Friday, October 22, 2021

Dr. Ramani Durvasula got me thinking about the toxicity of pursuing Fame in America and how it ruins lives.

 


I've been reading a book called Don't You Know Who I Am?: How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. It is written by Ramani S. Durvasula, PH.D. It's one of those books that I'm progressing through rather slowly, at a pace of about 20 pages at a time. This is mostly due to the fact that I want to think about what I just read. It's also because a lot of what Durvasula talks about in the book are things I've witnessed first hand. Additionally, it's kind of fun to be the armchair psychologist and think..."Oh yea...this describes my family" or "Oh yea...this describes that narcissistic friend of mine to a tee. What an asshole they are."

And speaking of "asshole," there's a great definition of this term that I'm going to tell you about. I'd never thought of defining the word in this way. Apparently, an asshole is a "person who allows themselves to enjoy special advantages in social relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes them against the complaints of other people." It's a mouthful, but it kinda makes sense.

There is way too much to talk about in Durvasula's book that warrants attention (or that could fit into one blog post). But one thing did stick out in my reading last night, and that is what I'm going to blog about today. It's about fame. I'd never really given much thought to what fame actually was, but Durvasala defines it in a way that seems more meaningful than a catchphrase or a kind of force of nature/personality. Interested? Please read on.

Dr. Durvasula writes that "we humans want and, in fact, need social belonging and connection...the drive for fame then is largely our need for social belonging. Perhaps fame implies permanent social belonging, because the person will be recognized everywhere they go." Then she goes onto cite a personal example of someone who desperately wanted to be famous. When she asked this person why, they responded with, "So I am never lonely again."

When I thought about this example, I put down the book and was suddenly struck with how lonely some people must actually be. One particular example that pops into my head is Gabby Petito, the late (murdered) Instagram woman who went on a trip to see national parks in the United States with her fiancée, and their van life (though very instagrammable) was obviously a nightmare, and she was murdered by someone she trusted and her body left to rot under the sun. I wonder if she was driven to that kind of life because she was lonely. She was trying to pursue fame, and it just led to a toxic mess of abuse and violent crime.

And it got me thinking about how toxic our culture is. Americans are really good at walling off people, ignoring people, canceling people, and being mean to people. It's kind of like a super power that Americans all have. The idea of having fame seems to be a salve for that. If you are famous, then you can open closed doors. You can be invited to parties on the other side of the wall. You can feel welcome in places that are largely unwelcoming to everyone else. You can even rise above and profit from negative criticism that would destroy someone that wasn't protected by fame. So fame and fame-seeking seems to go hand-in-hand with the hatred that pollutes our country.

The more people hate, and the more people build walls to keep people out, the more important it will be for a person to have access to something that will allow them to move fluidly through all of those boundaries. Fame appears to be that "something," and it may be the most desirable commodity of all among America's youth these days. That (I think) is a bad thing for our country. For example, I can't imagine what it would be like to try and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with a famous person. How would they ever have time to emotionally support you when there are so many people clamoring for their attention? I think it would be a fertile breeding ground for massive insecurities unless the famous person took steps to create really firm boundaries with the public and put you at the center of what was important to them. Unfortunately, we see this kind of thing play out over and over again in the media. Those who are excellent with the boundaries have relationships that survive. Those who aren't good at boundary setting end up decimated by the public that worships them. There are so many bad things about America now though that it's honestly hard to keep track of them all. So it's just adding one more sociopolitical catastrophe onto the steaming garbage heap.

Anyway, I appreciate the thought exercise that Dr. Durvasula gave me regarding fame. And since we're on the topic, do any of you who are reading my words now hunger for fame (or do you have kids who are fame obsessed)? If so, care to share why? I'm a very non-famous person who legitimately wants to know.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

DC Fandome's Black Adam event looked glorious.


I've kind of become a super Dwayne Johnson fan. I drink his energy drink, Zoa. I follow him on Instagram. I watch all his movies. And I kind of just think he's a guy that continuously inspires me no matter what he is doing. Also, a lot of his public stuff intersects really well with the nerd things that I enjoy. The latest of which is that he unveiled the first look at Black Adam during a DC Fandome event earlier this week. I've embedded it below for your viewing pleasure. 

For people who don't know, Black Adam is evil. And this just opens up a philosophical can of worms starting with the question, "What is evil?" George R.R. Martin doesn't think that evil actually exists. Rather, what you mistake as evil is simply a person's motivation that is in opposition to yours. So, if that is the case with Black Adam, you can expect that there will be a lot of people who do not align morally with the character. But, if January 6 told us anything, it's that there are a ton of viewpoints out there, and a ton of people who admire different things. So there will be those whose motivations perfectly align with those of Black Adam, just like there was with Thanos.

I expect that the film will also go further, and try to sell the holdouts to Black Adam's cause...people who might like superheroes like Superman (for example). You know...the traditional good guy that does no harm and is essentially the stereotype of Sir Lancelot gussied up as a superhero. This is where we cross over from villain to "anti-hero," which is a big thing these days in the media that we all consume. With regard to Black Adam, I say that the possibility of this happening is doubled, because we've got Dwayne Johnson headlining the character. In the super short clip that aired on Fandome, you basically just see him stand up and vaporize one dude. But it looks really cool, which is all that matters. The fact that he vaporizes someone without so much as a warning is pretty much their way of saying...yeah...this guy is bad and isn't afraid of killing people.

That being said, it will be fun to see Dwayne Johnson playing a more villainous character. He's played the unequivocal good guy for so long that this feels like a fresh take on his career. To see him directly kill on-screen (as in the above example) is super rare. It's usually more of an "exploded the car with the bad guy in it" situation.

Anyone else excited for Black Adam? It looks like it hits theaters in summer of 2022.

Monday, October 18, 2021

The fact that Dune is such a great story is a significant contrast to the legacy of Frank Herbert.


My relationship with Frank Herbert is complicated. Can we separate the artist from the art? Or more appropriately, can I separate the writer from their great ideas and their book? None of what I do is logical. I am not Vulcan, and I suppose having said that, my open-eyed approach to enjoying the arts lends itself to hypocrisy. On one hand, I cannot bring myself to read Orson Scott Card for his obvious controversies with homosexuality. On the other hand, maybe because I learned of Frank Herbert's terrible views of homosexuals at a different period of my life, I can just dismiss the man as a bigot and think nothing of it, and then consume the products of his late estate and revel in his genius.

If you didn't know, Brian Herbert wrote about the strained relationship that his father, Frank, had with his brother Bruce. He even writes in Dreamer of Dune that when Beverly Herbert was on her deathbed, Frank discouraged Bruce from coming to see his own mother. Brian says, "Bruce had wanted to come afterward, but dad was delaying in giving him a time that would be convenient. My brother wondered, but did not say so to dad, if this had anything to do with his homosexuality, which our father never accepted."

There are also several first-hand accounts from people who knew Bruce, and they remembered him saying that he didn't speak with his father, because his father didn't like that he was gay. If memory serves, Bruce ended up dying of AIDS in the nineties. And (of course) there is other stuff you can find out if you dig (which I did). None of it made an unapologetic liberal and gay person like myself very happy. 

For example, Brian Herbert has written in as many words that his father wasn't just a Republican voter, but he was a Republican operative. While in his 30's, Frank worked for four Republican candidates. His most important employer was the US senator from Oregon, Guy Cordon, who was a bastion of hardline conservatism in a state that was tilting left. Cordon was pro-logging, pro-business, pro-military, anti-labor, anti-regulation, and a supporter of Joseph McCarthy. Herbert came to regret McCarthy's tactics, but Cordon was a "strong influence" on him.

So knowing all of that, I'm getting ready (like much of America) to watch the first half of Denis Villeneuve's Dune that is coming out at the end of the week. I'm looking forward to it, and I think it will be a beautiful adaptation of Frank's novel. However, I suppose that there is a wish inside of me that a better man had written it. Of course, there are people who love the man that he was. Those people are not my tribe, and just highlights how far apart many of us are on what we think being good and moral actually means.

Anyone else planning on watching Dune this weekend?

Friday, October 15, 2021

The United States in 2021 is in a really weird place in its overall history and its relationship with the idea of work.


This is an interesting time to be of working age and living in the United States. Growing up, my father always railed against foreign countries usually finishing up with, "America is the greatest nation in the world. You are lucky you were born here instead of someplace else." It was a kind of strange self-awareness, but because it came from the mouth of dad I never really questioned it until I was on the other side of my university experience. I suppose that is where the critical thinking started.

So, being alive and healthy enough to work for a living in the United States has got its surreal moments in 2021. Of the people who play in my D&D group, only myself and two others have jobs. The other five don't work at all and probably don't intend to work. One makes his wife work while he sits at home and plays video games; he sometimes applies to jobs but he's underqualified for all of them and will never get them. He's the person with a high school education and who managed a Sonic once that puts in a resume to be Dean of the School of Business for Harvard University. Like really...that's what he does. Another is able-bodied and lives with a parent who coddles him like a baby and pays for everything and tells him that he doesn't need to ever work if he doesn't want to (the man baby is almost 30 and believes that being forced to work is trauma).

A third person is a low IQ individual who takes a lot of explaining in order to understand things. Somehow they qualified for SSDI at the age of 40, and they followed up with, "My life has been so much better now that I don't have to work. I spend my days reading, watching programs I want to watch, visiting with friends, exercising, playing board games, and playing video games. Because of this, I don't have the stress that I used to have that was making me sick." So...translation...I become a man-baby and play all day and as long as I have a room to sleep in and things to eat...I'm happy. Okay then. It is what it is, but it puzzles me as to why this is happening. Current events are conflicting so much with the mantra that my dad pounded into my head... "This is the greatest country on Earth..." Is it though? By what measure? My dad obviously never had a friend tell him about "passive suicide." I recently had this conversation, so that I would understand why a friend made the choices that they did that were unhealthy for them. I was like...okay then. I validate you. A man should have a right to dictate the course of their own life. Ironically, I think a lot of "despair" has its origins in the Americanized idea of "work." The despair sets in when people realize that the kind of work that they really want to do is unavailable to them. Instead, the kind of work they can find is oftentimes a steaming pile of doo doo on a tin plate.

And in writing this, I seem to have sparked a realization that I have a lot of friends who don't work. There's the 44 year old woman who essentially plays all the time, because doing actual work is stressful and depressing and causes anxiety. She lives at home with her mom and they rent out rooms to people on SSDI so that no one in the household has to work. In fact, SSDI has become so commonplace in my social circle to see, that to my observation, it is kind of startling. It's like watching people launch out of childhood to be hit full force in the face with the brutality of capitalism. These people then cave-in mentally and crumble before it, the same as a person who would seek refuge from a raging bull in an arena. And then they cower in fear and safety behind a shield of SSDI for the rest of their lives. So the new life cycle for many people seems to be childhood until 25...a few years of work wherein you run screaming...SSDI by the age of thirty and essentially a permanent retirement of "getting by" and hoboing around with dozens of sexual partners and casual drug use until one passes from the Earth.

Now, some of what I'm seeing does actually make sense. For example, there have always been jobs that no one wanted to do. On my short list of terrible back-breaking and stressful jobs are phone centers, trucking, and being a C.N.A. I'm sure there are more. Retail (I've heard) has gotten really bad with the Karen's and the other "entitled" people screaming and demanding to see the manager and pulling off masks and spitting on people while being filmed. This is yet another nuance of "great America." But, there have always been people who did these jobs. There have always been people who moved the pipe in the fields (I did it for a few years and never again). There have always been people who drove truck or who took on the duties of care-giving.

What's different is that in 2021, people are saying, "Hell no! You can count me out!" And it's causing a huge problem globally. I've never been so fascinated by people walking away from work and essentially, going it alone to try and find some version of retirement or freedom, whether it is living off of another person, living off the government, or being a brazen thief in what's called "organized shoplifting." If you aren't familiar with this last one, you need to check out this article HERE that explains why Walgreens has closed 5 stores in San Francisco alone due to the phenomenon. There are amazing videos of people walking out of Home Depot stores with carts filled with merchandise...just going out the door...and pushing and punching anyone that gets in the way. They are literally daring the staff that work in these stores to do something. And then they just drive away with the goods that they sell through some other place at a later date. It's like my microcosm of a world has gone nuts all at the same time.

There are Republican pundits who say outrageous things on Fox News like, "We need to force people back to work." There are others who buy up billboard space to chastise those who drive by them with the message, "Get off your butt! Apply Anywhere!" Or something similar (I'm seriously not kidding...just google it). On the first note...I have questions...what does this "forcing" look like? Cause, from my perspective, that sounds like trauma in the best of light. And as someone who has received the message (or gaslighting depending on how you want to look at it) that work gives a person meaning and makes their life better...this doesn't jive with that message. I mean...if you have to drag someone kicking and screaming to do a thing...isn't that "without consent?" Aren't we, "The land of the free" or was that more gaslighting? If something is without consent...isn't that against the law? Like what the hell? And regarding the billboard messages, I don't know what planet the people who bought and paid for such a thing came from, but shaming someone to do a thing doesn't work anymore. It's almost laughable. We are a society of shamelessness...of grifterism...of just flagrantly doing things to get attention, because we are attention-starved. Ringing the "shame bell" is not going to work on anyone. No one cares anymore.

So, it's a strange time to be alive. I oftentimes find myself in the company of a dozen people knowing full well that I'm the hardest worker in the room. And it's a bit unsettling. Dwayne Johnson wears a shirt that says, "The hardest worker in the room." He takes pride in that, and he does inspire me and millions of other people. However, I don't wear that shirt out of personal choice. I never wanted to be the hardest worker in the room, but in America today (at least my slice of it), it's like there's been some unseen and unannounced race to the bottom, which has left me weirded out in more ways than one. At its most basic level, I think we need to seriously reconsider (as a society) what the idea of "work" actually means.

I don't think that "work gives value to a person's life." I think that wherever that bullshit came from was probably a self-help book written by a person that wanted to motivate others so that they could make money and sit back and have it easy. These days people are onto that, and everyone wants it easy. So, maybe, as a start, we could begin by acknowledging that, "Work is a terrible but necessary thing. If it is your time to work, we are sorry. We will make sure to pay you extremely well, to try and make it as easy as possible for you, and to make sure that you are taken care of when you cannot work anymore. Additionally, we (as your employer) appreciate you and will not subjugate you to micromanagement or performance evaluations as those are trauma-inducing. Rather, we will be appreciative of whatever it is that you can give us, but know your limits. We respect your boundaries." Maybe this is what work is moving toward? I don't know at this point, but it would be nice if it was.

Has anyone else noticed a profound shift in the country? Does anyone other than me out there have at least ten friends they can name that are long-term unemployed and have no prospects of ever fixing that at all? Like...ever? I'm talking about (essentially) permanently retired and in the prime of life? It's really strange, and honestly, it makes me wonder why I work so hard. I haven't figured that last part out yet. But I'm also in awe of the people who either have enough privilege or who have been smarter than me and figured out how to careen from year to year of life in America as an adult while doing nothing but play, play, and then play some more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

I have thoughts on the Alien franchise that I want to share.


So, science fiction news broke this weekend about the Alien franchise that is now moving to a television series headed by Noah Hawley. I've very much liked Noah Hawley's takes (episodic television series and not movies) on Fargo and Legion. Heck, based on Legion alone, I think he will bring a really interesting creepiness to the Alien franchise. With the ability to expand outward in episode after episode, he won't be constrained by time. He won't have to resort to the idea that people are just trapped on a spaceship, or they are trapped on a planet, or they are trapped in one situation or another. This is how Alien movies have been done up until now. And I think this is a great opportunity to step away from the movies and tell a different story about the Engineers (visible in the Alien prequel of Prometheus), and the danger of corporate greed looking for a biological weapon to keep those who don't support their interests in line.

However, Ridley Scott is not a fan of the idea. He doesn't like that the story will be set on Earth. In Hawley's words he wants to explore the idea of "What happens if you can't contain it?" And then wants to follow up with (assumedly) the destruction of Earth, which I think could be incredible television. Ridley Scott (who coined the original idea of keeping the aliens away from Earth) says that "It'll never be as good as the first one." In the interview with The Independent Scott said that having the xenomorph creature at the center of the story is not what audiences want.

Okay...I think that Scott obviously knows his own creation better than anyone. But I want to put forth another idea. The thing that puts Alien in its best light is the mystery. It is the impending horror without showing a thing. It's very Lovecraftian in that way. If I was going to do something with H.P. Lovecraft's work (and I had the resources to do it well), I wouldn't show the Great Old Ones on the screen except in very rare instances to inspire awe. I believe the same thing could also work in an extended series...with the horrific elements of the xenomorph being talked about and shown in contrast to the actual creature itself. Of course, Aliens showed us that massive amounts of xenomorphs being slaughtered with futuristic weapons can also be nice, as it all felt very hopeless despite all that firepower.

Scott's take on Hawley's ability to play in the universe he created also feels really defensive. In other words, why would a show be measured against one of (arguably) the best horror movies ever made?" And whether or not you like any of the sequels, you have to admit that Alien by itself is a masterpiece. In my humble opinion, the plot is simple yet deviously smart, with subtle layers to it that one doesn't even realize until the film has played itself out. To explain further, I don't know if Hawley's Fargo is any better than the movie it's based on either. But it doesn't matter, because I enjoy them both.

Anyway, when I learned that this project is going forward, I felt a rush of endorphins. It will probably be coming out next year, and it will air on the FX network, which is also where Hawley's other series tend to land. I guess we will soon see if Alien can make the transition to television and obtain a whole new demographic of fans.

Friday, October 8, 2021

The What If Infinity Ultron episode on Disney+ was a lot of fun to watch and left me with a lot of thoughts.


Spoilers ahead for Infinity Ultron and the What If series on Disney +

So, I'm still a little behind on the What If series on Disney +. However, I did finish watching the penultimate episode wherein Ultron gets a hold of the Infinity Stones and then proceeds to expand his power into other universes and then beats up the Watcher (who's been telling the What if stories in the first place). As entertaining as it was (and it was fun in the comic book sense of watching powerful characters slug it out), I was left with questions and observations that will probably never be answered. Here are some of them.

1) Ultron is able to use the Infinity Stones once he goes to another universe. This doesn't make sense to me having finished watching the Loki series wherein the Infinity Stones were used as paperweights in clerk drawers in the Time Variance Authority building (which is outside the known universe). They established in that series that the Infinity Stones have power only within the universe with which they originate. Even in the comic books, this is a thing. For example, in a JLA and Avengers crossover, Darkseid briefly gets a hold of the Infinity Stones, and then realizes that they are useless because they are not a part of his universe (Darkseid is a huge DC villain similar to Thanos).

2) Ultron in the episode got the stones way too easily. I mean...he just used the mind stone to cut Thanos in half. For some reason, I think Thanos would have put up more of a fight than that. But it's all what the writers want, right?

3) Was Clint's arm and cloak some Wakanda Tech? It seemed like it was, given that the Winter Soldier's arm came from there.

4) I'm actually not sure how powerful the Watcher is within the canon of the Marvel comic books. Is he up there with the Living Tribunal? I'm just not sure. I do know that the Living Tribunal can just turn Infinity Stones off, like flicking a switch. He did that in some of the Infinity Stones plotlines before placing them beyond anyone's ability to abuse.

5) I loved seeing Captain Marvel's true power unleashed when she attacked Ultron. That's impressive, even if she was ultimately defeated by the robot with all the stones. Still...we've never seen that kind of power flex from that character.

I'm kind of an anomaly when it comes to fans of the Age of Ultron movie (the second Avengers movie). I actually liked it. However, I do get that Ultron was a Thanos-level villain who could easily serve as the big bad of several MCU films, and he didn't even survive one movie. I get that...and I get why online bros are pissed about it. However, the team at Marvel already had a story-arc mapped out. They didn't need another big bad for this arc. Instead they used Ultron like a strong chess piece. For example, in my opinion Ultron is what creates the fissure between Cap and Iron Man. It's what decimates S.H.I.E.L.D. And, it arguably is what allows Thanos to win the first time.

Anyway...those are my thoughts about the episode. Anyone else watch What if? If so, what do you think of it thus far?

I will be taking Monday off from blogging to celebrate Indigenous People's Day (Columbus Day). So, I shall see you on Wednesday. Until then, take care.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The October 2021 Insecure Writer's Support Group contemplates boundaries in writing.


It is spooky October, and I have neighbors preparing for Halloween by lavishly decorating lawns and houses, and I have writer friends preparing for NanoWrimo in November. As for me? I'm doing neither of these things. What I am doing is putting up a blog post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Started originally by Alex J. Cavanaugh, best-selling science fiction author and guitar player, this monthly blogfest kicks off on the first Wednesday of every month. You can sign-up HERE if you like.

What is the purpose of the IWSG?: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

When do we post?: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

October 6 question - In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

The awesome co-hosts for the October 6 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, J Lenni Dorner, Cathrina Constantine, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard!

My answer==> Thus far, I haven't drawn a line with either topics or language. However, that doesn't mean that one doesn't exist. My "boundary" as it were lies in things that I'm not interested in. So if a particular subject is of no interest to me, I won't write about it. And I distinguish this as being different from being "intolerant" of a particular subject or curse word. That's not it at all. It's just some things inspire no passion at all, even if I can summon the passion to speak or write about them in an eloquent matter.

For example, I recently met with a person who had conservative views, and I engaged with him conversationally and for some reason, he was impressed with my knowledge and the passion with which I spoke about politics. He followed up by asking if we could be friends and continue such discussions. The truth of the matter is that I know I'm very eloquent and well-informed, and I can summon the energy to be engaging every once in a while. But I honestly have no interest in talking or building any kind of relationship based on this kind of thing. What some mistake as "passion"...as in... "But you are so passionate about this particular thing..." is not passion at all. It's just the hallmark of being an intelligent person. That's what intelligence is.

I'd imagine that there are a lot of people who can talk eloquently and intelligently about a thing they have no interest in. A physicist at Los Alamos (for example), could probably say all kinds of things about the effects of radiation on materials under stress within the core of a nuclear reactor, and then follow it up with data and heavy math. But it would be wrong to say..."Oh! You are so PASSIONATE about this! Can we build a relationship around this and talk radiation all of the time!?" They might look at you and say, "Uh...I was answering a question. What I'm really passionate about is cooking, and in particular, Italian pasta dishes? So...yeah... if you want to talk meat sauce...then we totally should...."

For me, (ultimately) politics is boring and frustrating, filled with narcissists, entitled people, and incivility. So, I educate myself out of necessity. But I'm not passionate about it, and I don't want to meet to educate others or to share viewpoints. I've found this kind of thing to be absolutely pointless, as it doesn't move the needle anywhere. I already have one conservative friend that is in close orbit to me, and I've known them for 25 years. The only thing I've managed to do in all of that time with all of my wasted arguments was to convince him that women deserve equal pay to men if they are doing the same job. That's it. And now he takes ownership of that idea as if it originated with him (it did not). I haven't moved him left on anything. He doesn't believe minimum wage should be hiked, he doesn't believe in universal healthcare, he doesn't believe in science (covid isn't real!), he believes "marriage is between a man and a woman!," etc. Whatever. It's all pointless to even chat about this stuff. I think of dinosaurs marching off to their tar pits whenever he is around, and I find that I get way more fulfillment from discussions revolving around Dungeons & Dragons, video games, and nice restaurants.

So yeah...that's where my "fictional line" lies. If I'm not interested in it...then I don't write about it. Plain and simple. It's taken a long time (a lifetime I suppose) to get so laser-focused on what I like and dislike. I imagine there are people out there who struggle with this, and they have my sympathies. It must be terrible to get involved in an activity (like writing) and then discover that you don't like what you are doing and just participated in it because you are a people pleaser. Boundaries are great, and good for the soul. I'm also going to offer another piece of advice...it's okay to say no to people wanting you to read stuff. When people find out I'm a reader, they will sometimes say, "Oh! I just finished reading a book. You should read it!" And then they try to assign homework to you via a book they just read. It's okay to say, "No thank you. I have my own book list, and I read from that. However, if you find it fulfilling to assign homework to other people, might I suggest you do it on Facebook? I'm sure that you'll get some likes from people who want to be interested in the same things that you are. I'm just not one of them, but thanks for asking." Your reward for doing this will be that your free time is indeed yours to spend in doing whatever it is you like. You cannot be responsible for another person's happiness. That's just too much of a burden to shoulder in today's world.

Thanks for visiting.