1777 Circular.

We used to go through periods like this back in the day. After losing a few people we’d get stuck in this feedback loop. I remember many nights running 3 departments by myself. I’d end up with lines of people with questions and you have to deal with each one in turn, because if you divert your attention from someone they often react as if you slapped them. I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but in America people have an insane level of self importance. Trying to be courteous to other customers while dealing with them is an insult somehow.

I already posted this on patreon and dispersed it across all my social media, but I know there are still people who won’t read it there, and people who won’t read it here either, but I’m posting it anyway just in case there’s anyone left who cares but hasn’t seen this.

Hey guys, I’ve gotten a couple of messages about stuff I’ve needed to take care of that I haven’t gotten to finish, or even start in some cases, so I decided I had better just explain everything in a post so everyone knows what’s going on.
I’ve had a lot of stuff happen all at once that has made it really hard to accomplish my various tasks, but I haven’t been talking about them in any blogs or anything because I’ve been physically and emotionally unable to handle the constant onslaught. I don’t even want to type anything up about it most of the time, so I just haven’t been. Which is why the comic post have been getting shorter and shorter…
Anyway, I had a submission for an anthology comic due this month. I had it almost complete, but it still took me 3 weekends of constant work to get it all done. There was a strange error when I saved the files that deleted a bunch of progress, so I had to do it over again. Which was… bad. I can really use the extra money though, since ad revenue from the actual website have fallen so far. So I didn’t want to lose 15 pages of work for nothing. Then, my surface stopped working.
On the actual day I didn’t know why. It wasn’t getting any power and it has a proprietary cord, so if you don’t have a spare, which I didn’t, you can’t do anything about it. I live in the middle of nowhere so it’s minimum two days to get anything here, usually 3. But I didn’t know if it was the cord or the surface itself. I just barely managed to save the comic files to the memory card before it forced itself to sleep. The anthology stuff was locked on the surface, possibly for the foreseeable future. I tried my best not to completely melt down, but I’ve been trained for so many years that keeping your update schedule is of utmost importance that I was more stressed than I have been in quite some time.
I have a backup PC but because of what a mess my life is from the teen moving out and everything I couldn’t find my key for the software I use. It’s $200 for the full version, but I ended up buying the regular version for like $50 or something? Just so I could finish the page for that evening. Additionally the new cord was $50 and the shipping, which I was too distraught to notice at the time, was $60 for next day, which was still two business days… That’s almost all the money the site makes in a month now, just for reference. Plus I didn’t know if I was going to have to spend god knows how much to have my surface repaired.
Using the spare PC is much slower. it doesn’t have the touch features that allow me to work really fast compared to the way I have to on it. I can limp along with it, but I haven’t had a buffer of pages in probably 3 years because life never stops punching me in the dick.
So that was where I was at on a Monday night like a week ago. I could barely function from the stress of it all. I got all my pages out, but it was not easy especially since my Grandmother almost died the day after the power cord arrived.
She has been a huge part of my entire life, and I know she has to die eventually, but facing the reality of it like this has been… I don’t even kno a word that can sum it all up. I’ve somehow managed not to deteriorate in to gross sobbing all the time but I don’t know how I’m doing it honestly. Maybe it’s because I can deny the inevitable until it’s right in my face. I don’t know. I can’t go see her, she can’t talk, so I can’t phone her. I’ve just had to pass messaged to her via my mother. She keeps surviving these insane things that every doctor says should have killed her three times over. This has been going on for two weeks maybe?
During this time I’ve had a couple of my racing heartbeat spells. The ones that seem like a panic attack but don’t work the same way? For about 30 seconds my heart will, for no obvious reason, suddenly go from resting to maximum effort. It is mortally horrifying. I feel like I’m going to die and start to lose cognitive functions. At the same time I don’t have shortness of breath and am also sort of hyper aware. They take about a day to recover from because I basically have to lay down the entire day till the terror subsides enough to function again. There’s not any real chest pain either, but my arm will sometimes go numb, sometimes my jaw all the way to my nose. Which is probably all muscular and nerve induced. I used to get those symptoms with panic attacks but it was different. The whole experience has evolved if this is what they are. Panic attacks that don’t start with panic the way they used to, they just end with them. I’ve also been having dizzy spells like I did when I first got sick from my foot infection. Probably allergies but I haven’t had it this bad in at least two years.
I just went to the doctor and she didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with me other than allergies and my weight, which is a pretty big problem, but she wasn’t very worked up over anything. I dunno…
I had another one this morning. I woke up after maybe 3 hours of sleep and was wide awake. Totally, completely, as awake as I could be instantly. I didn’t feel bad, but I had this weird feeling that something was wrong. Really really wrong. My pulse was high but not crazy panic high, just like a little startled maybe from waking up like that. I got up from the floor, where I usually have to sleep because of my back, and laid down in my parent’s bed which is so soft I can’t stand it, but seems to help when I cant be on the floor anymore.
After a few moments my heart clicked up to high gear. And since I live far enough from town that if there is anything really wrong with me I have to make a choice at the worst possible time to make one. It’s probably 20 minutes from the hospital to here, so that’s all kinds of time to die long before anyone comes to help. Or worse die just enough that you have terrible brain damage and they save you. Either way, it’s fucking terrifying to ponder in the seconds when you have to pull that trigger. But these things haven’t managed to kill me before, so I decide to call my dad because he might be on the way home for lunch. He doesn’t pick up, which isn’t uncommon if he’s busy with something. But is he regular busy, or three hours late busy? I’m on the verge of passing out at this point. I am willing myself to stay conscious. I’m not having pain in my chest so it’s probably nothing. It will pass and I’ll take my day to recover and it will suck but this is my life. Except it suddenly feels like someone has grabbed the muscles in my back on the middle right side and twisted them as hard as they can. This is totally new. And suddenly this dull pain is radiating out from that point across my back and I have no idea what the fuck is up. I know you can have a heart attack on the back of your heart which is supposed to feel different, but this doesn’t seem like that and I can still pretty much breathe, but I have got to make a choice that may or may not be life and death.
At this point I’m calculating in my head as fast as I can how much an ambulance ride that’s 40 minutes is going to cost. It’s $1000 dollars for about 3 miles. A thousand dollars for a ride across a small town. And that’s just the start of the expense. Another few thousand for an ER visit? This is WITH INSURANCE in America mind you. Without it would be cheaper and better in every way to just die. So I’m trying to calculate the value of my life in dollars. I’m having a hard time convincing myself that my life is worth even the ambulance trip. Mind you this is happening in SECONDS. All of this is going through the part of my head that’s still working, which is the part that takes over at times like this. The part that wants to live in spite of all arguments to the contrary. The part that deserts me in all other times in my life leaving the part that wants to die in the drivers seat. In these moments the other guy gets behind the wheel.
When the guy picks up I realize I’m not sure I can talk. I’m in full panic now and all my breathing is dedicated to that endeavor. I’m also genuinely on the verge of losing consciousness. Supposedly if this happens the doctor said that I’ll just pass out, be out for about 30 seconds, and then my body will reboot my blood pressure and I’ll get up essentially fine. It’s basically a system reset to stop intense emotional reactions, but I don’t fucking want to test it out.
I get out my address clearly one time then repeat it. The guy realizes that this is the most important information I have and repeats it back to me. Then I explain as best I can what’s going on. I lean against a wall and start to slide down it as my eyes roll back into my head. I’m out for maybe three seconds. I come back online and my heartrate is fast but not maxed out. I can still breathe normally for the situation. Then I hear the operator asking if I’m there, for my name, if he needs to send an ambulance. He’s asking in the way that they do so they are not legally responsible for the decision. He wants my permission to do this because the expense of this thing is not lost on the people in charge of emergency services and they want it to all be ON YOU.
I hear the front door open. And tell him that I’m going to town with my father and it would be faster than waiting and I’ll be just as dead either way really so he doesn’t need to send an ambulance to meet us halfway. I’m still not sure if I’m okay. The fainting thing leaves me pretty disoriented and I’m still in pain. The operator says he can’t force me to request the ambulance but if I really think I’m in danger he can still send it. He takes all the info about our vehicle so they’ll know what the deal is if we show up all fast and furious, but at this point I don’t think I’m in danger of dying in the next 15 minutes or so. My body feels totally fucked but the important parts seem to be keeping me going.
My dad is not a calming presence, but I tell him what’s up. He knows all about my various conditions and whatnot. While we’re talking my mother calls to tell us Grandma is going to emergency surgery and they don’t expect her to survive. It’s a kick while I’m down that I don’t need. My body is suddenly not sure what it’s supposed to do. Should it keep pretending it’s dying, or should it let my cry? It doesn’t know. So it just sort of splits the difference and gives me this not one or the other feeling. Neither set of emotions can be released now.
In any event this is probably just one of these new panic attacks, but dad comes by the house at various times to check on me for the rest of the day while I lay down. I go to Discord and chat a little until I feel like I can actually rest.
I’m more or less functional by 5:30. Mom messages me to tell me grandma survived. (my sister also messaged me which is strange because she never messages me for anything. It’s not even an emotional message. She just checks in with me. She has to tell me who she is because she’s not even in my phone.) I haven’t truly slept, and I feel like I’ve been doing stuff all day, but I get up and make dinner for dad. I can’t eat or drink, but I don’t feel hungry anyway. I feed the dogs and the dad, clean up and then lay down for just a second because my body is suddenly really tired. I don’t let myself fall properly asleep because I don’t have my c pap handy and if I do I might choke in my sleep and that would be a pretty terrible topper on this shit sandwich.
I’m sort of asleep for about 2 hours. I feel sleepy when I force myself to get up which hasn’t happened in ages since the cpap makes that not happen. I go finish the dishes and then finally check my messages. I actually have a few from people wondering why I haven’t done various things. That’s actually pretty rare because I usually keep in contact enough so people know what’s up and don’t need to ask, but I haven’t ben doing that for at least a month now. After the second one I decide it would be easier to just write this and post is so everyone can just read this and I don’t have to send it individually.
I’m in a weird place for me. On the one hand my foot is finally starting to look normal again, I can walk without it swelling up to the point of being uncomfortable. I’ve been walking regularly in an attempt to do something about my weight and cut my food down by about half. It doesn’t seem to be helping at all, but maybe in a month it will be noticeable. On the other hand whenever I try to do stuff to fix my body is seems to start doing this other shit more often. That combined with worry over my grandmother and the holidays, and other disasters has really messed me up. I usually bounce back pretty fast, but I haven’t been able to these last few weeks. maybe I’m just getting older, or maybe it’s just one thing too many for me.
I have seriously considered taking a break from things, but I don’t even know what I would do if I wasn’t working. I don’t like not working and it makes me feel bad when I don’t. So I don’t know what I’m going to do.
I guess I’ll just keep making the comic, try to do all the other stuff when I feel like I can, and hope that I don’t just drop dead one day at 41 or however old I am now. In any case that’s what’s been going on if you’re wondering why I haven’t sketched a sketch, or whatever.
All that said, just keep reminding me. Don’t let me forget that I said I’d do something for you. I keep a log of that stuff but sometimes I just have too much going on and forget something, so don’t let me forget you. As long as I don’t randomly die I will get everything done I said I would eventually. I hope you can tolerate me not being timely about it…
Also, if you’re a patron thanks for supporting the comic with your pledge. The only reason I can even consider taking a break is because you guys make it possible for me not to be suddenly broke because advertising isn’t good anymore. I wouldn’t still be doing this if not for you, so I owe you one I can’t ever reasonable pay back.


Mike, sales dont matter to corporate. They just say that to justify their lunacy. Our store had top sales in the company for almost 2 consecutive years but the first time we had lost 5 people at once suddenly we didnt have money to hire anyone else or even give overtime hours to the people still there. Which, among other reasons, lead to the downward spiral of going from 15% 6-month turnover to (a short peak of) 93% 6-month turnover in a little over a year. 93% of the store had less than 6 months experience at one point. The remaining 7% were pretty much management, old ladies too hardened to care, and people like me who weighed the safety of a secured salary vs job hunting with no other marketable skills.

It’s time to bring in mobile payment kiosks! Let people run their own checkout functions and then just give everybody a baseball bat at the only point of exit to prevent shoplifting.

Retail clerking in the future will be much more entertaining because the customers no longer need service; they answer their own questions with smartphones and Amazon reviews, and they can run their own cash register with a mobile payments system. About the only thing left for meat clerks to do is bludgeon thieves, and that’s something most clerks have been dying to do for years anyway!

Mobile payment kiosks are already a thing. But lol to the idea that you can stop all thieves with a baseball bat. True thievery is more clever than that.

As for corporate mentality, it’s about making money and saving money. Employee welfare is just a mandatory cog in their wheels until they find a means to replace that cog with something more self-sustaining and which does not require a constant bitching about pay raises.

Jackie, I really hope your condition improves. And I know you probably don’t agree, because I wouldn’t if it were switched, but as a patron I feel like I’m paying you back for the smiles and laughs you’ve given me through your comic rather than you owing me anything for it. I feel like I know you in some weird way through your characters, and so I worry for your health as I do for any other friend. How you continue with the comic and keep it at this level is beyond me, but it brings me joy and lets me know that an artist whose comic has touched my life is still living his. And if my contribution helps in that, all the better.

Jackie go do what makes you happy. Go get everything straightened out. Know that we the fans support you. If you need a break that’s fine, get you health squared away. Dead authors make no updates after all. I’m rooting for you

Take care and do what you need to do for you. If you need a break, we’ll be here when you get back. Virtual strength from the lowlands.

That episode of heart racing sounds a bit like atrial fibrillation where the various heart chambers get out of sync and the heart races like you’ve had an adrenalin rush. I had it once from a combination of heat stroke and caffeine overdose. Going to sleep can reset atrial fibrillation. Being overweight and sleep apnea are associated with AF.

Hi Jackie,
Just while I’m begging to write, I’d like to say:
Sometimes, [ I can be clueless, to when people are feeling emotions that I am not, and sometimes I’m clueless to what some others are feeling sensitive about], so- I’m writing to try + be sensitive + supportive about problems, but I might totally mess it up, anyhow.
Such is the clumsy, Jerry Lewis/Buster Keaton-screwup, that controls some of the social skills in my mind. *shrugs*

fwiw, I only know stuff about your comic + your medical issues from what you’ve writen online, so what I know about your issues, maybe close to nothing.

Anyway: I think the length of your post is a strong indication that- medically, or emotionally, or both, that you have [quite] a lot on your mind, and that you might need to take a vacation from writing/doing Between Failures, so you can address those issues.
What I mean is: your comments for each page are usually about 1 page long, on my screen.
Today, your comments are about 3-4 pages long.

I think that maybe you have written quite a lot, today, because doing both BF, + your off-the-web issues, might be getting to big for you to manage, right now.

I don’t know if you said-that you might take a break from making B.F., but if you need to take a break, please do so.
I might be presuming a bit, but: we love your stuff/your comic, but if you have serious problems happening, please put BF aside, so you can work them out
We, your readers, really like you, but please take a break if you need to. We’d hate to see something bad happen to you.
Please take some time off, If you’d like to. We, your loyal readers, will still be here when you come back. It’s all good.
Cheers, TRA

I second this.
This is pretty much how I feel about it. You are more important than anything you produce; don’t get me wrong– we’re here for the comic, this is where the comic is- this is where we come. But the comic is a web comic, and you are its god, its creator. Without you, pffft. Besides, you are a person, and while there are other creators, yeah- not another who does to us what you do (via your characters). And through your characters, by extension, we know those parts of you that you reveal through your characters.
And that is the you we love. So take care of you, we will wait.
Be as stout hearted as Thomas, as naive as Reggie, and as lusty as Tina, and as sweet and adorbs as Jo, because you are already that. And that is what we love.

Reminds me of the hell that is local government work; everything’s arse-backwards and you can’t do shit that works because it’s against the rules.

If you need to take a hiatus, take it. I have the comic bookmarked in a folder with other daily comics I read. So you get my page views daily no matter what!

Self-importance is very much a localized condition. In Nebraska, depends on where you are, but most customers allow other customers to butt in temporarily if they have a really quick question. When I worked at Best Buy, it was not uncommon for me to be helping someone find something, and another person would stop and ask if he could ask a question really quick (like, “Where are the video games?”). No one got angry, in fact the interrupting person would often apologize to the other person for interrupting.

Now, when I was in France and England, holy shit were people angry about everything. Everything was a slight – walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk towards another person was treated like you were about to assault someone.

So being self-important is more of a human trait tied to a location.

I think you should get yourself better before worrying about the comic, we all love your work and you, and we can wait a while for updates, you would not be the first to take a hiatus from writing/drawing so don’t worry about us, we support you in anything you do.

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