Life — 2020 Changes

I’ll probably do a more articulated post along these lines next month, but I’m creating a primordial gameplan for how I’m going to turn my life around next year. I have all the thread, I just need to weave everything together.

Mostly, the idea is I need to spend more time loving and less time dwelling in apathy. This primarily is pointed towards me, but it needs to be projected onto others as well. The less I do things “just because” and more because “I want to”, the better I will feel (I hope).

This comes from two philosophies squished together. One I made up as one of the major themes of the Lisa Stenton screenplay, and another I read online. The online quote could be summarized as follows.

“Stop telling yourself what you should do. Instead tell yourself how you feel when you do something. The word ‘should’ implicates you, doesn’t inspire action, and perpetuates guild. Instead of saying ‘I should go to the gym’, say ‘I like how I feel after I go to the gym’.”

I’ve been using this philosophy in regards to waking up early, and it has helped a lot. The quote that I made up is very similar, but not exactly the same.

When faced with a crossroads, ask yourself what your ideal version of yourself would do in that situation. Not the perfect you that has never struggled or the pure you that can do no wrong. The you that is doing the best they can with the resources they have available. What would they do? Try to do what that ideal you would do, and if you can’t, get as close as possible. The better those strides, the closer you will be to achieving your ideal you.

I’m tired of looking at myself in the mirror or seeing pictures of myself and seeing somebody I don’t like. For the longest time I’ve been playing the game just to get by, and this year, I almost lost everything because of my carelessness.

It’s tough for me, because my ideal Kollin is extroverted. He loves hanging out with people and makes everyone around him hum with excitement. He makes everyone feel loved and respected and never fails to improve somebody’s day. I’ve met people like that, and I want to emulate them. But I can’t. The actual Kollin is so irrevocably introverted that I am often too polite to tell somebody I need to pee if they won’t stop talking.

But I think recognizing the changes I want to be making is the first step to being somebody different. Somebody that I can respect. I may be pretty intuitive and nice, but those aren’t traits I fought for, they just happened. For as great as I thought I was because of them, I no longer feel like I have anything I’ve truly had to work for.

I’ve been trying to embody these thoughts now, but for certain I plan for them to be actionable by the time the new year hits. Because my current biggest fear is falling back into the pit of depression October and November sucked me into. I’m not out of it yet, but I’m no longer digging myself deeper.

Me — December ’19 Monthly Update

So. I’ll just say it. As far as my mental health goes, October and November 2019 put me in the worst state I’ve ever been in. I experienced lots of emotions I didn’t know I was capable of, and, well, it was rough. Only two people have any idea how bad it got, and not even they know the true extent. Luckily now, nobody has to know.

I felt like I was actively drowning and that in my flailing to grab anything—anyone—I would merely drag them down with me. I almost lost a very important battle before I even realized I was at war. I learned some things, but most terrifying of all was that it came and went with no specific warning or trigger, and with that knowledge comes the fear that it could strike again. I think the worst is over, but since I don’t know how it happened, I also don’t know what I can do to prevent it in the future. Either way I’m glad it’s behind me. I just wanted to let you know why I was so vacant last month. I’m still in recovery.

And so, the Monthly Update Topic Order™: blog, writing plans, work, school, D&D, video games, reading/listening, and other things.

I’m still going to do my best to update once a month. I have some story ideas and some blog posts I’d like to share, which doesn’t happen a whole lot. Maybe next year I’ll have more to talk about, but if that doesn’t happen, I’m actually going to take the blog off the monthly updates, as the cadence of once a week has suited me well for several months now.

I’m still chugging away at the same writing projects. My Lisa Stenton screenplay has finished a preliminary second draft (though I still need to make a few passes to “finish” it as a full draft), and I’m probably going to put that on the shelf soon. I still don’t really like it, even with all the changes I’ve made from the first draft. There’s something about the world of Lisa Stenton that doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t like the magic system (or lack thereof) and how the supernatural ties to it. It’s the only thing that has ever held me back from writing more of that story, and the only reason this screenplay kind of works is because it has very little actual magic.

Other than that, the second anthology is probably not going to be published until the beginning of next year at this rate. With all that’s happened, I feel like I’ve lost a month and a half of writing time, but it is what it is.

Work has been fine. I’m not going to share details, but we’ve actually had several strong months in a row, as far as sales go, which is increasing morale and making the whole atmosphere a lot easier to bear.

Not much to say about school, but I only have a few classes left before I finish… maybe forever. That hadn’t occurred to me until I just wrote that. These next couple class sessions might be the last time I’m in that environment period. At least for a long while. Huh. By this time next month I will hopefully be sitting pretty on two AA degrees.

D&D has been going great. We’re almost closing what I’m calling Chapter Three of the Knights of Fire campaign. (The only one of five that I am not the DM for.) We’ll be taking a break from that for a couple of months to play in another short campaign before we resume with this story and, by extension, my role as dungeon master. I’ve already got the juices flowing as to How Chapter Four will start and what the main story beats will be.

I’ve been devoting the vast majority of my time playing WoW: Classic still, and let me tell you, in the last month, our guild has become a family. I can’t put it into words in a concise manner, but… I love the feeling that I’m part of a team and that people are talking about me when I’m not around. That’s part of my goal for regaining the sanity I lost in October and November. I’m planting the seeds that will make me feel like I’m important to people. I wouldn’t say I feel like I’m an essential part of the crew, but… I hope I will be in time.

Not much to say about listening. I’m keeping pace with Critical Role as well as I can, and that’s about it.

Not much else to say.

I tried to think of some interesting story or poem that reflects how I’m feeling right now. Last week I managed to do that, a bit, and I do have stories in my head… But some way, somehow, they’re not ready to be told. And I think it’s important to remember that sometimes, pain simply does not translate into art. Sometimes it’s just pain.

I need to… choose my words carefully here. I need to be both open with myself and what I’m going through without giving too much away and creating consequences for the things I say. Right now, that’s a fine line. Maybe there’s no overlap at all.

Last week, for seemingly no reason at all, was one of the hardest weeks I’ve gone through in a long time. Perhaps the hardest. All other periods of grief and struggle were knowable, and I faced them all knowing that those storms would pass.

But last week, I experienced a new emotion. That feeling scared me, and yet it drew me in. All I can be sure of is that, though I’m not sad per se, my mental health is very likely at the lowest point it has ever been in my entire life.

Depression is a difficult thing. I thought I was depressed in high school, and maybe I was, but I think part of it was me wanting to feel as sad as everyone else was (well, one person) so that I could feel a real emotional connection for once.

I made a post about a month or two ago talking about how I don’t feel loved and that praise is the closest thing I can receive to affection. I’ve recently discovered that this is pretty much because “Words of Affirmation” is the lowest on the bar of love languages for me. It’s so easy for me to get people to tell me they love me, or that I’m smart, or funny, you name it. It’s practically trivial, which makes words mean nothing to me.

Oh, the irony…

I’m being pulled down, and, I think it’s safe to say I’m actively drowning. If you had asked me a couple months ago about my mental state, I would have told you I was one bad day from a mental breakdown. Dropping all my classes, quitting my job, and starting an impromptu roadtrip with me, myself, and I. But now… I don’t even care to do that anymore. I don’t need a bad day to trigger anything, because for me, as I’m living right now, every day is a bad day. Even the good ones.

I know I need help, but I am not willing to put hundreds of dollars a month away to seek it. And I’m not willing to go to friends or family because I will only hear the same words I always hear, and I can’t bear to have another meaningless conversation that makes me sink even deeper. My instinct is to reach out to new people, but I’ve done that in the past. Not only does it not help, but it’s not fair to them and not healthy to me or our relationship.

Part of me hopes nobody reads this. I’m only posting it here I have nothing else to say on this blog, and I want to try to keep posting every Tuesday despite it all. I know how much it probably hurts to hear if you are friends or family. I would have put this at the top, but we all know how well “Don’t read this” would have worked.

I don’t know how to end this post. I guess I’ll do it like this.

Me — November ’19 Monthly Update

Greetings! So. A lot has happened since my last monthly update. I visited the Pacific Northwest for the second time, went to BlizzCon 2019, started compiling stuff for a new project, and well, we’ll get to all that.

As always, the Monthly Update Topic Order™: blog, writing plans, work, school, D&D, video games, reading/listening, and other things.

No blog changes again. To be honest, I’ve attained a bad habit of not writing any posts until Monday night when I would prefer to be in bed. No forward planning at all at the moment!

My writing has been a bit crazy lately. I’m converting my Lisa Stenton play into a screenplay, editing some stuff for the passion project (which has been on hold for a month while we recover from firing on all cylinders for months on end), and putting together Anthology #2. That last one is the lowest priority, and I’m growing increasingly concern that I’m not going to even start making those final edits until late December. If that’s the case, it probably won’t see publication until January at the earliest. Still, I can’t be too upset at myself because I am working on arguably more important things.

I’m still hard at work at the same old job, though things have been looking up lately! We beat our sales goal for the third month in a row, and the owner has been a lot more cheerful and easier to get along with lately. I don’t know if those two things are directly correlated, but I actually suspect it’s a coincidence. Either way, though, I’m not complaining. Happy boss, happy life? Doesn’t have the same ring to it.

School has been fine. No news on that end, though I will say I don’t think that anyone I’ve met this semester will end up being a long term friend. Bummer, but same old same old.

D&D has been fun. We just hit level 9 and completed a little mini arc. I’m very excited for the things to come, but in the meantime I’m simply enjoying what we already have.

Still chugging away playing World of Warcraft. I haven’t been playing Spyro as much anymore, as it is pretty repetitive, but it’s still something I think about almost every day.

As far as listening goes, I’ve got lots to catch up on. I have 3 episodes of Critical Role, one episode of their offshoot game Deadwood, and practically all of the BlizzCon panels, as we only watched one live while we were there.

I may or may not provide a more detailed account of my BlizzCon experience down the road. I still haven’t written a post about my second Portland trip, but that is also on my list.

I also want to just throw out there that, overall, October was hard for me, mentally speaking. There were days where I was hit with a type of depression I had never experienced before—the kind that is dangerous. I think the worst is behind me, but I’m certainly not out of the woods yet. I just wanted to say that things aren’t really getting easier for me. I don’t know if it seems that way or not because I’m on the inside looking out, but, well, here we are. Some days (or weeks) are just easier than others. This last week was easy. We’ll see about the next one.

Stay safe out there.

Life — Social Gaming Climate

Ever since WoW: Classic launched, I’ve been spending practically all of my free time on it (writing and social life—or lack thereof—notwithstanding). And while I know I made a post about it some time ago, the game has had a lot more time to stabilize since then, and I have more things to say about it.

I was afraid that the nostalgia of socializing with people online and making real friendships would be unattainable in today’s world, both because of how gaming itself has changed and how much social media has grown to dominate society in the last decade. But I could not have been more wrong.

More than I could have imagined, I’m forging real relationships with the people in my guild. Receiving and returning favors, trading things we need, talking about random stuff, or taking pot shots at other people in the guild. Admittedly, I’ve practically learned nothing about their real lives, but the climate in Classic WoW allows for so much more of people’s personalities to show than the last several years of the retail game.

In a way that I have never before experienced, your character has a reputation in the space that they’re in. The people you interact with remember your name, so it pays to be good to others. And since the vast majority have the same mentality, (my guild especially,) social interaction in the game is just so pleasant.

We finished our first Molten Core run today, and while it wasn’t quite as impactful as it could have been, I couldn’t help but think of how many thousands of people had walked through those caves before me. How many inseparable groups of friends. How many memories forged in those lava pits.

And now I’m making memories of my own. Not with inseparable friends, but with people I can’t wait to get to know, for hopefully several months to come.

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with the meaninglessness of my existence. The knowledge that if I simply evaporated, life would go on without me, and very few people would be affected, especially in the grand scheme of things.

But when somebody in the guild needs water for their mana, or a portal to Darnassus, I try my best to be there for them when I can. It’s not that I’m eager to help. It’s that I want to be known as and remembered for my willingness to go out of my way to help people. I find that the satisfaction of helping is often its own reward, and Warcraft gives me a great outlet to do that frequently.

I think about the stories I’ve heard of the relationships that have been forged inside World of Warcraft. Especially the stories of people that are gone. Heck, I wrote one of those stories (partially inspired by real events, but quite fictional).

It’s amazing how easily an entire culture was able to be restored inside a fifteen year old game. It really encourages teamwork and friendship in a way that no other MMORPG has compared to, and for that, I want to thank all the people that brought it to life then, and those that resurrected it now. I wish I had been old enough to really enjoy and experience it the first time around, but I’ll take what I can get. In some ways, it’s keeping me together.

Life — Why I’ve Been Gone

Greetings! It occurs to me that the only post I’ve made in this entire month so far is my monthly update. I’d first like to apologize, but I do have an alibi. I recently took a week long vacation to the Pacific Northwest, which is interesting for a couple of reasons. I’ll give you the gist of it for now, but the travel log isn’t quite ready yet. (I updated it journal style while I was there, so I’ll have to comb over it, scrub out the names of people and places, etc., before I post it here).

This trip is now the longest length of time I’ve spent away from home (a full week). When I went to Portland last year (Pt. 1, Pt. 2), I had a blast because I had basically never taken any sort of trip like that in my life. It was three days spent exclusively with two friends in a state I had never been to. This time, I was staying at my sister’s the whole time, and I had already seen what I knew I wanted to the year before.

The key differences this year as opposed to last is that I didn’t have a travel buddy this time, stayed for twice as long, and had no plans. This means a lot of down time, which was fantastic. I wrote three poems, two short stories (scenes?), and plucked away at some other things. It is virtually impossible for me to be that alone when left to my own devices at home, so the tranquility was nice. It was not so nice insofar as none of my friends would ever text me back, so even when I wanted to have a conversation I couldn’t have it.

Here’s the thing. According to my happiness tracker, this past week was pretty much on par as one of the worst weeks I’ve had in months. A lot of my time was spent either doing nothing, or otherwise doing things I didn’t want to but had to because of familial obligations. The only thing I had to run to was my laptop, and, well, I don’t make a habit of using writing as my happy place… So that felt a little weird.

I learned that moving up there isn’t going to be as simple as packing my things and renting a moving van. I would wilt away into nothingness if I did that. I’m going to need a much more solidified plan, which inevitably turns into waiting a few more months than I want to to leave the nest.

Right now, I want nothing more than to cut ties and start over. But I don’t have the strength to cut all of them, and I wouldn’t want to even if I could. What I need is some thicker cords. I was hoping I would find them after I moved, but I’m not sure my mental health would survive going that long without support. Heck, maybe that’s just what I need as a person. And yet…

P.S. The descent on the flight back home was some of the most intense pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I thought my eardrum would burst. So that was cool.

Me — October ’19 Monthly Update

Greetings. I hope you are doing well. It’s finally cooling down here in Southern California (though next week will be in the 90’s again), so for the first time in months, the fan in my room is being turned off. I feel as though I have to relearn what to do about temperature in the winter months every time summer ends. Is it my goal to keep it as cool as possible in the room? Do I shut the window at night so it stays warm inside? Who knows.

Anyways, onto the updates, which I’ll keep simple, as September was relatively uneventful. As always, the Monthly Update Topic Order™: blog, writing plans, work, school, D&D, video games, reading/listening, and other things.

No blog changes. Once a week suits me just fine for the time being.

As for writing, I’m still working on a lot of things at once, though progress has been slow going. Draft one of the full length Lisa Stenton play is done, but I hate it. As it stands, it is simply a collection of things that happen, not an Aristotelian song. Edits will be on the way, and I still hope for it to finish with that by the end of the year. I’m also still making edits to the anthology, but on that front I’m dragging my feet a bit. I don’t like editing my own work, but it’s a task that needs doing. Still hope to publish Book 2 by the end of the year as well. The passion project is currently on the back burner as we just finished a milestone, and the three of us are all quite a bit burnt out. Our current plans are to get back on track November.

No news as far as work goes. It goes and goes. Where it stops, nobody knows.

School has been fun. The singular class I’m taking has been really enjoyable, and it stretches muscles I don’t use often. Plus, it forces me to socialize, which is fantastic.

In the Aleor campaign (which I am no longer DMing), the Knights of Fire have just reached the city of Aqila, the center of magic and innovation. It’s been a lot of fun to play Acelia as a player character instead of a DMPC. I feel like I’m actually role-playing! In other news, a new campaign is in the cauldron, and I’ve finally figured out the backstory for the character I’m going to be playing, which is exciting.

My free time has still been spent almost exclusively on World of Warcraft, and has been for the last month. That said, I’m still not max level yet. Classic is brutal! I hope to get there by the end of next week. I will note that a brother got me the remastered Spyro trilogy for my birthday, so I’ve been chipping away at that. Lots of childhood memories in that game.

While playing, I’m still mostly just watching Critical Role and Day[9]. The new Magic: The Gathering set just came out, so I’m excited to see what fun new decks he can cook up.

Lastly, I have news! I will be returning to the Portland area very soon! I can’t wait to see friends and family up there, but part of my is unsure how I should spend my time. Should I just relax the whole time or should I use it as a little retreat from work to get stuff done? Only time will tell.

See you next month!