A Flash News Bulletin

February 18, 2018

It’s been a month or so (rounding down, squinting the eye, and tilting the head) since my last post on here. I have of course, been getting busier, as per the standard excuse when people don’t want to say “I forgot” or “It was moved down on my priority list”.

However, in those few months I have reached both highs and lows when it comes to my migraines, and it has also made me think of my blog. I do not know how many regular followers actively read my blog, but to those who do, I thank you. It has been almost a year of work on this blog, this Candle in the Dark, and I am happy with what I have produced.

Yet, I am growing tired of it. I am tired of always dredging up my migraines on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I am also starting to doubt that this is the best way to deal with them. It is also no independent thing that my migraines are relentlessly continuing their march, with me being more or less incapacitated once or twice a week to the point where it is hard for me to look at a screen.

In our screen laden world, that is a difficult thing to deal with, no doubt.

But if you think this is a farewell to this blog, it is not. It is a changing of this blog. Instead of focusing on migraines, I will focus on what is good in my life in the face of those migraines. I have spent a year establishing the foundation of my blog as a migraine blog—if you have stuck it out through the entirety of that run, now use that as a backdrop to everything else I talk about in my blog, because the truth of A Candle in the Dark is this: I want to establish that chronic pain, or any other problem, does not prohibit one from living a good life.

So, I will still be talking about migraines sometimes, but I will open it up to more subjects. I got a dog, and I will be running a series of blog posts about him and his training. I will talk about video games, movies, literature, Lego, all sorts of things. It is, the next phase of A Candle in the Dark, and I am excited to see where it goes. Who knows where it will lead?


How You Expect it to Go

January 19, 2018

“This is just not our day” growled Titus to himself as he spurred his horse, making the beast leap forward. The man grit his teeth as wispy branches whipped his face, and the horse let out an indignant bellow when the ground became rough.

“They swore. They swore before Jupiter Elicius himself,” the Roman repeated to himself. Behind him was a sight of horror that had curdled his blood and chilled his bones. King Mettius, sworn servant of Rome, had ordered his men to retreat in the face of battle. Retreat, and allow the barbarians a straight path to the flanks of the Roman host.

Treason! Might as well have handed away the keys of Rome herself! Titus would have sworn vengeful oaths and called down curses on Mettius in the name of Jove himself had he the chance, but he was too angry for such complex thought. Besides, the enemy was fast advancing. He could hear them crashing behind him. If his horse did not hurry, he would only be racing to view the carnage of defeat.

The olive branches did not let up, even their smaller twigs struck fast and hard, and it was a miracle that the horse could maintain his footing through the thickets that grew at their roots!

Titus crashed through the chaparral and sighed a sigh of relief when brought his horse to a champing halt before the Roman ranks, and the retinue of Tullus Hostilius, King of Rome.

“What news?” asked the king hurriedly, calming his own horse from the surprise of Titus’ arrival.

“King Mettius retreats!” Titus gasped. He meant to say more, to rage and to roar, but those were the words that came.

The look on Tullus’ face was a thousand auguries. The stern face became lashed with concern, and the dark eyes that gazed impassively as he sentenced judgments and punishments became tinted with fear.

“Very good, very good,” said the king in a confident voice that auspiciously echoed into the olive groves and hills for miles around. “This is no cause for concern, for King Mettius is doing as I commanded. Soon,” and with this he turned his head directly towards the front, “Rome’s enemies will find themselves quite surrounded, by Tullus at the front, and Mettius at the rear!”

* * *

I read the story of Tullus Hostilius the other day. I just got over a week-long migraine; It was decidedly not fun, in fact it was the polar opposite. I was lost and directionless, momentarily of course, and I decided to grab a book off of my shelf, eat pizza, and read whatever that book may say. So I grabbed a book of Roman history, Livy’s first-cenury masterpiece The Early History of Rome, and headed off to my favorite pizza parlor.

My migraines usually last one to three days, and a week is almost unheard of for me. I emphasize the almost, because it has happened before. The last time was back in 2016 I think, around August. So I was rather in the mood to read of conquering heroes and daring adventures. They wrote history books differently back then, that is to be sure. Probably to compete with gladiator fights and chariot races.

The story of Tullus, who ruled Rome in the seventh century before Christ (about 100 years after its founding in 753 BC) struck a chord with me.

It is especially difficult when a migraine breaks the normal rules that migraines tend to follow. I have routines, procedures, and methods of controlling and dealing with migraines; music, certain food, mechanical meditation with Legos, and essentially living life on standby until the blessed day the migraine breaks. An unusual migraine throws all that out.

You see, Tullus had ordered Mettius to guard his flank, nothing fancy.

Mettius was king of Albans, Rome’s very first conquered city, and even that is debatable, because Rome owned Albans because Mettius had made a bad bet on a good fight. Mettius was king, but he was king under Rome, and his people were not happy with their king’s foolishness. So he intended to undermine Rome by letting King Tullus die in battle with a neighboring Italian tribe, Veii.

When Tullus made his declaration, he said it loud enough to comfort his men, but also loud enough for the men of Veii to hear. His off-the-cuff tactic worked. The men of Veii, not happy with the whole ‘being surrounded’ thing, fled and Tullus won the day.

Tullus dealt with a situation that went the opposite of how he expected it to go. And in desperation, he found a way that worked. Sometimes migraneurs will find themselves in similar situations. Not as drastic or decidedly Roman as Tullus, but times will come where they find themselves outside of their comfort zone (and I certainly love my comfort zone. In fact, I think that shall be my next post topic)

This time I accepted that I was going to be less productive, that I would have to accept lesser work from myself until my migraine subsided. That is how I dealt with it at least. Was it the best way? I don’t know. But it worked for me and got the job done. But I am reminded now that these things can happen, and that is of course a good reminder.


To the Ending of the World

July 28, 2017
King Henry V Coat of Arms

You don’t need a portrait. Identify King Henry V the knightly way. (Wikipedia)

In 1421 King Henry V of England was one of Europe’s great men. He was young, energetic, athletic, and a keen tactician hellbent on securing his family’s very legitimate claim to the throne of France. Henry was king in the line of William of Normandy, and his family once owned much of France under Richard the Lionheart two centuries before. Now Henry V wanted France back.

Henry was helped by the unhealthiness of his French rival, King Charles VI. King Charles suffered from paranoia, delusion, schizophrenia, and depression, with episodes that would last for months at a time. The nature of medieval politics (actually, politics in general) requires sane leadership, and a council of lords and regents was started in France to cover for Charles’ debilitating mental illnesses.

Naturally the council, as councils tend to do, tore itself apart. Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy and Louis, Duke of Orléans, who were two of the council’s most powerful members, began to feud. This quarrel erupted into war when Louis was murdered by fifteen of Philip’s men. Things escalated, words were swapped for swords, and France was split into halves.

Across the English Channel King Henry played both sides off each other, making and breaking alliances until he ruled a third of France. Only when the northern region of Normandy refused to turn to Henry’s side (irony of ironies) did he invade from across the channel, taking the port city of Harfleur and defeating a large French army at the Battle of Agincourt.

And that is the story of the font you used for your princess party invitations.

Henry fought to great success in France, signing the Treaty of Troyes and marrying Catherine, Princess of France which legally made him heir of France once Charles died. He even got famous enough that Shakespeare wrote multiple plays about him, giving him Western culture’s greatest motivational speech. However, when living the rough and tumble life of a medieval king, sometimes it can take a turn.

In autumn of 1421 King Henry led a siege against Meaux, a castle a few miles from Paris. During the siege Henry contracted the Bloody Flux, a disease common to medieval military camps that is related to dysentery. It causes diarrhea, severe intestinal damage and dehydration, and has yet to actually be featured in any medieval fantasy franchise as I am aware.

King Henry V died of the disease in August of 1422, leaving his wife Catherine and making their nine-month old son Henry into Henry VI, the official King of England.

Now a baby cannot really be king, so Henry V’s old knights formed council, to rule on behalf of the baby. It worked. Henry VI grew up and took the throne himself at an appropriate age (He was Eight.)

All the men

Crying Emoji, Sad, Comfort

So comforting. (Twitter, Hotemoji)

there knew what happened when a council doesn’t work. They had just helped Henry V tear apart France after their council broke down. They would work together, and (likely) with a stiff British upper lip and a Keepeth Calm and Ramble On tapestry, they did.

Aside from being an example of kings destroyed by illness, this story is an example of the necessity of support in life. In our fractured age exactly six hundred years later it can seem like a very lonely time. Social media surely contributes to this, degenerating friendship to a system of likes. A friend is now merely a follower, there to give likes. The result (of this, and other things) is that our lives have become lonely and anxiety-ridden, with little support and real relationships, and no amount of heart or crying reacts can help it.

This is not the way it ought to be. So if you are given the chance to be on the support council for a friend in need, don’t be like King Charles’ council. Be like King Henry’s. I have my support groups and individuals. Find your council, and if you have the good fortune to be on a friend’s council, don’t tear it apart like the French dukes.