Me — Holiday Free Time

Time budgeting is a very important aspect of my life. What I do with my day and setting a course for how to tackle it is vital because if I don’t get anything done, it affects my mood, and if I let that happen too much, it starts to really spiral out of control.

In between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I got so busy that I would be going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 5am to get stuff done. To be honest, and to my surprise, it was fantastic. I would get up early to finish homework that was due that day, go to class, then perhaps we would have a performance that night for my play, and then go to bed to wake up for the next day. On nights we didn’t have productions, I’d work on my final projects. Every couple of hours I had where I was comfortable enough to relax and play video games was a treasure.

But then, the production closed, and I got all my finals finished. I haven’t had a whole lot of hours at work lately, either, so suddenly I have a full week straight of nothing but free time. Then two weeks, then, three, and, well you get the picture. It didn’t help that I got sick on Christmas Eve and I’m still feeling the repercussions as I write this.

Let me tell you, the free time has sucked. I’ve hated almost every minute that I’ve spent to myself. I’ve tried writing, but I admittedly haven’t gotten a whole lot of that done. That part, I honestly can’t explain. Two months ago I would have been ecstatic to have all this free time. I was trying to get through a book, prep for a D&D campaign, and I’ve had a story rattling around in my head since July. Now that I have the time to do it, I can only shrug and thing “Sorry, not today”.

This wouldn’t be so bad if I at least had something fulfilling to do with my free time, but I don’t even have games I really want to play. With all the stuff that’s been going on at Blizzard my enthusiasm to play Heroes of the Storm has been shot. I recently bought a Switch but Super Smash Bros. isn’t the sort of game you could play for several hours at a time, and besides that, I don’t have anything I want to be watching while doing either of those things. Being caught up on Critical Role while the show is on a holiday break sucks!

For somebody that finds fulfillment in productivity, well, I’ve started to feel pretty terrible lately. That’s probably part of the reason why it’s taking so long to shrug off this sickness.

It’s not all bad, though. Classes start up Monday, which I’m very excited for. I did get an email saying that the schedules were moved around, and they put two of my classes in the same time slot, so I’m going to have to figure that out, but I’m not terribly worried.

I just need to start classes and getting more hours at work, because I’m dying here. I want to feel good about getting up at 5 instead of staying in bed because I don’t have anything to do.

Life — Intentionally Choosing Wrong

I don’t need to inform you that sometimes life leaves you with a decision between two awful outcomes. A lot of handling responsibility is having the wisdom to be able to handle the ramifications of bad choices, and knowing what to do in a lose-lose scenario shows an intelligence and maturity that, I would suppose, only comes with age and experience.

One of the largest sources of stress and discomfort in my life these past few years has been because I’ve stood on the crossroads of a scenario like this. It’s a long story, but its one I’ve told to several people, seeking the advice and wisdom of other people.

It’s sometimes impossible to say, really. Which direction do you go when your heart and mind point in opposite directions? You lose yourself thinking about everything with only logic in mind, because one needs to fulfill the soul’s desires to be happy.

I’ve spent countless hours and sleepless nights trying to solve this problem, but the more thought I put into it, the more I start to think that it doesn’t even matter what I choose.

When you’re caught in a position like mine, one that defies all sense, it seems that everything you could possibly do will be the wrong choice to make. But when there is no right choice, it’s all one can do to mitigate the damage as much as possible.

If you had asked me a few months or even years ago, I’d have told you that “following the heart” is a terrible idea. Sometimes it simply yearns for things it can’t have, or to hold on to things that should be let go. But now I think differently.

If pain and sorrow will come regardless of which path you take, I’m starting to think of it this way. Years to come, we will always be stronger due to the trials we have been through in the past. So if one goes through more suffering, one should come out stronger (and by extension wiser) than one who did not.

So by this logic, it can’t be all bad to follow the heart, choosing the result that will lead to the most potential pain. Not only will life be a little bit easier for the time being, but if and when that huge hurdle of pain and misery does come, it will thicken the skin more than anything else would have. To put it simply, humans are all saiyans from Dragonball Z when it comes to emotions: every time they recover from a life-threatening injury, their power is multiplied unimaginably.

They say time heals all wounds. I’m not quite certain of that. But what I am certain of is the fact that with time, comes wisdom. I believe that with where I am now, everything will turn out right in the end, (almost) regardless of what I do now, because if I make bad decisions I’ll learn from them, and if I don’t, I’ll find success the easy way. But who am I kidding? Even at its calmest life isn’t easy sailing. So why not follow your heart to mitigate the pain?

In Memoriam.

In light of everything that’s going on in my life at the moment, I’ll be taking a (brief) hiatus. I expect to be back within the week, but I won’t give any dates as I don’t know how long it’ll take for things to calm down.

So, instead of a review as I normally do on Wednesdays, I’m going to say a bit about my cat.

20160425_191147.jpgThere’s always a cat in my family. Usually at least two. We’ve lost some, sure. But this decade, as far as pets are concerned, has been met with bearable goodbyes. Many pets have moved and changed owners. For the past ten years, (minus a few since he was a few years old when we moved into the house), we’ve had a ragdoll named Oliver. If you know anything about ragdolls, you’ll know that they don’t care about anything. He was never afraid of new people, and you could even pick him up if you wanted to. He didn’t care. My favorite thing to do with him was to cradle him like a baby, belly side up. It was pretty adorable.

He was pretty spoiled. He got cat treats multiple times a day (I never gave them to him, because he never stopped meowing when he wanted something and I didn’t want to encourage that behavior). He loved getting pets but he didn’t snuggle. He would never climb onto the bed or on your lap with you. Mostly he liked sleeping on the recliner, and that’s where he spent most of the time. That or being shooed out of my mom’s room, where he wasn’t allowed. One thing he loved doing was running to the front door whenever his favorite people got home. As my mom would say, he was a good dog.

2015-02-23 16.42.52.jpgThe weirdest thing about him was that Oliver loved the rain. Whenever it rained outside he would beg to be let out (even though he’s an indoor cat). He seemed to be happiest in the rain, and sometimes even begged to be let into the tub after you got out of the shower.

But a few weeks ago, it became apparent that he wasn’t okay. He stopped meowing, and became more reclusive. Soon he wasn’t eating very much, and started drinking unusual amounts of water.

He has kidney failure. It’s only going to be a matter of time if we don’t do it ourselves. We make sure to keep an eye on him to make him as comfortable as possible, but as far as we know, any breath could be his last. It’s harder than I could have imagined, watching this happen. It’s heartbreaking to see him wither from lack of nutrition. When you pet him now you feel bones more prominently than fur. As much as it pains me to see him go, I can’t imagine he wants to stay. P.S. We put him down this afternoon. It was clear that it was his time. Now that it’s over the healing process can truly start.

 

In my last post, I mentioned how I’m not an outwardly emotional person. Things really don’t make me sad. Being the speculative mind I am, I’ve often wondered how a situation like this (or even worse) will affect me when the inevitability of time takes its toll. Yesterday I was struck with something overwhelming, and I cried for the second time in multiple years.

I did not expect to be affected this much. He was a part of the family before I was. I’ve never been the one to regularly clean the litter box or feed him, and I almost never gave him treats. I have never considered him my cat. He peed on stuff and was pretty annoying because he never stopped meowing when he wanted something, even if it was just some head scratches.

But this post is the single most difficult thing I’ve ever written. I’m not exaggerating when I say I could have more easily written a third book than this. This is the first thing I’ve ever written that has made me too overwhelmed to continue. All that said, this song (link below) makes me cry literally every time I listen to it. It’s such a beautiful song, but since I can bring tears to my eyes just thinking about it, you can probably imagine it’s too painful to listen to regularly.

But, tears can be cathartic.

 

Goodbye, Ollie. I’ll miss you.

 

Life — Emotions

For better or for worse, I think about every situation logically. I try to see every side there is to see before I consider what I should be doing about it. It makes it pretty easy to deal with a lot of stuff, admittedly, but it also makes it very difficult to vent when I need to. For example, I’ve never been upset by anyone dying in any movie, or from anything bad happening in a book. I always think “Oh, that’s sad,” or “Whoa, did that author really write that scene? Dark.” It’s nice, but it comes at a price.

Most specifically, it means I’m bad at comforting people. I never know what to say when somebody is having a hard time. I can say “Well, think about it this way”, and offer a logical reason to be less sad, when realistically I’m trying to make them think like me when that’s not how it works. Instead, I should just nod when they need help and be a metaphorical (or physical as may be the case) shoulder to cry on. It’s difficult on my end because what that entails is me saying “Yes, yes, you’re right, there there” when I’m really thinking something like “You’re so single-minded” or “This isn’t even a big deal”. I guess that speaks more to my lingering narcissism than anything else.

But when it’s something big, I find I’m left speechless because I don’t know what to do. When tragedy happens and the people I know and love are overcome with grief, I can’t help but feel a little broken when I don’t feel the same way. Am I stronger for being able to hold things in better? I wouldn’t say so. Though it may seem otherwise, I do have emotion, and not being able to sound sad when everyone else is makes me feel unsympathetic. It makes me feel that much more alone in that sense, which doesn’t help.

The worst part is, I have no advice to give here. If nothing else, perhaps it can provide some insight into the minds of those that may seem careless. I would be more empathetic if I could, but the fact is a fake emotion would be obvious and likely do more harm than good. The best I can do is be there for people and hold my tongue when necessary (which in many cases like this would be always).

Tears are cathartic. With a lot of situations that bring high levels of emotion, it can be necessary to vent. I think there are few situations in which one should rein in one’s emotions, because being open with them helps the natural coping mechanisms run their course. If you’re like me and you have a hard time expressing your thoughts and feelings, it can be detrimental.

It’s not good to keep your emotions bottled up. What I used to do (before my blog) was write about the situation I was in, what got me there, and how I feel about it. But in the end, it doesn’t really even matter what you write. It’s a method of getting things off your chest/mind, and even if you don’t share it with anyone, it can bring a lot of release. It doesn’t have to be public, but you never have to handle things alone, whether you tell yourself that or not.

Life — Suicide

I don’t have to tell anyone that sometimes, life just sucks. In the best of times, we are never living in a perfect world, while the opposite end of the spectrum seems to be all too prevalent. Why is that? Well, it’s for a lot of reasons. But before I get to unpacking this topic, let me just say first that I’m not having a hard time right now. Yes, my life is stressful, but it isn’t beating me down at this very moment. It’s just relevant to me currently, because I’ve seen it happening a lot lately.

From my experience, life hits hardest when its unexpected. Sometimes, horrible things happen that we can neither prepare for nor anticipate. That’s one reason often why earthquakes are referred to as the worst natural disaster: there is no definitive way to know when it will happen. All you can do is ensure you are always prepared.

So, I’m not the best at giving advice. I never know how to handle certain situations, even if I know to expect them. At best, when somebody’s going through a hard time, I can only comfort by being somebody to talk to or hold. It may sound weird being a writer and improv actor, but I never know what to say to help somebody, especially in the moment. Too often when I try I make things worse.

But if there’s one great thing about life, it’s that it never has to be endured alone. No, I’m not going to argue that fact. But regardless of the circumstances, I believe people will find that they always have someone or something to hold on to. Life can suck sometimes, but in those moments we really see what there is to hold on to.

I’ve recently been certified in QPR, which is basically Suicide Prevention. I do know the protocol for helping somebody out of a dark time, and without going through the process of sharing that knowledge with everyone, the single best piece of advice for somebody in a rough patch is that it is impossible to know whether or not things will turn up the next day. Life isn’t always bad. It may seem like its not worth it now, but tomorrow could be the day things change. Taking one’s own life is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Another argument is “I’ve been through professional treatment before. It didn’t help.” Well, if it didn’t help before, how are you still here to tell people about it? Isn’t that very fact proof that it did?

So, I don’t know what’s going on with your life. And there are people far more qualified than me to guide you where you need. But if you’re ever having a bad day, or simply want somebody to talk to, I’m here. Depending on the means you have to contact me, it could take me a day or two to respond, but I’m still here. Don’t ever think that nobody cares about you. There are people that you will never meet that care about you more than you can imagine. All you have to do is find them.

Picture unrelated. Have some puppies and a baby.

Life — Reflections (Post #200)

When I first started this blog in February, I started it solely as a means to an end. I planned on using it to write reviews and make my newest short stories more easily accessible for people. Since then, I’ve necessarily been through a lot of personal growth. All things considered my life hasn’t been all that interesting these past few years. But I changed something in myself the day I decided to commit to five hundred words.

Before then, spanning all the way back to the early days of high school, I struggled with who I was to be. Even that long ago, I had considered myself a writer, but at the time if somebody tried to refute that I would have no counterargument. I didn’t really read or write back then. I had a world in my head and a story to tell, but I lacked the motivation to commit to it. I didn’t read much, either, and what I did read was strictly out of school lectures, which vacuumed all the enjoyment I could get from words on a page.

In my sophomore year I finally sat down and wrote my first book (The Soldier of Nadu), something I had been writing the first chapter of over and over. I got it professionally printed (not published) by Lulu, and that gave me the confidence to be able to prove to people that I really was a writer.

But, my first real task accomplished, and not being old enough to really do anything with it, I stopped. I didn’t really know how to edit longer works (and, admittedly, I haven’t learned much since on that front), and I certainly wasn’t about to try and publish it, even through self-publishing. But I wrote it, so I was done.

All the seniors at the school I went to had to do what was called a “Senior Project”. It boiled down to something big you can put on a resume and, hopefully, learn a lot from. This goes from teaching kids, to directing one of the school plays, to writing an album or inventing something. The only real caveat to this was that in order to get your idea approved, you had to prove to the administration that you would be learning something from this project. They wouldn’t let you simply write an album when you are already a songwriter. “It has to have a learning curve” as they had often said.

I sat there with my unedited book, scratching my head. I had already written it. I couldn’t write another one, because that wouldn’t involve enough self education. It had been years since I had written the book at that point, so even my pitiful amounts of subsequent writing and personal experience had made the book an embarrassingly atrocious read on the part of its creator. So I resolved to rewrite it as an entirely new draft, edit said draft, and self-publish it as my debut novel. Long story short, that year I had also taken four AP classes and was doing more improv with my troupe than ever (I wasn’t coach at the time), and I didn’t have time to do any of that. I rewrote the first third of the book, and to this day it remains untouched.

After high school, I decided to write five hundred words a day. I had, after all, heard that many an author enhanced their skill just by sitting down and bleeding over the keyboard on a daily basis. I had taken this to mean they wrote fiction every day (which is admittedly probably true), and had resolved to do it myself. At the time, however, I simply didn’t have five hundred words of fiction in me every day. That personal challenge turned into “the equivalent of five hundred words a day” (meaning I would allow myself to write thirty five hundred words on a single day once a week if that’s how it had to be), but even that proved too difficult. It became “One short story a week” until finally, I gave up. This challenge did produce one of my all time favorite short stories of mine, Warstorm, but beyond that it was a complete failure. I hated pretty much everything else that resulted from it.

Enter 2016. I had fallen into something of a depression (though nothing comparable to my junior and senior year for reasons I won’t get into), and I resolved that everything that I wanted was out of reach and all I could do was wait for it to become accessible. I wasn’t driving, I wasn’t experienced enough to write well, and I had given up hope that I would find reciprocated love before I even graduated college. I confessed all these troubles to a friend of mine, and she stated flatly that all of her friends did the same thing: complain about what they didn’t have when they could just be happy instead.

So that’s what I did. I started to try my luck at making myself happy. I always thought that writing a blog might be fun, so I tried it. It hasn’t solved all my problems, of course. But I think I’m a much stronger person for having done it. If nothing else, five hundred words means almost nothing to me anymore. Not to mention the fact that every week I publish a story (or piece of one) that is virtually always over fifteen hundred words long. I couldn’t even manage that an entire year ago. And on top of all that, I’m pretty dang stressed right now. And I’m still chugging away. So, go me.

Unnecessary backstory aside, I think my thought process behind starting the blog is something we don’t do for ourselves enough. I was cynical, and hated everything about my position. One day, I decided to start being positive, and I’m so much happier for it. It’s not some magic bean that I discovered was growing in my backyard (whoops accidental drug reference). Sometimes you have to force yourself to be happy.

But you know what?

It’s worth it.