Writing letters (again)

My day off wasn’t much of a day off in that I spent two hours of it at work. There was also the small matter of the landlord having the smoke detectors and CO2 detector, which is certainly a good thing. Other than those things, however, I did manage to find time to relax a bit. Took a nice nap to ease a not-so-nice headache.

Oh, and I bought a fountain pen this past Sunday as a part of my last hoorah from vacation. It was a less pricey whim decision, only setting me back $20 for a nice fountain pen and six ink cartridges for it. I have already burned through one whole cartridge while using it for writing in my journals. I feared that might have been a waste of the ink, but have since decided that’s not the case.

About the middle of the week, around the point where I was ready to pull my hair out from stress and frustration, I found myself thinking about what to use the fountain pen for again. The obvious answer, which I felt must have been staring at me intently as it waited for this conclusion to be reached, was to write letters with it. This, of course, was a problem because this pen is really good at writing in a way that bleeds through most paper. Instead of sitting down and plotting my next move, I filed the idea away for later.

Today rolled around, and I got a surprise card in the mail from my sister. A birthday-card-turned-whatever-card, it featured a horse-turned-unicorn by way of plunger and had lots of nice things to say about how proud Chrisy is of me. That sparked the need to get off my ass and find something to write on. Walmart, as it turns out, has some nice, affordable stationary. I’ve found even more fun things to do during next month while I’m swearing off social media.

And so it goes: surviving stress…sort of

I figured this post could use as much punctuation in its title as possible, and also I forgot about having to write a post still because I worked the closing shift at work and had all sorts of other things on my mind. None of those things are worth mentioning.

It is, however, worth mentioning that this week has kicked my ass in a way that makes me hesitate to sit down, albeit not in a literal sense. There have been plenty of problems and surprise-issues and so on and so on. I am, surprisingly, the least stressed about these things that went wrong that I have been in a long time. It’s uncharacteristic of me, but also extremely liberating. In a moment of I-wish-I-were-joking so profoundly stupid it might make at least one person’s head explode, the biggest concern on my mind is “I’d really like to get some more time to play Five Nights At Freddy’s”. This is because I’m still stuck on Night 4, and so help me God I’m going to beat that ****ing game. You’re on notice, Bonnie. No more sneaking into my goddamn office and murdering me. Subsequent thoughts are focused on wondering why places like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell don’t deliver this late at night, as I am both hungry and lazy.

These thoughts are worthy of note because I’m normally, especially during stressful weeks, prone to dwelling on shit like it’s not only my job, but my job, my favorite hobbies, and a surprisingly effective form of nourishment. I am so far removed from feeling stressed that being stressed and I presently exist in two separate dimensions.

I’m also tired, I still feel sick, and I have some more cleaning to do before tomorrow morning, so that’s enough of this post.

Motivation from procrastination

This week is proving to be a perfect foil to my vacation last week, and that’s all I’ll say on the matter as just thinking about the past couple days stresses me out in ways that are probably entirely unhealthy. Alternatively, the weather’s been really fantastic this week, to the point that I’m actually not too upset that I’l have to return to mowing the lawn soon. Give it a few weeks and I’m sure I’ll change my tune on that comment (especially since my yard is one giant slope broken up by sporadically placed retaining walls).

Fun fact: this post isn’t really the highest priority I have right now. There’s some cleaning I need to tend to, and there’s the small problem of needing to stop letting my brain turn in on itself in its standard patterns of worrying. There’s also the small problem of me still having an extraordinary lack of motivation to do much writing lately, which continues to feel awful. That needs addressed sooner than later, by the way, but this isn’t really the post for that. See, I have cleaning and other things to tend to, and so suddenly I feel hugely motivated to write tonight’s blog post…about how having other things to do and putting them off are such an impressive driving force in terms of getting other things done.

Seriously. The best motivation for everything else will happen when there’s at least one more pressing thing to do. Especially if that pressing thing has a deadline and the other ideas don’t.

Or you could have the realization that you have several hours before work the next day, that you’re stressing over nothing like usual, and that you should probably be in bed because you’re still starting to get sick (this is a note to self, by the way, but if it’s applicable to any of you go the **** to sleep and feel better).

Back to work, and reflections

Sometimes I change my mind in the middle of typing a title, panic, and try to backspace and change the words before WordPress automatically generates the Permalink for the post. It doesn’t always work out, and depending on the level of laziness I’m experiencing at the time. Tonight was one of those times when I barely managed to backspace the words and correct the title before that happened, so I’ll chalk that up as a victory. After the day I’ve had, it counts. Trust me.

Things worthy of noting before I dive into the reflections part of tonight’s post:

  • I bought a fountain pen yesterday, and I love it. My handwriting isn’t exactly the most legible at all times, but it’s tremendous fun to write with, so that counts for something probably. Also, I feel a need to use it to write letters, so I’ll probably end up doing that at some point.
  • I’m back to maintaining my journal on a relatively nightly basis, because why not?
  • Alternatively, I’m still feeling pretty burnt out on writing otherwise. Fiction is a slow and painful crawl, and I may actually resort to writing personal essays if that keeps up. However, next month’s Facebook, Twitter, and blogging hiatus (I’m going off of made-up math here, as I’m pretty sure the end of this month will be past the Hundred Days of Blogging 2.0 mark) is sure to help things out. Or drive me mad from addiction withdrawal. Time will tell.

Right. Today kicked my ass something fierce, as I returned to work to face several issues that gathered in a way that resulted in me working a nearly eleven hour day. I realize this is something a good few people do on a regular basis, and it’s nothing really new to me either. It’s more that I just returned from a magnificent week of vacation, and even though I built up to going back to work by cleaning up around the house over the days prior to this return I still was not ready for quite this much…well, work. I’m a weird mix of exhausted, hungry, and grumpy (that last one is from a headache, which I can confirm is thanks to a mix of sinus problems and my unfortunate habit of clenching my jaw when people irritate me).

However, as a counter to such things, I’ve taken to making a point to find magic in little things and writing down thoughts on as much in a notebook. It’s for my eyes only, which removes any pressure I might otherwise feel about it needing to be reader-worthy or publisher-worthy. The kind of freedom this notebook allows me is all sorts of great, and I think it will prove an effective means of staying positive despite my tendency towards cynicism. (What? Me, cynical? No ****ing way, right?)

The idea seemed even more appropriate because I’m writing this stuff down in my Mickey Mouse Moleskine notebook, which is probably a bit magic itself. I’m also using my shiny new fountain pen. I should probably be embarrassed that I spent $20 on a pen, on a whim, but it was easily the highlight of my day yesterday. In other words, it was totally worth it.

Finality, or how complete is complete enough?

Happy Sunday, folks. Or, as I’m looking at it: God damn it, it’s Sunday already? It is officially the first day of the week I return to work after a wonderful, fantastic, enjoyable week of vacation. I spent a good deal of said vacation in Carnegie, with a fair chunk of these past few days doing some of the most intense Spring cleaning I’ve ever forced myself through. I feel like I crammed more than one week’s worth of living into my vacation-week, which is probably the most refreshing thing ever. Seriously, I can’t even joke that I’m being insincere there, as I think I inadvertently conquered at least three parallel worlds over the past seven days. Related: I’m trying very hard to not take a nap presently, which is a battle I might lose. The only thing keeping me from snoozing for a bit is my reminder to myself that it’s almost 5p.m. already, and that there are so few precious hours between now and having to go to work tomorrow morning.

Today’s post is about video games, and I’m only a little sorry for that. During the cleaning process, unpacking some of the things that managed to stay in boxes this long, I found my copy of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. Theatrhythm is a delightful rhythm game for the 3DS, featuring three game modes that allow players to gradually progress from a strong hatred to a rote memorization of some of their former favorite Final Fantasy music. Joking aside, it is great fun. It’s also a really effective way to lose track of several hours. Stages featuring battle music also feature enemies that you fight by doing well with the game’s mechanics. The enemies who show up seem somewhat randomized.

Seeing Kefka pop up, all tiny and goofy looking, got me back to thinking about Final Fantasy VI. It was the first Final Fantasy game I saw through to completion (don’t judge, damn it), and by completion I mean 100% completion. I had every possible character. Not only did I defeat Kefka, but I went back and fought Ultima Weapon, the eight elemental dragons, and beat Kaiser Dragon (one of the most unnecessarily difficult boss fights ever) as well as the other optional bosses. It was the Gameboy Advance version, so for all I know there are more sidequests and crap in a later iteration of this game. I thoroughly enjoyed it with a passion and enthusiasm similar to how I loathed the last few parts of Final Fantasy X (those last bosses sure were…something). Because I’ve so thoroughly defeated Final Fantasy VI, I don’t really have it in me to start again in a world where I don’t have everyone dual-wielding their most powerful possible weapons. It’s just not worth it to me.

Therein lies the real conundrum. I love the story in Final Fantasy VI, and I loved the sense of victory that came with surviving each subsequent boss battle, but the mindless level-grinding and the few moments when I lost progress thanks to a missed opportunity to Save make me not so sure about going back to a game. This isn’t exclusive to Final Fantasy titles, of course, and it’s a key reason why developers look to adding material for a New Game+ file in their creations; if there’s more to do even after a game is beaten, there’s at least a little replayability.

One nice result from this marathon of cleaning (which, admittedly, still isn’t complete) is that I found some games I still haven’t completed, so I still have plenty of distractions for the limited time I set aside for video games. This, of course, ends up being another factor; with what limited free time I do have that I’m not dedicating to writing, editing, proofreading, sleeping, work, or other things, why would I want to play a game I’ve already beaten when I can choose something new? I realize there is plenty of merit in replaying a game. The problem I seem to have is that I can’t motivate myself to go through something all over again when there are other options (which, really, says a lot about me as a person outside of video games, now that I think about it).

 

Creative fuzziness and beach fantasies

That sounded a lot better in my head than it did in the title bar, but I don’t feel like going back at this point. Laziness wins this round.

Right. So I’m at a particularly frustrating point of stagnation where no new story ideas are really appearing in the murky, soupy goo that is my imagination, but present projects have halted to some degree. I’m continuing to work at them, but I’m also a particular kind of drained that doesn’t want to let up. This is a rare and luxurious time that I am grateful I’m not writing on a deadline or being depended upon by publishers (except for the short Five Nights At Freddy’s piece I need to write after this, which I actually forgot about for a moment there). It’s like turning on the television only to find static on every channel. More easily to relate to: it’s like turning on the television and having a million channels, but nothing to watch. I do have three boxes of Story Cubes (Story Cubes, Story Cubes Actions, and Story Cubes Voyages) that I may start making use of if this dry spell persists. On the plus side, I have returned to writing in my journal. That must count for something, probably.

I’m painfully aware that the best solutions for creative block of any sorts is to keep pushing yourself and creating new content, but that has gotten to be a bit of a monumental task on top of everything else (I’ve been marathon-cleaning my apartment, for instance). I don’t feel particularly guilty for hitting a dry spell and not feeling hugely motivated to fix it so much as I feel frustrated that my brain has chosen to go all soft and empty on me when it did. It’s obviously my brain’s fault, that’s the take-home point here. I really should give the Story Cubes a try, too, so maybe tomorrow will be the day I do exactly that.

As for now, however, I am already thinking fondly of my upcoming trip to the Outer Banks with my family. My mother and stepfather will be renewing their vows this summer, and instead of going on the Alaskan cruise they’ve wanted to go on since the honeymoon they never had they have decided a trip to the beach is in order. Make no mistake: I may be outrageously pale and not fond of the outdoors. Alternatively, I do love going for nighttime walks along the beach, having a private pool where I’m not as self-conscious about being a small hippopotamus, and being in the company of my family in a beach house (where privacy and hiding are both plausible when that company grows tiresome). There will be much reading and writing, too, but also plenty of winding down and enjoying the occasional alcoholic beverage (with or without tiny umbrellas).

Keeping all of that in mind: I still harbor a weird, mostly-irrational fear of the ocean, as I recall one vacation that happened after a hurricane. There were bazillions of jellyfish washed up on the shore and drifting about in the shallow water, and I was convinced they would kill me if I got too close. I never claimed to be a particularly smart person, people.