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Hell Week

This has been the most terrible week I’ve had in many a year. The last two weeks, really, as I first kept the JPFO secret I thought should be revealed, then went ahead and revealed it.

All week I’ve felt as if every time I turn on my computer something with huge claws and teeth is going to lunge out of the Internet and eat me.

Reading lies, smears, and innuendo; being baited; feeling as if everything is falling apart. Never knowing what ugliness or panic the next email might bring. Many good people have stepped up to fight for JPFO. Others have offered “help” that was merely an agenda-driven, hobbyhorse-riding distraction that had to be dealt with.

Developments got so awful yesterday I literally thought I might be having a heart attack. It took hours to calm down and breathe out the tightness in my chest. (And I’m not the sort of person to let “mental stuff” take itself out on my body; I learned tricks years ago for diminishing that.)

It scared me.

And all this while I was trying to meet a deadline. Every day I’d start out thinking I’d get my article done, but every day by 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. I’d be derailed and so preoccupied (and often so upset) by some JPFO development that productivity was nil.


Yesterday afternoon, after the forced idleness of chest pains, I realized how surreal it all is.

Everything is happening only on the Internet. Real life? That’s just fine. The sun is shining. All’s well with my neighbors and friends. The dogs are happy. I’m healthy when not being given faux heart attacks by things coming out of the computer.

The week’s been hectic, even aside from events in ‘Netland. But not terrible.

Outside the black box that sits on my work table, my world is well.

Open the black box and … Sharknado.

Well, the black box still contains a few good things, even this week. Two kind donors chipped in some extra support (which I have yet to add to the thermometer or personally acknowledge; sorry.) And there are always dogs to be hilariously shamed. And people of goodwill and good cheer.

I even woke up this morning to find the possibility of saving JPFO still alive (greatly to my surprise and though no doing of my own).

A growing number of signatures on the petition, too. Four hundred and twenty-three toward the 500 goal.


Nevertheless, today I’m still not seeing the black box as my friend. With this being the last holiday of a fine summer, this long weekend I’m going to continue mostly to stay out of the box and in the real world. There’s paint to be painted, walls to be repaired, a festival to attend, dogs to be petted, woods to be walked, and other real realities to live within.

Whatever happens with JPFO, this will be my last-ever “cause.” Win or lose, the whole experience has sickened and disgusted me. No more.

Thanks for being patient with me this week. I’ll post some links soon, get that deadline met (finally!), and then go remind myself that life isn’t what happens inside the black box.


  1. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair August 29, 2014 7:08 am

    It could be worse. You could have hit a deer on your motorcycle and broken seven ribs. But I’m much better 12 days later. Only a little pain gets through my Motrin/Tylenol regimen. And I’m home and working.

  2. Claire
    Claire August 29, 2014 7:15 am

    Oy, Bill! That’s terrible. How lucky you were that helpful people stopped for you. But hearing your insides crunch after an accident must be an unforgettable experience. Take good care of yourself. We need you!

  3. jed
    jed August 29, 2014 7:31 am

    Yes, out here in meatspace, there are still good stories in the news.

    I’ve been through that kind of stress, only it was the telephone ringing and the daily mail delivery, rather than e-mail and the web. It sucks the life out of you. And it’s hard to remember, that this too shall pass. I think one of the reasons I take on divergent hobbies is that it’s a necessity to divert the mind from the grind. So find a place to hang those ribbons, and let the sunlight shine.

  4. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard August 29, 2014 7:32 am

    Take care of yourself, Claire! Don’t let the computer bite your backside during this glorious holiday weekend.

  5. Claire
    Claire August 29, 2014 7:38 am

    jed — Just added that one to today’s links.

    Jim — Thank for always helping keep me sane.

    Yes, it’s really hard to remember sometimes that all those things “out there” that reach out and grab you from the real world … don’t have to be so real.

  6. CA
    CA August 29, 2014 8:00 am


    Along with all of the angst, don’t forget the thousands and thousands (really) of people over the years that you have inspired.

    Doesn’t take away the crazee of the situation, but it does more accurately reflect the puts and takes of your activism.

    Thanks as always for what you do.


  7. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth August 29, 2014 8:57 am

    I’ll second CA’s thought there. The black box gets to me too, but on the other hand, the black box is the entire reason I know anything about you at all, Claire. Yin-yang, maybe.

    (And hell, I would start to doubt your humanity if it didn’t at least occasionally get to you too. In the main, you seem to do a great job of managing The Stoopid–one of the primary reasons I keep coming back here is the healthy perspective in nearly all your observations, which nearly always teaches me something–but the power of The Stoopid is strong, and to remain well-adjusted throughout its perpetual onslaught takes effort.)

    Carry on as you need, and remember to keep your kayak underneath you. 🙂

  8. Ragnar
    Ragnar August 29, 2014 8:57 am

    Rub vodka on it! Cures any issue…

  9. LibertyNews
    LibertyNews August 29, 2014 9:45 am

    Thanks for taking the arrows and shining the light on this. No matter the outcome at least we have you to thank for the truth.

  10. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty August 29, 2014 10:55 am

    Hang in there Claire. Just remember that working for a “cause,” however passionate you are about it, does not make the outcome your responsibility.

    …even when you throw the first public snowball. 🙂

  11. YAM
    YAM August 29, 2014 11:50 am

    while it seems that you are having some sort of panic attacks which will not kill you, why don’t you think about taking a baby aspirin once a day until things settle down (assuming you aren’t already taking a blood thinner). Stress hormones can be a bitch and cause “other things” to happen.

    Just concerned.

  12. M J R
    M J R August 29, 2014 12:54 pm

    Hey Claire,

    I know the pressure upon you these past few weeks has been great. I also know that you will weather it and come out the other side in one piece still fighting the good fight. I hope this doesn’t sound trite but as Friedrich Nietzsche wrote …was ihn nicht umbringt, macht ihn stärker (What does not kill him, makes him stronger) – Ecce Homo (1888).

  13. TXCOMT
    TXCOMT August 29, 2014 1:40 pm

    Talk to the SEALs about Hell Week…this is not that.

  14. Keith
    Keith August 29, 2014 1:49 pm

    Oh my goodness!

    and a big hug.

    Do you have a trusted friend nearby who you can spend some quality time with and talk about some of the stress? – even what you’ve typed today puts it out there and that externalization (even if you just write it in a note pad, or frame it into words for the dog or the cat) often seems to help to put things into a better perspective.

    A friend sent me this link a few days back, although it is originally intended for depression, I’m slowly working through it and it’s working a treat for a lot of sh!te and hassles which are absolutely not depression or depression related

    all the best for the weekend, and another big hug


  15. A.G.
    A.G. August 29, 2014 2:45 pm

    Talk to an Army infantrymen about the Navy SEALs. He’ll yawn.

  16. jed
    jed August 29, 2014 2:48 pm

    @TXCOMT — your point?

    Comparative suffering is hardly useful. Stress is stress. Just because I’m not sitting in a foxhole at the Battle of the Bulge doesn’t mean my problems are, or were, trivial, or that they have no effect on my life or demeanor. Sure, it’s all easy to say, “You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you react to it.” Well, Mother Theresa, I ain’t. Most of us aren’t. All of us go through rough patches, and there’s nothing wrong with calling them “hell”.

    IOW, Phpphphphphpththhtpthtttt!

  17. Karen
    Karen August 29, 2014 3:33 pm

    Sorry to hear what a week or two you’ve had! Adding hugs and wishing we, the commentariat, could take you out for a nice relaxing glass of wine. Sometimes, no matter the battle, the best we can hope for is to live to fight another day.

  18. Claire
    Claire August 30, 2014 7:11 am

    Thank you, guys, for the caring and the usual wisdom with with which you deliver it.

    Although I very much intend to take Ragnar’s advice to “rub vodka on it,” yesterday’s raw-feeling emotional wound already feels better today.

    I got away from the black box and spent much of yesterday doing sweaty, dirty work in the real world, and that was good therapy. Having your support and encouragement is also a very big deal at the end of a week where it seemed that too many people were ready to call names or make insinuations.

  19. Claire
    Claire August 30, 2014 7:19 am

    TXCOMT wrote:

    “Talk to the SEALs about Hell Week…this is not that.”

    And as A.G. noted, the SEALS should talk to a few other people if they think they have it rough.

    The SEALS should talk to the guy who just got his leg ripped off in a motorcycle accident.

    And the motorcycle guy should talk to the mother who just watched her baby die, helpless to do anything about it.

    And the mother should talk to the survivor of a genocide that took his entire family.

    And perhaps the survivor should talk to the person who’s in a jetliner that’s in the midst of plummeting 35,000 feet into the sea.

    But jed has it right. Comparative pain is stupid.

    I probably should have chosen some term like “anxiety producing” rather than “terrible” to describe the last couple of weeks. No way do I believe or did I imply that I was suffering any extraordinary torment. “Hell week” is an expression that applies to a lot of things.

    But if you honestly believe it’s not painful to be smeared as a liar or a fool while you’re tying yourself up in knots trying to save a worthwhile organization then you need to go take empathy lessons.

  20. Claire
    Claire August 30, 2014 7:19 am

    And A.G. and jed — 🙂

  21. Glacier-Blue
    Glacier-Blue August 30, 2014 7:41 am

    Claire you hit the nail on the head when you said:”Outside the black box that sits on my work table, my world is well.” Mental stress can cause physical problems if we allow it to happen. People, like yourself, who are intelligent and sensitive find it difficult to handle unwarranted and salacious criticism. A gentle person has a hard time with ad hominum attacks that are not related to the discussion at hand. You did what your body told you, expended physical energy working in the garden and yard. Also remember for many of those who overly critical of you, they will never change their ways; no matter what you say or do. Just keep being true to yourself and let the nasties rant and rave. Remember…there is always the delete key.

  22. naturegirl
    naturegirl August 31, 2014 9:08 pm

    This is where my rebel self splits off from the crowd on how they view the black box – I totally accept it’s its own real world, capable of taking on it’s own surreal life that also can cause things to happen in the real world too. So, from that perspective, I do pay attention. And I can totally relate to getting so wrapped up passionately in something (anywhere) that the slightest ripple in that subject can spark a very real reaction (and panic attacks, if applicable.)

    And people never fail to shoot the messenger when that’s the only person they can “get to”. You did the right thing and it sounds like everyone else went cowardly and hid – so yeah, you got the hits intended for them.

    I can totally see where you’d internalize this so deeply. Because you care, because you were there to build it. And because it was so good, the evil has to get in it and ruin it. Just remember, you’ll never be able to control people you can only control how you feel about it. And do what you think is right and hope it will make a difference – but have to let it go if it doesn’t turn out. It means a lot to you for many reasons, but you’re limited on what you can do about it.

    Anyway you look at it, sometimes you have to take deep breath, pat yourself on the back for doing all you could about it, and at the same time put your foot down at letting it tear you up. The crazy naturegirl part of me always wonders if situations like these endings are always the beginning of something new and/or better. 🙂

  23. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau September 2, 2014 9:44 am

    [A gentle person has a hard time with ad hominum attacks that are not related to the discussion at hand.]

    I always smile when my debating opponent stoops to that. It means he has just lost the argument. 🙂

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