Character Recurrence in Novels

Something I’ve noticed when reading old Charles Dickens novels is that many stories of his have some character who appears early but is gone after a few chapters. They’re named but they’re not really important, and they disappear and are forgotten soon after.

And then 80% of the way through the story they return, out of nowhere, and it’s mentioned they knew this one character from the beginning of the story. Does this happen in stories anymore? I’m particularly thinking of Dickens stories that take place over a character’s whole life, which is actually probably most of them, but this is something I tend to notice a lot in Dickens books but not so much in more modern tales.

It’s an interesting part of stories. I’m holding things like this in reserve for the Cloudy Cuckoo Cosmos as a series, though that’s over multiple books where a character who appeared in one might appear unexpectedly in another, and that’s more notable for full-series readers than having a character return in a single book.

What started me thinking on characters returning within a single book was a chapter I was editing recently. My original draft had the main character meeting with some unnamed characters for a conversation just for a bit of world building, but there really wasn’t anything to it. As I’ve been working on a lot of story notes regarding characters related to where this meeting took place, I realized a couple characters who’d appeared earlier could easily appear instead, connecting the world and time in the story more. These don’t appear at the beginning–not until more than halfway through, in fact–but it’s still a bit of an “oh yeah, them!” moment.

The weird thing about Wandering Fortunes as you can see with what chapters I’ve put up is the second half is a different planet. With an entirely different setting, there’s not much call for characters from the first half coming back. My fourth book will be a little like that too, in fact. But in future books this happenstancing of old character return meetings is something I might experiment with. It’s probably easier both to do and make significant if it’s planned from the outset, and I do write outlines before I write stories, but in the case of Wandering Fortunes the meeting was both added in the editing phase and spur of the moment.

Character Creation: Random Element and Character Interaction

(what am i actually doing this okay here we go)

CHARACTER CREATION! For most, this is no mere hypothetical. The Latin Alphabet is composed of 27 characters… or is it 26? 14?? I don’t know. But this is irrelevant. I am referring to characters in a story. Most stories have them. Stories that don’t exist may even have them. Stories that don’t exist as well. These two sentences are saying different things. Where am I going with this? WELL. Even the shortest, saddest story has characters, even if some of them are dead. Do baby shoes count as characters? Well, that depends on what kind of story you’re writing. Has anyone ever written from the POV of the baby shoes?

Longer, more involved stories, novels particularly, have a lot more characters, some of them even named! These characters are usually dealt with for so long that some backstory is in order. Sometimes it’s as simple as where they were raised; other times it’s a dark and brooding history of death and loss and that’s why they have this scar and this edgy haircut and wear a mask.

But in my case, I don’t just don’t have involved stories, I have an involved figgin universe. Lord of the Rings had a lot of history and only a few books. Discworld had over 40 novels and quite a bit of backstory, but I’m not sure how much. I forget if Rincewind’s parents are ever mentioned. But many writers, especially of a series with multiple books, write more backstory than ever gets mentioned in books. Having all this solidified lets the writing be more consistent; you won’t have a character mention their childhood on the farm and then in a later book we meet their high-profile business consultant parents. No, you decide early on their parents are owners of a taco stand, and you stick to that. Well, unless you come up with something better later, but then you have to make sure it doesn’t contradict what you have written into books, unless you just don’t care, because honestly, are we sure most readers are gonna care?

Anyhoo, how does character creation work? Well, you start out with a setting and generally have an idea of what kind of character you need. Meek accountant? Beefy accountant? Clownish accountant? Someone who’s not an accountant?? Maybe a small business owner who shows kindness to the protagonist, or a small business owner whose churlish attitude just shows them further how dismal the city they’ve arrived at is. A military general to fight in a war, or a cool kid friend to balance the nerdy friend. There’s lots of characters to choose from, and the general idea isn’t that hard to start from. Then you do a whole bunch of stuff like names and design that I don’t want to talk about today. I am going to touch on it, though. Because:

RANDOM DECISIONS: So the thing is that in real life a lot of peoples’ information is arbitrary. Not always–names might change based on who their parents are, date of birth might make when events in their life happen different, gender probably changes stuff. But for the most part a character can have any number of these things and still basically be the same. How do you decide? Um I just pull up a random number generator and let it decide for me. Names I’ll usually look at a list of names and choose one at random but like, date of birth? Random number. Gender? Random number (and yes, that’s on a spectrum–depending on the number, this character may be trans!) Do you need glasses? WELL YOU DON’T GET TO CHOOSE IN LIFE IF YOU NEED GLASSES, SO I WON’T CHOOSE FOR THESE CHARACTERS. Maybe. I have different species and some have naturally better eyesight. Maybe better eyecare is available for the affluent? You know, I use random number generation but still pull things in various directions.

And then there’s character interactions. Characters interact with other characters, usually, and having a backstory means they meet other characters. Once again I use a random number generator to go through my list of existing characters and find out–have they met in the past? If so, when? From this I get a clearer idea of a character’s history. (And in one case got a potential short story idea for the future!) Once I know who they’ve met I determine who they’ve met long enough to get an opinion or history with, and then–you guessed it–RANDOM NUMBER GENERATION. I get a random number, and the better the number, the better their relationship.

So for example, a group of senior generals for a kingdom’s military. Get a variety of personalities, some good, some bad. Maybe use RNG for this, maybe not. One of the generals is a nice guy, very jovial, everyone loves them and they’re one of the most personable generals. They have a family, they’re well-known and respected, and then as you’re grabbing random numbers to determine their relationship to characters they’ve met their spouse rolls a ONE. This loved character has the worst possible relationship with their spouse.

And so that’s how a well-respected, noble, adored general is secretly beating their spouse.

Not all is well in random number generation land. Sometimes it makes characters and settings harder–harder to figure out, harder to write. But realistically? I think adding the random element makes it more real. And it adds another dimension to a character and their history that wasn’t there before.

I mentioned characters meeting other characters in their past, and I’m actually going to talk about that more next week. After all, once you’ve put all this work into a character, why only use them once?

Waluigi

If you follow me on Twitter or Mastodon you may have noticed I started writing a Waluigi story a few weeks ago. His disclusion from Smash Bros. is a disillusion on my part. I mean, I can identify with the guy. Not the mean, nasty parts–well, not all of them–but his self-pitying feeling that everyone does better than him. If he can just find something to give him an edge, that one thing to give him a boost (which for him is usually cheating), he can show the world that he’s the greatest and then lord it over everyone who said he’d never make it!

Of course, I’d never do that, noooo.

Anyway, if you follow anything Nintendo you’ve probably heard of the memes, the rotten memes, the harassing, but maybe you’ve also heard of the more artistic, good stuff. This is none of that. This is more of a look at Waluigi. I was talking with a friend about him the other day and thought the resulting discussion was interesting.

WA more

A brief story of grunkiness

Grunkiness is basically what I’m calling how I’ve been feeling kinda depressed lately. For various reasons that all may just be capitalism, but let me tell you about myself this morning.

I stopped drinking disposable bottles of water a while ago. Bad for the environment, you see. I just use an old reusable water bottle and fill it from the tap. Except it’s a little bit leaky when you shake it. Well, I drink Crystal Light, so when I shake it up it kinda leaks, so I usually screw the lid on tight. Anyway I screwed it on too tight and the bottle’s dumb straw got dislodged and I couldn’t open it and I gave up on it and chucked it in the sink and just went to lie down because I’m sick of the dang thing.

In my annoyance I forgot that I actually do have bigger packets you mix into a pitcher of water, but I usually end up not actually making some because it’s such a hassle and annoying and I never feel like I have any time anyway. Except. While I was lying down I told myself that, really, it’s not that big a deal to do it. And my brain responded, “yes it iiiiiis.”

so anyway is that a sign of depression

That said I made myself get up to make some, told myself that when I’m out I’m going to start immediately making some, and

I feel kind of happy now??

I’ll take it!

The First Pokemon Trainer

So like

were the first people in Kanto and the surrounding areas from Pallet Town? And the first-ever Pokemon Trainer was REALLY BAD AT NAMING THINGS?

So this first Pokemon Trainer leaves Pallet Town, no one has ever ventured outside it, no human, they probably arrived to the region on boats to the south shore of it, and this person just goes into this field with some birds and rats and says “this path shall be named! Route 1.”

They move on to more fields and a forest area and declare, “this path shall be named! route 2.”

They keep going until they hit mountains. Nope, not gonna climb that. Head east. “this! name! route 3.” They hit another mountain but find a path through it, and upon emerging they declare route 4. Then they head south for some reason, that’s route 5. And the routes are just numbered in the order they visited? For some reason they didn’t notice 24 and 25 until everywhere else, and then after they mapped it all out they headed back home only to notice more stuff to the west and they headed to route 26 and Johto? I guess they went back to the mountains for route 28 and then route 29, etc.?

After they mapped Kanto and Johto, and maybe subsequently Hoenn and Sinnoh in that order, people left Pallet Town and began to build new towns. These people were better at naming things. They were kind of creative but derivative and homesick so they springboarded from pallet.

Obviously in Unova, Kalos, and Alola there was a different First Pokemon Trainer who was also usually pretty bad at naming things. Everything not named route _ was named by someone else later.

The Pokemon World is weird. Yes, the naming conventions of locations is what makes it weird.

Evolution of A Weird Trend in Youtube

The other day Youtube recommended a video to me, Evolution of Deleting Save Files in Kirby Games.

Well, weird, but as it’s not something many people do, it’s nice there’s a video even though it’s probably really boring.

Later I was recommended a video, Evolution of Deleting Save Files in Kirby Games.

It was by a different account.

There are no fewer than FOUR videos dedicated to that concept. Not only that, they are ALL in the same format: Evolution of [blank] in [blank] games. Where did this format of videos come from, and more importantly, WHY ARE THEY ALL NAMED THE SAME? And they were all released within several days of each other!

I seem to recall this format starting a while ago, but generally with something pretty straightforward, generally boss battles I think. “Evolution of [this boss] in [these games]”. There you can show the boss battle, then move on. But now we’re getting “Evolution of the Butterfly in Kirby Games” and it’s like… why do you even need to format the title like that? Can’t it just be like, “the butterfly’s appearances in kirby games” or “the butterfly keeps appearing in kirby, CONSPIRACY!!” Yes I am recommending people put conspiracy int their titles instead of evolution. I don’t know.

Do a search for “Evolution of * in * games” and what do you get?

Evolution of Final Attacks in Kirby games ᴴᴰ (2011 – 2018)
Evolution of Final Boss Deaths in Kirby Games (1992-2018)
Evolution of Final Bosses in Kirby Games (1992-2018)
Evolution of Spider-Man Games 1982-2018
Evolution of Rick in Kirby Games (1995 – 2018)
Evolution of Kine in Kirby Games (1995 – 2018)
Evolution of Coo in Kirby Games (1995 – 2018)

You can’t just like… Rick throughout Kirby games? Rick from Kirby? No? You have to copy? This is the new Let’s Play, isn’t it? And not only that, but what does Evolution of Rick in Kirby Games even entail?? It just… shows… footage of Rick. That’s it. That’s just. I don’t get it. This is so weird now. I suppose on this side of my considerations you could argue that some people might be looking up videos specifically to check something, maybe they’re writing or drawing fan stuff with Rick and want to see everthing, so that’s fine, in the end.

BUT CAN’T YOU CALL IT “HISTORY OF RICK IN KIRBY GAMES”?? EVOLUTION DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE HERE. You’re blatantly copying the first person to use what is arguably a terrible title!

I don’t know why I’m yelling, it’s not that big a deal.

I would definitely rather feel free to spend time than free to spend money.

I wrote the title on social media kinda quickly earlier, and since then have thought about it more, so I’d like to expand on it.

While it would be nice to not have to ever worry about having enough money to buy things–to just buy stuff without thinking “but do i have the money”–I would rather have more free time. I imagine many of us would all like to be able to go to the store, buy food, and not worry that we bought too much–to not get a specific brand because it’s on sale. We’d like to buy a new movie, or book, or video game, or album, without having to justify the purchase. We’d like to buy a new car when the old one’s turn signals become shoddy and the driverside window doesn’t go down and the seat doesn’t adjust. Me too, but if I have to work 10 or 12 hours a day to get it–or, worse, work 8 hours a day at something I don’t like–I’d much rather just have barely enough to get by. I want, not freedom of cash, but freedom of time. I value time a lot more than money.

For me, it’s less about living below my means and more about meaning down to my life. Er, wait. It’s about dropping my means down to just above my living, so that I may therefore have more time to live.

Duth Olec’s 2017 Retrospective

It’s cool to do this, right? Actually I might have done these sort of things in past years too. I don’t remember. But let’s take a look at what I’ve done this year, assuming I do remember!

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Began posting the prog version of Wandering Fortunes online: on my website, on Wattpad, and for the first time on Medium. At the rate of one chapter a month, I’ve gotten twelve of these chapters up. That puts me at about a third through the story. This story is actually somewhat special to me–the first two novels were partly based off ideas I had years and years ago, but Wandering Fortunes is the first story I came up with after I decided to go into noveling (authorial term). Furthermore, the main characters, and many other characters, are based off characters I used to use in collaborative stories I wrote with some old internet friends. Were it not for those pals I would never have gotten into writing, so I thank them profusely. (Also some characters in Wandering Fortunes are inspired by some of their characters, too! Don’t worry, I got their permission.)
  • I continued the Pokecomic, which started when Pokemon Sun and Moon released last year. The first comic of this year was 39, and on the 30th I’ll post number 89, so that’s fifty comics this year. At that rate I’ll finish it in 2019, probably sometime after the 8th generation of Pokemon comes out. I’m actually rather surprised and proud I’ve been able to keep this comic up, considering these side projects involving art usually peter out for me pretty early, but this is something I’d wanted to do for over 5 years, probably since the 5th generation of Pokemon games came out.
  • In April began a new Twitter account for the Cloudy Cuckoo Cosmos where theoretical tweets from major CCC characters are made, using trending hashtags or responding to other tweets or simply posting about their lives. Shortly after announcing the Darmenzi release date I started posting theoretical messages from during the story. It’s been fun! I like coming up with stuff for the characters to say, such as on Thanksgiving, every character I’m using posted what they’re thankful for. Here’s a few highlights:
  • I released two pieces focusing on the premise of the character Top from Wandering Fortunes interrupting an existing story, with Lord of the Rings and Magic Banquet. (See also Wattpad here and here, and Medium here and here.) This is a premise I’d actually come up with earlier while reading a different story (which is yet to be used) and I was just like “man what if Top just showed up instead and distracted this bad guy”. I really like the idea because I really like Top and they’re basically the poster child for the Cloudy Cuckoo Cosmos, but it turns out I’ve had a bit of trouble coming up with more scenes to use, though that’s mostly because I don’t think about it while reading a book and then afterwards I don’t remember the book well enough to fit Top somewhere. But gaddfern it, I am GOING to find a way to shove Top into Charles Dickens one of these days!
  • I announced the ebook release date of Darmenzi, which isn’t until 2018 but still I announced it in 2017. This involved a lot of stuff that’s stressful for me. That press release? I tried to send it out to press places. I actually contacted people, trying to promote it. I still have more time to work on promoting it. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DOOOO but I’m going to try anyway. I’m not expecting a miracle but. like. you know. a burgeoning fanbase would be nice. Whoa! This 2017 retrospective just got real…ly dumb. uh.
  • I posted a super special Christmas-themed “short story”! It’s a giant satire of religion and the bible. I could definitely being the most controversial thing I’ve posted, but I also see it as one of the best because I get to be oddtastic and write nonsense. There’s even some Seuss-esque rhymes! It’s on my website here, Wattpad, and Medium.

DISASTERS

  • well most of the year for everybody and everything but ME SPECIFICALLY…
  • The beginning of the year sucked because as usual I was working at Bloom Insurance Agency, but even worse, it was customer service! For an incompetent company (not Bloom, they contract with insurance companies to do sales, it was the client who was pretty bad) in a badly-set-up system and also this is all redundant because it’s health insurance. The exception to health insurance is a company that’s not garbage in all ways. However, this wasn’t much of a disaster so much as par for the course over the past several years because I always start the year working since it’s their busy season and then after the first of the month I go on furlough when there’s not as much work and I can do good work. However…
  • I returned in mid-August and it was… weird, at first. I was put on a program without a lot of real training, but it was a program winding down, we were calling insurance agents, not customers, and again, it was winding down, so for the most part we just called answering machines, calling people who were called before, or just waited for no one to ever call. There ended up being so much downtime that people could often go home early. However, that ended, and then I went to an actual program for actually selling health insurance… and… oh Gourd, what was that company called? I’ve forgotten! Hang on… Aetna, I think? Pretty sure it was Aetna. DANG, did I get a pompous vibe from them. Anyway there was so much garbage terrible and finally I snapped at work. I described it at length here. As I say there, there was just a lot of really skeevy capitalist garbage that is totally legal and fine and okay but makes want to figgin PUKE, and I hate health insurance, I hate talking on the phones, I hate sales (making it all the harder for me to promote my book, but I’m still tryin’!), and I finally realized I could not help this rude person, and not just they were so rude, but my being there was a figgin detriment to every person who called and got me. To survive in capitalism I was having to make the world overall WORSE.
    I would rather die.
  • Continuing the theme of I Can’t Hold Down A Job Anymore, Basic Guaranteed Universal Income Or I Will Be Forced To Make The World A Worse Place To Survive And It Will Be You Stupid Conservative And Libertarians’ Fault So Good Job On That, Would You Rather I Die, at the end of November I applied to a job with my local paper as a night mailroom inserter or something or other. It was basically just placing newspapers in machines so they get sorted and ads and papers are placed in them right. Turns out because I have a garbage body I can’t do physical labor, certainly can’t do it at any decent speed, absolutely not at a decent speed needed for most jobs, and therefore just cross out physical labor with Talking to Customers on the list of jobs I can’t do. I forget how much I talked about this but basically the job was about 5 hours a night and after half of that I was nearly faint and couldn’t continue. I had to quit. After half a night. So that little experiment failed.
  • net neutrality repeal but again that’s something regarding the entire country, you don’t need me to tell you about that. Although after the repeal vote I actually called my reps about it, and note that after the calls I wanted to curl up under a chair so yeah phones suck die die die phones
  • Oh I guess the Patreon debacle was a slight disaster but Patreon walked it back so I think it’s gonna be okay.
  • Aaaand that’s really all the disasters of the year, my personal disasters totaled two, everything else was fairly fantastic, and those two disasters were both ME TRYING TO WORK A REGULAR JOB. Seriously, what do you want from me, world? But let’s move on from these sad parts and look forward to…

PLANS FOR 2018

  • Obviously I mentioned Darmenzi releases next year. It comes out Wednesday, January 17th. If I can get some selling I’ll be happy. I’ll pretty much take any number over zero, but I’d like double-digits. (I’d be ecstatic over triple.) Currently only the ebook is set; I don’t want to use Createspace because it’s owned by Amazon (which is why I’m reluctant to do anything related to Goodreads), so I’m going to try out other self-publish websites. I’ll keep you posted on that. I do truly believe this book is better than the first, and it begins to bring up questions about the creator and narrator with the antagonist, Darmenzi. Some closure, some sadness, and some some fantastic villain interaction. But with a few weeks left I still need to work on promoting it…
  • I want to start a new daily project in 2018. I don’t want to reveal too much yet, for some reason, but it’s totally ripped off from inspired by something KC Green is doing. It also means this blaargablog will pick up by about… Whoa wait I had at least one post a day from the 15th to the 20th! That’s pretty good. anyway lotsa %.
  • I’ve gotten a Mastodon account! I really would like to stop Twittering but whoops I need to build an online presence and using websites that have traffic is a slight requirement, sorry. I’m still not sure how I want to do this but I might just give up and post at both places equally with the same things, which would also involve making a second Mastodon account equivalent to the Cloudy Cuckoo Cosmos Twitter.
  • Might get a Ko-Fi. A cocoa-wifi. After the Patreon thing happened I was like “huh, maybe i’d rather make my goals just flat amounts to reach towards instead of monthly givings goals.” Now, I changed that idea because most of my current Patreon goals are actually recurring things that I would want a continuing stream of income to help with (posting more chapters a month, the Cloudy Cuckoo Cosmail which to be fair I mostly want to wait to do because I want a big enough fanbase to get a steady stream of questions but I’d also like to pay my artist friends for drawing the comics so yeah), but there are some that could work as an accumulation of everything donated (special stories, comic/graphic versions of short stories, that Cloudy Cuckoo Cosmos Online RPG idea I wanna do someday), kinda like mini-Kickstarters except there’s no guarantee and you give money even if it takes 5000 years to reach the goal, since it’s more of a “thank you!!!” than an actual end goal. Maybe. I dunno.
  • There are at least one or two short stories I will post here next year, and I’d also like to write more and maybe finish some and maybe even finish some that I could submit to publications! I’ve sent one to a few places but it hasn’t been accepted, though to be fair it’s a character-centric story that probably works as being posted here first anyway. I have an idea for a short story I’m going to begin working on soon that might work.
  • Continue Wandering Fortunes! Continue the pokecomic! The former I hope to pass the halfway point on in 2018, and the Pokecomic to, who knows, maybe get to the 3/4 point.
  • Darmenzi audiobook. Work on it is a bit slow because I’m a bit slow, but the idea has been in the making for a little while now and some recording has been done. Some more recording needs to be done and then editing will be discussed. No promises or predictions on when this will start–I can only give myself a deadline.
  • Some freelance writing/editing? Look I clearly suck at holding down a Regular Job, and selling books takes more time than society will allow for survival, so I might have to look to that to have an income.
  • Be the best Duth I can be.
  • And at least a functioning Jeremy.

I think that about wraps it up. See you in a few days for my Clichemas post, and come January 1st I should be starting that new daily project I mentioned.

If there’d been no internet…

I just kinda realized I have absolutely no idea what I would be doing if there hadn’t been internet. It’s very possible I’d be on the verge of crippling emptiness by now. Not because I’ve ever been close to that in this timeline, but just because I don’t think I’d have anything going for me that I actually care about.

The internet didn’t start until after video games, so we could assume video games would still be around in this timeline. Honestly, before the internet that was just about the only thing I had any passion for. I was good at math, I liked creating ideas, and you’d think it would have fit. But back then I never really realized how much I’d have to learn about creating them, and the only time I ever tried learning any sort of programming I was a total failure at it. (Could’ve been due to public schools, but I’m not convinced about that.) Plus, I’m living in figgin Indiana. There’s a few game companies here and there in this state, but not any near here, and oh yeah, they probably wouldn’t have started without the internet.

So that’s out. I didn’t actually really get into writing (or reading even) until I was on the internet and on forums and writing crazy collaborative role play stories with other weirdos whom I will always love and cherish forever because you’re all awesome. So I wouldn’t have gone into writing without the internet.

well, there goes all my passions, what else you got for me, alternate-life

So I mentioned I’m good at math. It took me some time to decide on a major in college. What would I have majored in without the internet? I majored in English, but wouldn’t have without getting into writing and reading. So, math?? Would I have just gone with math?? Would I have gone with something else entirely?? In this timeline I actually don’t think college affected me that much. Maybe it wouldn’t have in the other timeline? Or maybe in the other timeline, directionless, I would have gotten a job related to whatever major I went into?

If math, then… accounting or some fig??

So now we imagine some dude, his job is accounting (WHAT DOES THAT EVEN ENTAIL), his only source of enjoyment is… video games? He doesn’t have any friends, I don’t have any physical realm friends because I am the worst at physical realm interaction, all my friends are on the internet, so we got a dude, no friends, doing accounting or something…

Oh wow, maybe he makes a good wage doing this!

Oh wow, maybe he doesn’t give a fig about that!

i dunno i don’t want to say i’d EVENTUALLY BECOME A TERRORIST, but i’d probably eventually just crawl in a ditch and take a nap forever

Who knows though maybe I’d get into baking or cooking and become a cool chef, it is LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL WITH OUR CURRENT LEVEL OF TECHNOLOGY

but in a thousand years we’ll have the What If Machine and can find out

Snapped at Work: Don’t Work a Job You Hate

Let me get real with you for a moment.

I snapped at my dayjob on Sunday.

So I worked selling health insurance at a call center. People called in, I would talk to them, figure out what the best plan would be (spoilers the best plan for everyone is single payer/Medicare for all but that’s besides the point, not really), and then enroll them into it. I did not like a single part of this.

I don’t like talking on the phone. I don’t even really like verbally talking. I can go a week without talking to anyone and be fine; at this job I could have to talk to 250 people in one week. I’m no good at small talk. I’m not great at multitasking. I’m not a salesman. And I don’t like health insurance. I HATE health insurance. It’s a garbage system that results in overpriced garbage. People pay money to get mediocre insurance and that money then goes towards trying to convince other people to get mediocre insurance that will fund more advertising for… I mean, Aetna (the company that the program I was on was contracted with) gave people $10 Visa reward cards for calling and going to meetings. This is the most capitalistic garbage nonsense and I got sick from so many people calling in literally because $10 is this giant boon to them because our garbage society makes people live off garbage to survive so that a select few can own the figgin solar system. I’m getting off-topic.

So what was I doing there? I mean at the end I wasn’t even sure anymore, but how did I get into this job? I was fresh outta college and needed a job because I rashly decided college would be a good idea without considering the fact it’s only a good idea if you can either do it free or do it specifically to become massively rich at the expense of everything else, possibly including the college you went to. I went to a temp agency and got a job at this health insurance place. No real job interview, I just started. Even though I was bad at basically everything the job needed.

Anyway this has been boiling for two years starting when there was mandatory overtime because we were way too busy because the system is stupid for only letting people enroll in a small 2-month window and they don’t have enough people working because presumably no one in their right mind wants to work there?? Between the actual work and my hate for health insurance things, as I said, just kind of boiled until I finally exploded on Sunday. It wasn’t this one thing–it never is, is it?–this was just the, as they say, last straw that broke the camel’s backlog. The pot had been so close to boiling over for so long, this one thing finally overflowed it like fireworks.

Unexpectedly, this final straw was a rude caller. And honestly I can’t blame them for it, they said they’d spent an hour and a half on the phone, the worst communication system humans have ever created. Usually I could deal with rude callers, but between the stress of the Aetna program, hating health insurance more, and just generally feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing anymore, I finally snapped. I later realized it wasn’t even because she was rude, it was because I couldn’t help her well. My being there was a detriment not just to myself but to everyone I talked to. It turns out capitalism can lead to terrible results when someone gets stuck at a job they don’t like and can’t do well! If I liked the job, that would be different, but since I didn’t that could only lead to worse outcomes. If I can’t get a job I at least like, I should get one where I make, if not a net positive outcome, at least not a net negative one.

When I snapped I at least still had the awareness to mute myself but then I just went at it, screaming and throwing some stuff, I’m pretty sure I threw my headset and I know I threw my water bottle. I seriously don’t even know what I said. I might’ve said “I’m done,” “I quit,” I probably said, “I hate health insurance,” I think I might’ve swore once?? I definitely screamed. I think I threw my water bottle down, it bounced up, and then landed in a trash can–almost, but when I thought it did, I was still flippant enough to stop for a moment and remark on having made a basket. (All I know how to do is make jokes, Someone Please Hire Me To Write Jokes, Oh Gourd I Need To Get Out Of Indiana, The Land Without Jokes.)

One of my supervisors came over to calm me down, asked me if I needed to take a walk. I did. It was sprinkling outside. So was I. I swear I haven’t cried in a long, long time, but I did. I sobbed a little, even. (In retrospect I wish I’d sobbed and cried harder, even when alone I tried not to but honestly it would have been a lot more cathartic I think if I’d just bawled like crazy. I’m thinking of heading out to the lake one of these days and just screaming across it, seeing if I still have some emotions pent-up in there, because whenever I think about it I’m like “okay i would actually rather like to cry like that again please”.)

I walked to the end of the parking lot. I seem to remember thinking I laughed a little because of how long I’d held it all in, but if I’m being honest with myself there was no laughter there. When I finally went back inside my supervisor had organized my stuff for me. Let me tell you, the only thing I regret from this is that I had hoped to leave the job with some dignity intact, because the only thing I liked about the job was almost all my coworkers were nice and wonderful people. If any of you somehow read this, you’re all probably great and I’m still sorry I didn’t leave before I exploded. I really shouldn’t have come back after this year’s furlough, but I just didn’t realize how close to my breaking point I’d been at. And, you know, capitalism. I “need” a “job.” Well, I need money is what I need, but a universal basic guaranteed income is still a long ways away, it seems.

I’ve been looking for a job just about all year. In the last several months I’ve started just applying to everywhere I might be able to reasonably be hired at and do. That means no more customer rep or sales though. The fewer customers I have to talk to, the better. I do have enough money saved for a time though, and plus I have the figgin most wonderful parents ever, so things will probably be fine. Maybe this can be a turning point, my second novel should release soon (even sooner now that I’m not spending half my figgin time awake doing something I hate), maybe I can become a super success right quick. (Hahaha if only life was a book. Well sometimes it is.)

So why am I writing all this? Originally I just had the idea of a brief explanation just to sort of outline why I might suddenly have more of an online presence again and also why I might not post about single player/Medicare for all every single night (working in health insurance kind of keeps it really far in the forefront of my mind). However, there’s now another reason, and it’s why I’m also going to post this on Medium, and it’s basically this:

If you’re in a job you hate or can’t stand, and you can, leave. Like I said, my only regret is not being able to leave with some dignity. Leave before you explode out of there. If you can’t just leave (insert another rant about capitalism forcing people to work themselves into mental illness and exhaustion), keep looking for another job–don’t stop just because now you have a way to not die, thanks capitalism. Of course, I’m different, I can hardly function in normal society, I can only function on the internet society. But hey, I’m on the internet right now. And what I’ve come to realize is we’re all a lot more similar than we are different.

Anyway, it’s been three days. I should probably call the old dayjob place to confirm with them I’m not coming back.