Long time followers should already know this, but I am a rape survivor. It happened when I was six, and I repressed the memories of it for twenty years. As a result, I scarcely remember my childhood – only brief snippets and partially-reconstructed images and scenes based on pictures and stories I have been told of it. I’ve always been somewhat jealous of those who can remember their childhoods.

After I saw my rapist again, twenty years later, I came to the sudden realisation that the vague feelings of being violated were not fantasy, were not desires, but were memories, and a lot of my life started to make sense. I told my father about the abuse – it was the son of a family friend that used to babysit me – and I felt more in control of my life than I ever had before. I realised I was not “a little bit gay” (a sense I once had so much that I confused the “gaydar” of LGBT friends I had in college), and came to understand part of why I was so angry and isolated. Facing my trauma, instead of hiding from it, helped me start to heal.

And for another ten years (not quite), things were fine(ish). But two and a half years ago, I was triggered for the first time. Before then, I didn’t even really understand “triggers”, or PTSD. I’m not sure how much someone that has never experienced it CAN understand it. Being triggered is uncomfortable; you feel unsafe, your body shifts heavily into paranoia mode, and the mind races. I left the community that triggered me shortly thereafter (I’d been drifting away already), and found new places to dwell.

I was hurt and confused, unsure how to feel and what to think of this new experience. At the time, I sent a (passive-aggressive) note to the person that triggered me, letting them know they had done so and explaining why I left the conversation. It wasn’t a nice thing to do, and I probably sent some hurt back in the process, helping no one, but when you’re hurt, you don’t think clearly. You just act, because you want the hurting to stop (this applies to both mental and physical pain).

So I understand how people felt when they saw the backer memorial in Pillars of Eternity that took over twitter this weekend. Being unexpectedly triggered sucks; it’s certainly the worst I’ve ever felt (and I’ve been stabbed in the leg). And it’s completely natural to want to avoid situations and places where you were unexpectedly triggered, because they are uncomfortable places for you. There is no shame in that; getting away is probably the healthiest thing you can do at that moment.

But the worst thing you can do is avoid your trigger FOREVER.

I have no problems with people that voluntarily choose to put “trigger warnings” on things; that’s their choice. What does concern me is a DEMAND for them, because here’s the thing: triggers are weird. Like, really weird. I’m a rape survivor, but depictions, discussions, or any description of rape have no effect whatsoever on me. They’re not my triggers.

Triggers are anything that brings up the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness of your trauma, and given the weird, ephemeral nature of memory, they can be almost anything. Colours. Smells. Songs. Specific words. Triggers are as wide and varied as people. And while trigger warnings can help people whose triggers are those specific things we associate with “trigger warnings” from being unexpectedly triggered, I would like to note that I have been using a descriptive word here that is important to the point: unexpectedly.

Because deliberately triggering yourself and reassociating that trigger with a safe environment is actually the main treatment for PTSD.

It is unhealthy to live your life avoiding your triggers – especially given the fact that triggers are usually something common and everyday. You are going to encounter your triggers, and you are probably going to encounter them unexpectedly. And to be able to live a normal life, you’re going to need to be able to deal with that. The only way to learn how to deal with something is to actually deal with it. You can learn techniques and mechanisms to help you cope, but until you are actually faced with the situation, those tools are completely useless. Practice is the only road to recovery.

So yes, speak up if something hurt you. Let people know it hurt you, so those that are close to you and care about you can be aware of your triggers. But to demand that society scour away your triggers, that the things that trigger you not exist, is counter-productive and extremely unhealthy.

And don’t assume the worst of strangers who you will likely never interact with again if they don’t show the same sympathy and support your friends and loved ones do. It’s even possible some of them are hurting too.

Krellen Does A Cappella: Follow Me

I really like singing.  It’s how I spend a large part of my spare time, and particularly a large part of my drive time (which, of late, has greatly expanded).  So maybe if I do something I like, I’ll update this blog more.

So here’s Uncle Kracker’s “Follow Me” sung a cappella.  Feel free to tease me about it.

Fallout: Fate Intro

War. War never changes.

War has always been about resources. Land, food, wealth, energy: behind every conflict in history is the struggle for limited resources. The ideologies, nationalities, religions and moralities that are offered forth as justifications for war have ever been red herrings; in the end, it is not ideas but resources that drive war.

Not even the end of the world could change the drive for resources. The 21st century ended in a cascade nuclear flash; the only survivors were those who found refuge in great underground Vaults. But the vaults were more than simple refuge – they were hideous social experiments, set up to explore the true horrors of nuclear devastation. For some, those in vaults whose doors were designed not to seal, the vaults would become their tombs. The dead were the lucky ones.

Those that survived the slow seepage of nuclear poison came through it changed. Their skin rotted away, while the muscle and organs beneath mutated in a bath of radioactive fallout. Their cells changed, feeding off the toxic material, prolonging their life and suffering and tying them inexorably to the new reality of a post-nuclear landscape. They had become ghouls: immortal, sterile, unchanging relics of the cataclysmic past.

Among the first to set foot in the wasteland were the ghouls of Los Alamos, birthplace of the device that brought its very destruction. Picking through the ruins of the once-great laboratories, these ghouls began to rebuild. Unaffected by the radiation that blanketed the land, the researchers of the labs resumed their previous lives of scientific discovery, exploring the new realities of their apocalyptic landscape.

The next two centuries saw many changes in the state of New Mexico as life slowly returned to the wastes. The ghoul society thrived in the irradiated Northwest, as more and more ghoulish survivors found their way to what was proving to be a safe haven and utopia for their kind. As the super mutants, remnants of the army of the Master, a great evil that once plagued California, spread eastward in the wake of their defeat, many came to stay with the ghouls, finding refuge and acceptance among their fellow outcasts.

Meanwhile, in the centre of the state, the vaults performed their functions properly and non-irradiated survivors emerged and also began to rebuild their lives. Sandia City was formed around the survivors of Vault 66, who allied with the tribes and gangs that had formed in the wasteland to carve out a thriving fiefdom founded on trade and cooperation – as well as prejudice and slavery.

Other powers moved in to the state as well. The Brotherhood of Steel, descendants of the Old US military, pursued the Master’s army to the state but settled down to guard the ruins of the Trinity site, where nuclear fire first kissed the land. To their east, the vaults of Roswell and Cannon Air Force base united in a strange techno-cult called Hubology, exalting the virtues of space flight and believing fervently in the intervention of extra-terrestrial life.

Inevitably, the factions of New Mexico begin to clash. A grand alliance of tribes called the Legion, formed in the image of a mythical ancient Rome, encroaches from the West, driven by their defeat in Nevada by the New California Republic. The vault-dwellers of Sandia City have begun to clash with Hubologists over the remnants of Route 66 and the trade that runs along it. The Brotherhood, seeing themselves as the one true guardians of technology, frequently clash with both the technophobic Legion and the technophilic Hubologists.

And the ghouls, trapped between the aggressive Legion and the intolerant vault-dwellers, find their lives and land increasingly threatened by a war about to break; the need for resources is greater than ever before. Because war? War never changes.

Too Long To Tweet: Timezones

Recruiter in IL really doesn’t know timezones.
R: “So, you’re an hour ahead of us?”
K: “No, an hour behind.”
R: “Okay, so we’ll do this at 1 your time, noon my time.”
K: “No, that would be 2 your time.”

It’s too bad this is looking to be my best chance at a job in a year.


I guess blogs should have content, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t necessarily be personal, right? It’s not like this is a professional endeavour.

So a few months back I shared my story of unemployment and discrimination. In the ensuing months (and actually, for the past year) I have been seeking new employment in my field. Thus far, I have been unsuccessful in obtaining any; I’ve had several interviews, but have failed to secure employment. I suspect (but cannot prove) that my former employers are spreading word that I am a difficult and insubordinate employee to justify their firing of me, thus sabotaging my efforts to find a new job.

Two weeks ago, I took a 500 mile round trip to have an interview for a position at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. This was the first time I told my side of my story to a potential employer, and it did not go very well. The man I interviewed with did not seem to believe me, and expressed doubts of how I presented my employment history. I knew when I walked out of his office that I would not be getting the position, though he had not said so directly.

This is the last week I will receive any payment from my unemployment insurance; I have essentially been receiving a minimum-wage salary to look for work in my field of expertise instead of having to take whatever job I could find instead, but that ends this week. I will now have to leave behind my ten years of experience and all the training and schooling I went through to be an IT professional and take whatever job will pay me a salary to keep me in food and housing. I will probably start by trying to find a job doing delivery driving, as I also have a fair amount (three years) of experience doing that.

So, just in case you were curious what was up with krellen, that’s what’s up with krellen. He’s going to become some sort of menial job worker in the near future. Life’s funny that way.

The Vampire’s Speech

An explosion rocks the line of men cordoning off the city of Las Vegas from the rest of the country. In the light of the fire, a figure can be seen to leap atop a tank, reaching down to grasp its cannon’s barrel and then, with a great snap, ripping the turret free of the vehicle’s body, proceeding to wield the ungainly assemblage as a club against the surrounding soldiers.

From the blaze emerges a figure cloaked in robes, a hood concealing its features – though a pair of bare feet peek from the bottom of the robe, floating a good foot off the ground with no visible means of support. The figure holds the limp, broken body of a soldier by the throat in one hand, reaching up to throw back its hood with the other. The woman revealed smiles at the soldiers arrayed before her, who seem paralysed with fear.

“Gehenna,” she speaks, voice dripping with ire. “The word fills you with dread, and you don’t even know what it means.”

She tosses the body to the ground, continuing to slowly float towards the assembled soldiers at what would be a languid pace were she walking.

“Some of you may have vague images of a fiery pit, of damnation and torment. Fewer still may recognise it as a reference to Armageddon, the end of days. But I tell you, Gehenna is not a distant spectre, to frighten and cajole the wicked to righteousness. Gehenna is real; Gehenna is now.

“These are the Final Nights.”

She casts her arm wide, the sleeve swirling in the air behind it, holding it before her as if delivering a benediction.

“The Grandchildren stir, their long slumber soon to end. Their foul progeny, the secret masters of your civilisation since time immemorial, weave their own plots, both in service and opposition to masters even more ancient than they. One of the Thirteen has risen already, to be destroyed by those who would stop the inevitable, leaving a wake of destruction that threatens the very foundation of our reality. All with blood in their veins shall be their prey, for they seek strength to oppose an even greater threat.

“The Father is coming.”

Her lips curl in a sneer. “Not your father, Kine, for Seth, like all mortals shall be in time, is truly dead. It is our Father who comes; the Immortal Father: Caine. He shall pass judgement upon his grandchildren, and those of their spawn that stand with them. And He shall find them wanting. He shall find them without remorse, without redemption – for there can be no redemption in a world of sin.

“‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’ – and yet, cast stones we do, for we cannot help but sin. The world is sin; born of sin, formed of sin, bathed in sin, cleansed in sin. Entering this world is itself a sin, for which we can never be forgiven. The Almighty has forsaken us, left the world to the devils, for who else deserves the sin that is the world?”

Her eyes narrow, casting a glance that to ever onlooker seems to be into their very soul. “Look into your heart, Kine. Ask yourself: am I without sin?” A pause. “You are not. Those who believe they are without find themselves guilty of the sin of deceit, for they have lied to themselves. All who inhabit this world sin. It is in our very natures.”

She raises a hand towards the sky, where the smoke billows and swirls, obscuring the stars. “And the Father shall judge us as well, He born of sin, sustained by sin, cast out by sin, shall know us by our sins. And only one path to salvation lay before us: to serve the Father. To punish the Grandchildren, and all who would support them. To oppose their rise, to deny their blood, and to destroy their corpses.”

Her arm falls. “Two already have fallen,” and here her arm rises again, holding forth a sword, its tip poised at the soldiers, “for we are the Sword of Caine: the path of salvation, through sin. Take up the blade, or throw yourself upon it; either is preferable to what the Grandchildren will do.”

She drops the tip of the sword, and a horde emerges from the flames, charging the lines.