Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBT+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: Bryce

There are Times I Wish . . .

. . . my creative mind would do what I want it to do, instead of haring off after whatever it wants to.

This is one of those times.

Back around the 9th-18th of May, I came out of a writing downswing with a focus on TPOM3. I spent those 9 days making important breakthroughs on the plot—the kind of breakthroughs that I’ve been waiting for, it seems like forever now. The last time I’d touched TPOM3 had been back at the end of January, when I was forced to give up working on it when I couldn’t force any of the breakthroughs I needed so much to come to the front of my mind.

Then, February 4th, my friend Bryce died. That threw me into a two-month writing downswing. I surfaced briefly in April, fiddled a little with Masks and a couple other projects, then dropped into another writing downswing until May 9th. When I came out of that with TPOM3 on my mind, I was happy, and even more excited when some different chats with friends brought me the breakthroughs I needed on it.

Then another—brief, thankfully—writing downswing hit.

I came out of this one slowly. Someone said something in chat, my mind flashed on a proverb about those who lie with dogs get up with fleas, and I had a brand spanking new character who didn’t seem to fit anywhere I’d already created. When I couldn’t figure out where Mutt fit, I gave up trying to force him into any mold and waited for him to talk to me.

I ended up writing the first scene that came to mind on the 24th. I had little prework done on the project, barely knew Mutt, and had no freaking idea where his story would go. Then, to my surprise, three more scenes followed the same day. I had all of a ten-minute break between the first and second scene before a major character spoke up.

Between the third and fourth scenes, I named characters, taking a naming “alphabet” from a list of, if I remember correctly, Norse names. I changed a couple aspects of it to give it its own look and started applying the list to everything I needed to. By yesterday, I had a rudimentary magical system, a number of characters named with brief bios, and plans for a number of religious factions—as well as enough plot points to tell me I have two, possibly three, books in this series, which as yet has no title.

And, as happy as I am that my mind is running on this new idea—I try to be grateful that I get creative ideas at all—I still wish I was focused on TPOM3.

My Mom + Bryce’s Dog

I spent about two and a half hours on the phone this afternoon on phone calls to my mom and to a friend I met via Bryce. Anita and I have been keeping in contact since his death, and hang out together every so often, and today she brought up the subject of Bryce’s dog Candy. Bryce’s mom has been looking for someone to take Candy in. One prospect got another dog for herself before Bryce’s mom could suggest she take Candy, and another prospect is someone she has no connection with whatsoever; the friend of a groomer she knows, and she feels uncomfortable passing Bryce’s beloved pet off to someone she has no knowledge of.

Mom’s much-beloved dog Poopie died in November of last year. While she’s growing accustomed to being alone, Mom dislikes it. She’s always had someone to care for, whether it be her children or her pets, and I know she’s been missing the companionship of having a dog. Mom’s considered getting a cat, but she’s very much a dog person these days, and I know she’d be happiest with a dog. Though she’s looked online at shelter dogs, the fees charged for adopting a pet have turned her off—she’s not desperate for a dog, but she has been considering adopting one.

When Anita brought up to me the fact Bryce’s mother was looking for a good home for his dog, I tentatively suggested my mom might be a good candidate. I was a good friend of Bryce’s, his mother can get my mother’s pet-care history from me, and she wants to have a way of hearing how Candy’s doing, which I’ll be more than happy to provide.

As things stand, they’re still up in the air. Last I heard from Anita today was that Bryce’s mom would talk to her husband about passing Candy on to Mom. Anita’s fairly certain things will go through. Mom, though willing to take Candy in, isn’t counting her eggs; she’s given it to God and told me that if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen, and she’ll accept whatever decision Bryce’s mom makes.

Overall, it’s been an enjoyable afternoon. I think Mom’s readier for another dog than she believes she is, and I think Bryce’s mom is ready to let her go. I do know that Mom told me she couldn’t bear the thought of Bryce’s beloved pet being given to a shelter again (he adopted Candy from one), and I’m fairly certain Bryce’s mom will appreciate knowing Candy’s gone to someone who adores dogs. It’s fitting, I think, that if Bryce’s mom decides to give Candy to Mom, they’ll be going to each other, and I hope this is the outcome. They both deserve to love and be loved.

No Post Today Again

Missing Bryce a lot right now.

Not Out of the Woods Yet

Last week, little of what I wanted to do got done. I spent most of the week in a depressive funk, and that same amount of time really really missing Bryce.

There’s so much I want to say to him right now. Things about my daily life, questions I want to ask him. I want to hear what plans he has for his own writing. I’m doing Camp Nano this April, and I like to think he’d have joined in, though even if he hadn’t, he’d still have encouraged me in it.

His parents are selling and giving away various items of Bryce’s, and I’ve inherited some of his clothing. Even though it was washed before it came to me, it spent long enough in his apartment prior to moving that it bears his scent. Most of the scent’s faded from the clothing from sitting out on my bed, but whenever I unfold another shirt to put on each day, I’m reminded of times I went over to hang out with Bryce at his place. I recall times we went out together to eat places, or to hang out with our writing and nurse beverages from the coffee shop in the bookstore up at the mall.

Sometimes I’d take my crocheting over to his place, instead of my writing, and we’d sit and crochet and chat or watch movies from Netflix. The one November he was up here for Nanowrimo, I spent a number of different, non-consecutive days at his place writing. We’d stop at a dollar store and pick up snacks and drinks and write late into the night, and sometimes another sometimes-writer friend would join us.

I could talk to Bryce about literally anything. Me being trans, writing, my cancer, his health issues, our daily lives, parents, siblings, whatever. Bryce was wise, and had good common sense. He could help me sort things out if I needed help understanding something. He wouldn’t put up with my crap if I tried to prevaricate; I don’t know how he always knew when I was trying to fudge things, but he did, and he kept me honest. Honestly, I sought advice from him more often than I sought it from my mom because I could trust Bryce’s not to be biased, and it never came with an agenda—unless he was helping me fix something with my writing or work out plot points. He also wouldn’t put up with my digging for dirt on things. He’d say his piece, and once he was done, that was it, and he wouldn’t discuss it any more. I don’t often try to stretch the truth or dig for drama, but he kept me from doing it even the little bit I do, and I appreciated that. Bryce taught me how to be a better person by resisting my bad habits.

Last week, I missed him a lot. I still miss him this week. However, I think I’m coming up out of the funk I was in all last week. I care about things. Yesterday, I got out of my apartment to socialize, went up to the VA and hung out with a couple other friends who have a kiosk up there to sell things to Vets. Spent hours talking and having fun. By the time we left, I’d decided to start looking at the job listings at the VA to see if I can get a job up there. This is something I’m sure Bryce would have encouraged.

In a way, I wish he was here, but in another, knowing how he would have had to live if the surgery he’d had had been successful, I’m glad he’s not. I would never want him to be in pain or misery, and he would have been if he’d survived. Not to say I’m glad he’s dead, but I don’t think his life would have been very happy or fulfilling had the surgery been a success. If there was one person I believe deserved happiness and a fulfilling life, it was Bryce.

I miss him.

Prayer

I’ve kept a number of things from my times attempting to be a good Catholic. Some of those things are a number of prayers, and I continue buying Rosaries on occasion, simply because I like them. Every so often, I even use them to pray on, instead of just to look at.

I have a small number of Rosaries right now, and intend to purchase more as the funds become available. When I pray, I prefer the rote prayers of the Rosary, though I do occasionally add in my own original prayers. The repetitive drone of the prayers in my own voice enables me to focus on the comfort or guidance I seek without distraction.

In truth, I rarely resort to prayer for anything. I do my best to get by without it, but I needed the comfort of the rote words and the short, direct, simple original prayer I added to the Rosary this morning. I may not be a practicing Catholic in a lot of important ways, but having the prayers and Rosaries at hand lends me comfort. My faith in God and Jesus and Heaven is uncertain at the best of times, usually because I’m handling things well and dealing with life successfully. I’ve always thought God helps those who help themselves, so I’ve made efforts to be strong and confident.

But Bryce’s death has taken a lot out of me. Last week, with the added stress of my ereader and computer both failing, I had a couple depressive days, mostly due to the stress of dealing with my mother over he failure of the computer, and that I was doing to myself. These were more severe than my depressions seem to be, to the point where I spent most of one of those days in bed, and wasn’t much better the day after. Normally, I’d have written to comfort myself, but with my creative mind on hiatus, I was left to reading and finding other distractions the past several days.

This morning, in the wee hours (when I was still WIDE AWAKE), I took one of my Rosaries and prayed. I needed the comfort, perhaps more than I needed it on my most depressive days last week. As I listened to my voice drone on the Hail Marys, I felt calmer, more at peace with myself and the world. I added a little personal prayer God welcome Bryce to my chants, and that made me feel even better, especially since I know that, as with everything else Bryce knew about me, he understood this aspect as well and would not begrudge me the ability or freedom to make my request, even though he wasn’t conventionally faithful; he would have comprehended the additional prayer was more for my comfort than anything else.

I have a feeling I should have been praying since the day of his death, but I honestly didn’t think of doing so even though I usually have a Rosary visible on my desk. I prayed again today, and I likely will continue with the prayers for a while, until I’m more certain I can go on my own, because, even with my doubts, I find that I feel stronger and more capable and confident if I do pray, and I need that strength, capability, and confidence right now more than I have since before Bryce died.

Reading

I don’t read as widely as I used to. Most of the time, I’m focused on my writing, and it takes Herculean efforts of will and determination to force myself to abandon my computer for someone else’s writing. And, recently, I’ve been reminded how much I enjoy reading.

It’s relaxing. Not to the point of putting me to sleep, and I’ve read some books that would put other people to sleep in an instant. No, while relaxing my body, reading invigorates my mind. Sometimes this is a good thing, because I see the words I’m reading form pictures, like a movie, in my mind. I can sometimes hear the voices of the characters in my mind’s ear. It’s passive, so I’m not putting forth the effort necessary for my writing, but I get the same pleasure from it because it requires many of the same mental faculties writing does.

Sometimes this is a bad thing. Rarely, I’ll come across a book I think is so bad I can’t finish it because it inspires me to write better than the book I’m reading. Occasionally, I come across books I can’t finish because I simply lose interest; in one book I recall, the most interesting character was a side character who didn’t have a pov, but who I wanted to follow instead of the actual MCs; I’d purchased this book and the second in the trilogy (the only ones available at the time; the third hadn’t been printed yet) based on the back cover synopsis and my reading of the first few pages of the first novel; it had an interesting concept and I thought it would be much more fascinating than it ultimately proved to be; as I recall, I made it through two thirds of the book before finally giving up on it because it wasn’t telling a story that gripped my attention. With much more frequency, I discover books that send me right back to my own writing because they inspire me to write a story just as good as the one I’m reading, and my progress through these is understandably slower. Even more often than that are the reads I find that grip my attention but aren’t particularly inspiring of either detestation or an urge to write just as well; these I can generally get all the way through in a reasonable amount of time.

The annoying (in a good way) books are those which alternately entertain me and inspire me to write just as well. They drive me batty because I can never predict just what I’ll feel upon reading the first few lines of a page after picking them up any given time. I may be drawn in, immersed, and read a few or more chapters quite happily without thought of my own writing. Or, I may read the first line, think of something similar in one of my own stories, and set the book down to look at my own writing.

Mostly, though, I find reading relaxing.

I have a (very) limited amount of print books in my home these days. When I moved to a smaller apartment—the living room here is a little less than half the size of my last place’s living room—I got rid of one of my bookshelves and a lot of the print books I’d had lying around. These included books both read and unread. I culled my hardcovers and trade paperbacks to fit on one tall shelving unit, have reduced my paperbacks to one shelf of a three-foot-high bookshelf, and had to use the other tall bookshelf and the other three-foot bookshelf for my writing binders and DVD movies respectively. I don’t just get a movie streaming service like Netflix because I don’t watch movies or TV enough to warrant that monthly fee, and I rarely go out to see new movies these days ’cause I don’t see ads or commercials because my TV wouldn’t pick up even the local TV channels even if it was hooked up. TV and movies don’t interest me like writing and reading do.

But even so, I’ve been making mostly ebook purchases recently. If I feel like trying a new author or series of books that happen to be traditionally published, I go to the library (now that I live two blocks away) to check them out. Otherwise, I pay attention to what my friends—both online and local to me—are saying about the books they’re reading. Most of my reading for the past several years, in fact, has been ebooks. I’ve rarely touched a print book that wasn’t some sort of nonfiction I’d purchased specifically for research purposes for my own stories. Otherwise, if it’s an ebook, it’s generally cheap enough I’m willing to risk my money on trying something new by an unknown author, and I’m usually well-rewarded.

This recent writing downswing—since Bryce’s death—I’ve been reading much more. I’m finding a kind of solace in my reading that I’m unable to attain sitting at my computer trying to get my creative mind to work. They say in order for creativity to come, it must find you working, but no matter how much I try to work on my writing, I can’t find the desire most of the time, so I read. I have a pretty big TBR pile on my Nook, too, and I replaced it just yesterday because of several issues with my old Nook 1st Edition that I’d bought years ago; it was a tough ereader and survived many drops, but there were just too many issues with it and it was time to replace it. It says something that I hiked myself up to my local B&N to buy my new GlowLight—and not just the fact that I had $75.00 worth of B&N gift cards to cover most of the purchase price of the new Nook itself.

I needed a new ereader right now because there are several books I want to finish on that thing! LOL

Bryce

I’ve been in a depressive funk for the past week or so. I rarely have depressive phases like this, where there’s little hint of the manic side of my typical mixed state. Most of them happen naturally, but this one I was thrown into by the hospitalization and subsequent death of one of my best friends.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve slipped progressively deeper into the depression. The week of Bryce’s hospitalization, I was able to keep a mostly positive mood going—until I heard of his death on Thursday the Fifth. To be honest, I had a phone call from another friend of Bryce’s, Anita, the night before, but I’d already gone to bed and had no interest in getting up to answer it because I was certain the call was from her to announce his death, which had been a foregone conclusion since he’d been taken off life support.

I stayed in bed and went to sleep, too tired to dwell on the bad news I was certain I’d hear the next day, but when I got up and got settled at my desk with my cup of tea the next day, I called Anita for the news. It was a shock, and, after we hung up, I immediately wanted to call Bryce to tell him what had happened—then remembered he was the one who’d died.

I have issues with attachment to people, but Bryce was one of those I was most attached to. We talked nearly every day, whether he was down south with his parents or up here. He was bipolar too, the more typical cyclic kind, though I can’t recall if his was Type I or Type II. All I know is that, periodically, anywhere from once to three times a year, he’d go through a severe depressive phase where he wouldn’t answer calls from anybody or make any unless he absolutely had to. So, there were periods of weeks or sometimes even over a month when we wouldn’t communicate, even if he was up here during a depressive swing.

But he didn’t have any such phases over the duration of this winter. He went down south in late October, if I remember correctly, and we commenced our near-daily phone calls to each other. Sometimes he’d have busy days and didn’t answer my calls, but he always made sure to call me the next day.

Bryce was kind of a brother in my eyes. I could discuss with him things I couldn’t discuss with anyone else but my therapist. It felt good to be understood by someone outside the psych care world, someone who knew what it was like to be bipolar. He was a writer too, and we frequently discussed our projects with each other. I trusted Bryce, I think, more than I trusted anyone else. I even felt comfortable discussing my gender dysphoria with Bryce, my asexuality, and my strong attraction to gay men, primarily because Bryce was gay too.

More than that, Bryce was a kind, generous, loving man. He was open-minded and never said a cruel thing about anyone in my hearing. No insults passed his lips, and he was able to quell my incessant digging-for-dirt personality simply by refusing to talk bad about anyone. Bryce made me a better person simply by being himself, and I tried to live up to the example he gave all without meaning to.

He had a lot to give, and a lot to say. Some of my favorite times with him—in person or on the phone—were those when he would tell me of his history. He did a lot for the gay community here back in the ’80’s, and encouraged me to get more involved in it these days. Frequently, he’d said he’d done his service already, but that I should get involved because of the good it would do me.

I don’t know what I’m saddest about regarding his loss: the fact he’ll never complete any of the in-progress fiction he was working on, or that he’s no longer around to share his wit and wisdom with those of us he left behind. He died halfway through his own story, and the hardest thing is knowing that it will forever remain incomplete.

No Post Today Either

Learned this morning my close friend Bryce has passed away.

No Post Today

I’ve had some bad news about a friend of mine, and I’m having trouble focsing on things besides this news, so there will be no post today.

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