that prophecy sometimes in my darker days, but I have not been alone, I have not died a virgin, I have not been a waste.

And I’d say that’s thanks to Beth, which is partly true, but it’s also true in part to Jim Steinman, author of that and so many other brilliant, operatic, magnificent songs – the man who wrote that alternating harmony that I will forever associate with a world slowly opening up for me, one kiss at a time, a college girl stunned as she realized that I could sing independently.

Thanks, Jim.

Thanks for being there for me at the right time.

Four Things That Make Me Happy: A Floor. A Pen. A Board. A Persona.

A Floor Is Making Me Happy.
We are now in the stage of our van-to-camper conversion that we are installing vinyl floor panels! And this is magical. All the stuff we’ve done up until now has been substrate work – insulation, boards to attach other boards to, waterproofing.

Last night we laid down the first four strips of our vinyl flooring and everything snapped into place. It was like a peek through a mirror – suddenly we got a glimpse into what this might look like when it was finished, and it felt like the hours of work we’ve put in (about twenty thus far) was paying off.

Don’t get me wrong; we got miles to go on this sucker. Due to many equipment shortages, it’ll take us a while to get to the next stage of this build, which is the electrical panel phase.

But we expect to have the floor finished by next week, and then we’ll be standing on all our hard work.

Four more floor than we've floored before
Four on the floor, more than we’ve done before

A Pen Is Making Me Happy.
The second pen, actually. The second pen that’s run dry.

See, in December, when I was breaking down, I turned to the Artist’s Way – which suggested that I do three pages of writing every morning to get in touch with my inner me. And I didn’t think I’d ever do that – I’m not a scheduled person, I’m a creature of chaos, I don’t even start work at the same time every day.

But I was desperate, so I tried it.

And this morning, my pen ran out of ink.

My pens don’t run out of ink. I lose them. I literally have two hundred pencils in my garage because I misplace writing implements constantly – also see: creature of chaos.

But every day, for almost four months now, I have been sitting down for the first thing every morning and writing. It’s immensely helpful; sometimes I fine-tune the plotting on the book segment I’ll be writing that night. Sometimes I dissect a troublesome nightmare, figuring out why it still haunts me. Sometimes I am in full-on panic mode and write blather until my inner therapist kicks in.

But my second pen has run dry – not lost, merely used, a symbol of all the ink I have constantly scribed upon these pages. It’s a milestone, and I am proud of developing what I hope will be a new habit.

A Persona Is Making Me Happy.
I’ve been plotting a new book based on the Persona videogames (with the serial numbers filed off), and I’m pretty happy with where my imagination is taking me, even if it’s not something I’ll start until I’m done with this current lapbreaker of a book.

I wrote about the process in my newsletter, and if you wanna see how I fit my ideas together into a coherent world, well, I think I explained that reasonably well.

A Board Is Making Me Happy.
Over the last couple of months y’all have doubtlessly noticed my Board o’ Happiness ™, where people send me little trinkets that can fit inside an envelope and I put them where I can see them. And this week is extra special personally – the “I Voted” sticker from Georgia, the state that can potentially give Biden enough power to become a great President, came with a letter that was meaningful –

But yesterday, at Gamestop, I found the three adorable little Funko pop Star Wars figures – all three of them! Board-sized! Luke, Leia, and Han! How could I resist? So I am extra-smiley about this today.

My Board o' Happiness (tm), Week Eight, with a tiny Luke, Leia, and Han

(As usual, if you want to send me something small for the Board o’ Happiness ™, hit me up and I’ll send you my address.)

It’s Not Because He Has A Bigger Dick.

So my essay All Women and Never Men went viral on Fet for the third time in a decade, picking up another 700 or so loves and another 150 comments.

And when folks discuss the reasons why a dude might not want his woman having sex with other dudes (though women are, of course, harmless and acceptable), one of the most frequent comments is, “Of course those poor men are nervous. What if the other guy has a bigger dick and she leaves him?”

Well, allow me to reassure you, fellow dudes.

But first, let me present to you my regrettable credentials: At this point in my life, I have slept with somewhere in the range of about 125 partners. I say this to you not to impress you, but to report that, barring one-night stands, I’ve had about 80 partners date me, go “Oh, God, not this,” and leave. Often for another partner! Often from cheating!

So being broken up with? I have experiences.

And also, unfortunately for everyone in my early 20s, I used to be a huge and largely unethical horndog who didn’t care much about existing relationships, and as a result in many of those 125 partners I was the other dude luring someone over the fence.

I’ve since stopped, as 1) it was unethical, 2) it led to really crappy relationships that were fundamentally based in a lack of trust, and 3) keeping all the details straight so I could effectively roleplay life as a version of myself who was not a scumbag was frickin’ exhausting.

Point is, though, I have a lot of personal experience in breakups, and that’s not even counting watching my friends over the course of about 30 years and tabulating all that data.

And let me tell you:

The times where someone says, “I’m leaving you because he’s got two inches on your schvanstucker?” Never happens.

Well, lemme finesse that one a bit: It’s probably happened somewhere. Humanity’s big, there’s seven billion people boinking, there’s gonna be some incidents that occur just like that.

But the incidents where someone leaves based on dick size alone are vanishingly rare – and the subset when they do happen, well, it’s usually not about the dick.

Because what I find among men of a certain temperament (and some smaller segment of women) is that there’s this illusion that Parts Make The Person – you’re only unique as far as your sexual characteristics, so if you’re a woman what makes you special is your boobs, if you’re a man it’s your dick or your swinging balls or that trick move you do.

Which stems from this weird cultural story that sexual relationships are based primarily on sex. Like, the quality of the sex you have is the primary motivation, and everything else just sort of trickles down from that. (Ew, trickle.)

But that’s not how real life works! In real life, maybe sex is primary for a while – but for most people, the sex should be acceptable, but the reason they decide to stay with someone, move in with someone, have children with someone, comes down to simple questions:

“Do they make me laugh? Do they pay attention to me? Do they care about me?”

Now, people say, “Aww, man, she left me because that dude was better in bed/was kinkier/was hotter,” but that’s not usually the truth. What actually happened is that yes, there probably was volcanic sex involved, but the reason that sex was so intense was that the other dude was paying more attention than the other dude had, or they had a better shared sense of humor, or some other aspect that made them click.

Note that I’m not saying that “opening up your relationship means they’ll always stay with you”: No, the danger of your partner getting better options and leaving is a known danger, Khaleesi.

But the reason they left wasn’t the dick. It wasn’t the kink. It wasn’t their six-pack abs or their aquiline nose….

It was because, fundamentally, the fleeing partner found something more fulfilling emotionally.

As I said, I used to be a scumbag, and I can’t recall a single one of my cheatatrons where I said, “Hi, I believe I have a larger snozzwanger than your current man, TAKE ME NOW.” No, it was usually a situations where I made her laugh harder, or listened to her problems when her boyfriend blew her off, or just was willing to go do things that her boyfriend went, “Not interested, you go.”

I didn’t incentivize them to sleep with me because I promised mindblowing sex, but because I promised to be more fun.

(Jesus Christ I feel bad writing this, but gotta be honest.)

And wanna know a real secret? Sometimes I had a larger whangdoodle than her partner, and we had great sex, and she felt guilty because despite all the fun we were having, her old partner was still more fundamentally compatible with her, and she told me this was over.

It wasn’t about my penis.

And yeah, there’s weird crossover aspects – sometimes they leave a dumpy dude for a big muscley dude, but the dumpiness can be a side effect of “they have ceased to care whether they look attractive for me,” and it’s hard to feel that your partner cares about you when they show up in a Cheeto-dust-smeared shirt after playing videogames for twelve hours straight while you looked after the kids.

That story often gets retconned into “She left me for a hotter guy,” but they often overlook the fact that the reason that hotter guy had a chance is that they’d gone on autopilot for years and whoops, bad things happened while they were asleep at the wheel.

Don’t get me wrong – there are times when people absolutely leave due to physical attraction, but that attraction is not the driving reason. Yeah, older rich dudes will typically divorce their first wives to get themselves a trophy wife, but that trophy wife often presents the element of “I’m the fun escapist relationship who doesn’t ask much of you aside from cash!”

And women do leave men for being hotter/kinkier/penisier, but my point is that it’s not the primary element, because they also leave for schlubs who men cannot understand “How could they want that?”

(Hint: I have always been chubby, always been bug-eyed, always been just a little too goofy. I still attract people. It ain’t my man-boob milkshakes bringing all the girls to the yard.)

Plus, some women, particularly experienced ones, don’t actually want a big dick. It’s kind of like the way men say they want a girl with a high sex drive – then they get one, and go “Whoah, too much.” There are undeniably size queens, but ask around to most women with experience about whether they want the ten inch behemoth every night, and you’ll find a surprising number who go, “Oh, God, that’s painful. And not in a good way!”

So this whole concept of “BIG DICK == THREAT” is usually based on the whackadoodle masculine concept that “The dick is the only thing that matters.” And that’s simply not true for, like, 99% of people.

And for those who it does apply to, well, they’re pretty easy to spot. If you’re really afraid of your partner leaving you solely because the guy’s better in bed or has a gigantic dick, well, you should be able to see a clear pattern in their past relationships about who they kept and why. And before you get in to deep with a woman whose length-of-penises-in-vagina chart looks like a steady upward curve to the right…

Maybe stop? You don’t have to date anyone, remember. If you see signs that they’re only dating for someone’s sick abs and you’re worried about your ability to retain your own, that’s probably not a relationship you should commit to!

As for the rest: Welp, there’s reasons why the traditional pattern of “RELATIONSHIP IN DANGER, GO POLY” is a crappy one, because if you’re not stable as a couple, opening up your relationship to new people generally doesn’t fix things.

And if your partner is attracted to different people, in some ways that’s great! They’ve got a you! Them seeking out a carbon copy of you means you’re not being you enough! Many poly relationships involve dating people who are wildly dissimilar, and that’s not a “threat” so much as “you’re maxing out all their needs in these quadrants, they’re seeking out others.”

But yeah. There’s a lot of reasons why people cheat, and why people leave. There’s risks! Folks catch feelings, NRE, do stupid things! I get being afraid to open up your relationship to people, sure.

But I can’t be all that sympathetic to those who are terminally afraid of competing penises.

Because you’re more than the sum of your sexual parts. If you’re thinking your sole value to this relationship is a penis or a bra size or a sexual trick, chances are really good you’re leaving yourself open to someone who understands, you know, emotions.

But it’s hardly ever “DICK SIZE BIGGER.”

End transmission.

How An Unexpected Emoji Can Screw Up Your Relationships

In computer technology we talk about “edge cases,” which basically means, “Stuff we didn’t expect to happen a lot.”

Edge cases are where the bugs happen.

Like a URL. Most of the time, URLs are nicely predictable: You have https://www.theferrett.com, or https://www.fetlife.com, just these series of plain-text addresses to paste into your browser. And if you need to get reports on these URLs, well, it’s pretty simple to collect and collate them.

But what if you put an emoji into a URL?

I mean, you can do that. ?.fm is a legit URL… in some places. But some older browsers will choke on that, and if you’re using a library that does simple ASCII string operations, emojis are outside-the-box Unicode characters that break those comparisons in half.

Things act in weird ways when the assumptions they were built around shatter.

The same can be said of people.

A lot of concerns in the dating and kink communities are, “Is this person a good person to interact with?” And then we treat that answer as if it’s all-encompassing: Yes. This person is Safe. This person is Kind. This person is Helpful.

Which works until you paste an emoji into ’em.

Everyone has edge cases where they don’t act optimally; yeah, there are breakups that are either perfectly peaceful or totally one-sided-maliciousness, but I find that in most breakups both partners usually a little bit meaner than they normally would be. That’s not necessarily because they’re mean people, but because breakups are where you’re discovering that things you really wanted to work out aren’t gonna, and that puts a strain on ’em.

So: regrettable things are said. Does that make them bad?

Again, not necessarily. They just got an emoji stuck in ’em.

Likewise, people have weird edge cases personally – they’ve got good taste in partners until they fall down the rabbit hole of That One Person who mashes all their dysfunction buttons something fierce. They’re kind until someone pisses them off in the ways they consider inexcusable, and then it’s Katy bar the door. They’re thoughtful until they stumble across some buried racism/sexism/genderism they hadn’t had need to contemplate before, at which point they say some real stupid things until, hopefully, they learn.

Everyone’s got a few edge cases – places where their normal functioning breaks down.

And for me, rather than stamping someone with the label of “GOOD, ACTUALLY,” I try to be more nuanced: This person is reliable under these broad circumstances. How will they react when they’re hit with the grief of a lost loved one or a lost job, when they open up their relationship for the first time, when they feel threatened a friendship blossoming in someone they considered their closest buddy?


Which is not to say that they will break down! Depending on what you’re trying to do, maybe that ? in the URL works fine. “An edge case” isn’t a guarantee of a breakdown of normal functioning, it’s just an unknown whether the code’s robust enough to handle unexpected inputs.

But it does mean that I tend to judge people by their expected parameters. If you ask me, “Is Morgan safe to do kinky stuff with?”, my answer will not be “Sure!” but “I’ve never seen ’em have a problem in public spaces.”

What are they like when those circumstances change? No idea.

(And “No idea” is a perfectly good answer. Remember, you don’t have to offer an opinion if you’re not sure.)

So yeah. Normalize that concept of “A person isn’t a constant state, they’re the sum of their inputs.” Most folks will act differently at a tuxedos-on dinner party than they will at a dive bar. Recognizing the circumstances under which someone’s reliable (“You need a ride to the airport”) and under which they are not (“You need a shoulder to cry on”) will make your relationships run a lot more smoothly.

And if you don’t take those circumstances into account, well, things might just go to ?.

Thank God I’ve Left My Twenties Behind

I’m in the planning stages for a novel about kids in their mid- to late-twenties – and I say “kids” because I look back at myself at that age, and I don’t feel like I was really done yet. I mean, I was entrusted to be a grownup, with a car and a salary and an apartment and all the acoutrement, but I still spent most of my days feeling like I was three kids in a trenchcoat.

Worse, every movie I saw was telling me these were the best days of my life – me constantly hammered with stories where people were whooping it up at bars and going on grand adventures, meeting the loves of their lives, settling into a rhythm.

I never had a rhythm in my 20s. I just felt off-kilter the whole time.

And in retrospect, that’s because I had shucked off my teenaged stupidity, given up all that high school bravado where I showed what tribe I belonged to by liking the right bands and nerding out about the right TV shows. I had been a geek in high school, yes, but a more performative one than I’d later become – a teenager who clung to my love of Doctor Who in part because yes, I loved Doctor Who, but also in part because Doctor Who fandom was predictable, if I said the right phrases and wore the right buttons people would automatically accept me and take me seriously and God how I craved that.

I remember thinking that I was so totally rad and unique by being a nerd, and then I’d go recite the same Monty Python skits like they were church call-and-responses.

And by my late twenties, I’d left most of that behind. The nerdery remained, but that desperate need to fit myself into somebody else’s cultural shape had ebbed; I no longer drank Guinness to demonstrate my love of England, I drank it because I’d grown to love the taste.

I should have been free.

I wasn’t.

My twenties were a wandering time, because I had been given freedom but didn’t yet know myself well enough to understand what I needed in life. I had constant strings of relationship failures not because anyone had any ill intent, but because everybody I dated (including me) wasn’t sure who (or what) would be good for them.

We dated sort of as a shrug – why not? – getting together with people who didn’t seem awful, and usually they weren’t, but our boundaries were mushy because we had yet to crystallize those concepts of “What I absolutely require,” so we settled into icky relationships like a low flu, this constant ache of “I don’t know, was it okay for them to do that?”

Sometimes it was. Sometimes we talked ourselves into being okay with stuff we shouldn’t have been.

And we all constantly cycled through interests even though none of them quite satisfied – we all wanted to be bartenders, no, we wanted to take up gardening, we wanted to like foreign movies. These were all genuine interests, but most of them were more borne out of a need to want to have that satisfy us – but I’d take up brewing beer with the epic excitement of this will be what I do always and discover that I hated cleaning the bottles, hated waiting weeks for the beer to ferment, hated having gallons of mediocre beer stashed in the fridge.

And when that didn’t work? I’d retreat, sullenly, to hours of videogames and TV and mediocre sex, going back to numb comforts that were, in retrospect, just killing time. Junk food experiences that didn’t hurt but certainly weren’t doing me any favors. Gearing myself up for the next big push.

What we wanted was to have the experience to understand who we were, and I didn’t have that.

Yet ironically, we did think we knew who we were, because society kept telling us that we did. We’d escaped high school and college, so many of us had settled down with kids and a spouse and a home, we bristled at the implication that we were some clueless high school kid.

Which we weren’t. We’d left so many lives behind – I wasn’t that teenaged metalhead brandishing patches and Doc Martens like a brand, but who was I?

But now we had to map the territory of us, to self-define in a way we could leverage for happiness, and that was a lot harder. Because we weren’t miserable, but we weren’t fulfilled yet either.

I had become my own custodian, and I was a crappy caretaker.

For me, my twenties were mostly about discovering the boundaries of my tolerance. Apartment got too messy? Okay, I need some level of cleanliness in order to function. Relationship got too dramatic? I gotta hold the line when someone presses me this way. Job destroying me? Fine, how do I preserve my sanity? How do I eat, how do I track money, how do I find time for myself in ways that nourish?

I wasn’t done baking yet, and I resented that everyone else seemed to have become a perfect cake.

So yeah. For me, I spent a lot of time bumping around things, discovering my boundaries, shaping a sense of self. I was almost there, but that me at twenty was too nebulous to settle down comfortably into. Thirty worked pretty well, forty’s when I hit my stride.

What’s the most important lesson you learned about yourself in your twenties?

Five Things Ferrett Has Been Up To Lately

1) I’m Refitting My Van.
Last fall, Gini and I bought a spanking-new Ford Transit 2020, with the intent of converting it for travel. I’ve wanted to build a tiny house for years now, and this is the next best thing!

So yeah. We’ll be installing a floor, insulation, an electrical system, cabinets, a toilet, crude plumbing (not for the toilet), windows, the works. We started this weekend when we installed a swivel seat in our van, which felt very much like breaking the seal: it felt like major work, unbolting chairs and moving them around.

(We will be cutting holes in the side of our perfectly good van to install windows and fans, which is, to be honest, frickin’ terrifying.)

And even better, we’re documenting the whole process! If you remember my video 3 Reasons The Trench Run is the Best Action Sequence in Star Wars, that was a dry run for us filming this whole transformation. It’ll take a few weeks to get video up, as I’m new to editing, but… it’s coming.

You can tell I’m happy because it made my Board o’ Happiness ™:

My Board Of Happiness ™, Week Seven. As usual, if you’ve got anything that can fit in an envelope you’d like to give me to make me happy, hit me up.

And if you have any advice on refitting vans into travelling homes, well, I’m listening. Unless your advice is “Don’t do it,” in which case save ya shekels, bud, we’re committed.

2) I’m Writing Articles For Tor.com!
One of my goals for 2021 was “Pitch more articles to other sites,” which I’ve done pretty consistently, and so I’ve been publishing musings on Tor.com about books and media.

Hey, I’ve even got an archive page! So I’m pretty thrilled to be selling articles elsewhere.

(Also, I have my newsletter, where I’m in the second part of a three-part series on How To Create Fictional Magic Systems – being more consistent in my newsletter sendouts was one of my other goals for 2021, and I’m managing that.)

3) Gain a teeth, lose a tooth.
The good news is, after having no front teeth for pretty much all of 2020, I now have a permanent bridge – just in time to potentially start smiling at people.

The bad news is that I had my first bad tooth – a root canal with a post – get a cavity, and it had to come out. So my dental woes will never end, and I will never get used to chewing because the shape of my frickin’ mouth keeps changing.

My jaw hurts. It will one day stop hurting. One can hope.

4) Oh, yeah, the podcast.
Still doing it. It has a tiny audience, but this is a weirdly personal project so I don’t necessarily mind – I’m studying good books, and it’s encouraging me to read both more and widely, so this is like a little garden I’m tending to. I don’t expect I’ll hit the big leagues with it, but it is teaching me how to record myself, and so that’s useful.

5) I am studying Sumerian mythology.
Why? Because I have a book I’m planning (not writing yet, just planning), and I think I wanna bring elements of Sumerian mythology into it. But these tales are weird, man. Not “weird” in the sense of “FLAMING TENTACLE APOCALYPSE,” but rather “…did these people know how to tell stories?” There’s repetitions for no payoff, characters who serve no purposes, and even accounting for the incomplete nature of many of these stories, there’s frequently no endings.

It’s fascinating, but the fascination mostly comes from wondering whether there was something about the culture that filled in gaps in these stories with their own expectations, or whether the story structure in those days were tuned to a whole different audience, or whether the translation issues/missing volumes have rendered this alien.

Either way, it’s kinda fun!