Doctor Whooch // Episode 091 // A Priest, A Rabbi, And A Cleric Walk Into A Bar

In which we return to deal with a floppy man complaining about his first world time and space problems.

On this week’s edition of the show, Danica and Brandon continue to trip down the River Song timeline with FLESH AND STONE, a not-at-all terrifying episode involving weird stone space monsters. (I WONDER WHICH CREATURES THOSE ARE??!?) Along the way, people die. And some don’t! And Matt Smith remains floppity. Also, we discuss Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, because everybody should at some point in their lifetime.

Outro music is “Let’s Misbehave” from Miss Fisher’s.

Recommendation: Blackbird

Blackbird GN

BLACKBIRD GN (Conundrum Press)
By Pierre Maurel

Synopsis: When self-publishing becomes outlawed, a comics zine group attempts to be heard when the entire world is closing in on them.

01. Semantics to kick things off: what follows is a recommendation and not a review. There’s no critique involved here, only emotion. Honestly, I think there would be a lot less drama within the comics industry right now if folks didn’t blanket term opinion pieces with the word “review”. This has nothing to do with the book I’ll be talking with you about shortly.

Or well… almost nothing.

02. Right now I live many of my days with a weight in my gut. A bit of it is a longing for when things were a bit simpler. Most of it is the knowledge that things were never “better” so much as I was sheltered from a lot of the bad, or just didn’t care.

While I was reading Blackbird, I felt as though I was reading a manifestation of what lives in my gut. The story itself if pretty straight forward. A small group of creators puts together a comic zine called “Blackbird” and distributes it around town. Over the course of the story, a law is passed banning self-publication in all forms but advertisement, so that certain assurances can be made about content. Understandably, this doesn’t go well.

03. Over the course of the story, the zine creators are alternatively courageous and fearful. They have something they want to say, in a format that speaks to them, and they are being told that they can no longer do so without bigger consequences. The act of creation has become a risk, and speaking up, even worse. But they don’t stop. They never stop.

When I feel around for the weight that lives in my stomach, I linger on the things that placed it there – my own courage and fear. My own push for creativity and voice and the forces against it. I feel… I feel my privilege, and the fact that – much like one of the characters in the story – I am readily afforded a voice and a platform. I feel the weight of all who don’t, and I see that in a lot of ways, this story is about them. All the means to produce, with a world telling you that your voice isn’t worth as much as the person next to you who just happens to be a cis-het white male.

04. I don’t want to deal with the weight that I feel. But then again, nobody really does. Am I the person to really sit here and say that the world isn’t fair, and that things need to change? Am I the person to read Blackbird and say to you “this world of artistic and aesthetic oppression speaks to me”? Probably not. But regardless, this is a book that I found something recognizable in – something that I want to push desperately against. I can only imagine how it would read for others.

05. As it turns out, the contents of this graphic novel were originally serialized by Pierre Maurel in the zine format. There’s definitely quite a few layers of meta-commentary that could be pealed back within the contents and the difference between the original means of production and this finished product. We should all be so lucky to build with our hands, and have our voiced be heard.

A Long Time Gone

And then it all catches up to you.

Today is the first day that I’ve written something – anything – for a very long time. At first, this was part of a planned break that Danica had suggested. After watching me unspool as the spinning plates started to wobble with a worrying frequency, she grabbed a few of the plates and told me not to worry about them for a little while. If you’ve been keeping track of our lives through this blog, you’ll know that we’re both stretched pretty thin, and the fact that Danica has been using some of her emotional bandwidth to help take care of me means quite a bit. We’ve been leaning on each other quite a bit as one of us wobbles, and for the most part, we’re still standing, albeit with a few stumbles.

This past weekend, after a few discussions about how to take a more proactive footing in our lives, we helped initiate some changes that will hopefully make the future… not necessarily better in the short term, but healthier, with an eye towards some long term professional and personal goals.

A lot of our lives lately has been about sacrificing some short term happiness for long term ideas and clearly, this has taken its toll. With any luck, some of those long term plans will be coming home to roost, and we’ll start feeling a turn around in our personal lives. And if they don’t? Well, we’re prepared for that too. We’re prepared for almost anything because at the very least, we know what we want at the end of everything: we want to be together, and happy – or at least a close approximation of that. Everything else is just window dressing.

++ SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Despite what’s been happening inside our heads over the past few months, the shop has been doing extremely well – a result of some long term plans that were put in place quite early on in the business’ life. Do you sense a bit of a theme to this post?

Danica and I have fought tooth and nail to keep Variant Edition as a place where anyone can walk in and feel welcome – with one caveat: if someone comes in with regressive or intolerant ideas, we will challenge their assertions. Because of the culture that we’ve baked into the store’s DNA, we don’t have to deal with these people often, and when we do, it’s usually through social media, rather than in person – but it still happens. I can still remember very clearly an incident where someone attempted to voice their aversion to “the feminization of comics”. Danica asked this customer to explain what they meant, and proceeded to ask clarifying questions while I would often interject to refute outright factual errors in their arguments. Later that day, the customer complained that Danica had “attacked” him. This despite the fact that I was the combative one – and that his friend standing next to him was laughing and making fun of him during this entire exchange. Yet the woman who was asking him variations of “that’s an interesting stance, could you please expand on what you mean?” was attacking. That’s messed up.

Long story short, we dismissed that claim, explaining specifically why in no uncertain terms. That customer has not returned for various reasons. We do not miss him. Everyone definitely has a right to an opinion, but they don’t have the right to claim “attack” based off of clarifying statements – and honestly, the fact that he felt more attacked from Danica than anyone else who partook in the conversation definitely says more about him than anything else.

Now of course, that’s just my opinion, but I would be very interested in hearing any kind of clarification that could classify that interaction as anything other than misogynistic. Basically: I’m asking for clarification. If anyone is willing to provide such clarification, my e-mail is bschatz@submetropolitan.com. If anyone would like to accuse me of this request being an attack, whelp, the e-mail hasn’t changed since you read it a few seconds ago. I promise to publish the correspondence to this blog so that others can know where you’re coming from. I doubt I’ll get anything, but that’s the way, isn’t it? I can say whatever the hell I want with little to no consequence for some weird reason. Others can’t.

Wonder why that is.

++ WHAT ELSE

There’s a whole lot that I need to update you all on, but I figure setting that small fire should be enough for the day. Should be interesting to see where that goes. Again, I assume nowhere. I doubt anyone will have a stark epiphany from my words, nor will I be able to talk anyone else onto our side of the argument. But like hell if I’m just gonna be quiet about this stuff.

Keep an eye on this space over the coming days and weeks and months for more words and ideas and interesting news. While I’m not quite sure what the future holds, I do know that it’s going to be really interesting.

Let’s get to it.

Going Through The Motions

So….

I’m averaging a post once every two weeks or so, and that’s pretty much all I can give you right now. My depression and anxiety have kicked into high gear, and I’m going through way too much to properly deal with. This will not be a post about getting better, faking it til I make it, or any other mental health bullshit that I simply cannot handle at this time. All positivity has left the building.

Not sure what’s worse. All the triggers I’ve discovered lately, or the fact that a lot of days, I don’t want to get out of bed. I have created Store Danica for this purpose. She is functional, cheerful, and everything is Great! She is how I get by. If you’ve been in the store, that’s who you get. Not sure if I should keep her a secret, but since my face doesn’t hide emotions well, I’m pretty sure a lot of you know something’s been going on. Currently, I have no ways of coping with any of my mental issues, so a lot of Netflix is being watched. Reading is tough for me. I can’t concentrate, and I end of skimming most things – which means less enjoyment. I used to be able to immerse myself in stories. I could imagine a tiny movie in my head while I read. Now, the images are scattered and few. I’ve lost so much.

In addition to all this, my imposter syndrome strikes daily, and of course my problems aren’t important. Of course others have it worse, and what even are you complaining about, you stupid girl? You’re a bit sad. You’re not dying. You’re not being shot. Everyone else deserves self-care, a healthy body image, and fun. You, who are unworthy of relaxation and joy, must suffer through your days. I am trying SO hard to find that tiny light of goodness – you know, the one at the end of the tunnel that isn’t a train?

Pretty sure it’s worse now I have a support network of kind and caring women – that I am totally ignoring because they can’t know the real me. If I haven’t called or tweeted you in a while, it’s because I’m horrid and push away everyone good in my life when the depression hits. Even my goddamn cats. I say terrible things to them, and have a short fuse even when I’m home. I love my cats more than anything in this ugly, violent world, but that’s apparently not enough to be kind to them.

I have no more kindness to give, friends. I cannot bothered with your life problems because I am too busy not dealing with my own. I’d say I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the energy. My brain is full of depression, anxiety, thinking about how to make the store better, trying to get to sleep before midnight, loneliness, sadness, and trying to occasionally be a useful human adult person. It’s not going well.

My Shopping Ban: Is Done!!!

Welp, May was something else.

Reasons June will probably be better:

– I might get a day off work (more time for reading and Netflix!)

– my student loans are completely paid off (more on that in a moment)

– Time with friends (schedules TBD)

– more money coming in if I get a contract (savings? Currently unfamiliar with that term)

– maybe maybe maybe spending a little bit o’ money on my self (thinking pedicure)

Let’s start with the big news. My student loan. It’s done. Paid. Gonzo. The last automatic payment was transferred early this week, and I couldn’t wait to get rid of the rest. Made a payment for the last $88 yesterday, and look forward to receiving one of those nice letters congratulating me on paying off the loan. My next step? Paying off my credit card by the end of the year and saving money on top of all that.

May wasn’t a very spendy month. The Beyoncè concert (which was bloody cold, but amazing) resulted in a $55 tank top, which was lower than what I originally budgeted for merch. After buying a denim jacket for $8 (it fits my She-Hulk shoulders!!), I visited Winner’s (after Goodwill did not have all the items I was looking for – always try secondhand before buying new, friends) a knee-length dark denim pencil skirt and a navy blue knee-length knitted vest(with pockets!). Haven’t bought new clothes in a long time, but I’m happy to report I’ve been wearing both a couple times a week since the purchase. With that purchase of $52.48, my clothing expenses came in under my desired budget of $150.

I’m not going all out like I thought I could previously. Instead of spending $200 on myself in June, since I spent over $100 on myself in May, I’ll fold that into my “reward budget”. Which is why I’m going to attempt book a pedicure this month. That’s about all the self-care I can handle right now.

As of this posting, I’m hopefully relaxing and reading on my day off from work – but more likely cleaning the house because why would I ever stop doing things? Ugh, I need someone to fix my brain BUT AT LEAST MY STUDEN LOANS ARE PAID OFF.

Later, nerds. 🍷

Quick updates on life

Haven’t written in a while. Currently working two jobs, the second one ending at 10pm – not much time for writing. Or rest. But some money is coming in, so the next couple weeks should feel a bit better, financially.

My student loan is around $300. I put $15 in this morning, and have been pretty good about keeping that habit up. Another $200 will go out about 10 days from now, and then I’ll pay off what’s left with part of my latest paycheque. After that, I’m setting aside a bit of fun money (may be more like $100, rather then $200) and spend a bit on myself in June. Then back to crushing my credit card debt. I’m hoping to start saving a bit every month as well, because that would be smart and I should have been doing it all along, but whatever! Life sucks, but I will start saving money for when it gets better at some point. 

So, two jobs. My agency called me last week because a call centre had been set up to answer Fort McMurray fire related questions, so I’m there until the end of the month. Again, tired, but it’s not a bad job. People are nice, and I can read when the phones are slow. 

Speaking of reading! In the last week or so, I’ve finished “Black Widow: Forever Red” by Margaret Stohl, “Dead Girls Don’t” by Mags Storey – both amazing YA mysteries. Would highly recommend you seek them out. 

Shopping Ban: The End

Student Loan Owing, as of this writing: $347.14

My shopping ban is over, even if my student loan is not completely paid off. I don’t plan on spending a lot this month, though I have a few exceptions. I want to treat myself to some Beyoncé merchandise at her concert on the 20th, purchase Lemonade, and today Brandon and I will be going to Goodwill. We both need jeans, and I need a spring/summer jacket. I’ll be giving myself a budget of $150, mainly because I know the concert items will be over-priced. This all depends on if I actually want anything they have available, but it’s nice to know I have the money if needed.

Looking back at my spending habits over the last three months, I definitely spent a lot on food and experiences. Very minimal “stuff” purchases, and only when I needed something replaced. The clothing swap held at the store last month was good to me. I ended up with an armload of new clothes, and have been adding those in to circulation over the past few weeks. This gave me the added benefit of getting new things, for no money. Of course, I didn’t hold the swap just for me. A lot of people found things, and the rest went to charity.

When I began the shopping ban, my loan was at $1,180.94. This means I’ve been able to pay off $833.80 over the past three months!

Working this contract means I’ve been able to put that money towards my debt, and will be paying off the last bit over the next month. Even though the job wrapped up last week, I will continue to put $15 towards the debt every week. My next $200 automatic payment will be taken out by June 3, by which time I will be left with less than $100 to finish the whole thing off. $87.14 to be exact! I will make that final payment before Friday, June 10 AND THEN I WILL BE DONE.

Big thanks to everyone who has been supportive through this process. My next contract, I hope to start putting money towards savings(and my Mastercard), but at least I will have gotten this stress off my plate.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own shopping ban, it’s a lot easier than you would think. I found that having one specific goal really helped. It kept me focused, knowing I was crushing my debt. It can be hard to see the mountain of debt getting smaller, and writing these posts was helpful when I needed to look back and see how I started. Removing temptation is a big one. For the last two months, I’ve been working beside a mall. The temptation to go and just “walk around” was big, but I only went when I needed something specific(ie. The leggings, because my former black pair had fallen apart). Otherwise, I ate lunch at my desk, and caught up on some books and podcasts I hadn’t had time for previously. It was nice, relaxing, and best of all, free.

My Shopping Ban: May 1st

Current amount owing, as of this writing: $575.73

Coming up on my deadline for this shopping ban, I can happily confirm that I mostly stayed within my guidelines. I did buy two new pairs of leggings, but my black pair were falling apart so I see them as a replacement piece. The wine-coloured ones, yes, were optional – but two pairs of leggings for $12 is hard to turn down. I skipped ModCloth’s “Stylish Surprise” sale when the app notified me last month, have not visited Goodwill since before the ban began, and no new nail polish. In fact, I’ve thrown out a couple colours. My comics are waiting for me in my file at the store, but I will get them at a later date, and buy only a few at a time.

Reading has been going well – when I have the time. I’m specifically picking books in the cubby Brandon and I set aside as our “To Read” pile. Currently, I’m reading two books. One borrowed from a friend, and the other borrowed from my mom. The clothing etc swap I hosted at VE went really well, and I personally managed to get three bags plus old bedsheets and towels out of the apartment.

One week from now, I’m going to look into my current owing total and reassess if the $15 weekly/$200 monthly payment is still working. The kicker will be how soon I nab my next contract, and am making some side money again. However, I’m really proud of myself for halving it over this shopping ban.

My Shopping Ban: 6 More Weeks

As of this writing, my loan is at $620.65.

Hard to believe this weight will be gone from my life in 6-7 weeks. I looked it up and I will have had this loan for 7 years and 7 months by the end. Silver lining? Shorter than I thought. I had always rounded up the time to 8 or 9 years. It really does feel like I’ve been paying it off so much longer. Now that I’m so close to the end, there’s a part of me that just wants to fall off the wagon. Who am I if I’m not paying student loans? Who am I when I don’t have debt one day? I’m weirdly uncomfortable with those thoughts.

My mixture of financial feelings are as follows:

1) The overwhelming sense of freedom. I’ll have $200 extra dollars a month! I can go places and do things with all the extra money!

2) The crushing realization that I still have to dig myself out of the hole I’ve put myself in. I have barely any savings after putting everything into the store, and haven’t been making a lot of money over the past year.

The happy medium? I’m going to keep getting contract work as often as I can. I’m going to continue paying my credit card off, but not as hard and fast as I am with the student loan. I am going to add to my savings and when I have reached a comfortable place, then I can hammer down my credit card debt.

In between all that, I want to have fun with my friends. Go out to dinner, see movies, go for small trips. Since I’ll be more relaxed about paying off my credit card(it’s not too bad, only about $1300 owing on it), I’ll create new goals to keep myself motivated. My next goal after June is too see if I can save $1000 by the end of September.

Do you have a summer financial goal? Leave a comment below, or find me on Twitter.

My Shopping Ban: Two Months In

Current amount owing, as of this writing: $634.84

I was looking back at my earlier posts for reference, and apparently, I’ve been attempting this ban for two months now. With the exception of Beyoncé tickets and the occasional lunch out with a friend, I’ve been sticking to my list. I haven’t bought new clothes, nail polish, or any comics. I have, however, seen a few friends for lunch or dinner, which is breaking a rule I made for myself.

I’ve been picking away at my reading pile when I have the time, but mainly have been keeping up with the weekly comics for the store. My excuse is my schedule. Having two jobs doesn’t leave a lot of time to clean the apartment or cook dinner for anyone (I do realize this stressor was another one of my rules).

Been sticking to my payment plan ($15 a week, on top of the $200 going out every month), and paying this off within two months seems very workable. I’ve even come up with a reward for myself. Because I can’t be that responsible. In June, after the loan has been paid off, I will give myself a budget of $200 of “fun money”. I don’t have to spend all of it, but I do have to have some fun with it. There are some places I’d like to go with friends, or perhaps I will buy myself new clothing, or take Brandon out for date night.

One thing I did change my mind on is a haircut. It’s been two months since I wrote I didn’t mind it too much, but I’ve gotten to the point where I need need need a haircut. I’m growing out my hair to my natural colour, so I’ll be saving money by not dyeing it – but I need to lose an inch or two and put some style back into it.