Things That Have Gone On

In my true, undisciplined fashion, I have once again let this blog languish for a couple months without updates. I’d like to say I didn’t have the time, but though there has been plenty going on in my life, the truth is I have also had plenty of time to plop down a few words, and I just haven’t done it. I mean to rectify this now!

I won’t be so bold as to say I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to write regularly, as making that kind of statement seems an almost surefire road to failure. But I have, after a couple months of creative stagnation, committed myself to filling up three pages of my fancy-pants Moleskine journal every day. It’s a very modest goal, and I could do more if I chose, but I just need to get myself back into the rhythms of daily writing, even if that writing only comes in brief bursts. I’ve made no such commitment to updating this blog, but I would hope that a desire to blog more is a natural consequence of my setting pen to paper regularly.

Though I don’t use them as an excuse for letting my output dwindle, the last few months have been a little odd, for lack of a better term. Since my last posting:

  • My boyfriend and I adopted a dog, Duke. No one can agree on exactly what he is, though we suspect he is mostly Redbone Coonhound, and when we take him on walks around the apartment complex, we are frequently met with comments on how attractive he is. We feel very much like proud parents now, and are quick to forgive the animal, even after he ate an entire loaf of bread off the kitchen counter while we were away.
  • Shortly after rescuing the dog, I reached a level of frustration and anxiety that convinced me I needed to go back on antidepressants after a four-year hiatus from them. It was something I had been mulling over for a while, but I was determined to be better all on my own, determined that I had gotten past that stage in my life when I needed better living through chemistry. It got to the point, though, where I started to recognize the signs of depression that had snuck up on me all through my adolescence and into my twenties, which five years ago transformed into a perfect storm in which I had a total breakdown at work for no reason at all and finally decided to go to therapy the next day. My mental state had not gotten quite that bad this time around, but I could see the worst coming, and decided to head it off at the pass by reluctantly going back on medication. And regardless of what the skeptics say, it very much helps me. The feelings of panic and despair that so often ate away at me during normal daily activities has subsided, and I feel much more clearheaded and ready to take on whatever challenges lie ahead. I am far from perfect, but I am much better.
  • Meanwhile, my dad officially started to come out to people as a transgender woman. This has been common knowledge in my family for several years now, since my parents’ divorce (which was precipitated by my dad’s newfound commitment to his true identity). There are a lot of things I could say about this, but at present I’m not confident enough to put any of my thoughts together in a coherent fashion. All I can say is that I’m glad my dad finally feels comfortable enough to be who he truly feels he is, and at the very least I am grateful that my parents, though separated, can still get along quite well, spending holidays together and quietly commiserating over their delightful children.
  • Four months after moving in together, the week before Christmas, my boyfriend and I moved yet again, to a different unit in the same apartment complex. If possible, it was a more harrowing experience than the first time we moved, from two separate apartments miles apart on the hottest day of the year. The distance moved was smaller, but it seemed greater, as we moved from a second floor walkup to a third floor walkup in a different building, this time with a 72-pound dog in tow. Despite the aggravation of the experience, though, it was a worthwhile change, as our upstairs neighbor in our previous apartment had the infuriating habit of stomping back and forth across his apartment for hours at a time like some kind of power-walking Frankenstein monster. To this day we’re not sure what the guy was doing, but to give some context, when we were almost done moving out, our downstairs neighbor appeared shocked, having no idea that we had been moving over several days. At the same time, our upstairs neighbor made enough noise that we thought for sure he was moving out, though that was hardly the case. We are now on the top floor and much happier, more relaxed people because of it.

Other things happened in this period, obviously. I went to NerdCon: Stories (perhaps the last one ever?). I got a significant raise at work that makes escaping my office job any time soon seem much less reasonable. I have deleted all the games off my phone and committed myself, along with writing more, to reading more this year instead of idly poking at Candy Crush. I am currently almost finished with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which despite its intimidating size is an engaging, fantastical read.

Looking back, there has been no real lack of activity in my life lately, though I do keep waiting for something else to happen. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for, but I’m frequently keeping an eye out for the next thing, the next step in my life, whatever that may be.

I’m looking back on this blog post and thinking to myself that it’s sloppy and not particularly engaging or well-written, but part of my commitment to writing more requires not overthinking what I do write. The practice is worth a lot, even if the execution isn’t the best. (At least until the execution really does matter and there’s a six-figure advance in the balance. But that’s not going to be on the table for quite a while, if ever.)

So I will remain sloppy for the time being. Sloppy and searching, and hopefully learning a few things as 2017 progresses. Here’s to the process, whatever form it takes!

Incidental Lessons

Even though it’s only been about a week, and I’ve only taken a couple of my new classes so far, I’ve already learned a few things, mostly unrelated to the actual course material:

  1. I have a terrible habit of comparing myself to people.

    I’ve never been an outwardly competitive person, never one to do extra credit or work extra hard to get a leg up on everyone else. Even so, I admit I have this innate desire to be better than EVERYONE at EVERYTHING. In school I was frequently singled out for my work or seated comfortably at the top of the class, and I had attention lobbed at me even though I didn’t go out of my way to attract it. Needless to say, though I hate to admit it and would never declare it outright, I got a bit of a swelled head from this constant recognition, and even came to expect it despite my not working particularly hard for it. So it’s humbling and somewhat frustrating, for instance, to take a drawing class and realize I’m not actually great at nuanced, realistic drawing, and even worse, other people are better than me at it! GASP! HEAVEN FORBID! I’d like to think of myself as a more gracious, less petty person, but the truth is when I am not the star pupil I get a bit of a knot in my stomach, courtesy of a little green-eyed monster with, I imagine, a bad haircut and bad breath. Not good, lady. Stop it. Jealousy and self-importance do not become you!
    Not my best work…
  2. Everyone reminds me of someone (and this probably means I watch too much TV).
    In both of these classes, I’ve had such a sense of deja vu with some of my fellow students, I have to stop and consider that I may be in a weird time warp, or the Matrix: Ah, I know who this woman looks like! She’s Ron Swanson’s girlfriend, how bizarre! Or I’m sure I’ve seen her somewhere else. Did we go to school together? Maybe she works in town somewhere? Or THIS LADY LOOKS LIKE A PIXAR CHARACTER AND OH MY GOD I CAN’T STOP STARING AT HER WHY IS SHE A LIVING CARTOON I NEED TO DRAW HER IMMEDIATELY. It’s freaking me out.
    This does not accurately capture her cartoonishness, and it’s driving me nuts!
  3. Classroom shyness doesn’t go away with age.
    In school, I always used to get embarrassed on behalf of teachers when they asked a question and were met with blank-faced silence from the students. Sometimes those silences would go on for so long, the discomfort in the room became almost a separate entity: a nervous, throat-clearing little creature scuttling around the room with its eyes darting, waiting to be put out of its misery. Of course, even when I knew the answer to the question I wouldn’t come to anyone’s rescue; I was too shy, and not a hand-raiser. Fast-forward a decade later, and guess what? I’m still not a hand-raiser. Despite being a generally more confident human being, that old habit of staying quiet hasn’t died, and apparently that’s not just true for me. Sure, there are always the few people who will talk and talk at any given opportunity, but the majority of students–dare I say, a silent majority–are like me, and let those awkward silences build and stretch out until they are nearly intolerable. Somehow, this is both slightly unnerving and slightly comforting to me.
  4. No matter how worthwhile an experience is, if the drive to get there and back is even remotely challenging, I will kind of, sort of hate it.
    This is pretty self-explanatory. I hate driving, particularly at night, or in heavy traffic, or on complicated routes my spatially-challenged brain can’t remember. Even if I’ve had a great time in a class or at an event, if I spend the whole drive home white-knuckled with my teeth gritted, forget it. Bad mood and crippling anxiety for the rest of the night! (This is legitimately one of the reasons I don’t do a lot of things that are more than a few miles away from home. I can’t express strongly enough how much I hate driving. Blech. Uck. Nope! Please to be stopping now.)

These are all incidental lessons, obviously, and I am indeed learning some actual new skills at the same time. While I hate the commuting, and fighting the inertia to get up and go out after a full day of work, I’m still glad to be taking the initiative and giving my brain some new experiences to chew on. When the brain is stretched and dragged out of its comfort zone, that can only be a good thing. So here’s to continuing the stretch! Except not tonight. Tonight I’m going home and lying down on the couch like a slug because it’s Friday and I can. So there. Yes.