Me — My Dream About Columbus, Ohio

I know. The title doesn’t exactly scream “Hey, this has got to be interesting”, but I thought it would be fun to share a dream I had a few months ago. I don’t remember everything (obviously), but as my dreams go this one is pretty normal, with the only exception being the detail to which I remembered it upon waking up. The following is the final portion of a dream, pretty much exactly as it happened, with a few minor, forgotten details missing here and there. I also don’t remember the exact dialog, but I remember the jist of what was said. (I’d also be interested to hear what a dream analyst would have to say about this. I don’t subscribe to dream theory or anything like that, but I’d imagine the analysis would be pretty crazy.)

 

So, as per details earlier in the dream I don’t remember, there was this huge protest/march happening. Like hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, and there were so many that the march was taking place on America’s freeways. Like, all of them. I participated, but I wasn’t accompanied by anyone. Unlike most of my dreams, I didn’t know a single person in this one. As I walked aimlessly down the freeway (which wasn’t actually that crowded), I found that I had walked all the way to Columbus, Ohio.

Now, some context. I’ve never been to Ohio. I’ve hardly even been outside of California. But something earlier in my dream had established Columbus practically as an independent city state, with technology decades/centuries ahead of the rest of America, and yet semi-autonomous. After finding myself here, I decided to explore.

Imagine your basic sci-fi city. Rows upon rows of interweaving freeways, giant skyscrapers, flying cars, you know the deal. That’s what this place was, and the roadways and trails were dead-stop traffic. Even the pedestrian lanes that were in conjunction with the freeways. It was nothing amazing. The skyscrapers weren’t like, miles high or anything. The occasional flying car was by far the most advanced thing about this place. Well, until… you’ll see. I decided not to go to where everybody else was, and instead went to the beach. You know how Columbus, Ohio is famous for its beaches. (For the record, the sand at this beach was so soft it was like heavy flour. It felt awesome.)

As I walked across this beach, I saw a giant screen on one of the skyscrapers showing a documentary? Advertisement? Of one of the two Columbus, Ohio spaceships. I don’t remember it’s name, but it was like the USS Copernicus or something. This thing was huge, and the video had a guy talking about the specs of the engines, the size of the crew, just basic information. After watching that short little video I turned to see that spaceship cruising overhead, passing over the horizon and blueshifting (is that the term) as it passed the curvature of the earth. It looked something like this, but imagine a spaceship instead of a giant banana… you’ll see what I mean. Also, the audio is unsettling, so just a heads up.

Next, I walked down a little trail and some minor stuff happened I don’t remember. I think at some point I saw an actual dinosaur walking around, but nobody paid it any mind, so I suppose hologram. Nobody ever explained this to me.

Along my lonely travels, I stumble across a Nintendo Switch just lying on the ground. I look about to see if it belonged to anyone, but nobody batted an eye when I picked it up. A group of three kids sneered at me as they passed, saying “What a piece of garbage technology,” and let me tell you I got so offended to hear these snooty kids trashing on our normal modern day tech I wanted to stab him. I didn’t, but I wanted to.

lightsaberInstead, I noticed a red, telescopic lightsaber toy on the ground. You know the ones that are like a dollar each that you swing and the blade extends. I picked it up and shook it at the kids (who were already walking away) “This is what I grew up on!” I yelled at him. Let it be known that I am not trying to preach anything here. I am well aware that I am very young, that’s just what I said, okay?

Anyways, as I held it out, another stranger approached me and extended a blue lightsaber. He started saying something like “I have searched long and hard for you, Sith. There is no running now…” yadda yadda yadda. He was obviously roleplaying and looking for a LARP fight I guess. Maybe he had planted the toy there for some stranger to pick up?

Well, I immediately moved to set it back down on the ground and said “Oh, no, this isn’t mine, you must be—”

At which he thrust his lightsaber towards me threateningly. Now, nobody has ever threatened me to roleplay with them, but this guy meant business, so I played along, and we dueled.

It was a normal, boring fight of two people hitting plastic lightsabers against each other. As we fought, though, a lion approached us. It was behind him, and he hadn’t noticed it yet. Remembering the dinosaur nobody reacted to before, I made no comment. For all I knew it was a hologram or something.

But as soon as it came into his peripheral vision, he flipped out and bolted. I think he cursed, too, but the guy was clearly terrified. So, not being from around here, I decided to follow the local wisdom and ran away as well.

At this point, I decided I should go home. I didn’t know how to get there exactly, but somehow I did know the exact direction home was to me, so I headed that way. There was no path I followed, I was just walking through grass until I came across a wall and floor that was colored in rainbow.

As soon as I stepped onto the floor, a gameshow announcer yelled “Let’s see if Kollin can get past the Tunnel of Snakes!” I didn’t want to get past the Tunnel of Snakes, but I didn’t want to turn around either, so I continued. Note: This was a wall, not a tunnel. There wasn’t even an opening. I don’t know how I just… walked through, but one moment I was on one side, the next I was on the other. And I didn’t die of snakes, so win-win.

I kept going, and there was another wall. I thought hey, I beat snakes, what’s the worst that could happen?

Spiders. The game announcer yelled “He got past the Tunnel of Snakes, let’s see how he handles Spiders this time!”

This time, I felt spiders fall all over my body, into my clothes, just everywhere. I bolted as fast as I could, but there were just so many. I didn’t feel any pain, but I knew they were just biting me all over, and while I got past the Tunnel of Spiders, I passed out.

Later, I woke up in a hospital bed, whether in Columbus or home I couldn’t say. On one side of me there was a piece of paper with a stick figure drawing on it. Behind the stick figure was a semicircle haphazardly colored halfway in red crayon. As I looked at it, I felt like… magic hospital healing juice pump into me, and I watched as the rest of the semicircle was colored in with red crayon, as if my health bar was being refilled.

Once it was full, a kid jumped onto the bed and said, “You’re good to go!”

And then I woke up.

Me — Temporal Issues

I’ve been dealing with a number of personal problems lately, each on a different level of magnitude. I won’t talk about the specifics of any of them here, but I will say that they are all, in their own sense, simply temporal.

I’m a problem solver by nature. I think about everything going on in my life so often that organizing and recalibrating everything is, in a lot of ways, who I am. So when I have problems, there is a reason—and that reason is probably because it isn’t within my power to fix. I’ve thought about every feasible solution, and have either tried it or otherwise deemed why it should fail.

That said, I’d say I’m pretty good at finding solutions to the day-to-day things that bother me. Lately, though, the things I’ve been dealing with are all things that just need time. For example, I’d like to move out of Southern California, but that just isn’t in the cards for me right now. I’d like to find my spark of inspiration so I can start writing cool stuff again, but I can’t simply manifest it, I have to wait for it to come back. Things like this.

I won’t lie. It is pretty frustrating to have issues that are not within, well, anyone’s power to fix. Sure, I suppose it’s possible that I’ve misdiagnosed the roots of my issues and I could find ways around them that I haven’t discovered, and I certainly don’t claim to know everything about my life situation or my psyche, but as I perceive things to be now, a lot of the problems I’m currently having in life will simply go away given time. (Of course, by that time I expect new problems will arise, but that’s a separate issue.)

Having spoken to a friend about this recently, he gave me very encouraging words in that he noted how positively I talk about my problems. I mean, blog posts like this are basically exactly how I talk in real life (which is why it’s so easy for me to churn posts like this out), so when he said that he could tell how upset I was based on my phrasing and general language use, but still noticed I was optimistic, I really felt good about that. It made me realize just how much it takes for me to get taken down to a level where I would be considered sad or angry. So good job, me.

One thing that I’ve noticed as well is that things are always way easier to deal with when you’re too busy to even think about it. Working full time has helped with that a lot, because I noticed that when the weekend hits, I get very tired and down simply because I’m (sort of) alone with my thoughts. Somehow, I can enjoy myself more coming home after work on a weeknight than I can having two full days to myself.

So while I am honestly doing okay, things bother me just like every other normal human person on the planet. I wish they didn’t, but if I’m right, this too shall pass.

Me — Quick Maths

I love stats and data, as you probably know by now, but I’m starting to realize just how intrinsic it’s become to my personality. I do quick math in my head just as idle thoughts.

And before you think that I’m saying this to sound smart, it really is very simple, stupid math. Yesterday my work just got an order of a bunch of postcards, and I had to transport them. So in the few minutes it took me to do that, I did the math: 17 boxes, each box has 5 stacks of 100 postcards each. 8500 postcards. Sometimes I’ll do the math differently just to see which way is fastest. Disregarding the 100 because it’s just adding zeroes, is it faster to multiply 10×5 and 7×5 and add them together? What about multiplying 3 stacks of 5 by five, with 2 remainder? (In other words, 3x[5×5] + 2×5).

My production manager has started asking me “What’s A times B?” and I’ll do the math real quick while I’m doing whatever.

The weird thing is that I don’t consider myself to like math. The class I hated the most in high school was physics, because I would plug in all the numbers into the equations and I would still get the wrong answer. It’s worth pointing out that I didn’t have the best teacher, but nonetheless. I also probably would have hated calculus even more, but I never took it.

The trouble with higher maths, for me at least, is that it becomes too abstract too quickly, and the visualizations and the datas start to turn into meaningless numbers. I don’t like doing pointless things, so if I don’t know what foiling polynomials does, what am I really learning?

I think math is at its best when it helps you better understand things that you couldn’t have figured out with standard observations. I can know that most established authors are far older than I am, but I can’t appreciate that until I gather data on all my favorite writers and calculate the average age of when they were first published (32.9 years old, by the way). And that math is easy! You just add up all the numbers and divide by how many numbers there were! Now I can do something with that information—like breathe, because by that standard I’ve got quite some time to figure myself out and get published.

I’m always confused when people don’t share my love for data. It’s just cool to see and understand the world better through objective means, how can you not appreciate that? As somebody whose entire goal in life hinges on my capacity to know and understand, data gives a very simple and tangible way of doing so.

A post hit my Reddit feed (from r/dataisbeautiful, as it were) of somebody’s heart rate as their significant other left the country. They calculated what moments correlated with which spikes, and as I’m looking at it I’m nodding my head, thinking yeah, I totally understand that feeling of seeing somebody for the last time. That rush of “Oh, no”, is your heartrate spiking to an intense degree, so just reading this and comparing it to the rest of the graph is really interesting to me.

How can anyone not love data?

Me — Am I a Writer?

I’ve been writing since I was 12 years old. Admittedly, not that long, compared to most people, but that’s… oh gosh, that’s almost half my life at this point. Point is I’ve always loved medieval fantasy and the games and stories that surround that genre. From high school onward I was uncommon in the fact that I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

A lot of people go through college and change majors and just struggle with their own identity until they’re in their late 20’s and suddenly discover who they are. I feel like I’m sort of the opposite in that I used to have such a solid idea of who I was until very recently.

I haven’t gotten excited about any new story in months. Actually, the first revamped Lisa Stenton short was the last thing I could hype myself up for before I wrote, and that was January. Everything after that was written because I required it of myself, and I don’t know if you can feel that while you read it, but I can remember feeling it in my heart just by reading the title to those stories.

It’s not that I’m having a panic attack, or any dramatic crisis or anything, just that I’ve… lost interest. I’m working full time, and when I get home I don’t want to write of all things, I just want to relax and play video games with my brothers/friends.

One thing I’ve noticed about this is that it can be very difficult to judge the line between discipline and overworking oneself. I think that for me, that line was crossed these past few months as soon as writing became a chore. It seems ridiculous to write stories and expect people to enjoy them when I forced myself to create them in the first place. And yet, I’m hyperproductive, so requiring one flash fiction piece a week doesn’t seem too bad, and hey, even if I’m forcing myself to write them, nobody’s forcing you to read them. I just don’t like the idea of twiddling my thumbs for months having nothing to show for the passage of time.

I’ve been told I need to branch out more, like take up drawing or pottery or something. I still don’t know how to feel about that, but honestly that doesn’t sit well with me. Even if I could, theoretically, pursue my passion of medieval fantasy through writing, I know that drawing isn’t the way my life is going to go.

I can take solace in the fact that I’m content in my current emotional state. I want to move out of SoCal, and I still have other personal troubles, but things are fine. I think I’m mostly satisfied in the fact that I’m always busy with school, work, and other commitments, so any time to myself I do have playing video games is earned, not wasted.

If I were to make a prediction as to what the near future of my life looks like, I would say that I’ll somehow find that spark of writing again, whether it be months from now or years. Hopefully I won’t live here anymore, but I hope to have a steady job (like the one I have now) and am enjoying writing on the side in an apartment or something in Oregon or Washington.

The future. Hindsight. You know, whatever. The questions I’m struggling with are basically just problems for future me, so it’s not a big deal.

Me — June ’18 Update

Well, here we are. I’d like to thank the academy for this astounding accomplishment. Spring 2018 semester is over. The Summer (and hopefully my penultimate) semester is fast approaching. I have big news (for me), too. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my friend’s apartment in Oregon, after having flown for the first time in seven-ish years. This is the first “vacation” I’ve ever had to myself, but I’ll get to that.

So as always, here’s the Monthly Update Topic Order™: blog, writing plans, video games, reading/listening, school, and other things.

Alright, I finally have some blog news: I will be resuming the weekly fiction portion of my blog! Every Sunday I’ll be posting a flash fiction based on an image writing prompt. I intend to also record them and upload these videos to YouTube around the same time they post to my blog, but we’ll see. I don’t intend to be posting chapter excerpts of anything, though. Just the weekly flash fiction. Plus, that way, you won’t need to have read anything else of mine to enjoy them.

As for writing plans, well… that’s why I’m only posting one thing of fiction a week. I’m still not really devoting any effort to any larger project. Lisa Stenton has once again found herself in a muck of irreconcilable conflicts too large for me to enjoy writing her stories. I just… don’t know how to make technology and urban fantasy marry without copying other writers or making it stupid, and frankly it’s hard to hit the exact right chord I was going for with her stories. I think “The Last Laugh at the Lake of Lava” was pretty good, though. Spear Gate’s new outline is still on the to-do list, but it’s honestly not that interesting to me anymore. ‘Cause, you know, that’s what new writers do. We love something until it’s hard and then find a new passion project. So, as for now, still no bigger project. Oh well.

Lately I’ve been playing almost exclusively Heroes of the Storm and World of Warcraft. Less so HotS because I’m kind of burnt out on it, but I did calculate that in about 600 games (or about 200 hours) I’ll have reached level 10 with every hero in the game. Problem is, all the heroes that are under that cap are because I don’t enjoy them much. So instead I’ve been playing WoW, mostly as a way to pass the time while I listen to podcasts.

Speaking of podcasts, I’ve finally caught up on Story Break! This means I’m caught up on six of the eight podcasts I’m interested in. After that I intend to listen to podcasts I have no hope of being caught up on. Ones that have hundreds upon hundreds of hours of content. I also have some unread audiobooks on my phone, so I still need to dive into those.

As I said, the Spring semester is over. I’m almost done getting two Associate’s Degree’s though. I just need about six classes total, so that’ll be great. I have tentative plans for what I’m going to do after, but nothing concrete. So after the Summer and Fall, I should be done… ish.

Okay, so Oregon. I’ve only been here for about 18 hours as I’m writing this, and roughly half of that has been asleep, but oh my gosh. So many trees. Living in So Cal means that I’m used to sky lines being rocky mounds of… you know, rock. But Oregon is swarmed with trees, I’ve never seen so much green in my life. There’s just… so much. It’s honestly pretty much the same (it’s less than a thousand miles, after all), but at the same time, so different. I’ll talk about it more later.

One thing I didn’t account for on this trip is the fact that I’m introverted. Being around friends for nearly 72 hours straight is… well, let’s just say I’m tired and it’s taking a lot out of me. I want to have fun, but it’ll be a struggle to keep my mental energy running for that long without burning out.

Also, the Tuesday and Wednesday blog posts will be late. I won’t be back home until late Tuesday night.

Me — Still Not Writing

I have a confession.

It’s been two months since I stopped writing both Friday fiction posts and Sunday Spear Gate stories. I intended for that to be a temporary break while I got acclimated to my new job and finished the semester of school.

Well, the semester is over and I’m acclimated. So, why haven’t I gotten back into it? I’ll be honest, I don’t fully understand why, but I just… don’t feel compelled to write right now. Everything worth writing requires pre-writing (like the outline to the thirdish draft of Spear Gate), and I don’t find the idea of that appealing. I have another story that I want to tackle, but that requires even more planning, because I don’t want to dive into it head first the same way I did with the last project.

Part of it is that I don’t want to go back to vomiting out a story the night before it needs to be published. I lose sleep and end up with a subpar story, so it’s just a waste of my time.

This leaves me at an interesting position. I’m still leading a writer’s group, but I don’t bring anything anymore, and everyone (lovingly) gives me crap for it every time. It hurts, but I don’t want to bring something that I know I won’t edit just to have something, which is honestly most of what I do when I go.

I’ve tried adopting a lifestyle that doesn’t revolve around mass productivity, because I shouldn’t be in as much of a hurry as I am. Ideally, I’d like to publish an anthology of short stories every year (along the same veins of my first book, Nacre Then’s Beginnings), but it might turn into an every-other year thing, given the fact that I’ve written no short stories in two months.

I’ve talked to a friend about this, and the advice I’ve been given is just to take a break. My response to that is that I’m literally taking a break right now, but she claimed I was just putting it on pause. I don’t like the idea of just stopping, but she may be right.

I have so many plans for the summer, and it doesn’t look like any of them are going to happen. I was going to start a new D&D campaign (apart from the one that starts tomorrow), learn to cook, binge watch a bunch of shows with a friend, collaborate on a bigger project, work on the new outline to Spear Gate, and… well… it looks like most of the next few months will be taking summer classes and working instead.

This should content me. I’ll be super busy, but… I don’t know. There’s something I’m missing and I don’t know what it is.

So, I apologize if you read my blog for the stories. It is my full intention to resume both a regular short story and an established universe section every week. I can’t do that now, but I hope that these weekly updates are interesting enough to keep you occupied in the meantime.

If nothing else, it’s insight into the head of another “aspiring”, yet struggling writer.

Me — Work Environments

So, I’ve had my new job for a few months now. It was interesting, because when I came home from work the first day I had the thought of “Yeah, that was fun.” It surprised me, because all my other work experience has been a trade of money for services rendered. But with this job, it’s different. I feel like I’m part of a team working to achieve something.

Which is an amazing thing.

So, I’ll give a few comparisons my new job and my last job. I used to work as a Cart Attendant for Target, (which means I was the guy that brought the carts in, yes, but there was a lot more in my job description most people wouldn’t realize). Now, I work in Production for a small company that makes banners, vehicle wraps, real estate signs, that sort of thing.

Being Cart Attendant sucked for a number of reasons. One big one was the fact that I was also janitor, and oh boy am I not going to relate to you what cleaning public bathrooms is like. We’ve all seen the horribly disfigured stalls of some unholy ritual some person tried to conduct in there. Imagine being the person that has to deal with that.

Number one reason I hated working at Target though: it was hard work that went unappreciated, and on a given shift you have X things to do. A busy shift just means that you also have to do Y things, so you have to juggle more and work harder.

My new job isn’t like this at all. First of all, it’s clean and nice. The hardest part is lifting rolls of vinyl that weigh upwards of a hundred pounds. And let me tell you, this new job is so much more busy. There’s never a moment where I can sit down and think “Wow, I got everything done today!” But at the same time, having more things to do is meaningless. I’m always working, so having a longer list of things to do doesn’t make me more busy, it just means that I need to be more careful not to mess up, because if I did it could mean we have to start over from the beginning. Plus, being that busy is great. You don’t have time to be twiddling your thumbs and staring at the clock. There have been instances where I’ve looked at the clock and it was a full hour later than I would have guessed (which is remarkable because like with most jobs where I live you’re entitled to some sort of break every two hours).

Also, my new job I basically have anywhere between two and four coworkers (depending on how you define it). So since you’re in the shop working on things all in the same space, you really get a feel for the rest of your team. At Target, there were probably three dozen people on shift at any given point in time. I knew plenty of them by name, but nothing beyond that except for the occasional “is a working mom” and “is going to school”. I also felt pretty isolated because there’s only one Cart Attendant on shift, and that job is really the WD-40 that makes the cart run. You’re essential to the process, but you’re not really a part of “the cart”.

So yes, my new job is way harder, and in a few ways more stressful. My work station involves operating and moving very heavy things around machines worth tens of thousands of dollars, and even the specific things I’m making can be worth a comparable sum. But it’s way more fulfilling because you’re only working on a few things per day (as there’s half a dozen steps in making a vehicle wrap in between printing the vinyl and installation), and as you work you watch as it comes together.

Sometimes things work out.