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Yet Another Manipulator

24 Oct

I’m so tired of manipulative assholes. They’re very fortunate that I need time to process and that my default is to be nice to people…even when they’re manipulative assholes. Furthermore, I recently figured out that often when I meet someone with bad vibes, I tell myself I’m just nervous around them because I have social anxiety; it’s not until I’ve seen this person repeatedly that I finally realize they’re bad news. I have a history of putting up with bad people multiple times before I finally get fed up and can no longer be polite to them.

At least this time, I’ve managed to process on the same day as the incident. Perhaps some day it’ll take seconds after meeting the bad person, and I’ll turn around and walk out on them or hang up on them or have a great retort…whatever the circumstances warrant.

This Monday, I was at my second appointment at the gym and, after talking about my missing cat during my training, I spotted a pet supply store a few doors down. I happened to have some “Neko is Missing” fliers with me, so I decided I’d go in, ask if they’ll post the flier, and buy some cat food while I’m there. So I went inside the pet store.

The store owner approached me immediately, and I showed him the flier and explained that my cat is missing.

He asked how long she’s been missing. In hindsight, I should have said, “Six days,” since that’s when I discovered that she was no longer hanging out at a couple of neighbors’ houses and had wandered further away and was allegedly spotted at a nearby condo complex. Instead, I replied, “Since early September.”

He said, “That’s too long ago! It’s too late.”

Instead of punching him, I went into shock. “Actually, it’s more complicated than that. She was eating at a neighbor’s house for weeks and hasn’t been for the past week.”

He didn’t apologize for his callous and cruel remark. He glanced down at the flier he was holding and said, “Well, I’ll help you, but you have to buy stuff here.” He asked about my regular pet supply store, and I told him I go to The Healthy Pet; I didn’t mention that they’re very nice and respectful toward their customers and care about animals, unlike him.

I was in a stunned state and acting as though he was one of my toxic relatives, who wired my brain in early childhood to side with bullies against myself and to tip-toe around toxic assholes who are similar to them. Yet underneath that early childhood conditioning, upon which I acted, I already knew that he was devoid of empathy and compassion, didn’t care about animals, and was blackmailing and manipulating me.

I went into the store with the intention of shopping for cat food (if you have five cats, you can easily understand), so even if he weren’t blackmailing and manipulating, I would have done what I did: make a bee-line for the cat food aisle. I quickly discovered that he doesn’t sell any of the food that my cats are accustomed to eating, but I picked up a few cans of cat food that I thought they’d like, and I grabbed a cat snack, and I carried them to the front counter, never mind how ill at ease I was with this asshole.

As soon as I reached the counter, he said, “You shop only here from now on.” He pulled out a bag of dry cat food and tried to sell it to me, but it contained duck, and I doubted my cats would like that. “You only come to this pet store from now on.” He must have said that at least twice, and I was too stunned to tell him off and march out, as I wish, in hindsight, I had done. The seoond time I thought, I’ll alternate with both stores. I can’t stop going to The Healthy Pet. He kept offering me different dry cat foods, and when I agreed to buy one bag of cat food and get the other half off, he still wasn’t done: he gestured toward a freezer containing raw food for cats and dogs and gave me a used car salesman spiel about that, too, as he already had for dry catfood. I didn’t buy any of the raw cat food, but he gave me a couple of free samples and said, “From now on, you only shop at this pet store.”

He asked me about the cat food my cats normally eat, and he dismissed their favorite dry food by saying that those brands charge too much. Um, they’re quality organic and grain-free catfood from the Pacific Northwest. He asked about their wet food, and I told him; since he asked more about it, such as what size the pouches are, I searched on my smartphone and showed him an image of one pounch of my cat’s favorite food. He said he’d sell it to me at a lower price than The Healthy Pet, and he whipped out a binder that was falling apart and showed me lots of handwritten pages, claiming that he can special order the cat food and that he does that all the time. He wrote down the type of catfood and, unfortunately, took down my first name and phone number.

I spent $91 in that store, even though in the twenty minutes or so that I wasted there, the store owner had proved that he’s a manipulative sociopath. He didn’t even try to hide it. He fucking flaunted it. Sociopaths don’t usually flaunt their evil in front of someone they just met; they usually lure you into a false sense of security by doing a performance, pretending to be a wonderful human being, and you might know them for yealrs—you might even marry them—before it becomes obvious that they’re judging and manipulating you. They’re devoid of empathy and compassion and don’t even have a conscience.

As has happened so often with sociopaths and narcissists, I reacted to the manipulative store owner like a deer in headlights. I reacted as though I were at a family reunion, with the very relatives I describe in my novel Skeleton from the Closet.

After I was no longer at the pet store, I carried the catfood out to my car and soon found myself waking up. I realized that within minutes of my setting through the door, the store owner proved that he is callous and doesn’t care about animals. During the time that I was there, he proved that he’s evil.

I finally realized that there was no way in hell that I’m ever setting foot in that store ever again, and even if my regular pet store charges more than that store—which, judging by the price tags I saw, is not the case—I would continue going there. I got home and gradually shifted from deer-in-headlights to righteous indignation.

I’m getting quicker at seeing through the bullshit of toxic humanoids who are too similar to the evil side of my family (and incidentally, I’m No Contact with that side of the family, except my sister and some California cousins who weren’t successfully brainwashed). I’m getting quicker at noticing red flags but still need to reach a stage in which my immediate reaction is to turn around and walk away.

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Skeleton from the Closet on Kindle

14 Oct

My magical realism novel Skeleton from the Closet is now available on Kindle!

The trade paperback edition will be coming soon.

 

Bohemian and feminist Kezia moves into the charming Craftsman house her uncle left her…in Kansas, where she moves and finds herself surrounded by conservatives, including toxic relatives. Aunt Edith seemed so kind and loving when she was a kid, but now she’s scathingly contemptuous toward Kezia, who begins redecorating and meets a walking and talking Skeleton, more than willing to tell her dark family secrets.

Self-Publishing Progress

10 Oct

In the small hours of the morning, I finished proofreading the interior for my magical realism novel, Skeleton from the Closet. Today I uploaded the latest version of the interior, made a few minor corrections, and uploaded it again. Next I took another look at the cover and made a slight alteration in the back cover copy; the final version of the cover is below.

Now that CreateSpace is reviewing the cover and interior of my novel Skeleton from the Closet, and I have to wait 24 hours, it’s time to get back to work on the other novel I’m self-publishing this month, Rowanwick Witches, Lesson 1: Spells and Enchantments. Fortunately, it’s a middle grade novel and is a lot shorter.

In about twenty-four hours, I’ll be able to finalize Skeleton on CreateSpace, and it’ll be available to purchase on Amazon.com by Saturday. Also in twenty-four hours, I’ll set up the Kindle version of the book.

Bad Mood, Hot Weather, and Housepainting

23 Jul

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Bad mood. Not sure why. Heatwave? Thanks to climate change, this summer is nonstop heatwaves.

It seemed to start when I was masking the stairs (to paint the tops of the steps dark brown), and my forehead was sweating. Halfway down the stairs, my forehead was sweating profusely, and I took a break, even though this brought up memories of The Worst Frenemy in the Galaxy harassing me for having unfinished projects and I could hear her voice in my head judging me because I didn’t go ahead and get the whole stairway masked in one fell swoop (since of course the way she does things is the only way to do them, and the way I do things is wrong because everything about me is wrong and bad). I haven’t seen that parasite in a year, but she’s still in my head.

While I took a break, I had a frozen fruit bar and read a portion of a book on empaths, and I felt really sad while reading it and nearly started crying while reading and taking notes. According to this book, empaths sometimes unconsciously resort to depression because depression reduces empathy. Reading this made me feel depressed.

I briefly looked back over the latest chapter I’m sharing with my novel critique group (and got annoyed at my computer, which claimed that someone else was working on the document and that I could only open it in read-only, so I created a new document). My bad mood includes irritation at sweating and at my uncooperative computer; depression in response to reading about depression; indecision and a feeling of being overwhelmed because I’ve been painting and masking and think I should also be putting up curtain rods, which involves standing on something to reach up and use the electric drill and hope it goes smoothly. Such mechanical tasks are only likely to put me in a worse mood or bring back the bad mood.

Last night I finished reading Neil Gaiman’s novel Neverwhere (for the eighth time, but this time it was the “author’s preferred text). I had decided to read it because my period was just ending and I wanted to read something fun rather than something that might provoke a bad mood, such as a book on boundaries or a book on empathy. And I just felt like reading it (something that The Worst Frenemy in the Galaxy disapproved of—how dare I read books I feel like reading rather than bore myself with books she prefers!

Anytime I meet someone who says they’re an INTP, I shall as politely as possible inform them that I want to never see them again, because INTPs are arrogant pieces of shit, based on that one…of course, she’s also a sociopath and a narcissist with BPD, which has more than anything else to do with her being an arrogant piece of shit, but still, someone who’s dismissive of my emotions and thinks that thinking and intellectual snobbery is more important than emotions is clearly toxic and unfit company for me or any other empath).

During that little break, when I was about to send the critique group the chapter I just revised, I had the irksome experience of receiving a text message from Lawnmower Man. I’ve reached the point that I am acutely aware of feeling annoyed with him and practically dreading his visits; he does not have good vibes, and recently he attempted to manipulate me into renting the apartment to him. I refused to let him come over today; I’m starting to take my boundaries seriously.

I’ve been a recluse at home all weekend—just don’t want to be around people. I wasn’t a recluse on Friday evening, just all day Saturday and Sunday (today).

Two days ago, I finally realized that when I first meet people who don’t have good vibes, I assume I’m nervous just because I’m talking to a stranger. Now that I’m aware of this bad habit, hopefully I’ll stop doing it.

What a pity I didn’t read up on empaths when I was, say, twenty years old. I would have realized beforehand that working in retail would be a terrible idea, and I would have made a point of going straight to grad school out of undergrad. I’d probably have a PhD in Creative Writing (which may sound strange, but such a degree does exist). Sure, I can write without degrees and without college debt, but that would have spared me all those years of soulless jobs only for money, in which I was surrounded by toxic perpetual playground bullies. All that energy, all those bad moods constantly around me: no wonder I just became more and more angry.

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Oh, yes, I should mention: the break was brief, and I have since finished going all the way down the stairs. I just haven’t cleared off and masked the landing, which of course will also require sweeping and painting. I might go ahead and paint the rest of the stairs and hold off on the landing. Then at least it looks more like I’ve gotten quite a bit accomplished. At about midnight last night, I painted the front of the steps burgundy; or maybe I just did the masking then and painted the steps this morning. That’s weird that I’m blanking out on that. That’s right—the second version. Anyway, I had to do additional masking (and a bit of unmasking) for the sake of painting the dark brown tops of the steps and the whatever-that-is-like-a-baseboard-along the inner side of the stairs. Oh, I guess it’s a big baseboard.

I also need to save the paint sample card for when I have a banister, which I suspect will be a couple years. The color is Benjamin Moore…oh, I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s odd that I bought a house that no longer has a banister.

I only got far enough along with curtain rods to take a long curtain rod out of its package and place the library stool by the window…well, but the shoe rack is in the way, between the stool and the wall.

Also, I did most of the masking in the apartment bathroom but didn’t finish it and of course didn’t start painting that room.

It will still be daylight for a few more hours; it’s 6 pm now. I’ll read something other than the empath book and possibly fall to sleep—but at least do some reading before I resume painting the stairs (after the temperature has gone down a bit).

Creepy Couple

7 Jul

Aside from the Creepy Vibes couple sitting to my left, The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was beautiful. The costumes! The Elizabethan stage! (Yes, it was different from the New Globe, particularly the modern seating, but the stage itself was quite elaborate and half-timbered).

I’m finally reading up on empaths and have confirmed that I definitely am one and that it certainly explains a great deal about me (and about the toxic people drawn to me). I do wonder if it’s common for empaths to have a lot of relatives who have Cluster B personality disorders (sociopathy, narcissism, and borderline personality), or if that was just bad luck and/or terrible karma. If it was karma, then perhaps I was a serial killer in a previous life. The people I most need to have No Contact with are the ones who are most drawn to me and the ones who are extremely easy to find.

But I digress, perhaps because I don’t want to write about those people and would rather write about anything else. But the book on empathy I’m currently reading emphasizes journal writing and such.

The seats are assigned (no groundlings in that theater), and as soon as I got to my seat and sat down, the woman seated on my left gave off hostile and judgmental energy. I didn’t hear her exact words, or I don’t remember her exact words, but she asked her husband if they could sit in the two empty seats to their left, despite the little detail that this was about half an hour before curtain and she knew, or should have known, perfectly well the seats were assigned. I clearly sensed that she didn’t like my sitting next to her. I didn’t do anything to her, and I took a shower and shampoo and put on deodorant before driving downtown from the hotel that afternoon. I had a creepy sense that she was judging me because I’m fat, and that she’s a fatphobic misogynist. Just because this narcissist is shaped like a twig doesn’t mean that all women should be shaped like twigs. Her husband did tell her that they were assigned seats. But that wasn’t the end of it.

 

Who knows, it’s possible that because of how I was dressed, she assumed I was a dirty hippie, despite my lack of stench or cannabis aroma. And maybe, especially with all my exposure to sun lately, she was hostile toward me because she’s overtly racist and/or anti-Semitic. However, I sensed that she was just overtly fatphobic, and life has taught me that I should take my instincts and impressions seriously. If I had done so while I associated with The Worst Frenemy in the Galaxy, I would have dumped her years earlier than I did. (For that matter, one of these books on empaths says that empaths can almost seem to read minds. It’s not literal mind reading, and it doesn’t involve understanding the words going through someone’s head, but it’s more like a basic sense of what they’re thinking.)

 

As though the creepy narcissist beside me thought I was deaf, she said “her” a few times and made it openly clear that she disliked me for no valid reason whatsoever. She even switched seats with her husband at one point. Meanwhile, the last two people in our row were the ones whose assigned seats were to the left of the Bad Vibes couple; to make it easier for them to pass me, I sat up stiffly and pushed my Nepalese bag beneath my seat and generally made myself as small as possible. While her husband sat beside me, the cunt said something like, “She doesn’t seem to be in the way, after all,” (again, I didn’t catch the exact words), and so—to my dismay—they switched seats back.

 

The reason I call them the Bad Vibes couple rather than only describe her that way was because they both came off as negative, bitchy humanoids who complain about this and that, and they both struck me as misogynistic. Reading the program, he learned that, horrors, a woman would be playing the role of Falstaff, so he had a fit and ranted about it. She joined in. They both seemed to think that because it’s been a long time since women weren’t allowed to perform on the English stage, and this is the twenty-first century, that casting cisgender women in male roles is inappropriate. They clearly had an extreme belief in gender binary. They both kept going on and on about it, and she barked in her raspy, jarring voice, “We should file a complaint! We should file a complaint!” (Yeah, I’m sure the people who work at the theater wouldn’t think you’re close-minded assholes if you complained about such a thing.) If they had seen the all-female cast of Much Ado about Nothing that I saw at the New Globe in, they would have pissed their pants.

 

The narcissist wouldn’t leave me alone, either. While her husband was gone for a few minutes, she gave me a creepy look and didn’t say anything to me. She had no problem talking about me insultingly and in the third person right in front of me, as though she assumed I was deaf or hard of hearing, but she couldn’t talk to me while we were the only two people sitting in the row. I had my program open in front of me and found it difficult to focus on it, especially while the two of them were bitching. (Their harsh, hostile, negative voices drove me crazy.) While it was only the two of us, the tension made me very nervous, but I was not about to start a conversation with this toxic human. As long as her husband was there, she had no problem with talking to him about me and giving me nasty looks and giving off toxic vibes.

 

I sensed that she didn’t consider me a real human being, but something subhuman.

 

At the beginning of the performance, actors were on the stage and addressing the audience. They referred to audience members in certain parts of the audience. In response, I turned toward that part of the audience, as did many people, and I chuckled. The harpy next to me looked me up and down, from head to toe, in a very openly rude and creepy manner.

 

By then, the two of them had succeeded in putting me in a bad mood, since as an empath I am an emotional sponge. But that last bit creeped me out the most. I get nervous if someone just looks at me with a neutral facial expression rather than a smile. In contrast with this rude cunt, I never looked at her directly; though in hindsight, maybe it would have been satisfying if, while she was giving me this creepy and insolent look-over, I had suddenly turned and stared right back at her. I did see her well enough to know that in addition to being skin and bones, she had very plain features and obviously dyed too-bright titian hair, so I know for a fact that she’s no beauty queen herself.

She wouldn’t shut the hell up and frequently talked to her husband throughout the performance, as though to make absolutely sure she reminded me that her creepy and distasteful presence was right beside me. She even exclaimed aloud, as though she were a teenager, “This is so cool!” Indeed, she and her husband seemed like perpetual junior high brats.

 

If only I were in a position that I could, like Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, arrange to be the only audience member watching plays! (The closest I’ve experienced is being in the sparse audience during dress rehearsals.)

 

Respect is a very important need, not a luxury. Just because a pile of excrement sits beside me doesn’t mean I don’t deserve respect. Maybe if the parasite had any empathy at all, she’d know that treating an empath in such a hateful and rude manner means that the empath knows that you’re hateful and rude toward him or her.

 

I tried not to let this ruin my enjoyment of the play. I paid as much for my ticket as that narcissist did. Probably more, if her husband paid for it. And yes, I intellectually know I shouldn’t take things personally and that it doesn’t matter what toxic, arrogant, and judgmental humanoids think. But intellect and emotions don’t always match up.

 

I have decided that I need to not be around many people tomorrow. I’ll just check out of the hotel and head home to my cats, who will be happy to see me. Well, okay, three of them will be happy to see me. This is about taking in the energy and moods of other people and having a hard time in crowds and in public. I guess the real reason I need so much solitude is less about being introverted and more about being an empath. I had meant to take advantage of the hotel pool one more time before checking out and afterwards going downtown and having lunch at a pub, but now that doesn’t sound as appealing as being alone and heading home to my cats. Cats and dogs give you unconditional love.

 

Especially after all those years with The Worst Frenemy in the Galaxy, I have had more than my share of soulless monsters projecting their soulless monsterhood onto me.  It may seem like the fate of empaths, but now that I’ve started reading up on empaths, I surmise that’s mostly if you don’t understand boundaries and know how to psychically protect yourself from toxic humans. I’d better keep studying up on empaths and learn quickly. That is more practical and wholesome than becoming a total hermit, with no contact with other humans, never mind how tempting that can be.