The Recap – July 2019

July is a blur. Not even a blur, really. More a collection of images stamped in my brain, flashes of days spent wallowing and letting myself off the hook for my lack of productivity. I read a lot, watched a lot of TV, and played a lot of video games. I gave myself permission to immerse myself in the misery of sudden, unexpected unemployment.

Not my finest month, by any stretch.

July Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
    • Narp. I did revise one chapter, but there’s like, eight of them, so… not what we’d call a success.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. I at least didn’t allow my complete lack of motivation keep my stories from getting work done. All three are still out.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Nope. I did read two from Transcendent 2 though.
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
    • Nope. I did make some great progress, all things considered. Maybe about halfway? I’m calling it Whales in my head, but the actual title is The Lament of Kivu Lacus.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I at least managed to do this! I read six titles in July, most of them Nonfiction about running libraries. But it’s still reading! I did a thing!

Monthly Word Count: 1,720

I’m working really hard not to be too critical of myself for this past month. When I look at all the inconsistency, how I ghosted on the blog a couple of times, how I couldn’t rely on myself to put my ass in the chair and get work done… it feels bad. My office door was closed most of this month, and almost all of my computing happened from the couch. Granted, some of that was fiction writing, but still. It feels gross.

But, I also know that summer is not a great time for me, historically. I’ve never been let go from a job before, let alone one that meant so much to me, and it was a serious blow to my self-esteem. Which is ridiculous since it was a city-wide layoff. But, my brain can tell me how ridiculous I’m being all damn day, my heart won’t hear it. At least not until it’s wallowed and had entirely too much ice cream.

Stomachaches provide clarity, apparently.

So, what did I do all month? I read a lot, taking notes, planning displays and programs, planting seeds for some networking, and doing the HR on-boarding sort of stuff for the school district. I binged Veronica Mars, The Great British Baking Show, watched more movies than I have in years, and played Red Dead Redemption II. I did a lot of chores. There was a weekend in Bend too, to celebrate our anniversary.

For some that looks like a nice summer vacation. For me it reeks of depression. All that downtime and I only wrote 1700 words? Yikes. I didn’t even apply for the Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship. I couldn’t muster the energy.

But, today I opened my new planner (July 2019-June 2020) and wrote in all my holidays and non-working days (school schedules are whack, y’all), and I’m feeling prepared and dare I say inspired?

Well, not quite inspired. Maybe intrigued. There’s a little simmer of interest bubbling up in me. I don’t know what it will lead to, but I’ll do my best not to smother it.

August Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whales rough draft
  • Keep reading!

Yep. Those are the goals from last month. They’re good goals. All things I really want to work on. I don’t know how realistic it is to try and do them all the same month I’m starting at a whole new job, but I doubt it could be a worse performance than July. It’s worth striving for.

That optimism alone is refreshing. I just may be on an upswing, Bloggos.

I’d really like to get back into hiking as well this month. July was just such an oddly social, yet so very shut in month. It was all contradictions and self-guilt and escapism. I’m ready to leave that all behind and get back to work.

I’ll be back around with either a reading recap or a book review or something tomorrow.

Until then, Blogland.

 

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 24

Hey Blogland!

This last week was… not what I expected. Hopefully I can regroup and see some productivity this week.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading something
  • Write two tumblr prompts
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
    • For the first time this year, I did not meet this goal.
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • Nope. Actually, I wrote zero words on The Steel Armada last week.
  • Finish reading something
    • Yes? I was hesitant to count it, because it was fanfic, but I read a total of 268,649 words, which is roughly 1,000 pages. I figure that, if I’m counting my fanfic writing towards word count goals, fanfic should count for reading goals too. Even if it doesn’t count for the actual Goodreads Reading Challenge.
  • Write two tumblr prompts
    • No. But, I did write one of them, so that was good!
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yes! The one thing I can always count on to get done.

Weekly Word Count: 1,653

So what the heck happened? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I think I’m a little depressed? My eating habits these last couple weeks have been dismal, I have zero drive to get anything done, and I spent all my time playing Horizon Zero Dawn and reading related fanfic.

HZD Sundom CLimb

I talked about it with a friend on Saturday, which I think really helped. It also got me out of the house and into the sun, which also really helped. I realized that the majority of my life’s traumas have occurred in the summertime. The deaths of loved ones, turbulent times financially and emotionally. And, it’s such a constant for me that I think my mind is prepping itself for stress. I’m shutting down preemptively.

So, now I just have to combat it. I’m trying to keep doing my normal activities. Monday night is movie night, so I went to my friend’s house and we watched Twin Peaks. We’re on season two and I am real confused. But I’m really enjoying it.dale cooper coffee

We finally finished tilling the front yard, and have now seeded the lawn. I’m looking forward to grass out front, I think it will really make the house look much nicer. I got plenty of sunshine and exercise this weekend thanks to more yard work, and I think it’s a large reason of why I feel so much better so far this week.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day of The Steel Armada
  • Write 2 tumblr prompts
  • Finish listening to Side Jobs
  • Write 500 words of Sanctuary
  • Review Madhu’s pages

That’s a lot of bullet points, especially when I achieved so little last week. But, I’m feeling hopeful? I guess? I feel like there are a lot of question marks in my head right now, but I’ll never get rid of them if I don’t try to do the things I want to. So, I’m setting the bar high. You know, shoot for the stars and all that.

I’ve already written one tumblr prompt and I think my week immersed in Horizon Zero Dawn was actually good for me. It turned off my brain for a little while, let me absorb a new story in a way that didn’t feel like work. Maybe I should track the games I play each year, like I do reading? Hmm, food for thought.

HZD Hearts

Anyway, the plan is to buckle down and do a lot of writing this week on various projects. Gotta get those creative juices flowing again. If I can pull myself away from gaming long enough to do so…

I have some nebulas blog post ideas for this week, so you should see me back her sometime closer to the weekend. I’m working extra hours this week as well, so my time will be at a premium.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

If I’m Being Honest

Okay. I’m here. I’m back in my office and I’ve updated my whiteboard for the first time in over a month. And I have to say, it feels really good. I’ve been out of sorts for months now, really since March. I have learned that I am a creature of habit, more so than I already acknowledged, and this summer has put forth a concerted effort to keep me from doing anything in any semblance of routine.

Week-long video game binges, my husband lost his job, two of my biggest music icons took their own lives, my best friend almost died, and then we had extended house guests for the first time in my life. Coupled with applying, interviewing, and being denied two full time positions at my work and really I’m just a ball of rubber-bands stretched too tight: one has got to snap eventually.

I think the only thing that kept me from snapping was all the fanfic I wrote, and the friends I made on tumblr because of it. Since mid-April, I’ve written 168,799 words of fanfiction. Just… let that number sink in. 168 THOUSAND 799 words.

Of fanfiction.

I’m still trying to convince myself that’s okay. Anyone I talk to in my personal life or online seems to find it incredible and awesome. Thanks guys! But, my writer brain is still royally pissed that all that effort and output went to fanfiction.

But, if I’m 100% honest, I really LOVED writing it, and I fully intend to finish it before the end of the year. Also, I’m going to continue to write small prompts and drabbles, because they are fun, and I need writing to be fun still. Also, this year has shown me that I am absolutely capable of writing a novel in a month (if it’s a short one).

I’m not good at being honest with others when it comes to my mental health. I internalize everything, and I am usually the “solid” person in my circle of friends. I give advice and keep my shit together. So, when I start to break under pressure, or when my mind is trying to sabotage me, I don’t feel like I have anyone to tell, other than my husband. And even then, he had just as tough a summer as I did so it was easy to convince myself not to make things harder on him by being completely honest. So, I drop hints that I’m not feeling myself, to which he’s receptive, and we commiserate about our mild depression.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling isolated, raw, and like a useless piece of shit. And it’s all my own fault. I know it is. I could just talk to someone, and feel one hundred times better. I KNOW this. And now I understand why so many people never suspect the depths of their loved ones’ depression, why so many suicides are so shocking. Because, you can KNOW what you need to do to fix things, to make yourself feel better, and it doesn’t matter. You can know it, but you’re powerless to either find the right words, or time, or simply the energy to bring it up.

I want to note that, the fact that I’m here, talking about this means I’m feeling much better and am confident that I am on the path to getting back to my old self. I also want to state that at no point this summer did I contemplate any sort of self-harm. I was/am depressed, for the first time in a way that was recognizable to me, and that has shone a light on what it must be like to battle these feelings constantly. I understand now, in my own small way, how exhausting it must be and how incredibly lonely, even if you’re good at putting on a brave face and doing things to convince others you’re okay.

I understand, and I’m so sorry anyone has to put up with these constant feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing, and loneliness. And I know that, for many people, it doesn’t end. There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, where someday you’ll feel good again and actually want to do something productive with your time.

And I’m so sorry, I wish I knew better how to help.

But, I’m seeing that light now, and I’m gifted days of incredible output and energy. I fully intend to make good on them.

So, later this week I will be back to talk about Proven Guilty. I’ve made some goals for the rest of the week, and if they go well, I’ll be back on Monday to do a goals summary for the first time in over six months!

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

Book Review- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Hello again,

I want to start by acknowledging that this book carries a lot of weight with a lot of people. It’s resonant and revered. And if I’d read it when I was sixteen it would have been one of those books that shaped me. It would have reached in and stirred me up, leaving me different by the time I was through.
Perksofbeingwallflower1

Almost ten years too late, it still had an effect, just a much smaller one.

I do want to say that, in general, I’ve been sort of raw around the edges lately. I think it’s mainly because of Shadows of Self, and how much that ending hurt me. But watching Attack on Titan, barely sleeping, and constantly bouncing between my two jobs and school assignments has me frayed.

Music helps, but it hurts too. Songs like Hozier’s Work Song make me cry while I drive to work. And I’m not sure if, at the end, I’m relieved or ashamed. Probably a little of both.

Anyway, Chbosky’s only novel is disarming in its straightforward and genuine narrator. Charlie writes a series of letters during the course of his Freshman year of high school to an anonymous recipient. There he shares his experiences and struggles as he tries to “participate”.

You see, Charlie is pretty… well… fucked up. His best and only friend killed himself over the summer, he has anger issues, and seems overly sensitive, crying at the drop of a hat.

But, the letters show us his efforts to be a good friend and learn how to interact with people, especially the opposite sex. You can’t help but to love Charlie, and you fall in love with Patrick and Sam because, through Charlie’s eyes, they are perfect. Infinite.

Now, without giving away the biggest part of the book, just know that this book is pretty dark, and it depicts teenagers doing all kinds of things that adults think they shouldn’t, but in reality they do. Experimenting with drugs, drinking, gambling, sex. You name it, Charlie knows someone who’s done it before.

I think it’s Charlie’s innocent narration of such dark events that makes the novel so striking. And it’s the same thing that makes the beautiful, bright moments so unforgettable.

As I mentioned before, this was a selection for Book Club. I was the only one who genuinely enjoyed reading it. I read it in two days, taking my time to absorb Charlie’s simple yet striking prose. The other Clubbers struggled to pick it up, and had to fight to finish it in time.

It was also interesting, because two of us really identified with Charlie, mainly because of his incredible introspection. His attention to details and feelings hooked me, because I’m that way, and was even more so as a teen.
The-perks-of-being-a-wallflower

But, one Clubber said she had a hard time reading the novel because she found his intuitive introspection unbelievable, especially for a sixteen year old. Which then floored the two of us who really “clicked” with that aspect of Charlie’s character.

One girl, though she identified with Charlie, was super angry at the end of the story. Angry at how all those around Charlie never noticed, never bothered to ask him, or offer to help him. That they took his presence and his giving nature for granted.

Whereas, come the end of the story, I didn’t feel that way at all. I just felt sad. Not upset, not numb, or raw. Just pure sad. Which was kind of nice. Feelings are often so convoluted, mingling together and confusing me. To have one true, unbastardized emotion at the hands of a paperback was freeing.

I think it’s amazing that a 213 page novel could be so different to each of us.

I don’t want to paint this book in too dark a light. It is heavy, to be sure, but there are a lot of light, happy moments too. And because of the dark themes and subjects, those happy moments are really bright and important.

I will say that I think a second read-through would really be a benefit, because you could read between the lines of all his letters, knowing the ending, and find the truth obscured just behind them.

Anyway, thinking it all over again is making me sad. And not in that pure and freeing kind of way. I think I’m too raw now. There’s too much other stuff knocking around in my brain to leave enough space for pure, sad thoughts.

If you want resonance, if you want a poignant story that will cling to you, but you don’t want to be happy about it, then I suggest you give The Perks of Being a Wallflower a chance.

I’m grateful that I did.

BZ