Ask Jax Anything (Part 15)

Learn from my Motherfucking Mistakes (An Occasional Series)

Got a question for me? Ask it here. I see only what you put in the textbox, so it can be totally anonymous.

Friends of my partner have bullied me for the last 2 years. I tried everything to be their friends, then to just ignore them but they just find new ways to bully me even after I have blocked them on everything. My partner can’t post anything about me at all without them both ruining it by leaving tonnes of nasty comments about me until he eventually deletes it to stop them. I began feeling suicidal recently because of it and asked him to remove them from his social media so that they can’t keep doing this otherwise I couldn’t be with him because it was taking too much of a toll on my mental health. I feel like I did a shitty and controlling thing by saying that. Was it wrong or was it okay in this context? I don’t know if it eas selfish to make him choose but I didn’t know what else to do. 

Oh man, what a horrible situation.

I don’t think you did the wrong thing. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own mental health and if being with someone is damaging it for some reason, then you need to tell them what the thing is that is damaging and give them the opportunity to address it.

Personally, there is no damn way I’d stay with someone who ignored a situation like that. It’s not just about not caring enough about your mental health to address the issue, it’s also about what it says about him that he has people like that in his life and doesn’t mind, you know?

I guess there could be extenuating circumstances. These people could be super important to him for some historical reason. I have people in my life who are problematic for various reasons, and I keep them around because of history, or because I believe they are genuinely trying to improve, or for any other number of reasons. However, I also manage my expectations of them and if they started coming after someone I love who is vulnerable in public spaces, they would be told in no uncertain terms to quit that shit. I can’t really imagine a situation where I would be okay with that. I can’t imagine a situation where my partner would be okay with that.

I think we often view standing up for our own boundaries as controlling, but think of it this way: it’s not controlling, because you didn’t force him to change. You told him that if this situation did not change, you would not be able to stay in it. He then chose which was more important to him. Either way would be a totally valid choice on his part. Like I said, I don’t know the circumstances, and at the end of the day he, like you, is entitled to choose who he keeps in his life.

If it weren’t people, it would be easy right? Let’s say you were super asthmatic, and your partner smoked. And you really tried to handle it, but you frequently couldn’t breathe, and your health was obviously deteriorating. And you said, “Look, I love you, but I cannot stay in an environment with so much smoke, because it is going to kill me. I need you to either keep it out of our house or, preferably, quit, so that I don’t die of an asthma attack.”

Don’t you think that is a reasonable request of someone who loves you?

How is this different?

I hope that helps. ❤ My best wishes.

 

I have only one more question on my list, so if you have anything you’d like to ask me, now would be a great time!!

The ongoing struggle between creation and bills

Things are a bit tough at the moment. I’m about to get kind of real, so bear with me please.

I’ve been on a single parent benefit since the Kid’s Dad and I split up. I am about to lose it because I now live with my new partner. This means we’ll be down about $300 a week. We can probably manage. I am a budgeting guru from all those years as a broke single Mom. But it is turfing up a bunch of anger and frustration.

Because I work all the time. At least, that’s how it feels. I get up at 5 in the morning, and I work. Then I parent. Then I go to my Real Job. Then I come home and eat lunch. Then I pick up the kid, and parent some more. Then I collapse. And in between that, I make books and manage several rather high maintenance communities (although I do have help with that, for which I am eternally grateful), and I try to move Wolfenoot painfully slowly towards being a Foundation, and I give advice and I learn pole and I try to still be a human being with, like, friends,  and time to read, and I garden and I make sure the fish don’t die….

But every time I try to push any of this stuff towards a place where I can actually make something resembling a living that will pay the bills, it feels like wading through treacle. So I do the right things. I create more content. I make new stuff. And each time a little more trickles in, but then I have now created more work for myself.

I’m always being asked, “How do you do so much?” and told I need to rest, but the truth is all the stuff I really love to do doesn’t pay, and, well, I still have bills. So I can either give up the things I am passionate about, or be a stress-bunny about finances.

All I really want is to be able to focus on Wolfenoot and the Critter Community and the Raven and put beauty into the world and not have to worry about how much revenue they are making. All I really want is to cover my costs. And occasionally buy some bath bombs or a CR t-shirt. You know what I mean?

There are 10000 people in the Wolfenoot group on Facebook, and if every one of them joined the Patreon at the lowest possible level (1 dollar a month), we’d be away laughing and I’d have a Wolfenoot Foundation by the next Wolfenoot. Instead, I am spending a huge amount of my resources trying to work out how to coax people in so that I can make that happen.

And FB is making it so hard to promote things like this now, because their algorithms eat patreon posts for breakfast. Bah. So I have to find new marketing techniques too. I don’t want to waste time on this stuff. I want to get the books out and create more merch and get back to pushing the charitable part of this thing.

I want to pull Critter Gifting into its own webspace and give it more structure and more force for good.

I want to use the Raven to make beautiful books and beautiful art.

Stupid money. I hate it.

If you’ve read this far, and you’re going, “How can I help, Jax?”, here are some ways you can help.

I have a Ko-Fi account where you can drop a couple of dollars at any time. This goes straight into my paypal account, and therefore straight into my bills. If you enjoy anything I do, this is an awesome low-maintenance way to support my work.

Critter Gifting has a Ko-Fi account too. This goes straight into the CG Paypal, and will be used to cover domain fees, website fees and so forth once I actually have time to set all that up. Any extra will be ploughed back into the community in the form of random gifts for people, etc. This does not pay my bills, but it does allow me to work on CG stuff without going out of pocket myself. 🙂

I currently have three active Patreons, with different focuses.

The Wolfenoot Patreon. The goal of this Patreon is to ultimately make Wolfenoot my job. At the moment, I am drawing about 2/3rds of the profits for this to pay bills etc. A “salary”, if you will, albeit a very little one. (It doesn’t even cover rent at the moment.) It helps! But it doesn’t yet allow me to stop hustling. 🙂 The other 1/3 goes towards costs. Postage, proofing merch, website costs, all that stuff. The $2000 a month goal would allow me to treat Wolfenoot as a real job. Which means a foundation, more charity work, more merch, and maybe even one day (this is my not-so-secret pipedream) an animal sanctuary.

The Patchwork Raven Patreon. The profit from this (if there is any) goes straight back into the Raven and is used to help fund more awesome books and beautiful artsy things. I love the work we do at the Raven, but neither of us has yet ever made a cent from it. All the profits just get ploughed back in to do more beautiful things. The Illuminated Manuscripts we’re doing for this Patreon are so beautiful and I am honestly a bit surprised more people are not enamoured by them. I love this project. This is the best place to support the Raven at the moment.

My own Patreon. Back before everything went nuts, I used to write a lot of stories. I think I’m even fairly good at it. This really needs an overhaul, and it is on my radar to do this. I have a new plan for it. I just need to get around to it. But if you’d like to support my first love – my writing – this is a good place to do it. I only charge when I actually write, which these days is not much.

If you love the work I do, I would be so grateful if you would consider picking just one of these and throwing a few dollars at it. It really wouldn’t take much at the moment to tip the scales to a place where I can stop thinking about the financials of these things and just focus on making amazing stuff happen. You can help make that a reality.

Again, this isn’t about me cashing in. This is about me needing a way for these things to support me and my family so that I don’t have to turn my attention elsewhere to do so. This is the situation in which I currently find myself. If I do have to turn my attention elsewhere (ie: get more editing gigs, paid work, etc), that means less Raven, less Wolfenoot, less CG. I am just one tired human. I only have so much energy. I really want to be able to focus it in the direction of beauty and love and not just, you know, paying the rent. Your support can make that happen.

Thank you for reading. And thank you to everyone who has already (and continues to) supported me.

Boils

Trump is not the problem. Trump is a symptom. A real big awful symptom, like the big motherfucking boil on your forehead that lets you know something is not right with your system. That kind of symptom.

You can lance the boil. But unless you also address the toxins that led to it, you haven’t solved the problem.

White supremacy, racism, capitalism. These are (some of) the (major) problems.

DISCLAIMER: Not a doctor, don’t really know how boils work, may be fucking up the analogy, but hopefully you get where I am going with this.

PSA

Hello, beautiful humans! Over the next little while I am going to be reposting some of my longer pieces from the book of face here to keep them for posterity. 😉

I will be backdating them, but they may still result in a bit of a spammy notification feed for those of you who get notifications when I post. Just so you are warned and can turn notifications off for a week or two if you so desire.

 

PSA

I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but:

Women. You are NOT obliged to be any dude’s therapist just because he is sad and lonely. You are (of course) welcome to be nice and supportive if you genuinely like and want to help him. But if you have that niggly feeling in your belly (I think most women know the one I mean), you are totally allowed to just walk away. That niggly feeling is ENOUGH.

Dudes. If this seems to happen to you a lot, perhaps instead of deciding that all women are bitches, you should re-evaluate the way you interact with them. They are not responsible for your mental health. You are. Please stop expecting free emotional labour from women. Do some heavy lifting yourself.

This has been a PSA.

Imagine…

Imagine universal basic income is a thing. Your immediate needs are met. You have a roof over your head and enough money for food and utilities and the basics of living. Maybe even just a little extra for an occasional bottle of wine or lush bath bomb or whatever your fave is.

What would you do with your life? How would you spend your time if you didn’t have to graft to survive all the time?

Wolfenoot Patreon

FYI. I am doing a bit of a trial run with turning the Wolfenoot Patreon into more of a subscription service for sending people cool stuff. There are new tiers, but they are limited for now while I see what the implications on my life are.

If you’d like to support my efforts to turn Wolfenoot into a fully fledged organisation, this is the beginning of that. The goal of this is to help me turn it into a job so that I am able to put more of my time and energy into it.

And this way, you can get super cool stuff from us too. 

Dear White People…

There is something I want to say, and I am very afraid of saying it wrong but I think not saying it is worse than saying it wrong, so please read this with compassion and try to see the thing at the heart of it.

Dear white people. We need to do better.

We need to start making it so socially unacceptable and so uncomfortable to be casually racist that we wipe it out. People are no longer often racist around me because I am very vocal about my attitudes about it. When people tell racist jokes I look at them blankly and go, “Why is that funny?”. I simply don’t put up with it.

But I wasn’t always like this. I used to shrug, and smile uncomfortably because I didn’t want to “make a fuss” or “seem uncool”. Because yeah, the jokes are off colour, but they don’t do that much harm, do they?

The thing is they DO do harm. Because they grow into what happened yesterday. And the safest space for that harm, for those racist ideas to take root and grow taller is among other white people.

I see a lot of “This is not us”, and that makes me uncomfortable, because, well, it is. There is, and always has been, racism in NZ. It’s maybe not as virulent or obvious as in other places (Well, up till yesterday), but it absolutely exists. If you doubt this, ask any of your Maori or Indian or Black friends. And if you don’t have any friends of colour, well… you kind of just proved my point, then, didn’t you?

New Zealand is a beautiful wonderful place, and Kiwis are, for the most part, some of the nicest people I have ever known, and I have lived all over the world. But we are not immune. And I think that perhaps because of that bubble of safety we have constructed around ourselves, made of sheep and hobbits and fiords and jandals and TimTams, we let things slide that we shouldn’t, because we don’t see the harm.

Well, now we have seen the harm.

That harm grows in white spaces. If you let it slide, you contribute to it. And the violence is done to other people’s bodies and homes and lives. We need to start putting our white privileged bodies and minds between that harm and the people it gets aimed at, BEFORE it becomes fatal.

Teach your children better. Choose your friends better. Check your own language and jokes and attitudes. White people are raised in a cloud of casual racism, whether you see it or not, and we need to CONSCIOUSLY dismantle it, in ourselves and in each other.

This is not me saying that if you’re a white New Zealander, this was your fault. It is not that simple. But if you are a white New Zealander, I do think it is your responsibility to check yourself (I do, all the time), and then start making the space around you unsupportive of racist ideology.

Let’s suffocate this shit right out, with our love and our inclusivity.

As for all my friends of colour, my Muslim friends, my friends of Indian descent, my immigrant friends, I love you so much. This must be so hard for you. I can’t change the world all by myself, but I swear that the space around me will always be as safe for you as I can make it. If you need anything I can give, I am here.

Love NZ

Today we were driving home from town and some kids were playing rugby on a field and their ball flew off to the sidewalk.

A little old lady walking there, in a floppy fabric sunhat, picked it up, switched her cane from her right hand to her left and used her right to drop the ball into an astonishingly perfect dropkick back to the kids.

It was the best.

Then she switched her cane back and kept walking.

#hopelives #loveNewZealand