Hello Monday, It’s You Again.

Nothing like starting off the day having to have the “this is why we don’t scarf our food down so fast” discussion with the cat before I could even finish making my own breakfast. Or drink my coffee. Yup. It’s Monday. Here’s hoping it’s just getting it’s shenanigans out of the way early.

Spent the weekend collecting some of the furniture from the Other House (aka, my late father’s house) and getting them set up in my house, making plans to repaint the table and chairs to a color that matches my color scheme. It’s currently a perfect fine sky blue, but it will clash horribly with my terra cotta and sage kitchen, and grey stone tile floor. (I make my house sound nicer than it is…it’s a 1960 ranch-style with a badly done half-remodeled kitchen that the previous owners left it with. We haven’t had the money to actually do more than repaint it from the horrible yellow, white, and grey that it was. I’m pretty sure that the cabinet doors were found on the side of the road with a “free” sign on them, after they’d been out in the rain for a couple of days, and at least one counter top isn’t actually attached to the cabinet it’s on top of.) Not sure what color I’m going to repaint the table set to, but I’ve at least got the sandpaper and dust mask to get the first stage started while I decide.

Getting ready to spend the afternoon making turkey stock while I try and wrangle a few words of story out of my brainmeats. Or at very least a vignette that’s been stuck in my head for months. There’s a non-zero chance I may be able to pick up a drawing pen at some point today, but I’m not counting on it. The executive dysfunction is still not letting me do artwork for some reason, and I’m not going to force it. I’ll be able to draw when I can, and that’s just how this is going to go, I guess.

Before that, though, I need to run out to pick up the Nintendo Switch I ordered last week, as the notice that it’s come in just showed up in my email while I’ve been typing. Hooray for a good thing!

On Finding Myself Standing Upon Author’s Ridge

It’s funny, when I left the house the other day in search of a roadside god or some other strange thing, the last place I expected to find myself was standing on a hilltop just before dusk, shivering in the thinnest sweater I own and a light scarf I’d dug out of the back of the truck against the mid-November wind, a battered leather bag with my travel notebook and pens in it slung over my shoulder, looking down at the gravestones of Louisa May Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and others.

When I left the house, I had some road snacks, my writing bag, and a vague idea of heading somewhere northeast-ish, since I rarely go that direction.  It was one of those rare November days where the sky is a bright, cloudless blue instead of overcast or raining, though the wind was still sharp-edged and cold.  Good driving weather.  I figured I could get a good two or three hours of questing in before dark and, if I was lucky, maybe find Something Interesting.

The thing about eastern Massachusetts is that it’s Old.  Sure, maybe it’s not old compared to other countries, but for the US, it’s one of the oldest places we have.  Other people read about the Revolutionary War, the Pilgrims, the Salem Witch Trials and all that, but we trip over the damned stuff all the time. I regularly drive down roads that famous people once rode horses down, yelling that the “British Are Coming!”, and pass signs proclaiming that some historical event happened or historical figure stopped for lunch there.  Those roads were also, in many cases, decided on by what direction someone’s damned cows decided to take regularly and everything else just sort of built up around them.  They’re twisting, winding, and heavily congested with traffic, because we pack a LOT of residents, commuters, and tourists into a small area of real estate.  There’s so much going on that it’s hard to hear the small, quiet things in all of that.  Which is why I typically head out towards the western parts of the state most of the time, away from it.

Still, something said to go that way, so I did.

I drove for a couple of hours, past yellowing post-harvest farmstand fields, through downtowns with their eclectic mix of old and new architecture and industry, meandering around with no purpose other than to see what I might see. I admired monuments and memories, and mused on the differences and similarities between small gods and genius loci.  I smiled at kids horsing around while walking home from school, and glowered at people who decided that they were going to take their half of the road from the middle, and the rest of us would just have to get out of their way.  I passed through several towns, yet another nameless driver on the roads.

I found nothing.  My thoughts turned inward, twisting in on themselves, and I started to wonder what the fuck I was doing out here, wandering aimlessly like one more lost cow, with delusions of making a living writing about…what?  Half-imagined feelings and things I saw from the corner of my eye that were probably just trees or abandoned old restaurant mascots, or a dog?  There was a stack of dishes so deep on the counter at home that it was going to take days to dig through, because I’m trying to maintain two households and failing at both, and what the hell was I doing?

I decided that it was time to go back and deal with the mountain of dishes.  Besides, it was getting late and the sun would be setting soon.  I turned onto a minor highway with a route number I knew would eventually lead me home.  I worked on trying to soothe my brain, but it was settling in for a good sulk, and to be honest, at the time I was having a hard time trying to come up with reasons that it was being unreasonable.  On a whim, I turned into an old cemetery that looked interesting, because I find them soothing and I needed to stretch my legs anyway.

It was probably one of the most beautiful old cemeteries I’ve seen, laid out in a way that spoke of deliberate planning to be both walkable and integrated with the land’s contours in a way most usually aren’t.  There were the remnants of old cobblestone paths, and benches to sit on, and massive old trees.  It was breathtakingly, heartachingly lovely, and I forgot about being unhappy in the face of its beauty and peacefulness. 

I’d been wandering around for about 10 minutes or so when I came across the back of a sign near one of the entrances.  Figuring it would probably tell me the name of the cemetery and exactly which town I was in, so I could come back when I had more time to poke around, I walked around it to see what it said.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  The name rang a bell, but I couldn’t remember where I knew it from.  Maybe it sounded familiar because of the ghost story?  That didn’t feel right.  Then I noticed another sign nearby.  It was a state park sign, with a piece of paper under the glass, proclaiming “Graves of Interest” and a list of names.

Oh.  Right.  That’s why I recognized the name, and now I knew exactly where I was.  I checked the map, and made my way up to the top of the hill opposite the entrance, smiling with amusement.  No, more like giggling.

And so it was that I found myself on top of a hill, shivering in the chill that comes when the sun sets in New England this late in the year, looking at the graves of literary giants who, in their own ways, had forged paths of writing that also left the proverbial beaten path, on the day I came very close to giving up on writing.  Message received.

I may not have found what I thought I was looking for, but a small god of lost writers found me just the same, and I’m very glad that it did.

Adjusting Crowd Support Options Is A Pain In The Rear.

Blarg.

In light of Patreon’s ongoing issues, I’m working on transitioning toward Ko-fi for crowd support until I can get this site to support direct support. In addition to their latest debacle, in which they’re flirting with the idea of supporting N/F/Ts, I’m honestly tired of the fact that the words “their latest debacle” is a thing that I have to write. I’d rather spend my time working on creating something, and less time having to run damage control against their bad business decisions.

Not shutting down my Patreon yet, but will definitely be working with Ko-fi more.On that vein, I’ve upgraded so that it can accept ongoing monthly donations as well as one-time donations, and am considering whether or not to set up membership tiers. We’ll see. In the meantime, over the next little while I’ll be working on getting that gussied up a bit. It’s honestly a nicer, more functional site, in general, and they’ve also actively stated that they have no intention of supporting N/F/Ts, which makes me super happy.

Screaming Into The Void

It’s 2:30 in the morning and I’m still awake because the Insomnia Weasels are doing war dances in my brain. Apparently Patreon decided that I didn’t have enough going on right now and is making noises about hopping on the NFT bandwagon, and just no. No. What the actual fuck.

There’s a common statement that one can’t make money on the internet, and what pisses me off the most about it is that it’s almost true, but not for the reason people think. The problem doesn’t lie with getting eyeballs on posts, or getting people to actually drop a donation in the bucket after consuming the content, as one might expect, though these are legit Herculean tasks.

No, the problem is getting payment processors and hosting sites to ACTUALLY LET US GET PAID.

Seriously, I don’t have a donation button on here because WordPress will only let me do so if I pay them over $300 a year for the privilege of adding a PayPal button and Stripe (which WordPress wants to insist you use) has a fee structure that doesn’t work unless you start at a $5 bare minimum, which dramatically reduces the likelihood that you can convince folks to donate, and still means they’re keeping nearly half of each donation, making it not a realistically viable option. Patreon is hellbent on finding new and interesting ways to push people away from using the site and rolls out some new terrible idea every couple of months. Gods only know when Ko-fi’s gonna start pulling shady shit.

I’m just tired of constantly fighting to try and find ways to let people pay me. I’d much rather use that time and energy to actually, I dunno, WRITE.

There Are Other Things Along The Roads

Sometimes I come across roadside gods and saints or their shrines that are of darker natures than the ones I generally write about, and I wonder if I should write about them or not. Gods of black ice and dead ends, gods that are not of the road, but of Other Things. Gaping maws that swallow the roads in ink-black voids. Decaying shrines that were there before the road came and may be there after it’s long since cracked and crumbled back to stone and tar. Shapes that watch from the hills and fields as I pass by, waiting to see if I will be careless enough to stop and leave the safety of my iron and steel truck. Things that shift and stretch across the sky in ways that clouds do not do. Shrines of pylon and wire that sing crackling, whining paeans, hymns that may once of been devoted to gods of fire and warmth, but have twisted over the eons to become something new.

Perhaps I will write about them. After all, they are there, beside the road, and it’s not a bad thing for others to be aware of them, I suppose.

Archiving The Unusual, Day 1

Archivist notes, 1 November, 2021

It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, somewhat difficult to begin the daunting task of organizing a formal archive of items and ephemera that have been stuffed willy-nilly in boxes and on shelves for decades, may have been left in the locations where they were found, or, in some cases, may not exactly exist as most generally understand them to.  Be that as it may, I’m working on doing so, as it has come time to start properly cataloguing and archiving the various cursed objects, liminal spaces, haunted flotsam, and other oddities that I encounter on a fairly regular basis, and to start taking better field notes, as it were.

Someday I suppose I’ll even have to figure out a proper title for the archive itself, but it’s only the first day of this project, after all, and I’ve got time.   In the meantime, I’ve got a pile of dusty old boxes to start going through and attempting to start sorting into something that makes some kind of reasonable sense.

This is going to take a lot of coffee.

M. C.