Who Wants To Be Luigi

There is always someone who can relate to Luigi.

Let me be clear on the matter. It’s not because they were necessarily the younger sibling stuck with being Player Two on their Famicom or Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s not because they’ve felt second best throughout most of the entirety of their lives, or feel like they are only talked about in relation to a “better person:” to the point of their last name being the first name of said before.

I’m not talking about Luigi in the original games or even the newer adventures that have been released in recent years: particularly in The Year of Luigi.

No, I think that most of the people who can relate to Luigi have played Super Mario Brothers 2.

Yes, I know. Super Mario Brothers 2 is problematic. I mean, in addition to it only being a single-player game for the multiple choice of characters at your disposal, it is also goes in and out of being Doki Doki Panic: the intended Mario sequel, made into its own game, and whose bones made the game we all know and love from the late 1980s.

And in this game we have another problematic character. For the first time we see that Luigi is different from Mario! He is not just Mario with a green hat and shirt under blue overalls. He is taller and thinner. And he even jumps higher than his brother.

For the jumping alone, Luigi should be superior to Mario. The problem in the problematic here, however, is one simple fact: much like my green-feathered budgie, Luigi sometimes has troubles when he attempts to land.

It’s true. He jumps magnificently in the air only for his feet to spin under him in a slapstick cartoonish fashion. This is especially annoying when you try to aim for a platform: which might as well be made of ice due to the fact that Luigi is too busy spasmodically moving up and descending.

I know I’ve been frustrated many times in attempting to control Luigi’s jumps: just for him to scuttle or slide off a platform or a brick. It can be downright infuriating.

But imagine what it’s like to be Luigi. Mario doesn’t jump as high as you, but he is a more dependable jumper and lander (for the most part).  He is consistent. He gets the job done. People generally like him a lot more. And it all seems so effortless. It’s as though its all innate: all natural to him.

Yet you, Luigi, know you can jump high –higher than anyone else in the game — but you have to work at it. You have to think it out, and you become self-conscious of that process. Maybe you have more energy to expend than Mario. Perhaps you are so afraid of potential danger that you have to channel that frenetic energy somehow, or you’re excited, or that is just how you move under scrutiny. Or maybe you wish you could glide more like Princess Peach.

Maybe you like to imagine that you can fly.

And it only gets worse when someone is frustrated with you or draws attention to you when you attempt to jump under orders. Some might find it right on hilarious. And few people, if they only see you in one video game — in Super Mario Brothers 2 — will ever truly appreciate your jump. All they will see is how you struggle, and fail, and fall.


That is why I think some people like Luigi better: not because he’s perfect, or even good. But because they are Luigi: and they don’t get the luxury of a curtained stage with a Player Select Screen.

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SilSol: A Dark Crystal Vignette

Here is my second, and last Dark Crystal character sketch. I made a lot of speculation as to which urSkek SkekSil and urSol came from: especially from the second volume of The Dark Crystal Creation Myths. To me, this writing represents what I could have done, and what I did actually do. I hope you will enjoy it and appreciate this in the spirit that it is meant. 

SilSol flew through the lines of stars and suns with his brothers as they finally left Thra through the Crystal of Truth. His own mind, though clearer, now was no less blurred as they passed the point beyond space and time and perception.

He looked down at his form: such as it was now. It was a brighter orange: almost a bright white light. Once, UngIm would have told him that a white corona symbolized a process of healing. And he, above the rest of his brethren, shone the whitest of all.

Even now, travelling with the others, it was hard to think of Thra: of the place of their banishment. He remembered wanting to leave and rejoin his people so badly. He hovered in the skies far across the ocean and sang in a place where he thought no one else would hear them. To the Gelfling people, he taught them songs of growth, and peace, and love. But to himself, singing to an audience that no longer listened to him, that he was no longer a part of by virtue of being a “he,” of being an individual, he sang of loss and loneliness and the clinging to of false hope as temporary staving off of despair. But it had been a deceptive salve, one that ate away at his very being, that stained his reddening form with a spreading blackness … it had proven just as corrosive and as ineffectual a balm as essence, as vliya

Deep regret flowed and passed through SilSol’s ethereal form. He had not known the mariner Gyr had been there that day, listening to his song. It hadn’t been the Gelfling’s fault. It had been none of their faults. In his spite he thought them primitive savages and only Aughra was considered even remotely equal to his kind. But she had been wiser than he in many ways, though he did not spend nearly as much time with her as TekTih had, and the peoples of Thra had their own songs, their own rhythms and variations. It was the very opposite of the former unity and symmetry—the perceived perfection—of the communal consciousness of his own race. Once, long ago, SilSol knew his music had been as precise and perfect—as crystalline—as mathematics and the physics of the cosmos. But he had split away down a quantum path into something else, like the rest of his brethren and he hadn’t been able to find that perfect note again, that rhythm that he needed, that he craved for balance …

Is there no place in all the realms of the Crystal where a single being will show me compassion!?

It wasn’t even Raunip’s fault that he had finally unleashed his anger and bitterness. That one had his own imbalance, his own lack of connection with himself to deal with and SilSol had not envied him. In the end, SilSol blamed Thra, the place that graciously took them in, for this sense of loss: though the fault, he knew now, lay within himself.

Dark Heart, Raunip named him, once.

Is there truly no love for me in all creation!?

The Crystal, and Thra, and the Universe had answered him. They had always spoken to him. He just did not hear it. He chose not to hear it. Like the Chanter that he had been, he closed his hearing to everything but his own song, letting it play around him and drown everyone out, let it deafen the world, let himself become deaf …

He knew now that his brothers had been the same: had denied their darker impulses, had secretly hoped to purge them with the light of the Crystal, to go home … SilSol had just been the catalyst to ignite and rip apart their wilful ignorance.

But it did nothing to assuage his guilt. Better urSkeks than he: so many others including TekTih and the great SoSu passed on fragmented while he, the catalyst that made the Crystal divide them, remained. He recalled the Division vaguely: remembering the scorn of his brothers and their hatred of his one discordant note: for the vestige, that grating reminder of what he had cost them, of what they had lost and he had taken from them when they were all whole. He went around and used that crooning voice, that one note, to tell lies and ruin lives … At the same time, he recalled the Valley and the peace, though unearned, that he had finally found for his soul there, for the love he had of the planet he once disparaged, and the time he spent singing with his brothers, with the Gelfling Jen that was like their child …

As these fragmented memories unified, the pain in SilSol eased and flowed out of his body into the darkness of space, into the streaming of his brothers’ light. Even fragmented, he taught Jen his songs, and his selfish part—the part that caused so much pain—guided him to where he needed to go. Unity and symmetry won out at the end of the day, disparate notes becoming a single song again.

Around them, as they continued to travel, his brothers began to sing. UngIm, at their forefront where SoSu had once been, beckoned him forward. SilSol found his light becoming a brighter white and gold again. He understood that he would heal—that they all would heal and had healed—together. With this thought, this solace, his two voices—become one once more—joined the rest of the chorus as they, all of them, continued on their final and eternal journey together and whole again.


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Jen: A Dark Crystal Vignette

Two years ago now, I immersed myself in the world of Thra: in an attempt to write a novel for The Dark Crystal Gelfling Gathering Contest. Every day I would write notes on my novel outline in my journal while reading the old novelization and the visualized encyclopedia. Before this, I had only taken smaller creative challenges that I displayed on this very Blog. But taking this on, even though I didn’t end up creating a novel, actually helped to save my sanity and cultivate my own creative energy. 

Still, sometimes I regret the fact that I didn’t write that Gelfling Gathering novel or the short story I had planned. To be honest, though, sometimes I’m just sad the contest itself ended: with all the interactions on the Community Forums and the possibilities of making myself a part of this world. During this time I wrote a few story sketches on the Board: to immerse myself and my writing into that world. Basically, I wanted to see if I was capable of writing Dark Crystal stories. So in honour of that special time in my life, I want to present to you one of the first story sketches that I made: from the point of view of our favourite Gelfling Jen in light of everything I learned afterwards. I hope you will enjoy this, my friends for I know I did, in writing it. Take care. :) 

Jen watches the luminous beings—the urSkeks—as they ascend into the air, through the Crystal, dissipating into mist, into space, and time and energy, and all the other elements and concepts that his Mystic teachers and friends attempted to instill in him until they were gone completely: as though they had never been there to begin with … as though they had never come to Thra at all.

But Jen knows better. The gleaming palatial white of the Castle that houses the Crystal of Truth—once blackened and warped by the filth and depravity of the Skeksis—is a testament to the beings that were here: that did all of these things. He sees the inscriptions on the newly clean walls: with art and frescoes rivalling that of the ruins of the Gelfling cities … so many cities … so many people … so many of his own kind gone.

UrSu had known. All of the Mystics—the urRu—had known. Even when they taught him, he sensed their collective weariness—their awful guilt—and a few moments ago he realized why.

Jen looks out through the window at the sky. The three suns have passed other another. The Great Conjunction has ended: not to begin again for another one thousand trine. And the wake of those three mingled suns leaves Jen with much to think about.

The urRu and the Skeksis had been one people: two halves of the same being.

His Master had always instilled into him that everything has symmetry and balance: and that when balance was broken, Nature—abhorring a vacuum—would adapt accordingly. UrAc, the Scribe of his people, of his brothers, once showed Jen a myth that his long-departed brother—who Jen now remembers as urLii the Storyteller—used to tell in which a race of great and powerful beings challenged the gods and for their hubris were torn asunder into two peoples. They would spend the rest of their existences trying to live and yet always searching for their other halves. UrAc had written this tale down: as one of the many chronicles that urSu let him see when he was learning to read, and the irony of this story does not escape him now.

He saw them. After the Skeksis cut down Kira, even after he saw her graceful, beautiful winged form crumple to the ground reaching for him and he slammed the burning shard into the Dark Crystal with a righteous fire in his veins, he saw his teachers come into the Chamber. They surrounded the Crystal and he saw them … He saw the light refract from the whitened Crystal blazing as they drew the panicking Skeksis towards them.

The usurpers of Thra were so afraid: as their moment of triumph became one of their greatest fear. It was as though the Skeksis feared death and, in a way, that is exactly what happened. Jen saw that even the Skeksis that tried to trick him and Kira, become drawn into the waiting arms of urSol. The urRu had always been so hunched over, so old, so humble but when they came before the restored Crystal they towered powerfully … majestically over the quailing Skeksis. They were beautiful as their thoughts and considerations finally followed through to definitive action.

The words of the long-dead Storyteller flashed through Jen’s mind of two becoming one again. So much more happened after that. The urSkek—the one that had ordered the Garthim and urIm the Healer both—told him so little, but enough. One mistake had cost them their unity, one mistake had cost the lives of the Gelfling people, and almost the life of Kira. But then … the urSkek sang and his brothers sang with them. It was urSol’s chant and the deep resonant hum of the other Mystics only with another chord running through the sound, a high pitch to match the heavy thrum. For a few moments Jen thought he had heard what was once the squealing “mmm” of the Skeksis he met before, which he now saw as just a broken fragment, a base echo of the brilliance surrounding him as his heart glowed against Kira’s body: clutching it for dear life.

And as the music filled him, it was like the dreamfast … only different. There was no touch of skin, but it went beyond that. He saw stars and a crystalline world, and the urSkeks, Thra in the beginning, Aughra younger and his people all whole and spreading throughout the world … the urSkeks aligning crystals to make the Crystal brighter, cultivating it … the Great Division, the inhibitions of the urSkeks turned into the Skeksis and their horror, the compassion and conscience of the urRu powerless to do anything but protect and pain, and sorrow, and joy, and peace and yearning manifesting into one place through another people entirely: Jen’s people … Jen and …

The joy of Kira stirring against his breast would never leave Jen as long he lived. And that was when he saw the glimmers of the urRu through the strange and ageless forms in front of him, the active power that was once embodied by Skeksis made into something positive again.

And now they are gone: the urSkeks leaving them with the mysteries of the Castle and the Crystal: with hope. Kira is at Jen’s side: stirring against him. Jen realizes he isn’t angry at the urRu for not telling him. They did in their way. But he wonders. What of the urRu and the Skeksis that died before the Conjunction: fragmented and separate? Were they consigned to a void? To an abyss of nothingness? Did the gentle and inquisitive urTih cease to exist? And what of urSu: the wise Master that shared his fate with a dying corrupted Emperor: who Jen now knew had finally let himself die so that he could succeed this day?

But then Jen remembers. He recalls his Master telling him about another life, and Aughra saying that urSu could be anywhere. Jen smiles and closes his eyes: basking in the light of the Crystal and Kira by his side: for he now remembers another lesson. For just as urSu once told him that Nature abhors a vacuum and that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, the urSkek also taught him another lesson.

Everything is connected.

It is with this thought that Jen knows he and Kira can build again: and that there is again, finally, hope.

Jen and Kira

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A Business About Storytelling, Game Development, And Other Promises

Aside from the fanfiction I posted the other day in a previous post, it’s been yet another long while since I’ve posted on this Blog. Obviously, a lot has happened since I last wrote here so I will try to catch everyone up.

The LDEEP Workshop actually took another week longer than I’d originally thought. Now I am seeing the head of the program every Monday and Thursday. What we’re doing now is we are working on a plan of self-employment. It is going to be centered around two aspects: assisted storytelling, and the creation of some collaborative works. Basically the idea is that I will be helping other people with their writing, or telling their own stories while making my own with fellow artistic collaborators.

In retrospect, I’d been heading in this direction for quite some time even before LDEEP. Even before it had a name, even before I had a Patreon account, I knew this was something that I had to do. And if all goes well, I may even be able to get assistance for this. But it will take time and effort on my part. I am still not home free yet and, honestly, even when this becomes a reality I still won’t be.

There have been challenges even now. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I am doing the right thing or if someone as numerically challenged as myself has any right attempting to run a business. There had also been times when I was frustrated with LDEEP and how many of its workshops, while informative, didn’t really apply to my ultimate goals. And very recently I had to turn down a job offer that, while it might have given me some money, just wasn’t feasible for me due to distance and misunderstandings.

Yet these things have worked in my favour when I really think about them. I was having a lot of trouble articulating a good business plan. The head of our program told me to “make a story with numbers.” And I struggled with it. I admit, it slowed me down a lot. I wanted to create actual content. I wanted to keep writing on this Blog. I didn’t want to be bogged down by details. And I was looking for someone full time who could help with future administrative duties: to leave me with time to create.

But right now I am the only one that can make this happen. And I realized I was going about this all the wrong way. I’ve mentioned many times before that I have a learning disability: specifically in the realm of mathematics. So, one day after dealing with a lot of other issues, I realized that what I should be doing is writing out “the story” first and add the numbers, with assistance, later on. Basically, for lack of another better analogy, I am working on the thesis of the thing and gathering the research and evidence afterwards to back it up.

It was still work but I managed to create a first draft of a plan. And it is still, like everything I do, a work in progress. And I will definitely keep you posted once I finally make something a little more substantial to work with.

I have also been working on a collaborative game with a team of people who happen to also be made up of some of my childhood friends. And I have accomplished a lot. I have not only created a sample list of pre-generated character names and six factions, but also an extra seventh faction that I hope to use in a tutorial along with a creative event scenario. There is, like everything else, a lot more to do but I am pleased with mine — and my teammates’ — progress. So while I am not a programmer or a graphic artist, I am a writer for a game and so this is actually some game development on my part: which makes me really damned proud.

I also can’t wait to say more about the actual game itself, but I will wait on that until we have more done and when our team leader thinks it appropriate.

The graphic story collaboration I am making with Angela O’Hara is still happening, but we have both had to take time to deal with our respective workloads. But I know we are both still interested in its creation and I look forward to sharing that work as well.

So many promises now, I have to say. I feel like, for all the challenges and tribulations I’ve faced, I have been doing some good work. And that in itself is a reward. But I plan to do so much more: just as I also plan to share so much more with you, my faithful friends and readers.

Until next time.

Looking Outward

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Black Cat

This is an alternate ending to Fummy’s The Witch’s House. If you want to play the game and not get any spoilers, do not read any further. Reader’s discretion is advised. 

Ellen already thinks that I’m gone. And that suits me just fine, really. She’s been a lot of fun, these past couple of years, centuries … Time makes no difference to me. Time is boring. But we’ve both got what we wanted, in the end.

Well, almost.

The fact is: I couldn’t miss this for the world. She got out of the house that I crafted for her, that she built on with all that pain and suffering, mixing the potion in exactly the same way I taught her to destroy the wall of roses and thorns that Viola made for her. Ah, Viola. Poor Viola.

But look at her tenacity. Ellen did quite a job on her. It was easy, from I understand. Viola was a lonely girl, without a mother, with her fearfully overprotective father always hovering over her. She didn’t have any friends her age. There aren’t many little girls that live in the woods. In fact, there are no other little girls that live in these woods. Not anymore.

Ellen used everything I taught her to get one last new “friend.” The magicks keeping her alive, for far longer than her weak, diseased, frail, pale violet-haired little form should have even existed, were waning. She was practically bed-ridden by the time she lured beautiful, healthy, blonde-haired Viola to her side. And played Viola like her musical namesake: appealing to natural sense of pity, compassion, kindness and — more importantly — her sense of loneliness.

It’s funny. They were different from each other in so many other ways, but I’ll bet if they really had time to look at themselves in the cracked mirrors of my house they would have seen that loneliness was the only thing they ever had in common.

Oh, Ellen. I taught you far too well. Maybe I’ve just been in this form for far too long. I mean, you’ve won. You could have killed Viola many times over. You could have killed her from the very beginning. The body-switching spell that I taught you only required her initial consent: after that, you could have made her rat-food.

But there you are. You just have to gloat over her. You just have to remind her about how she agreed to let you borrow her sweet young body for just one day, how she trusted you, how you cut off your own legs with that knife, blinded yourself, and made her drink that potion that destroyed your old body’s voice to render her so helpless …

You thought of everything, my Ellen. But you just had to toy with her, didn’t you? And, I see … her father is coming. With his gun. I see exactly what you want to do. It’s brilliant. He will see you, in Viola’s body and see Viola trapped in the ruined horror of your old form and kill her.

I have to say, it didn’t take much to shape you into this. I mean, you already killed your own parents before you even knew I existed. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed eating their souls immensely, but I wanted more. You still had some regret then, some fear over your own death, but it didn’t take much to assuage those bad feelings away with promises.

And I did promise you, didn’t I? I promised to teach you how to write. And I did. I taught you to read all those stories. I instructed you in magic and how only equivalent exchange — instead of literal, physical keys — could unlock the secret places in my house. And I told you the secret of how to exchange your body for another’s. I even said I would help you do it: that my house and I would disappear once Viola was gone and you could start your new existence.

Of course, I also you I would miss having this form.

Silly Ellen. You really should have cut off your own hands.

You still don’t get it. She’s not just uselessly twitching those fingers in your own blood in the soil down there. She has made her final decision. The thought never crossed your mind.

Just how was Viola able to use your own magic against you?

The thing about me, that you never questioned, is that as long as there are shadows I can be in more than one place at the same time. Remember, Ellen, time is boring to me. Most of it is filled with eating souls that I can’t hunt myself, because I can’t touch this world without one of you, or playing games with my prey in my own little way.

It wasn’t as easy as you might think it was. Viola truly was a really good girl. She, like your pet frog, really did love you. I’ve never understood unconditional love, the thing you’ve wanted badly: more than discarding that rotting corpse of a body. But it is an interesting bauble to play with.

The pain of being in that mutilated husk of yours got to Viola, my dear Ellen. It didn’t take much. She had already been desperate enough to drink that potion you gave her, to “make the pain go away.” And I promised her, just as I promised you so many years ago, that I could help her if she helped me, if she listened to me, if she … fed me.

But she resisted. She was on her way though. Just as you have fragments of her memory in your body, she had pieces of yours: just enough, with my gentle guidance, to use the house, to make illusions … to create that wall of roses. It was all just to stop you, though. She wasn’t there yet.

It wasn’t until I mentioned her father, being all alone, being alone with you, that she agreed to my terms.

And even then, all I gave her was the spell. Oh, there you are my sweet Ellen. Right back where you belong. Oh, look at her abuse you. She is angry. Kicking your ruined head. What is that look in your eyes, my friend? Betrayal?

Silly girl: what did you think witchcraft was all about? It is about equivalent exchange again, about substituting one thing for another. Actually, I lied Ellen. Witchcraft is about false equivalency. Did you really think you were getting anything close to an equal exchange in our dealings? Did you think that’s what you gave all those poor little boys and girls you experimented on all those years?

But more than that, I even told you: witchcraft is about giving your familiar, your tutor, a physical form: thus making you a witch. And even more than that, Ellen, it was all about keeping me fed … and entertained.

Oh, she’s stepped on your brittle little fingers. Viola’s already learning. In fact, she’s learned so much. She will make an excellent witch. Tell me, Ellen, though we will have more time to talk soon I see Viola’s father coming with his gun, do you know what is more delicious than eating innocent, murdered souls? Do you know what is more nutritious than dining on a soul tainted with centuries of bitterness, resentment, and cruelty?

What is more wonderful is taking an innocent soul, tempting it, destroying it, warping it in on itself, and turning it into another witch’s soul that — one day — I will eat with great relish. In the meantime, I will have a whole lot of appetizers.

Starting with you, Ellen.

Ah, you were attacking his poor daughter and got some gunshots to the head for your troubles. Still trying to get the happiness you never had, the joy you’ll never feel. I see the light fading from your bloody sockets. Now that is A Funny Story. Is that despair? I bet you didn’t expect that reward. But don’t worry, Ellen. I will take my time consuming you, just to let its flavor set in a little more.

In the meantime, yes, that’s right Viola. Thank your father for saving you. Introduce him to me. He is just relieved the witch didn’t get you and will give you anything now. And look at the new house, the new life, you’re going to build for each other.

But remember our agreement, young lady. You will feed me souls. And for the soul transference spell, you promised me the very first soul that came your way. It’s not like he really understood you anyway.

Yes, I just have to say: in the end it’s really easy being a little black cat.

Black Cat

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Like A Million Bucks, That Wonderful Feeling

This isn’t going to be a very long entry.

What’s coming up is going to be my last full week at the LDEEP Program and, while that’s true, I understand now that the real work is about to truly begin.

I have plans. I always have plans. A good part of those plans is to take what I am good at doing, and what I enjoy, and actually begin the process of making a living from it. And I know what I’m good at doing. I am a good creative consultant when it comes to ideas for stories and editing them. I can tutor adults in subjects in and around the humanities. I can even create writing commissions on subjects in which I am familiar. And I can create content. I am even in the process of making focused and collaborative content. I already have a name for what I want to do. I just need to build on its body of sorts.

And, as such and if all goes well, I might have help.

In fact, I already do. I just want to say that before this week begins I had some excellent tidings happen last Friday. As you know, I am working on story and content for a video game with a group of my friends. Last Friday was the first time I’d ever gotten paid for something I had directly written, or aided in writing.

Admittedly by my friend and the leader and founder of our group it isn’t much, and I will continue to need assistance for a while, but it’s amazing how sixty dollars can feel like a million bucks when someone thinks of your work enough to pay you as the professional that you are: to give you money for something you are good at, and enjoy, doing.

Somehow I feel like I’ve made more progress in collaborating on this project than in a great many other things I’ve done this past while. It is definitely a good start and I don’t intend to have it end here. And it won’t. We believe in what we are creating and I already have some good ideas to expand on to make our game leave a distinctive mark. I can’t wait for the day where I can tell you more about that: and so many other things besides.

Until another time soon, my friends. You will be hearing from me and thank you for all of your continued support. It is greatly appreciated.

High School

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I’m Doing It: Towards the Final Week

And now: for Too Much Information Time. If you do not want Too Much Information Time, please stop reading this post. As I’ve said before, there are a plenty of good and viable articles and writings of mine that you can read instead. But if you do go on, know that these are challenges that I am dealing with and, at the very least, there is some positive problem-solving involved. That said, reader’s discretion — as always — is advised. 

I’ve never really been good with time. Not too long ago, I said that it’s an inescapable fact that projects are monsters that can get away from you but really, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves here, it’s time that’s the greatest monster of them all.

Usually, I’ve been able to update my Blog on Mondays and be able to focus on other things throughout the week. But last week, and a good portion of this one have been … something else I have to say. It’s true that I haven’t really kept you up to date about my fourth and, now practically, the fifth weeks of my time in LDEEP: an Ontario government-sponsored program that helps people with learning disabilities find meaningful employment.

One reason I’d been stuck on saying anything is because I reached a … curve, as it were. A lot of the syllabus that we follow is generic government-mandated material: mainly filling out questionnaires to determine our technical and intellectual skills, resume building, possible interview scenarios, and even cold-calling. We also had sessions on computers to look for jobs.

In the beginning, I could understand the questionnaires: as it would help the workers know us a bit more and eventually aid them in getting us the right placements. But after a while, I started feel a bit … restless. It probably doesn’t help that before I get a ride to the centre, I have to use the washroom three or four times before getting paranoid about being stuck in traffic for far too long. Irritable bowel is manageable when you are not facing a lot of stress. I don’t dare eat anything before I leave for that similar reason: even though it doesn’t seem to make much difference and, in fact, it might actually improve my condition.

I don’t mention this a lot, but especially before I even came to LDEEP I developed this feeling that anything outside my immediate vicinity is ultimately unsafe and I have to be on guard all the time. I can’t relax. I need to know where the facilities are and I need to have the freedom to move around and have access to them. If you have seen Toronto, this is easier said than done in a commuter city where public restrooms are few and far between.

It was … bad the first two weeks of the program as my body was adjusting to waking up earlier again and figuring out what the hell was going on. Actually, it feels like hell: a hell of discomfort and anger I have to work through and I am relieved to get around when I finally get to the centre thanks to my dad. But in the beginning I was all right because I insisted on doing work when I got there, despite some of my experiences before that, and I left — with the work there — and with a sense of accomplishment. I did what I needed to do despite my body and the panic attacks. I put them in their place.

By the end of the three week of the program and through the middle of the fifth, I started to have other doubts. One key issue, when you are dealing with learning disabled or gifted students, is that you can never make an educational program that is one size fits all. It’s just not possible. It’s even less possible when you have a results-driven mandate that you need to keep up in order to keep going.

I’m not going to lie. There have been a lot of interesting elements of the program that I’ve filed away out of curiosity’s sake, but I’ve felt that a lot of it just doesn’t apply to me. The fact is, I know what I want. I am a writer. I knew I would need to do some tasks for LDEEP, but I thought that we could take what I was good at, focus on what I was missing or what needed improvement, and have some more one-on-one sessions to get me there: complete with more networking to make employment for me possible.

I’ve said before that I also had to get used to interacting with a group again, and that hasn’t been so bad. I’ve made some really nice connections and the people there — including the workers — are good people just trying to find their way and help each other out. Some of us have gone through a lot. When you get beaten down so many times, you can begin to internalize it. But everyone in my program wants to get past that and get the employment they deserve.

But there have been times, particularly when left to our own devices on assignments I didn’t really understand or felt applied to me that I got frustrated. I will admit that there were a few times I was even tempted to leave.

I’m used to having things a certain way. I’m used to being able to eat breakfast at home and deal with my functions before interacting with people. Especially due to my past as a Master’s student, I’ve gotten used to being independent, leaving at my own pace, and learning the things that interest me. And I am a published writer. I have not forgotten any of this. Sometimes I’ve honestly felt like in pursuing this, I’d taken one step forward and three steps back in terms of my own independence: getting a ride to the centre, needing to get a lunch before hand instead of finding something on the way, and even dealing with different kinds of people and situations.

It also doesn’t help when I have to fight a burning feeling in my gut and not feeling safe until I’m out of traffic and near facilities — kind of like how you’d feel if you were playing a video game and Save Points were few and far between on your journey — just to do something that I don’t always feel applies to me, or get left doing something that Ontario Works had me do without much in the way of success.

I know what I want and what I need. And I did ask myself: “Why am I here? Why am I putting myself through all of this? What am I hoping to achieve?”

On Wednesday, the leader of our program called me into his office. Somehow, I knew he would, and not for any terrible reason.  We get along very well and I enjoy talking with him. But he does get busy. LDEEP itself is very busy and he and the other workers attempt to help as many of us as they can.

We had a long talk that can be summarized like this: he has to find me a job and it has been difficult. But I threw out a few ideas and he is going to help me out with them. One of them is a business plan: which will have roots with some of the things I’d been attempting to do for the past three years. It also helps now that, because of LDEEP, I know what my potential net worth — my salary — actually should be. I’m going to be consulting and editing someone else’s work and using the above, along with some of the program leader’s input, as potential templates.

There is also something else I could do in addition to this that might get some pressure off my back and advance my connections and knowledge further. I know that I am going to have to do some hard work no matter what I choose, but at the very least I can choose what work that will be.

And that’s what it is about for me. Personal agency. The fact is — another fact is — I’ve realized how far I have come. LDEEP’s nine to three schedule makes me keep daylight hours and I actually feel a lot better than I have in years aside from the morning departures. My headaches are more manageable when they happen and I actually go to sleep at midnight now.

It has also gotten to the point where, when I come in to the centre, I socialize and work with my peers and this, along with some directed activities, actually makes me feel better as I can focus on a task at hand: or, really, enjoy a conversation. We are all different in this program, and there is a lot we’ve learned about each other.

I also know what I am going to do now. I’ve realized that I can go to the workers and tell them about my concerns: that I don’t have to do all of this on my own. They are there to help us and I need to remember to do that. I might need some time in the morning and that shouldn’t be an issue. I might need clarification about a task.

And, even better, they might have some suggestions for me. Next week will be our final session. We will have assignments to do, but I have my own assignment now that I can begin to focus on starting Monday. I also feel a growing sense of relief. After next week, I can finally pace my own time again. I will still be going to the centre and interacting with the workers and my peers, but I won’t have to be there as stringently as before. I know my stressors and I can pace myself accordingly.

And look at how far I’ve gotten from where I was. On my Facebook today, I wrote something for my status. I said that I’m starting to feel like my life has just begun.


So, if you have read this far, here is your reward. As you’ve seen from the article image, I got my copy of Doctors in Hell: an appropriate title when all things are considered. So here is an excerpt below, just for you. I just got the hard copy today.


Perhaps, when you get right down to it, it’s not so much that I’m trying to get my life back. Rather, I’m beginning to realize that I have the potential to make a whole new life entirely. And that, my friends, is a very important feeling. I think I will leave you with that for now. Until next time soon.

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