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Business Things

Upcoming events --

Tabernacle Scout Fall Festival - Sunday Oct 23rd

South Jersey Geekfest in Woodbury - Saturday Oct 29th

NJ Gamer Con in Runnamede - December 3-4

We are still looking for a November event. Unfortunately Halloween Comic Fest this year is the same day as Geekfest, so we won't be able to make that.

Things we are currently selling: dice, fandom plush (Pokemon, Mario, Plants vs Zombies, Five Nights at Freddies, etc), fandom necklaces and other jewelry, blind grab pokeballs, cards, etc

Online sales wise, we are still doing our half.com books and etsy. There's a big booksale at the library we're hitting up this week to get more inventory for half. Getting some new exciting dice colors in for shows and for etsy, including some ten dice sets. Need to find some more stores to get our dice into, as that is starting to peter out a bit.

Probably going to run an Etsy sale in preparation for the holidays. It seems to be the gift buying season starts around now.

I need to find some time to sit down and make some more jewelry to put in sets and sell separately as well.

Overall, business things are going well. Still hoping that someday we will be able to afford a van, because having to pack into the hatchback for our events really limits what we can bring inventory wise.

The Nut Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree *

Looking back at genetics and mental illness in my family paints a harrowing picture. I don't think I would have chosen to have children if i would've understood the genetic legacy I was passing on to them. We never talked about mental illness in our family. When my father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my mother told us we were never to speak about it to anyone. It was treated like a shameful weakness of his, a family secret that must be protected at all costs.

IN part this may be due to them being a product of an earlier age when mental illness was poorly understood, but I think a large part was due to the way my mother handled life in general. Everything had to appear to be perfect, regardless of how it actually was. The same urge that made her hide my father's diagnosis (and refuse to seek any help for her own issues) is the same urge that made her remove me from school every time they suggested I might need testing. It's the same reason that I wasn't allowed to talk about being beaten with a belt, or that I'd seen my mother and father fight physically. It was the same reason that I was encouraged NOT to have friends over, that we did not throw parties, that we did not really have family friends.

This is what I know about mental illness and suspected mental illness in my family, as far back as I know of. Names omitted for privacy.

(Maternal Grandmother) - has been described to me as shy, had difficulty learning english. Quit school. Did not talk to many people outside her family. Easily manipulated by her sister. She was brilliant with crochet and knitting and cooking, could make anything wihtout a pattern. I highly suspect she was autistic.

(Maternal Grandfather) - I heard he drank a lot, but was that alcoholism? Unknown
(Maternal Great Aunt) - narcissistic personality disorder (undiagnosed)
(Mother) - narcissistic personality disorder (undaignosed), OCD (undiagnosed), phobias
(Mother's Brother) - alcoholism (at least one of her brothers)
(Mother's Cousin) - possible pedophile, anxiety, 'odd behaviors'

(Paternal Grandmother) - Not sure. She was described as loud, belligerent, and neglectful of her children. Mentally ill?
(Paternal Grandfather) - I know very little about him to be honest, other than he was divorced from my dad's mother.
(Father) - bipolar disorder, alcoholism
(Father's Older Sister) - molested my father, sexually promiscuous, described as 'wild' (mentally ill almost certainly - no idea with what though)
(Father's Younger Sister) - uncertain

(Myself) - autism, c-ptsd (environmental), depression
(My brother) - drug addiction, drinking (alcoholism?), depression
(My second brother) - none
(Niece)- schizophrenia

(My son)- drug addiction, bipolar, possible schitzoaffective disorder, depression, autism (suspected)
(My daughter) - drug addiction, OCD (undiagnosed), narcissistic personality disorder (undiagnosed)
(My daughter) - drug use (addiction?), anxiety, depression

My daughters have children of their own and as I have no contact with them, and they are quite young, it's impossible to tell what they have inherited. But the odds don't look good for them. This makes me feel very guilty some times, for my part in continuing genetics that should've died with me. They could have died with me. Yet they will continue on for gods knows how many generations, causing pain to those who have to live with the illnesses that are their genetic legacy and the circumstances of being raised by a mentally ill parent.

We cannot change the past, nor the present. I had kids. They have kids now. There is nothing that can be done about that.

But I can talk about mental illness, and refuse to sweep it under the family rug. I can leave these writings that future generations might find and know more about what genealogy won't tell them. It won't speak about the family history of breakdowns, suicide attempts, drug rehabilitations and all - those records will all be lost to time. We see our family tree and we like to imagine our ancestors as better versions of ourselves, as a romanticized past.

We never get the apology for their contribution to our genetic cocktail.

But here is mine.

Future generations, I'm sorry.

* the title comes from a saying my mother used way too often any time she felt I was 'acting crazy like my father', or my kids were 'acting crazy like me'

PTSD flare up

One of the hardest things about PTSD is how it flares up with little or no warning.

Anxiety, hypervigilance, and paranoia hit me hard last night as I was trying to sleep. Every noise amplified, every sound could be something bad happening. My mind went through unlikely scenarios like intruders getting in (Burglars, squirrels, etc), to wondering if I was just dreaming I was here and I was still trapped in my mom's house. The obvious logical explanation that the cats were having their 3 AM pounce fest all through the apartment remained elusively out of reach as I imagined in great detail all the horrible scenarios it could be.

Cue the memories of bad things that had been, complete with auditory, semi-visual, and scent hallucinations. That was when I realized okay, it's the PTSD, and started to do the EMDR techniques of tapping and breathing.

About four am I slept, then woke up from PTSD dreams several times until I woke up when Aus did for work at 7:30. I took some meds and then slept again til 11:30. Took a Klonopin, and tried to spnd as much of the day relaxing as I could to reset my system - but it's still a crap shoot whether or not I will sleep tonight.

I have lost friends over my 'inability to control' the symptoms of my PTSD. It can be inconvenient being friends with someone who might snap at any moment, who might cancel plans at the drop of a hat due to a bad night, etc. I get that.

But It irks me a bit that there are still those who just feel if we worked harder we could contain our symptoms entirely, or 'just get over it.' It doesn't work that way.

I had a pretty good, quiet weekend other than pain from my infected tonail. I was happy and relaxed when I went to bed. There were no signs that it was going to be that kind of night.

PTSD is a bitch. Some days, so am I. But if you ask you can find out why I'm feeling prickly and overwrought, instead of resenting that I am inflicting myself on the world.


Died of an ingrown toenail

My family had this terrible way of leaving out the middle part of any story. For years growing up, I heard that my Aunt Edith 'died of an ingrown toenail.' As I sit here with my own ingrown toenail, I fight the irrational thought that I might just die from it at any moment.

The middle of thisl story is she had an ingrown toenail that got infected and she had diabetes and died from complications thereof, no doubt.

I wonder if they just had a flare for the dramatic, or if they thought it would be a more useful lesson without the middle. When I was a preschooler, I had a hard time understanding the urge to 'go', and would often hold it until it was too late. Now I know that the inability to recognize body signals comes from the autism. But back then, I thought it was some personal failing. And my mother in her infinite wisdom said to me quiet seriously "If you don't go to the bathroom, you're going to die."

Cue years of angst any time I was constipated. What if I wasn't going enough and death was right around the corner?

As I get older I think the active avoidance of death has become less of an obssessive priority. I've survived 46 years after all, I must be doing something right. I try to make sure I eat balanced meals when I can, go to the doctor when I need to (though don't get me started on insurance costs) and generally don't do anything stupidly risky. I figure since most of my relatives lived (or are living) good long lives, I've got a genetic good chance.

Provided I don't die of this infected toenail!


My first meme

It occurs to me that, long before the internet age, I was exposed to the concept of 'meme' on the playground. Songs and stories and drawings and skills that circulated and spread from schoolyard to schoolyard, and also intergenerationally.

Some of the stories we told were the same stories our older brothers and sisters told; and in turn they had perhaps learned them from parents or even grandparents. My own father had a childhood in the great depression, and some of the earliest stories I remember hearing from him were rhymes he'd learned in his own playground days.

Ooey gooey was a worm.
A mighty worm was he.
He sat upon the railroad tracks
The train he did not see.
Ooey gooey!

And this other lovely bit of nature-

A big brown birdie with a bright red bill
Sat upon my windowsill.
I tempted him in with a piece of bread.
And then I squished his ugly head.

Rhymes from my father always seemed to involve some creature meeting a horrible end, perhaps unsurprising from a boy who grew up in Cleveland. From my mother, who grew up in the same era, I learned what the girls had been singing as they jumped Double Dutch in Philadelphia.

Cindarella , dressed in Yealla (yellow)
Went upstairs to kiss a fella
She made a mistake
Kissed a snake
How many times did she make that mistake?

Interestingly, the cadence used for some of the songs I learned from my parents were re-used in songs learned from my schoolmates. One of the songs my father sang during his navy days, for example, during World War II had a verse I remember that went -

Oh the chicken in the Navy,
They say it is the best,
The men get the asshole,
and the admiral gets the rest!

Followed by a chorus of - gee ma I want to go, but they won't let me go home

In the schoolyard it was a condemnation of school days with

Oh I don't want to go to (name of school)
Gee mom, I want to go
but they won't let me go
Gee mom I want to go home.

The tune was the same, though I don't recognize what either stemmed from.

There were urban legends in the schoolyard. Everyone knew someone who had known someone who really really had spiders in their hair, or in their gum. And some famous person really wound up in the hospital to have a gerbil removed from his butt. And if you said Bloody Mary to the mirror seven times, you just might really get killed like this kid's older brother's friend did. They were those circulated unchecked 'facts', and we had no Snopes in those days so it was a very real IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU because everyone knew a guy who knew a guy who...

We also tackled some very controversial subjects for our time and age. In the fairly early 70s, I repeated along with my girlfriends...

I love you
You love me
Homo Sexu Ality
People think
we're just friends
but we're really
les bi ans!

Until our horrified parents told us to stop before someone believes us. We had no idea what they might believe us about but that made the song all the more fun to sing. An older boy taught us that there was another song about homosexuals (which we still had only the vaguest idea of what they might be), sang to the tune of Strangers in the Night

Homos in the night
Exchanging rubbers
This one's too tight
Must be my brothers.

The only rubber things we knew were rubber cement and erasers, so it didn't make much sense. But it made our parents uneasy, so it became a favorite to sing as well. As we got a little older, and made friends who actually were gay or lesbian, I wondered if too much singing the forbidden songs had 'made them that way' the way that parents said a face would stick if you made it too much. It seemed a mysterious condition to me, something that parents obviously disapproved of-- but at the same time didn't really seem that bad in practice. We had a girl friend who had a girlfriend in the fifth grade. It didn't seem any different than the other I Like You Now We Are Dating relationships that went on at that age.

There were rhymes about other taboo subjects - having a baby out of wedlock (Miss Suzy Had a Baby - she definitely wasn't Mrs. ), killing yourself (Suffocation, suffo suffication - a game we used to play), swallowing drain cleaner (Comet - it makes your mouth feel clean), sex organs (milk, milk, lemonade..) , and so on.

And there were Grosser than Gross jokes, which often took a dirty or sexual turn---

What's Grosser than Gross?
A midget saying Gee, Your Hair smells terrific.

One rhyme that we had learned from older brothers and sisters probably dated from the time of race riots and civil unrest -

Fight, Fight
A Nigger and a White
You're the nigger
and I'm the white.

And there was a little bit of domestic violence in

My mother and your mother were hanging out clothes
My mother punched your mother right in the nose
What color was the blood?

that was used to pick who would go next in a game.

When I read about how kids are doing this or that horrible thing on the internets, I don't really think that this generation is any worse than we were as kids. The playground has just become universal, and the memes easier to spread. In an era where playtime is now often highly structured, and based around parent supervised activities - is it any wonder that they are finding their own place to share their version of the meme / rhyme / story?

Childhood is still childhood.

Blogging 2.0

Its been a while since i attempted to keep this journal. The cyberworld has moved on from LiveJournals since i first started this some 15+ years ago. But there are now apps to post to this from my phone and Kindle so I shall at least attempt a revival.

They do not seem to offer spell check or work with my phones autocorrect however, so you may see how badly I spell and type when left to my own devices.


RPG dice sale - free shipping!

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Through the Valentine's Day weekend - from now until Monday - use coupon code Love4Dice in our Etsy store to receive FREE SHIPPING on any dice set!

Why not use it to pick up some valentine's dice for your gaming sweetheart?


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The Christmas songs I hate the most:

That feed the world one. "There won't be snow in Africa this Christmas." Well no shit, there won't be snow in South Carolina either. Also the "Thank god it's them instead of you." Uh... yeah. That's a real nice thought.

"Baby it's cold outside.. say what's in this drink?" AKA the date rape song.

Little St. Nick. Surf rock should have died in the sixties yet we still play this. Why?

Here we come a-wassailing. We aren't in 1800s England. Nothing is wassailing anywhere anymore. Wassailing is likely a verb that should have never happened anyhow.

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas and All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, both for the same reason - that grating false child voice. And then there's the dumb lyrics. Oh and for that matter - "I saw mommy kissing santa claus" - it's your dad, kid. Or at least the milkman. Get over it.

And the worst of all -- Any country music song involving a dead and/or dying person that someone is buying a present for, especially if they're begging for that present because they're also poor. I think there's like fifty of those at this point, or maybe just two that seem like fifty because they're that bad.

We are reviving our writing community!

Come join us in charloft for daily writing prompts and character fun!


Far From the Maddening Crowd

There's a fundamental part of human nature, a survival instinct that wants us to form tribes and groups. I'm on team Edward. I'm in the Harry Potter fandom. I'm a gamer. I'm emo. Etc, etc. I have always found a certain revulsion for this concept - partly because I seem to lack the drive to group up with my fellow humans, and partly because groupthink can be so ugly when it gets out of control. Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors, describes it so well in his book Cat's Cradle-

A Karass is a network or group of people that unknown to them, are somehow affiliated or linked, in the case of the book by a higher power. But they are the individuals who, upon meeting, you feel like you have known forever. Who help you in some tangible meaningful way to fufill your purpose in life, and whom you help do the same. And then there is the Granfalloon - which is a false Karass a group of people who affect a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is actually meaningless. This includes "the Communist Party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company—and any nation, anytime, anywhere." A proud and meaningless association of human beings.

Perhaps it is partly my aspergers that makes me particularly resistant to the idea of false karass, to granfallooning it up for the sake of feeling connection. I can't feel that connection. I like a movie or show, but I have no desire to be part of a 'fandom'. I play games, but I don't consider myself 'a gamer'. I wonder if it relates to my troubles with executive function - placing things into categories has always been difficult for me. I get words like 'pan' and 'pot' mixed up, for example- and have a hard time understading what defines a cooking container as either. It puzzles me to try and sort the clutter in my living room into meaningful groups. What belongs together? What should reside where?

Yesterday we were at the GameStop, trading in a group of video games that we'd finished playing to get store credit for a game for Aus's birthday. We had a coupon for 50% increase in trade in, which I thought was rather nice, and was pleased with the timing of. The reason for said timing became immediately apparent, as everyone in line before us was using their trade-in to get a new game that had just come out- some version of the Madden football franchise.

The clerk asked if we were trading in for Madden, and of course I blurted the honest truth "No, we have no interest whatsoever in Madden." Collective gasp from the crowd, who suddenly looked at us like we'd grown two heads. Literally every other person was there specifically to trade in to buy this game on its release day. Some had pre-ordered the Super Deluxe version. I asked, knowing Madden to be a long running game series, what made this one so valuable.

The clerk went on about some targeting tackle system, and about how it was likely to be the last one released on the older systems as we move to Ps4 and whatever the newest Xbox is calling itself, etc. So newer, shinier, and so forth. Much better than the older version, really. Totally worth sixty dollars to buy brand new right rightnow. The other clerk, who was wearing an Eagles jersey, chimeed in "I don't even like football but I'm picking it up because I'm going to be bored this weekend with my wife and kids out of town."

Clearly he felt the call of the granfalloon, wanting to be part of the Maddening crowd, rather than be the outsider who was purchasing used games with their credit to get a better deal. We got a lot of looks as we brought up two older ps3 games and a DS game from 2008. Gasp! No Madden! Outsiders, not one of us!

I am comfortable from my position as observer, and much freer I believe, than if I wanted to be part of the granfalloons that surround me. I have aspergers. You have aspergers. Does that make us a karass? No, nope, not at all. And I say this as a person who is staring a group for folks on the spectrum. If we find connection in that group, that will be great. But must we have connection because we have the same condition? Of course not. If you've met one person on the spectrum, you've met one person on the spectrum . Long live the individual.


me with gloves
L(aura) Cushing

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October 2016



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