I don’t know who actually looked at the pictures when I mentioned the repairs that β needed. They weren’t pretty, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to go digging into the details. However, there are a couple of pictures I’d like to share with people, because they’re going to help set context for what follows:

The first is, of all things, me:

Back in December, I went to see Dr. Revis down in Ft. Lauderdale about personal augmentation. I’d lost ninety pounds under Dr. Stoehr‘s care over the prior year, and I felt really positive about my body, so much so that I felt empowered to say “I am unhappy with my breast growth from just hormones” and then to actually take action on that statement. Given I’ve spent over a decade sort of lingering in an emotional malaise about my chest development, and probably close to thirty about my weight in one form or another, these were huge personal developments. You can, in fact, see just how huge in the pic; the doc told Keet afterwards that he fit 1200cc in each and couldn’t have squeezed in another drop.

This was seventeen-thousand dollars, but it was trans-related medical care, and I will fully attest that this has been fantastic for my emotional state. So, I really can’t complain about the money spent. The three months of convalescence were hard, but the results have been oh, so very worth it.

The next thing up doesn’t have a picture, and that’s really unfortunate because my mother-in-law has one of the most amazing smiles I’ve ever seen. My parents-in-law moved last year so my father-in-law could pursue a new architecture job. However, thanks to some less-than-savory movers and some mandatory upgrades to their new house — my mother-in-law’s wheelchair bound due to missing half a leg from necrotizing fasciitis and she’s got four crushed vertebrae in her back from weight gain related to her anti-depressants and the lack of mobility from the amputation — they ended up about twelve-thousand dollars short to complete the move. And of course I was willing to cover, without question. Family takes care of its own.

My father-in-law assured me he’d make arrangements to start paying me back as soon as he stabilized in his new job. As is the way of things, his new boss turned out to be an ass, his new work environment was toxic, and moving Mom back to the old house was out of the question and the old job was already gone. He found a new-new job, one that wasn’t so emotionally damaging, but he took a pay cut to do it, which put paying me back on hold. And now he’s looking at retiring early so he can take care of Mom himself instead of having to drop every other paycheck on nursing care for her, which saves them both a lot of money and stress. However, it further complicates the question of when — if — I’ll get the money I gave them back.

Then, of course, we had to go see them in the new house. Mom doesn’t understand why we don’t visit more often. They don’t have a spare queen-size bed in which we can sleep and the pets in their house wreck my allergies, so I have to pay for a hotel room and a car rental because they don’t live near public transit in addition to the plane tickets, but that’s such a small thing compared to getting to see how happy it makes both of them when we show up.

Then the mold revealed itself. And of course we took care of it, because you don’t fuck around with penicillin growing in the attic, basement, and drywall. And we are recovering from it, slowly… but we’re still recovering:

Don’t get me wrong; this space is already gorgeous, and it’s going to be magnificent when it’s finished. However, at this point, the repair process has dragged beyond all reasonable imagination. Blue Water Design told me it’d be five weeks back in January. Even granting that they found serious problems with our plumbing and electrical work when they opened up the walls and revised their estimate, we’re into our fourth month with no kitchen and no downstairs toilet. I spent fourteen-thousand on mold remediation in December, and the same again on a new roof in January because the mold team told me part of what made our house such a breeding ground was insufficient ventilation and a bunch of rotten timber from a roof past its expiry date, so all that had to go in order to pass the “you won’t have this problem again” test. I’ve dropped forty grand on the kitchen repairs to date and the current budget estimate is ninety to ninety-five thousand, once everything’s included.

For those of you keeping score, that’s $152,000 spent or soon to be spent in a year on a combination of self-improvement, family support, and home preservation. That’s not counting whatever it’s cost the six of us to feed ourselves on convenience fare instead of cooked meals. I could’ve refused to spend the first part, but I’d been denying that bit of self-care for ten years at least. I could’ve refused to spend the second part, but what kind of asshole refuses to take care of family when the resources are there to do so? I could’ve refused to spend the third part, but that would’ve put my friends’ and roommates’ lives in jeopardy and risked the future of my home. There really was no good alternative here. Even the best-case scenario left me saying “I don’t actually need to fix my body in ways I now know are actually important to my mental well-being.”

And make no mistake, I’m grateful that I could spend it, but… well, it wasn’t all mine. I borrowed a hundred-thousand on a line of credit to fix up a bunch of stuff around the house. Keet and I had a list of things around β that needed attention, of which the kitchen was only a part. A large part, to be sure, but the furnace is a fifty-year-old original and the last service tech to work on it said it probably can’t be repaired too many more times before it won’t start. The wooden decks in the back are sitting directly on the ground with no concrete, so there’s a water/moisture problem there we need to correct, and one of the steps is loose and probably rotten. The doors leading into the crawlspace need to be replaced. I could go on and on. Originally, I thought I’d get through all the upgrades and have enough left over to pay off some other debts.

Between my surgery, my in-laws’ move and subsequent request to see us in the new house, and the mandatory rebuild, the line of credit will be gone, as will my entire liquid financial reserve. I still have the house, and I still have my IRA if things get really disastrous, but I haven’t been in this financially precarious a position since The Bad. Even this isn’t terrible — my cash flow is amazing because I work in IT — but this is more non-mortgage debt in one place for me than… ever. I still don’t have a good idea of what the final bill will be, and I may have to borrow money from friends to help make it happen. That’s put me in a very difficult emotional space. I’m not used to relying on people in this fashion. Being the one on whom others rely, absolutely, but not having to ask for financial help. It’s a singularly unpleasant feeling.

All of this is, in its own way, a prelude to why I’m launching a Patreon.

Make no mistake: there are people who need money more than I do. As a fairly well-schooled and well-heeled anarchosocialistnot a Marxist, but it would be an essay unto itself explaining the differences — there are people I genuinely feel need help more than I do. I can’t in good conscience ask you to just give me money for nothing. If you have so much money that you’re looking to just give it away, consider helping out Trans Relief or Stand with Standing Rock. Give money to Black Lives Matter or the UN Refugee Agency. Find somebody who has medical bills and help alleviate their suffering. America is… kind of a terrible place right now, and there’s a lot of pain that you can help lessen.

But if you’ve made it through that gauntlet, and you’re still here, I could use the help too. In addition to helping support the content I produce, you’d be helping me pay back four roommates who didn’t ask to live through four-plus months of kitchen unavailability with no end in sight. You’d be helping Transliminal Station-β get the repairs it desperately needs, so it can keep being a haven for the kinds of people who benefit from this blog and the ideas it represents. You’d be supporting all the other work that we do around here, like Bandaza. And you’d be helping me start, in small but important ways, to slip the capitalist leash, as it were. You’d be helping me lay a groundwork for a future wherein I don’t have to be a bitwrangler to provide for myself and my loved ones.

So, beyond all this fancy feel-good talk, what does donating get you?

At six dollars a month, you’ll get entered into a once-a-quarter drawing for about thirteen-hundred words of custom smut. If you’re familiar with my work, you should be familiar with what I can produce. Winners will be picked at random on the solstices and equinoxes. If you’re selected, I’ll contact you for a one-sentence prompt and, upon negotiated acceptance of the prompt and parameters, produce a short story of approximate length. I do have a day job, and I do occasionally go on-call, but I’m pretty responsive and I’m pretty responsible. I don’t have many no-go zones, and I’m willing to discuss what I won’t do and why I won’t do it. Anything I write for you won’t go to the public, though I’ll probably share it as a Patreon exclusive.

Speaking of which, at twelve dollars a month, you’ll get access to Patreon exclusives. Admittedly, there aren’t of those yet, but that’s because I don’t have any patrons yet. This might be as little as thoughts I have about story settings, notes for future work, thoughts on story structure, or snippets of half-completed work. Think of it as getting to peek in the journeyer’s junk drawer when they’re not at the bench. You’ll get to watch the narrative sausage being made.

At twenty-four dollars a month, instead of simply being entered into a drawing once a quarter, you’ll just get a story, once a quarter. Same conditions for the six-a-month, but instead of being entered into a drawing, I’ll just write something in response to a prompt. Pretty sweet, hunh?

Finally, for forty-eight a month, as I release books, I’ll buy them, autograph them, and send them out to you myself instead of waiting to ask you to buy them; that’s the least I can do for such dedicated support.

If you’re not interested in helping me that way, but you’re the kind of person that thinks clothing is neat and also maybe likes art, perhaps I could instead direct your attention towards my wife’s graphic designs. She’s an incredibly talented designer — she did Phoenix Comics and Games‘ logo and branding — but I’ve had arsenic’s own time trying to convince her she was good enough to be worth paying for her skills.

In the end, regardless of whether you contribute or not, I’ll be here. The Great Work will continue in its path and the gears of the universe will continue to turn. It’d be great if there were a little more financial graphite so everything turned with less friction, but they will turn regardless. I will be fine, and I will continue to write either way. It would be nice to have the help, but what matters is that you’re still here. You’re still reading. We’re in this together, all of us. We’ll get through this, and we’ll be stronger for having passed through the refiner’s fire, even though it burns.

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