Always the same…

There is a never-ending shitstorm of bad news from an administration hellbent on destroying people’s lives.

Anyone with a single shred of basic human decency can see it.

There is a loud consensus as of late that if you’re not publicly screeching about what’s going on in the world, you’re contributing to the problem. If you’re not filling your Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/[insert social media platform of choice] feeds with outrage, you are helping the opposition.

Silence equals compliance.

I’ve done more than my fair share of screaming into the void with everyone else, though I make a conscious effort not to. It’s not doing anybody any actual good, and it’s just not nearly as cathartic as it once was. (see: the entirety of my livejournal) The stuff I do put out isn’t anything constructive, it’s just that things have reached a breaking point and [literally] screaming at my computer screen (alone, in my house) can only relieve so much stress. Does posting an angry tirade on Twitter really help? No. Not really. But it happens. Because sometimes I don’t know what else to do. We all have our coping methods. Meltdowns on public forums are part of my deal. I can count on one hand the number of people who actually see what I post on a given platform. I’m not influencing anybody over here. Nor do I have any desire to. I’m just trying to survive on a daily basis, just like everyone else.

Words are in short supply as of late.

I keep opening WordPress, staring at it, and closing the tab without writing anything.

I want to write about ANYTHING other that what’s going on in the world as of late, but it’s difficult to focus on anything but. I don’t have anything useful to contribute to the conversation. Screaming into the void is just adding to the endless noise. And while venting can be healthy and cathartic, it’s not what I want to expend my already limited amount of mental energy on. I spend plenty of time talking to Bob about all of it, I don’t want to spend even more writing about it too. (Yet, this post is still happening. Whatever.)

I’ve started and abandoned so many posts about other things recently. None of them make it very far before I just don’t have the energy to continue. So I close the tab and try to find something else to focus on, but focus is not happening either.

It’s that time of the year. February and March hit almost as hard as the summertime SAD slump. It’s not fun, but it’s not new, and once I finally manage to identify it, I can better find ways to cope until it passes.

Because it will pass.

Everything sucks in the meantime, but IT WILL PASS.

Emotionally overrun…

I try to keep up with current events in the news so I have at least some idea of what’s going on in the world, but it can really take a harsh toll on my mental health. Especially as of late with the rapidly approaching election and the terrifying prospect of a horrific, degenerate psychopath becoming our next president.

Instead…

Things that are good…

1.) We ordered new blinds for all of our windows. (All four of them.) The ones that came with the house were poorly installed and ill-maintained and the one in the living room doesn’t even cover the whole (seven-foot-tall) window. There’s also been nothing on the transom over the front door. Both cause a lot of annoyance sitting in the living room with blinding sunlight in the afternoon/evening. We haven’t installed them yet, but we have given ourselves the deadline of November 29th when Final Fantasy XV [finally] comes out and we’ll be spending a lot more time downstairs. I’m excited to have nice, clean, new blinds on all of our windows.

2.) Related, Final Fantasy XV is finally coming out at the end of November. They’ve been stringing fans along for over a decade at this point. Bob is such a huge FF fan and his excitement over the game is so gaddamn adorable I just want to squeeze him. So I do.

3.) This weekend is Bob’s birthday and I’ve made him a ridiculous cake experiment of cheesecake and lemon bars and I have no idea what it’s going to be like when I cut into it, but we’ll see how it turns out. It certainly won’t taste bad. I rarely bake anything these days unless an occasion calls for it, so why not go all out for my husband’s birthday?

4.) We’ve finally had a good run of hoodie weather and it has been a much needed relief for my bad-addled brain. We had to break down and turn the heat on this weekend, but I’ll take layers of blankets over hotter-than-hades any day.

5.) We saw Andy Grammer and Gavin DeGraw play at Mystic Lake. I have many things to say about it (we’ll see if it ever gets written) but in a nutshell…HOT DAMN they are both so fucking good at what they do. I’ve been waiting four years for AG to play a local show at a decent venue and he was SO worth the wait. And while Gavin DeGraw has been on my musical radar for more than a decade, I’d never given much thought to seeing him live, but damn. He’s good.

Gator came with as my Xanax for the night. He hasn’t been to a show since Red Rocks so it was fitting. And deliberate. Gator loves him some AG.


(Back Home [live] by Andy Grammer)


(Something Worth Saving [live] by Gavin DeGraw)

The Seven Year Itch…

Seven years ago I married a boy I met on the internet.

Statistically, we should be seeing a decline in our relationship at this point. The Seven Year Itch is something that actually happens according to research.

I’d say for us, the longer we’re together, the better we get.

Does that make us special?

No.

Not really.

Plenty of people survive statistics.

My parents have been married for fifty years.

It’s not always rainbows and giggles and arguments with stuffed animals. We have ugly conversations and disagreements. We get stressed and irritated and snappy. But we communicate—even when it sucks—and we tend to talk everything to death. Things are far from perfect, but we’re US.

And I love US.

I can be my whole, awkward, weird, inane, obsessive self, and he tells me he loves me for all of it.

He is my sanity and my saving grace.

I love him more than I ever thought possible to love another human being, and I love him more every day.

I always have these elaborate plans in my head for commemorating our anniversary in writing, but really, simplicity works better.

Seven years.

And not the least bit itchy.

Over and under…

Writing is hard.

I’m still in a bit of recovery mode after my mental meltdown over one single writing project.

And while we’ve had a few moments of mild reprieve from gross summer weather, I’m still feeling the effects of SAD. Though I do have a little bit more of a handle on the anxiety that has been all-consuming now that I know where it’s been coming from.

Getting back to writing after an inadvertent break feels a bit like floundering. I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my writing folder trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do with myself. I’ve spent just as much time staring at a blinking cursor in WordPress. I’ve started and deleted a dozen posts, trying to cobble words together into something resembling coherence. I’ve tried writing about something other than writing, but everything comes out wrong.

It happens.

It’s nothing new.

Things go in cycles, though I can’t tell if there is a definitive pattern to it all or not.

Basil is still on his Whatif??? crusade, but believe it or not, some of those whatifs actually involve characters other than Tyler. Miracles never cease, I guess. I’ve been writing things, and some of it is okay, but it’s not quite what I want to be writing. I have ideas, but they’re stuck inside my head, trapped behind some sort of unidentifiable barrier I can’t quite figure out how to break through.

It’s frustrating at best and infuriating at worst, but all I can really do is ride it out until it passes.

In the meantime, I poke at existing stories, write what I can, and read through the stuff that reminds me why I do this in the first place.

Also, listen to music on repeat.

Always.


(I Go Through by O.A.R.)

I love this band so damn much.

The usual session…

If we’re being perfectly honest, I’ve been a colossal train wreck lately.

No, no—more than usual.

I’ve been struggling with some bad anxiety, which drives the depression to serious lows, which fuels the anxiety, which drives the depression, which…you get it.

There are things that are easy to identify in terms of what’s causing the issues, but they are not the only things. And while Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a pretty safe assumption when I can’t explain why I feel the way I do, I know in my gut that there is more to it.

I’ve been dealing with this shit for over thirty years at this point.

I know when there’s more to it.

I just don’t always know what that more might be.

I don’t know where exactly my thought process was going—I get lost so easily in there—but a combination of things tipped me off today.

Our last electric bill was ridiculous. Which means we’ve been running the A/C constantly. Which means the weather has been constant misery. We live in a townhouse surrounded by neighbors on three sides. This works to our advantage with heat in the winter, but in the summer, not so much. We only have three windows that open and they’re all west-facing. This is a miserable position in the summer. When temperatures reach 80 and humidity gets above 50%, there’s no being comfortable in this place. So air conditioning 24/7 it is.

We usually get a nice summer cold-snap with temperatures in the high sixties or low seventies with low humidity (open windows! hoodies!). It’ll last a few days and give some much needed reprieve. But we’re approaching the middle of August and we haven’t had that yet. The weather has been consistently above eighty. The humidity has been consistently above 50%. It’s forecasted to stay that way for at least another two weeks.

Looking at the weather report causes me irrational levels of irritation over the numbers and I just want to start breaking shit.

Or just start crying.

I usually just start crying.

I wish I was kidding.

I’ve written about this before. If I’m at all prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, it’s not in the winter, it’s in the summer. And while the thought hadn’t crossed my mind for awhile, I had a light bulb moment today when I realized that SAD is likely a significant contributing factor to my colossal train wreck status as of late.

Especially when I read the line The condition in summer can include heightened anxiety.

It doesn’t provide an explanation for everything going on with my mental health as of late.

But it does explain A LOT.

And while I don’t have a lot of effective solutions for dealing with it right now, just knowing what it is helps immensely.

We’ve made it to August. We’re approaching mid-month. Soon it will be September. Soon the temperatures will drop. Soon the windows will be open. Soon nature will die and so will the allergies. Soon it will be winter and we’ll have a whole new whine-fest on our hands.

Soon.

September is 23 days away.

I’m looking forward to it for more than just the weather…
…vacation days
…our anniversary
…new music
live music

In the meantime, I’ll muddle my way through somehow.

I will survive.

I always do.

The heart don’t listen…

…to words of wisdom
I could never get myself to understand…

I am in an extremely fortunate and privileged position in that I don’t have to work. (Not that my mental state is really in any condition to, but that’s a whole other discussion.) Bob has a good job that provides us with a comfortable income. We can pay our bills, save money, and budget for the things we want. He is okay with me not having a job. To certain degrees, he prefers it that way because he knows me. I struggle a lot (a-fucking-lot) with feeling like a leech and being completely useless, but again, a whole other discussion.

I have an opportunity to focus fully on the one thing I know I want to do with my life.

Write.

I don’t have any aspirations to publish anything—aside from here—but maybe someday if I ever finish something I don’t hate, that plan may change. I really don’t see that, but stranger things have happened. (I met a boy on the internet and married him, after all.)

ANYWAY.

Writing is hard.

This isn’t some brand new epiphany I’m having over here, but sometimes it slams home a little stronger than others.

For the last…lengthy frame of time…I don’t remember when I really started it…I’ve been making a more deliberate effort to write every day. And by that I mean, sitting down and actually focusing on writing while attempting to avoid other distractions. (see: the internet) It feels like I’m rarely very successful, but I think I have made marginal change.

In my efforts to write more I also decided to make an effort to focus on one project instead of juggling the eight…ish different ones I had been spreading myself over for too long. And I did that…to a certain extent. I did allow myself ventures into other folders when ideas struck or words stalled, but for the most part I was focusing on just one story.

I did get some decent writing done. But spending so much time on it made me realize how many things were wrong with it. And I had no idea how to fix it. I spent a lot of time beating my head against the wall trying to figure things out, and ended up getting incredibly frustrated and burnt out.

That last tweet is supposed to say then Bob but instead it says the Bob, but really he is THE Bob, so it still works, even with the typo.

I’ve been talking to Bob a lot about all my writing woes and the issues with the project I’ve been working on, trying to sort out what I need to do with all of it. The conversation that followed that series of whiny tweets knocked me on my ass.

Maybe I need to just be done with that project.
Be done with trying to fix it.
Put it to rest and let it stay there.

To say I was bordering on a panic attack would be an understatement.

To my recollection, I have never actively stopped working on a story. Yes, I have quit working on countless projects, but it has always happened gradually, fizzling over a long period of time as the inspiration sputtered out and other stories took over. I have never made the conscious decision to just stop.

Facing that decision literally brought me to tears.

It scared the absolute shit out of me.

Bob reminded me that is OKAY to fail. It doesn’t make it suck any less, but it’s okay.

Being the natural problem solver that he is, he made a number of suggestions to help me with my problem, and one of them made me panic even more than just stopping one story.

A writing cleanse.
No writing at all for a week.
Actively stop thinking about it.
Focus on something else entirely.

The very idea of stopping one story made me cry.

I couldn’t even breathe at the thought of not writing at all.

When the writing is in short supply, the mental health takes a tragic hit.

How could I survive not writing on purpose?

And then…without even realizing I was doing it…I took a break…

Sort of.

I didn’t make the conscious decision to take a break. I just…did. I opened Word. I opened files. I stared at them. But I didn’t write anything. I did read through some things. I spent a hell of a lot of time thinking about all of it. I even found another story in the archives to shoehorn ∞Tyler into. I didn’t write anything on it, but I spent plenty of time brainstorming it.

It wasn’t exactly a cleanse.
It wasn’t even a full week.
But it was far more than I was open to trying, even if it wasn’t entirely on purpose.

It was absolutely miserable.
It was a really shitty four days.
I cried a lot.
(Though that has also been heavily influenced by the horrific state of the world as of late.)

By Friday night I was in such a bad place. Bob and I spent several hours talking through it while I cried even more. (It wasn’t just writing at that point. There’s other shit tormenting me too.) We didn’t find much resolution, but unloading helped immensely. Snotty, weepy pillow talk can be incredibly cathartic all on its own.

Have I mentioned lately that my husband is fucking fantastic?

Because he is.

I don’t have a damn clue how, but I really did hit the jackpot with him.

Maybe if I had done a true cleanse things would have been less miserable, but I don’t know. Past experiences have me inclined to believe it would have been just as bad or even worse. I’ve gone long stretches without writing. Those were miserable times I don’t care to revisit on purpose.

At the time Bob and I were having the initial maybe it’s time to stop conversation, I had music playing—as I do. (Nine Days on repeat.) Somewhere during that, the song Star started playing—the life and struggle of a musician trying to make a career out of the trade. Not exactly something I can relate to, but a line stood out that so perfectly fit my mindset at that moment (and in general) and caught me completely off guard.

But if I give up I’m afraid I’ll disappear…

If I don’t have writing, what do I have? Putting all my eggs in one basket isn’t the smartest move, but I really like that fucking basket and it’s the only one I have. Writing is such a significant part of who I am. It has been my one true passion since I was twelve years old.

The ridiculous thing about all of this is it’s really JUST ONE STORY.

Nobody told me I can’t write anymore.
Nobody told me I have to give it all up.
It was just a suggestion to put ONE project to rest and stop torturing myself with it.

But this is how my brain works.
One little thing goes wrong and suddenly everything is in CRISIS MODE.
I KNOW it’s ridiculous.
I KNOW it’s anxiety being a royal dick.

I KNOW.

But there’s very little I can do to control it. It’s incredibly frustrating and absolutely exhausting.

So I cry.
I unload my woes on my saint of a husband.
I wrap up in blankets and cuddle my stuffed animals.
I listen to the same music on repeat.

I will survive.
This will pass.
Things will get better.

I’ll sit down in front of my computer and write.

I don’t know which story it will be, but I will love it and hate it and fight with it and obsess over it and things will be okay.

It’s a reminder I need far too often.

Things will be okay.


(Star … Nine Days)

But that one night…

Contrary to the inanity that I write hereI don’t suck at writing.

That is not an easy thing for me to admit out loud. (Or in print on the internet, as the case may be.)

I am the queen of self-deprecation, and depression and anxiety like to try to convince me I suck at merely existing most days. I have a difficult time saying I’m a good writer without feeling like a complete fraud. Every time I put something out for the world to see—no matter how small an audience it reaches—I feel like I’m exposing myself for the hack I really am. This is why the best I can do sometimes is admit that I don’t suck. And even that is a challenge some days.

But believe me, it’s a drastic improvement from the way it used to be a few short years ago.

Personal growth and all that.

I used to do my best writing in the middle of the night. Inspiration would always strike when I should have been sleeping, and I would pound out pages and pages of text. Most of my very favorite things I’ve written were produced in the unholy hours, sitting by myself in the dark.

These days, with no job to kill my will to live on a daily basis, I can write at any time of day I want. Yet it’s still ingrained in me to want to write at night. As long as my computer is running, Word is open, and I tab in and out of it all day long. I get a lot of writing done throughout the day (writer’s block notwithstanding) but I’m more apt to feel the overwhelming drive to write the closer it gets to bedtime.

I’ve been going through my writing folder, attempting to summarize each active project. It’s a slow slog because I don’t always know how to adequately summarize my plot lines. I’ve also been skimming through each one, trying to find a decent snippet to pull out and pair with the summary. It’s not easy to find just a few lines—I want to pull entire scenes—especially when I have so much dialogue to sift through. But going through all of these projects, I find myself wondering…why did I stop working on this one?

When I go back and read through things I’ve written—in all their disjointed glory—I’m quite often surprised by what I find. More and more I like what I read. There’s still plenty of crap in there, but it’s much easier to find things that I actually LIKE.

I’m reminding myself why I’ve put so many hours into these stories. Why I started writing them in the first place. Why I keep torturing myself when I’m spinning my wheels at the bottom of the hill.

I’ve had a long-running love/hate relationship with my writing—I love to hate it. But the older I get, the better I get at writing, the more I appreciate the good stuff, and am able to forgive the WTAF-is-this stuff. There is still some truly terrible things buried in those files, but I don’t beat myself up as much, as often as I used to. I’m slowly learning to accept taking the good with the bad.

In writing, that is.

The rest of my life is still questionable.

 

Never quite ready at all…

I feel like I’m running out of time on an important deadline. I haven’t done any prep work. I am completely unprepared to even start, much less finish on time.

It sounds like some sort of stress dream.

Only it’s not a dream.

It’s just one of the many obnoxious ways my brain manifests unexplained anxiety.

I’m not actually running on any deadlines—that I know of.

It’s entirely possible there’s something I need to do, that I’ve completely forgotten about because my short term memory is like a damn Etch-a-Sketch. One quick motion and the whole thing is a blank slate.

I’m incredibly slow to respond to any sort of communication (phone calls, emails, texts, et al…). I’ll get the message, I’ll think, “I need to respond to this,” and then…I don’t. More often than not that mother-effing irrational anxiety intervenes, preventing me from doing it right now (unless I want a full-blown panic attack on my hands) and then as soon as I look at something else, somebody jars the Etch-a-Sketch and the thought is wiped clean.

Something will trigger me to remember some time later and I’ll think, “I need to respond to that,” and the cycle begins again. Eventually so much time has passed since the initial communication, I start to wonder if it’s even worth responding because, in many cases, it no longer seems relevant to respond at all.

This is my brain and welcome to it.

Which is to say, my brain is an asshole a hot mess—depression, anxiety, inattentive ADHD—and then you pile on the creative aspect and all that entails and…well…you get things like this blog.

Glutton for punishment you are, you poor fool.

My writing folder is also a bit of a train wreck for the same reasons. I try to keep on top of active projects versus filing away stalled ones, but sometimes it just keeps piling up until I can’t make heads or tails of what I’m actually working on. Then I have to go through and judge harshly, sorting out what I’ve stopped working on, and what is still making progress, no matter how minor.

I NEED to just pick one project and focus on that alone. But…if I’m only working on one thing at a time, and I get stuck on a given part, then I don’t write anything and then the mental health starts to spiral and…yep.

Countless projects at one time, it is.

A while back…or two years ago, apparently…I went through my writing folder and all my active projects, and wrote a blurb for each one. It was an exercise in brevity (even if the post itself is stupid long) which is not exactly one of my strong suits, especially when it comes to writing.

It’s interesting to go back to that post and see what’s changed in the projects themselves, and what I’m still working on verses what has been stuffed into the stalled folder. A lot has changed, but a lot has also stayed the same in all that time.

I’ve been wanting to do that again with the current state of my writing folder. I’ve started and stopped and deleted a handful of posts, but it’s a really slow slog. There are some projects that just haven’t changed enough to warrant another blurb. But there are plenty that are new to the pile that I could write about. But when I sit down to write it out…I got nothin’.

Par for the course.

I have plenty to write about all of these projects, but the brevity aspect becomes a problem. And the whole point of the exercise is keeping it short. Then the projects with multiple versions under one header get rather convoluted, especially the most recent one eating my brain.

So where does that leave me?

Staring at my writing folder, cursing my inability to focus on one thing at a time, and wondering how long it will be before I fall back into the seek therapy folder and start focusing on inane fanfiction again. Or some other never-see-the-light-of-day monstrosity. Or I’ll just keep coming up with different scenarios to put Alison, Parker, and Tyler into because why not?

 


(Effortlessly by Sister Hazel)

It’s hard to see it now…

I’m genuinely curious how old people think I am when they see me.

For the most part, I get the impression people think I’m much younger than I am. It could have a lot to do with my height (4′ 11.5″). I don’t even register on most “adult” height charts. They all start at five-feet. Every time I get measured at the doctor, the nurse always double and often triple checks because I can’t possibly be that short.

No really.    I am.

Yes, yes, it’s very hilarious.

Anyway.

I mean, I do have the sense of humor of a teenage boy, tend to wear stickers on my forehead, and have a penchant for arguing with stuffed animals, so…

On the flip side, I have an extremely low tolerance for blatant stupidity, I get excited for new appliances, and sitting at home on a Saturday night is way more appealing than going out, which all suggest I am, in fact, old.

 

(The work of Bob. Because you need to have some fun when you’re assembling 680 pounds of MDF in a single weekend.)

When we bought our furniture back in October, the sales lady guessed we were twenty-six and it took a great deal of effort not to laugh out loud. Though I did thank her for thinking I’m that young. (Even if you couldn’t pay me any amount of money to go back to my twenties.)

Recently—and by recently, I mean…sometime in the last six months—I was told I’m “still young” in terms of changing my mind about having kids. I’m pretty sure she had no idea how old I really am. Because in terms of having kids? I’m on the too old end of the spectrum.

Alternatively…

When I worked at Menards in high school, customers called me MA’AM all the time. And my older co-workers were all surprised to find out I was still in high school because I didn’t act like the other teenagers working there. (read: not whiny or lazy…even though I totally am)

Then there was the radiology tech that thought Bob was MY SON and not my husband. I know Bob looks young for his age, but MY SON!? The first picture I ever saw of my Robert before we met face-to-face I did think he looked fifteen…but still…

When we got married, friends of my in-laws (who knew neither of us) commented on our wedding pictures that Bob looked “way too young” to get married. Nobody said anything about me, which made me wonder how big of an age gap they thought there was between us. (He’s three years younger, for the record.)

 

  

(The most recent picture I have of the two of us is from 2012. (*sigh*…Oh Red Rocks…) Should probably do something about that.)

I don’t actually care how old people think I am. And I’m pretty sure random strangers care even less how old I actually am.

I’m just weirdly curious.

Because these are the things my brain fixates on.

I’ll continue to laugh at lube jokes, argue with the stuffed mouse sitting on my desk, and get really excited about end tables and lamps. All the while muttering to myself about the increasing number of gray hairs I keep finding.

This is my brain and welcome to it.

I have a really high forehead.