Why write about politics and religion?

never-discuss-religion-or-politics

When I started this blog, I remember saying I would never write about politics or religion.

Four years later, I’m writing about both politics and religion.   Though not every one of my posts covers these two divisive subjects, a good percentage of them do.    Sometimes I remember the promise I made when this blog was new, and feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

But then when I realize how closely our political situation (and religion too, since in America, right wing evangelical Christianity has become VERY political) ties in with narcissistic abuse and sociopathy, which was this blog’s original focus —  I realize I made the right decision in tossing aside my original vow to steer clear of religion and politics.

In 2019, narcissistic abuse is no longer a matter that only affects individuals, relationships, and families.   It’s the modus operandi of a criminal political organization or perhaps group of criminal political organizations that is affecting everyone under their rule on a nationwide, or even a worldwide, scale.    What is happening in the Republican Party — no longer your father’s, brother’s, or even your own conservative, small government, ‘family values’ party, but a treasonous terrorist organization of white supremacists and religiofascists that serves only the wealthy, white, straight, and male — is narcissistic abuse writ large.  Like it or not, all of us, to one degree or another, are affected by it.

Those of us who are horrified by what has become of America and the cruel way some vulnerable groups of people are being treated, and terrified by what Trump and his sociopathic regime may do to us next are most likely suffering some form of PTSD.    If we already were victims of narcissistic abuse, we are likely suffering a relapse of Complex PTSD (C-PTSD).  I know I sure as hell am.   Most days I feel like I’m just barely hanging on.   It’s hard to think or to function.   I feel constant anxiety, and sometimes depression.  When I’m not anxious or depressed, I’m in a white hot rage.   Peace of mind is a thing of the past, since I never know what fresh hell each new day will bring.    I know I’m far from alone.

Living in Trump’s America without being part of his cultish base feels a lot like waiting for your abusive husband to get home and not knowing whether he’ll beat you up again or mercifully just ignore you tonight.   It feels like being a scapegoated child in a family of narcissists, who blame you for everything that goes wrong, even though you don’t understand what you did wrong (and probably didn’t do anything).   You’re always anxious and on edge, always waiting for the “other shoe to drop.”  Narcissists like to keep you off balance, and Trump and his sycophants like to create the sort of chaos and say the kinds of things that keep us all off balance and constantly on edge.   What he’s doing isn’t any different than what your narcissistic mother did to you, and it has the same deleterious effect on your mental health.

Since 2016, mental health professionals say their caseloads are increasing, and most new caseloads are people suffering PTSD because of the trauma Trump is causing them.  Even if his cruel and hate filled policies don’t affect you or your loved ones directly, the threat of violence, the taking away of benefits and freedoms, and the mocking hatred is always there, like a black heaviness in the room.  The toxic rhetoric he and his base use against anyone who doesn’t act, believe and look the way they do never goes away, and it’s getting worse.  Now he’s goading his base (through his Twitter account) to actual violence against anyone who dares to criticize him or his policies.   I have no doubt he’s trying to rile up the police, the biker gangs, the gun nuts, and others to form a militia against liberals and progressives (and even moderates), truthtellers, and the lovers of democracy.    Make no mistake:  he’s gathering an army of brownshirts to terrorize, attack, and even kill anyone who isn’t on his side.

My point is that politics and religion in 2019 is very much tied up with narcissistic abuse and sociopathy, and to not address the fact this problem is now happening on a nationwide or even worldwide scale (and perhaps has been for a long time) is to deny that it is happening at all.  To not write about current events in light of narcissism and sociopathy would be irresponsible.

My first goal in writing about these issues is to educate and make those who might not have connected this presidency with the problem of narcissistic abuse more aware that it is happening.  With awareness and education, people are more equipped to see what is happening, when it’s happening, the various “tricks” they use (gaslighting, lying, blame shifting, demonization of groups, black and white thinking, employing “flying monkeys”, etc.) and take appropriate action or defense measures to guard against it.

Since most of us can’t go “no contact” with Trump (unless we have the means to emigrate to another country), we must stay vigilant and aware of the myriad ways he and his “flying monkeys” abuse us (he abuses his own base too, but they are in denial, like the cult members they are).  At the same time, we can’t forget about our families, our friends, and try to enjoy our lives as best we can.   The little things in life matter too.   We can (and must) take breaks from the news, and focus on more positive things, and try to find joy wherever we can.

Remember that even in the most depressing and darkest of circumstances, it is possible to find joy.     Read The Diary of Anne Frank for inspiration and strength.    If you believe in God, pray.   If you don’t, do positive things for yourself and others.    Give (and get) lots of hugs.  Volunteer.  Adopt an animal.   Do good things in your community.   Everything you do makes a difference.

Don’t put on horse blinders and pretend what’s happening isn’t, but in the midst of all the black chaos, take time out for joy and friendship.  Also remember that Trump is an angry, lost soul who has neither joy or true friends and never will.   You are better than that and that’s why he hates us.

The other reason I write about politics and religion is because it’s a way to personally cope with what’s happening.   Just as I wrote about my own abuse as a survivor of a narcissistic family and emotionally abusive marriage in order to heal, it’s also necessary for me to write about the ways I feel abused by Trump and his regime in order to keep my sanity.   Otherwise I might completely give up hope and put a bullet in my head.

*****

Further reading:

Narcissistic Abuse in Trumpistan

We Need a Lot More Awareness About Narcissism and Sociopathy

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Why do people read (and comment on) blogs they don’t like?

Originally posted on November 19, 2017

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This is going to be a pretty short post.   Someone who I won’t name had been commenting frequently on my political posts, and their views are almost the polar opposite of mine.   I can’t say this person is exactly a troll, because their comments weren’t offensive or abusive enough to qualify as troll comments, but their views were certainly at odds with mine and he/she wasn’t always very nice about it either.

I asked this person why they were reading my blog since what I have to say seemed to anger them so much, but got no reply.    He/she would be silent for a few days, and then make another negative comment.

Now I get that not everyone is going to agree with me, and I don’t expect them to.   I wouldn’t even want everyone to agree with me 100% of the time, because that’s boring.   Healthy debate is good.   Different points of view can make you think in different ways and consider other points of view.  But this person wasn’t open to civilized debate and seemed to disagree with me about just about everything I said.

Today this individual said they were unsubscribing.  It didn’t hurt my feelings; my only reaction was, what made you wait so long?  It wasn’t as if there was any doubt about where I stand on certain issues.

I really wonder why some people waste their time reading blogs they disagree with or don’t like.  If they just HAVE to read blogs that make them angry (like the pleasure you get picking at a scab), why do they bother commenting?    I really don’t get that.   If I don’t like a blog, I don’t bother reading it.  There are so many other things I can do with my time that are more productive and give me more pleasure than making myself angry or upset reading a blog I hate.    There are so many good blogs out there that give me great pleasure to read, so why would I read one I dislike?

Making changes.

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It’s time to change a couple of things about myself.   Laziness has been a factor in both, though there are other things involved too, and this post is where I will explain it all.

The first thing I’m changing is I’m going back to church.

Due to Trump’s far right evangelical base’s racism, greed, and general lack of empathy, and the twisted perversion of Christianity known as dominionism infiltrating many evangelical and fundamentalist churches, and also the highest echelons of our government (and corrupting every one of our vital protective institutions while violating the Founding Fathers’ idea of the separation of church and state), I’ve been finding the term and even the idea of  “Christianity” offputting.

I believe this is deliberate psychological manipulation enacted by people and organizations who (much like radical extremist Islamists) use religion as a weapon to control human beings and to justify cruelty, callousness, and even torture.  (Christianity was also used to justify slavery during the Civil War and many of the worst atrocities in western history).

What these individuals and churches are practicing is not Christianity at all.  These are Pharisees and false prophets, wolves in sheeps’ clothing.  Some followers may be hapless victims of their cult and not realize they are actually part of a fascist political movement overtaking the country, but their wealthy and famous leaders and televangelists most certainly know.  Some people have dubbed these false Christians “Christianists,” to delineate them from Christians with a more traditional, Christlike belief system.

The dominionists’ goal is not just destruction of America as we know it, but also destruction of true Christianity.   What better way to turn good people away from Jesus (and turn them toward atheism or to Eastern religions or paganism) than to make the Christian God as cruel, narcissistic, mean, greedy, and punishing as possible?  To twist Jesus’ message of caring for the “least of these” into a barely concealed contempt for the most vulnerable among us, a Savior who reserves special treatment for the “anointed” wealthy (dominionists believe wealth and worldly power is a sign of God’s favor) and condemns the poor and sick (who are not “chosen”) to hell.    Dominionists believe that dissent or resistance to a political leader (no matter how immoral or unjust) is a sin that will send you straight to hell (They base this on one line in Romans 13).  Many dominionist preachers, from Franklin Graham to Lance Wallnau to Robert Jeffress, all insist Trump was anointed by God, and to defy or disapprove of Trump will ensure that you suffer in hell for eternity.    Of course, this only applies to the far right Republican leaders they approve of.   If you resisted Obama or Clinton, none of this applies.

Dominionism and far right evangelicalism bears no resemblance to any Christianity I ever heard of until it began to infiltrate our government and started getting more media coverage.   It bears no resemblance to the traditional idea of Jesus as a kind teacher who inspired the Golden Rule and healed the sick.  It also bears no resemblance to the Jesus who was so enraged by the greedy money changers in the temple that he overturned their tables and sent them running.   Dominionism is all about tithing and preachers reaping huge profits.  It’s all about power and dominating others.  The pervasiveness of this dangerous christofascist movement is, unfortunately, turning me off to Christianity.

If Satan is real, I imagine this is exactly how he’d go about turning people away from God.   He wouldn’t use pentagrams and blood sacrifice because that would be too transparent and obvious.   No, he’d disguise himself within an established religion such as Islam or Christianity, pretending that evil is good, and good is evil.    The Father of Lies wouldn’t be transparent enough to reveal himself.   He may well pretend to be God.

And so, my church attendance has gone way down.   The last time I attended mass was on Christmas.   I was happy to be there, but I still can’t shake the bad feeling I get these days from the mere idea of Christianity, whether Catholic, Protestant or nondenominational.  It isn’t my church itself, which I love.  My church is Catholic, but is also quite liberal, and the priest never brings up politically controversial subjects like abortion (I myself am pro-choice — up to a point).  Although my priest is careful not to talk about politics during the homily, he has made it pretty clear how he feels about the migrant situation, the rollback of environmental regulations, and the current president’s cruel policies without actually mentioning his name–and his opinion is not positive.    Although some conservative Catholics are Trump supporters (and there are Catholics working for Trump), the Catholic Church is actually vehemently opposed to Trumpism because of its disdain for immigrants, the sick, the poor, the disabled, children, the elderly, anyone who’s different or vulnerable, and all the “least of these” people that Jesus loved the most and demanded his followers treat with compassion.

But I still couldn’t shake the “Christian” stigma.   To many people today, the term “Christian” elicits the same negative mental image as “Muslim”:  oppressive, misogynistic, and often violent religious zealotry.    Of course in both cases, only the extremists are that way, and what they practice isn’t either true Islam or true Christianity.    And even as a Christian myself, the term “Christianity” was starting to make me recoil and turn my back on it.    I was “losing my religion.”

As a sort of compromise with myself (and God), one day in the early fall, I decided to attend a Unitarian Universalist service.   It was beautiful, uplifting, inspiring, and the people were friendly and welcoming.   I loved the sermon and its message of social justice, equality, kindness, and acceptance of diversity over exclusivity.     In fact, it was a perfect church for someone like me, except for one thing:  its failure to acknowledge the existence of God, or any higher power or higher intelligence.    That bothered me because I don’t think (and have never thought) we just got here by accident.  Yes, I believe in evolution, but I also think it wasn’t random, and there was some kind of higher intelligence — a God — overseeing the entire process.

Even more confused, I just decided not to go to church at all.  I made an exception for Christmas mass, but I do feel like something important is missing from my life.  I find myself slipping back into my old ways of thinking and feeling when I was agnostic, and that just doesn’t work for me, and never did.   I feel strongly that God has been calling me back, but I haven’t heeded that call.  Yet.

Lent is almost here, and last year for Lent I successfully gave up smoking.   I believe it was God’s presence that made it much easier for me to quit than it would have been otherwise.   I haven’t smoked a cigarette in a year!   So I have decided to return to my adopted church, and in doing so, give up something for Lent that will honor God and at the same time help me.

What better thing to give up for Lent than my Sunday morning laziness?  (I do love sleeping in on weekends).    Maybe by immersing myself in a Christianity where acceptance, respect for the planet, compassion, and all the other good qualities of Jesus are valued instead of denigrated,  I might be able to let go of some of the negative political associations I’ve developed toward Christianity because of what American Evangelicalism and the Trumpist GOP have done to it.

I’m making another change too.    I’m going to write in this blog every day.   There’s no reason I can’t make a New Year’s resolution in February.  It’s  still early in the year.

This blog may never regain the level of activity it used to get (due to the Google changes I talked about in another post), but writing something every day surely can’t hurt and will probably help.   It will also keep me centered and focused.    Even if all I do is post a photograph, or a few sentences about some small event or observation (Tony Burgess does this all the time, and his blog is very popular) it’s better than posting nothing at all.

Weird and disturbing changes at Google.

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I just got this notification from Google that my account with Google Plus (and most likely yours, too) is being shut down in April.  (I do not think this affects Gmail accounts.).

This will affect Blogger (Google’s blogging platform) at least as far as ability to comment there (comments default to your Google+ account name), and WordPress, insofar as our posts may no longer be shared on Google+ and the G+ button will no longer work.

This development, coupled with Google’s new algorithms (that I am pretty sure now are the primary factor responsible for the drastic drop in blog hits I’ve experienced of late) makes me think that Google is turning its sights more onto web developers and large corporate accounts and away from consumers, leaving writers, hobby bloggers, and owners of small business and art sites scrambling for now.

Google and WordPress appear to have formed some sort of partnership that excludes and/or alienates most of its consumer base and hobby bloggers and writers.   The sudden big push for bloggers to switch to Gutenberg (an extremely writer-unfriendly editing platform that’s better suited to web developers and page designers) seems to fit right in with Google/WP’s goal of squeezing us small time bloggers out.

Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but there are just too many coincidences here to think it’s some benign change that won’t significantly affect our blogging life.  We have been marginalized.   Why?  Follow the money.   We aren’t raking in the big bucks.

Here is the notification I got:

In December 2018, we announced our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations. We want to thank you for being part of Google+ and provide next steps, including how to download your photos and other content.

On April 2nd, your Google+ account and any Google+ pages you created will be shut down and we will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted. You can download and save your content, just make sure to do so before April. Note that photos and videos backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.

The process of deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts, Google+ Pages, and Album Archive will take a few months, and content may remain through this time. For example, users may still see parts of their Google+ account via activity log and some consumer Google+ content may remain visible to G Suite users until consumer Google+ is deleted.

As early as February 4th, you will no longer be able to create new Google+ profiles, pages, communities or events. See the full FAQ for more details and updates leading up to the shutdown.

If you’re a Google+ Community owner or moderator, you may download and save your data for your Google+ Community. Starting early March 2019, additional data will be available for download, including author, body, and photos for every community post in a public community. Learn more

If you sign in to sites and apps using the Google+ Sign-in button, these buttons will stop working in the coming weeks but in some cases may be replaced by a Google Sign-in button. You’ll still be able to sign in with your Google Account wherever you see Google Sign-in buttons. Learn more

If you’ve used Google+ for comments on your own or other sites, this feature will be removed from Blogger by February 4th and other sites by March 7th. All your Google+ comments on all sites will be deleted starting April 2, 2019. Learn more

If you’re a G Suite customer, Google+ for your G Suite account should remain active. Contact your G Suite administrator for more details. You can also expect a new look and new features soon. Learn more

If you’re a developer using Google+ APIs or Google+ Sign-in, click here to see how this will impact you.

From all of us on the Google+ team, thank you for making Google+ such a special place. We are grateful for the talented group of artists, community builders, and thought leaders who made Google+ their home. It would not have been the same without your passion and dedication.

Dropping traffic, Gutenberg, and Google: what on earth is going on?

Woman confused with computer. PNG - JPG and vector EPS file form

My ads are back (WordAds/WordPress must have been having issues earlier today), but I do wonder how much longer I’ll qualify for the WordAds program (members get a small income based on number of impressions per ad).   My earnings have been dropping along with my traffic, which has been dropping steadily for several months, but has really taken a nosedive since the beginning of this year.

I can’t think of anything I’ve suddenly done differently that I hadn’t already been doing.  I did change my theme fairly recently (I think it was around Thanksgiving), but I don’t think that has much, if anything, to do with the drop.  In fact, my readers have said my new theme is easier to read and the layout less cluttered (I removed a lot of widgets from my sidebar).   So I think, if anything, the simpler, cleaner theme would be a draw.   Removing the unwanted and outdated sidebar items also has increased the speed of loading.

My WordPress stats show that my search engine activity is lower than it used to be.  This blog also no longer comes up on page one or two if I type in keywords that are used frequently on this blog, such as narcissism, or narcissistic abuse.    I can see that my Google hits are low, but there’s no way I can find out why.   Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t allow its users to use Google Analytics, which does go into a lot more detail about the reasons why your blog isn’t getting Google traffic.

Not writing as much as I used to is obviously a factor, but I think there’s more going on, since each month is worse than the last and I’ve actually been writing more recently, or at least sharing old blog posts to social media when I’m not posting.   I don’t write every day, but I do spend a lot of time promoting this blog and its posts.  I seem to get half of my hits these days through Pinterest, of all things.

I have two theories as to why my hits have dropped so drastically lately.

  1.  Google has penalized this blog (but again, since I can’t get Google Analytics as a WordPress.com blogger, I can’t find out why.)
  2.  Gutenberg.   I don’t understand Google algorithms or even what they are, but I’ve been told its algorithm has been changed recently and it prefers Gutenberg to the classic editor, which I am still using (and want to continue to use).   So articles written in Gutenberg, apparently, are given priority.

Now I’m wondering if I should make the switch to Gutenberg, as much as I hate it (I’ve played around with it on a dummy blog I created just for that purpose, and I still hate it).   But I know if I did that, blogging would be a chore instead of a pleasure, so maybe it wouldn’t be worth it.

Should I add cartoons to my posts?

Throughout history, people have sometimes gotten their best ideas from dreams.    For me, my dreams were never transferable to the real world, but I just woke up from one that could be.

Back in my early 20s, I drew cartoon panels of a young woman who was a kind of depiction of myself.   I put her into exaggerated real life situations, sort of humorous “graphic novels.”   I gave the main character my initials at the time “S.K.” a/k/a “The Loser.”  (I had such great self esteem, didn’t I?)  A couple of years ago I dug the cartoons up and  actually thought they were quite good, if a little dated (they were drawn in 1981).

Here are the links to the two posts that show both “graphic novels.”   There are only two of them.  For some reason, this was a hobby I never pursued but perhaps I should have.

The individual pictures can be clicked on to make them larger so you can read them.

Adventures of S.K. “The Loser”: A Cartoon Diary of Myself at Age 22 (1 of 2)

Adventures of S.K. “The Loser”: A Cartoon Diary of Myself at Age 22 (2 of 2)

On occasion, even on this blog, when I couldn’t find an appropriate image, I have made my own drawings.   In fact, I did this a few blog posts ago on a post called Big Changes.   I didn’t work too hard on that cartoon, and I’m certainly no Charles M. Schultz, but I think it still works well on the post.

I’ve always been in awe of certain cartoonists.  Schultz is one.  I’ve been a Peanuts fan since childhood (I was shocked when I learned that Schultz never really intended his cartoons to be for children, and the kids seem unusually “adult” in their interactions, thinking, and reactions to things).

Back in the late 1980s and 1990s, I became a huge Roz Chast fan.   I bought all her books and scoured copies of The New Yorker in waiting rooms to find her cartoons.  They were seemingly deliberately badly drawn, which made them funnier.   I loved their randomness and sometimes straight up absurdity,  but they always seemed to home in on some great truth about life in a hilarious or absurd way.    I read an article about Chast and found out she was close to my age (just a few years older), but in many ways her life seemed to parallel mine.  I imagined that Chast was me without all the baggage and low self esteem that kept me from ever really pursuing any of my dreams — or even knowing what those dreams were.

A couple of  one-panel Roz Chast cartoons:

a-statue-of-a-man-reading-roz-chast thereassurer

I have been losing views, and maybe adding more of my own line drawings and cartoons might bring new life to this blog.  What do you think?

6 ways to turn things that annoy you into hilarious blog posts.

Lucky Otters Haven

microwave_dinnerThis ever happen to you? Yep, it’s beyond annoying. I bet you could write something funny about it.

Let’s face it. Annoying things are funny.   If you can look at the humorous side of the things that drive you crazy,  two things happen:  (1)  it no longer seems as annoying; and (2) you can write a great post that makes your readers laugh.   Some of my most popular posts–such as “12 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Autumn“– have been biting jabs at things I don’t like.

Here are 6 ways you can turn something that makes you want to stick white-hot steel pins in your eyes into something that makes your audience (and you) laugh.

1. First, try to find the funny side of whatever it is that annoys you.

Come on, you don’t have to dig that deep.  Almost everything has a funny side to…

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Is profanity in blog rants okay?

Profanity….yes or no?

Lucky Otters Haven

profanity

My friend Gale Molinari at Galesmind.com posted this meme yesterday.

In general, I agree with the above sentiment. We all know people who cuss constantly and after awhile it can become annoying and offensive. People who pepper every sentence with the 7 verboten words not approved by the FCC sound, well, stupid, crude and boring.

However, I also think an occasional, well placed epithet can add impact and emotional urgency under certain circumstances. We’re all grownups here, and it’s not as if we haven’t all heard these words and know what they mean. They have stuck around the English language for so long for a good reason, and while their original references to various private parts, bodily functions or female dogs in heat have been diluted by their myriad other uses in recent times, if they’re not overused, they retain their power to drive your point home.

I don’t think…

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My views are way down and I’m not sure why.

My views are about a third of what they used to be, if that.    This has been going on for awhile now, and it isn’t getting better, no matter what I do.

I know I don’t write new posts every day like I used to, and that probably is a factor, but it still seems odd.   Sharing to Pinterest does help, but nowhere near enough.  Search engine views in general are down.

I wonder if the Internet is being restricted in places where it wasn’t before, or if the time of year has something to do with it.

Or maybe not focusing exclusively on narcissism anymore has made my blog less popular.

Are other bloggers also experiencing this?

Does anyone know what’s going on?  Or is my blog just getting boring?

Crash test dummy blog for Gutenberg.

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I don’t learn well by following instructions or watching someone else do something.  I’m one of those people who has to actually try a new thing myself before it sinks into my brain.  That’s just the way I roll and it always has been.   That’s not likely to change at my age.

I hate Gutenberg.  I hate the idea of having to use it.  I feel like it’s a terrible editor for actual writers and is going to interfere with the entire writing process, even if I should ever master it.   The writing process is holistic (at least for me it is), and Gutenberg is anything but holistic.   It’s like building a freaking Lego building.  Blocks are fine, even fun — but they’re not friends to writers.

legoblocks

The Lego block version of the sort of post I might write using Gutenberg “blocks.”  

So I decided to start a dummy blog.  Yes, a crash test dummy blog just to practice Gutenberg and see what I really think of it.   Hey, it can’t hurt.  A dummy blog cost me nothing, and I can practice using the dreaded new editor without totally fucking up my current blog.

You can’t see my dummy blog.  It’s set to private.  It doesn’t even have a proper name.  I called it “My Dummy Blog.”  How creative is that?  I wrote one blog post so far using Gutenberg. The post I wrote is sheer nonsense, word salad really, and you wouldn’t want to read it.   I still hate Gutenberg.  But at least I got sort of an idea about the feel of using the thing.  Do I think I could actually master it?  Yes, eventually.  But I can already tell it’s astronomically unlikely I’ll ever like using it, and as a result, I won’t be motivated to blog.    I’ll keep practicing and see if that ever changes but I doubt it.

If you’re curious about trying Gutenberg but are like me and afraid to try it on your real blog because it might wind up FUBAR,  start a dummy blog like I did, and just play around with it.  If you completely make a mess of things, it won’t matter.