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.

Me — Having Something to Say

For the longest time, the MO of this blog had been “write for me, and anyone that reads it is a bonus”. That’s sort of translated to writing regularly about what I’m feeling about so that future me can look back at how very specific events have affected me over the years. For instance, I can look read the post about my cat that died November of 2017, or when I went to Portland, Oregon last July and how I felt during that time.

Most often, though, it just means that every week I commit myself to writing a “Me” post, but all I can think about is stuff I’ve written about in past weeks. At this specific moment, roughly three things come to mind: weather, and how I deal with the cold, getting up and being productive in very early mornings, or just general stress, and how the combination of an ever strengthening writer’s block and an omnipresent feeling of loneliness are working together to make insecurities more and more prevalent.

I’ve already talked about the former two, and the latter isn’t really something I feel is a good topic of conversation, even for a blog post. I’ll say this much, though: I’ve always imagined myself as having a bottle of emotions, and once every several months I rant to a friend about all my problems and then I feel nice and empty for a while. Recently, though, I haven’t managed to empty that bottle, and what worries me about that is that I’m starting to crack. In all honesty, I’m one serious tragedy away from a full mental breakdown. Not that I would wish it, but maybe that’s something I need—a traumatic yet cathartic release of emotion in order to reset my emotional balance.

But anyways, every week I’m struggling with finding a subject of conversation to go into. I really want to talk about my new D&D campaign, but that seems better for a Saturday post for arbitrary reasons. I don’t really like the idea of reviewing games or movies at the moment—the purpose of that was so that future me can look at my first impressions at all this media that may or may not end up being anything—but really I only go back at archived blog posts for references, and when I link them in new posts I don’t reread them. Part of that problem is that the current me isn’t far enough removed from any of those posts, so I know I haven’t changed, but still.

This is a long way of saying that Tuesday posts will no longer be restricted to “Me” posts, because I’m a boring individual and I don’t even have enough to say to interest my own writing muses, so nobody, not even future me, should be subjected to reading that sort of crap. (The preceding paragraphs that are only tangentially related to each other are a good example of this.)

That said: here’s something that doesn’t deserve a full post but I want to mention anyway. I got two pairs of nice cotton pajama pants for Christmas and they are so cozy I love them. One of them even has tea cups on them.

That is all.

Life –Becoming, through Body Language

When I started this blog, I had one purpose and one purpose only: to force myself to write more, about anything at all, and in so doing grow as a writer. Even today, I’m still not actively trying to promote myself, because I want to have a more solid foundation to stand on before I push my name outwards.

That being said, I have to treat myself as if I’ve already “made it” now. People often say “Fake it till you make it”, and while this sounds stupid, it really is true. There is scientific evidence that proves “faking” body language and expressions has benefits not only for the impressions we give to other people, but the chemicals going through our bodies as we utilize certain body postures.

You may think that forcibly changing one’s mood by standing a certain way or holding a specific facial expression wouldn’t work, because there’s no intuitive evidence to point to that conclusion. How could faking a smile under hard times possibly uplift one’s mood?

It’s simple. By doing these things, it tells the body what chemicals it should produce more or less of. By taking a ‘power pose’, meaning to make oneself as large as possible by extending arms and legs outwrd, one’s testosterone levels increase, while one’s cortisol levels decrease. The hormone that makes one feel confident and powerful is more abundant, and the hormone that induces stress levels goes down. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the people around you because these changes are internal. Similarly, by sitting in a closed off position, with arms crossed and head down, testosterone goes down and cortisol goes up.

I’m sure you can imagine some possible applications for this knowledge. When you’re feeling powerless, you’d be inclined to take up as little space as possible, when in reality being open and out with one’s image will improve your mood even if nobody is there. In high stress situations, such as giving speeches, preparing for a job interview, etc., taking powerful poses even for a few minutes will reduce cortisol levels and thus make you less stressed.

In many cases, famous and powerful people didn’t get to where they are because they are natural born leaders who have an innate tendency to take charge. To deviate from the whole “body language” idea, J.R.R. Tolkien never would have published The Hobbit if somebody hadn’t come to him. He wasn’t really a writer, he was a professor and a linguist with an active imagination. He only wrote The Lord of the Rings because his publishers wanted a sequel to the children book that sold out immediately. Modern writers are often told they have to have a million words of experience before they’re good enough to get published. If that was the case, nobody would ever have heard of Tolkien. Instead, this professor that only wrote for his kids’ enjoyment was tasked with writing a second bestseller with little to no experience.

So he did what anyone would do in this situation and all but invented the fantasy genre.

Tolkien wasn’t a writer. He faked being a writer until he was famous for writing. “Fake it till you make it” isn’t just solid advice, it’s how the world works. If you fake anything long enough, you become it.


This TED Talk is where I got a lot of information for this post from. It’s enlightening and goes into far more depth than I ever could in five hundred words, so if you need more inspiration, here you go.

Life — False Expectations

You ever think about something that’s going to happen, and you can’t help but dread it or hype yourself up with anxiety, only to find out that it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought it would be?

If you’re anything like me (and I’m inclined to believe most humans are), you get anxious at everything, even if the stress levels vary. Planning a party, performing on stage, going to events you doubt you’d enjoy, doesn’t matter.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I’ve brushed on this before (though it was like seven months ago), but when we think about future events, our brains have a habit of romanticizing them, warping them and branching off into all the possibilities of how that scenario will go. Most often, they branch off towards either the worst or the best cases.

When you go on a date, pessimism will say you’re going to do any number of embarrassing things, say the wrong words, or run out of things to say and be left with an awkward silence. On the other hand, optimism will tell you that you’ll be incredibly charming, suave, take your pick of any positive adjective. You imagine it’ll go amazing and everything you could want to happen does.

Only, that’s not how the world works. In virtually every scenario you plan, the reality will end up being somewhere in the middle. It’s just a bell curve probability. If you’re a chronically anxious person, I want you to think back to all the situations and events you were particularly worried about. I’d be willing to bet pretty much all of them turned out okay. You might remember a particularly embarrassing moment from that event, but in hindsight, it was ridiculous to assume the apocalypse would happen that day, right?

Your gut will tell you any number of awful things occur if you go to that party. But your gut is a drama queen and blows up possible scenarios when the likelihood of most of them seeing fruition is zero.

The best thing to do is to shrug off your mind’s impossible pre-conceived notions of how something might fail catastrophically. This is why, when you’re planning on torturing somebody, you don’t tell that person what you’re going to do to them. Instead, you make sure they know they will be tortured, and you leave them to fill the blanks. The scenarios they will construct in their mind will be far, far worse than anything you could really do to them. As a side note, you probably shouldn’t be torturing people. Trust me, it’s a bad habit.

All that being said, try new things! Be adventurous! Even if nothing pans out spectacularly, you’ll come out of things with more insight into your personality and, in general, a more experienced person. Alternatively, if you never try anything because you’re too scared, what is going to stop you from being scared of everything? Don’t let your fear of what might be stop you from having to ask yourself what could have been.