The Problem with Locke Lamora

In: life|Navel Gazing

24 Mar 2011

This is not an easy post for me to write. If you’re not into any kind of personal stuff, and just want the usual Anna fare, it’s probably not the post for you. Having written it, I’m willing to admit that even pushing post on this kind of terrifies me, just for fear of the kinds of reactions it might get. At the same time, I’ve been trying to figure my way through this issue for awhile, and typing it up seems to help.

*Deep Breath* So here goes.

To start, many of you know I’ve had some real issues in the last six months or so. I basically stopped blogging, stopped gaming. The few real life friends that read here know that I all but dropped out of SCA. At first, it was pretty easy to blame that all on my job, but that wasn’t entirely true.

The job was, in a way, a catalyst for things that happened later. I started working at the bookstore in September. By November I was in full scale psychological breakdown, as the support structures and mechanisms I’d built into working from home failed completely, followed by a really ugly last-straw sort of situation.

I’d rather not go into personal details, but since then I’ve been diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that is co-morbid with (happening at the same time as) severe depression and a form of anxiety disorder that we’ve not pinned down just yet (probably general anxiety, but it really doesn’t matter). I’m in quite a lot of therapy, as well as being on a number of different medications – yet another thing that’s not really all sorted out yet, which is hugely frustrating. Not to mention the fact that I have the attention span of a gnat on crack.

At this point, I’m capable of holding down my job and managing my house most of the time. Some days, that’s all I can do, other days I can do more. And usually do too much, which then sets me up for the next crash. Go figure.

(Segues are for sissies.)

All of my life I have been a voracious reader.

Even now, I surround myself with people who read – the Divas and most of the Wildfire Riders crew and the majority of my twitter feed. Add to that working in a bookstore, and books are a pretty common subject in my life.

And right now? I can’t read them. Or rather, I can’t read the ones that other people suggest and that I want to read. Same goes with movies. The vast majority of stuff that people suggest is “awesome” I only have to read a synopsis of on Wikipedia to know that it’s going to end up screwing with my head for days.

This all leaves me in a bit of a quandary because I don’t want to say “I know this book is one that you think is wonderful, but I can’t handle reading about 42 different kinds of horrible, awful things that happen to the people in it right now.” And EVERY FANTASY BOOK EVER seems to have those kinds of themes, even Mercedes Lackey, in her Arrows series that gets recommended for teenagers.

Marion Zimmer Bradley? Nope – even though I’ve read them before, I know I can’t read them again. George R R Martin? No fucking way. Joe Abercrombie? Probably not. Goodkind? Nope. Charles De Lint? Nope. Read Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent. Great book, more than I could handle. Even Gaiman pushes my limits sometimes, not to mention the stories in video games.

Scott Lynch? Nope.

And thus we have the problem with Locke Lamora.

I want to read that book. I want to love it. The beginning is hugely intriguing and interesting and makes me want to keep reading… and then I get to the part where graphic torture enters the scene, put the book down, and can’t even look at it for months. Some of you might say “that’s nothing, you should see XYZ book…” and frankly, you might be right. There might be a lot worse things I could read in other books. But that doesn’t change the reaction – the actual, physical reaction – I have to this one.

I’m afraid to start books because I know what will happen, so I read stuff that people say is “funny and silly” – which means I either read fluff or nonfiction.

This all sounds pretty simple and, in the greater scheme of things, not that big a deal. So I can’t read some books. Big whoop.

But it’s actually a pretty good example of how my entire world works right now. I’ve never before had to look at things and evaluate whether or not I could handle them. I’ve never had to say “No, I can’t do that right now” to things I want to do.

The rational part of me, the part that knows how this works, that understands the science (or at least attempts to), that knows to “trust the process,” is able to say that this is just where I am right now. It’s early. It took me… *counts on fingers* … almost 15 years to get to this point. It’s not going to take 5 months to undo that level of fucked up.

Unfortunately that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

24 Responses to The Problem with Locke Lamora

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Steve – Kestrel's Aerie

March 24th, 2011 at 10:55 am

Damn. I knew you were going through a rough period, but had no idea…

At any rate…it’s times like these when it helps to know there are friends who care, and I do. You know I’m around pretty much all the time, so feel free to bend my ear anytime, for any reason, or no reason.

*hugs*

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Awlbiste

March 24th, 2011 at 11:27 am

As someone who has dealt/lived/sometimes battled with anxiety (and depression sometimes stemming from the times my GAD was untreated) it does, eventually, hopefully, become easier. I can’t say better because truly I have really bad days now and then, but overall it is easier. The journey can be sucky, and it takes sometimes a lot of different medication/therapy types to figure what works best. What helps me the most on my bad days is knowing there are people out there who know *exactly* what I am going through. When I have a panic attack I immediately talk to people who commisserate best.

/hugs. You’re a strong, and good, person. I hope it gets easier for you as soon as possible.

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Tami

March 24th, 2011 at 11:48 am

*big hugs*

I’ve always thought Arrows of the Queen series was a bit on the harsh side, though I read it when I was a teen, myself.

Today’s society is all about the action and torture, though. It’s either got really hard stuff in it, or it’s light and fluffy, and sometimes you’d like to read a story that is SAFE without having rubber teeth.

Being abandoned by books would be really hard for me to take – I can imagine how hard it is for you, right now, when I’m sure you’d dearly love to escape even for just a few hours.

If there’s anything I can do, let me know. I will scour my library and bookshelves to find something that might work for you, or we can start an email chat about plants (which rarely tip the Mature rating scale) or something.

<3

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Anjela Bugher

March 24th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

*great big hugs* I didn’t realize things were so bad right now; I’m so sorry to hear that! If there’s anything I can do from out here in Seattle, from shipping you chocolate to digging up some really excellent yarn to sending you pictures of my cat, I’d be happy to. <3

I’ve gone through (GAD-heavy) weeks/months where I cannot deal with watching or reading anything where anything bad happens to anyone. As someone whose favorite movie genre is “drama”, that pretty much means my DVD collection is useless. I watched “Planet Earth” a lot during the first time this happened to me. (Apparently I’m okay with circle-of-life animal-kingdom things. *g*) Identifying it when something is a potential or actual trigger, and taking steps to protect yourself, is a difficult and *irritating* thing to have to do, and no amount of internet hugs will make it less so — but still, internet hugs are what I’ve got, so I am sending them all the same. *hugs hugs*

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Mireille

March 24th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Why do you apologize? That is the only thing I don’t get. Why would you apologize because life threw you lemons and you need to get it off your chest?
And no. Because they are lemons, it doesn’t mean you can make them into lemonade. =) Sometimes lemons are just that. Fucked up things, that you just deal with until they go away…or not. You just deal.

It’s your weblog, you can write on it what you want. There is no rule that says you are only allowed to talk about the good things. =)

(and for the actual thing. I can’t comment. I don’t know. I hope you have people around you on who you can support. Some things are too big.)

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Kyraine

March 24th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

You’re someone who I know has the strength and determination to get through this. I have much respect for you, Anna. I know how hard some of that is to deal with, to this day there’s some things that I still can’t read and watch because of things I’ve dealt with at work. If you need to talk, drop me an email.

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Uthas

March 24th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

So, here is my best suggestion. In the last few years, I’ve grown increasingly disatisfied with fantasy literature as a whole for two basic reasons.

1. It’s all derivative. I don’t mind people using similar themes and characters, but I’m just very tired of predictable carbon copies of everything. The speculative fiction market is just glutted right now, imo, and the waters are polluted with crap.

2. As the years go by, I find myself less able to stomach violence. This may sound weird considering some of the posts that I’ve written in the past, but I think that’s possibly why. I have a naturally dark turn of mind, and I write things like that partially to excise it from myself. I CANNOT stomach violence without something else going on behind the scenes that captures my interest. I breed enough dark thoughts on my own, I don’t need anyone else’s getting in.

So, what have I done? Honestly, turned to Young Adult literature. I’ve got to say, I think that’s where writing is happening currently. I see more thought captivating characters in YA books than in the crud fantasy I was reading previously. I highly recommend reading the Percy Jackson books. I loved them. It seems like that might be a good place to go to for good reading.

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Anna

March 24th, 2011 at 5:43 pm

@Kyraine <3 thanks. I may just do that, or poke you on gtalk :)

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Anna

March 24th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

@mireille it’s not that I’m really apologizing in the standard way, as for something I did wrong. Instead, I know this is a tough subject to talk about, even in very generic terms. So the apology is mostly to warn people off of a deep and somewhat difficult post, especially considering how hard it is for me to talk about. Perhaps the apology is to myself in that way, a little.

Anyhow, I do have a strong support structure, one that I’m working on allowing myself to use – not being as self reliant as I want makes that hard too! But thank you for the well wishes. It’s ok to not know how to talk about it. Maybe I’ll do some blogging in that direction sometime :)

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Anna

March 24th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

@uthas, tami, and anjela – out of lunchbreak, but I’ll reply when I’m off work tonight. Until then, if you’ve got my gtalk, feel free to ping me <3

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Gryphonheart

March 24th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

What I do whenever I get really frustrated and fed up with the constant conflicts that fill day-to-day life is go back to some of the books I really loved in elementary school. Oftentimes they’re safe from violent imagery, whimsical enough to keep me entertained and focused on reading, and simple enough that I can just let most of my brain rest or wander around in the book’s setting without having to worry about whether or not the words will take my mind to a darker place.

I think Dinotopia is my favorite book series for this purpose. It brings forth the possibilities of a fantastic utopian world while placing characters in conflicts that are virtually always resolved without violence yet are still big enough that they feel important. Plus it’s got talking dinosaurs. =P

I’d also recommend Wings by Bill Brittain, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and Beardance by Will Hobbs (which is a sequel to Bearstone, which I’ve sadly never read =( ). All of them touch to some degree on some harsh topics, but hopefully they still treat them delicately enough that you don’t become frustrated trying to read them.

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Michael

March 24th, 2011 at 8:07 pm

*many hugs*

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Lycanthrope

March 24th, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Just take your time. Do not try to approach this faster than you think you can move. Give yourself, and the process, time to work things out. The good thing about books is that they are practically forever. You do not have to feel like you are losing anything, they will still be here for you when you are ready for them. Until then try works of humor, biography, other subjects that interest you and contain no violence, and as suggested above, works you enjoyed at a younger age.

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Anna

March 24th, 2011 at 11:33 pm

@Anjela – the world always needs more pictures of Olaf the Supercat. I’ve really shied away from talking about it (obviously until now, and this is still pretty general), simply because I never really know how people will react, or what will happen. “Outing” myself (for lack of a better word) makes it hard – both because of the reactions and because this isn’t something that’s going to go away “soon”. So I try not to talk about it, so that when it’s still going on in a year or years or whatever, I don’t have to worry about “relying” on it to get myself out of things. I realize that is probably completely unfounded, but hey, paranoia is fun, and that’s what therapy is for, right? I’ve wanted to bring the TRI crew into this before, but haven’t been entirely sure how. Maybe I should just link this on the forums.

Also, I can totally see myself hunkering down with some chunky yarn and a box set of Planet Earth. (Though knitting has been harder than usual – see: attention span of gnat.)

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Anna

March 24th, 2011 at 11:38 pm

@Tami – I’d not thought of it as being abandoned by books, but that’s really quite what it feels like. These things that have been so much a part of who I am and how I spend my time have suddenly become … well, things with fangs and teeth. Like the Monstrous book of Monsters in Harry Potter. I don’t mind reading books with real problems and good stories, it just seems that so many of them require action and torture and horrible things in a way that is very graphic. Sometimes it seems like it gets thrown in just for the hell of it.

Right now I’ve got Redwall and the first of the Percy Jackson books checked out from work. I think (as @Uthas mentioned) that going more towards YA is likely to be good for awhile. So many of those stories are wonderful and well told. Though I admit to having been fooled by the Arrows of the Queen series, so I could be wrong. Also, it would seem that disliking books about vampires is going to limit my reading choices in that area a bit…

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Anna

March 24th, 2011 at 11:39 pm

@Gryph – I’ll look for those. Beardance sounds familiar, and I’ve actually never read any of the Dinotopia books. Which is odd, because I loved the Redwall series and Watership Down (talking rabbits!)

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Khraden

March 30th, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Oh my. *sits on couch next to you* I am just now catching up on a lot of things, including your blogs (I’ve always loved the RP that you have published.

Anyway, onto my point. I might be a little late to the replies, but I feel that you the strength and urge to get through all of this. I myself, though not part of a mental or physical condition, went through a VERY difficult time. Nearly 5 years ago, my wife’s grandfather passed away in a car crash, followed by my grandfather six months later to a hematoma, and my other grandpa 3 months after that from the eventual decline in health. Let’s just say that it was a rough year for all our families. I was fortunate enough to have grown up with a “glass half full” attitude, and was able to pull myself through, while still helping the rest of my family cope.

But, just remember that you have folks, whether they’re virtual, online, or even in person, that are there for you, and willing to listen. I began reading several books (though they were based on games, hey, I’ll always be a gamer) within the timeframe after their passing. It helped me get through a lot of things, even if they did have “some” violence. I reminded myself (I’m not sure of your faith), that God won’t ever give you more than you can handle. Times will get tough, and things will get hard, but they are what make us ourselves, and allow us to learn what our limits REALLY are, and not just what we think they are.

Take care though, and remember, we’re all here for you.

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Anna

March 30th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

@Khraden – <3 it's fine, I didn't blog at all for a long time, so a lot of people are catching up. Faith wise… I have a lot of unpacking to do, but the sentiment is a good one. And right now, I /am/ handling it. It's just hard and sucky!

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Jill

March 31st, 2011 at 8:23 am

Anna,

You don’t know me-but I read your blogs faithfully.

For fantasy books, might I suggest Robin Mckinley (not Deerskin, but any of her other ones) or Diana Wynne Jones? Both are authors who create beautiful immersive worlds and interesting stories without need for violence or brutality. Also Naomi Novik’s books, I think, are interesting well written stories, and while wartime (in the napoleonic era), not graphic or brutal in anyway.

In the non-fantasy world, perhaps James Herriot or Jan Karon.

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Jez

April 3rd, 2011 at 3:43 am

Sending hugs to you Anna <3

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Kit

April 27th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I know you posted this quite a while back, but I only just stumbled across it. And as someone who spent 3 years working full time in a bookstore, I will be the first to tell you that I hardly read anything in those years. Prior to that you were more likely to find me reading on the way to everywhere, in the middle of classes and at work and all sorts of places that I shouldn’t have been just because I couldn’t stop.

And then Borders happened and if it couldn’t be read within the span of my lunch break (read: wasn’t manga, which I got hooked on there), then I just didn’t bother.

It’s even been three years since then and I’m still working my way back up from the book drought. But stuff from that time frame that were on my MUST READ list? Still unread.

I don’t get it…but you’re not the only one.

*hugs* Hang in there Anna and I hope things are going more smoothly for you!

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November 13th, 2011 at 8:32 am

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