New Year’s Resurrections

Happy New Year, everyone.  If you’re still feeling the after-effects of your New Year’s celebration, you should contact a doctor.  And Guinness World Records, because that’s one truly impressive hangover in terms of endurance.

I’m subscribing to the no-New-Year’s-resolution-here school of thought this year, because my New Year’s resolutions never really stuck in that they didn’t exist a lot of years.  Honestly, I can’t remember half of them.  Okay.  More than half of them.  I don’t remember most of my resolutions.  Moving along.  The short version is I’m going to take 2014 and give it a chance to not be 2013, because that guy was a real asshat.  I’m going to make sure, one way or another, I have a kickass year in 2014.  2014 knows I’m willing to resort to outrageous, cartoonish physical violence to keep it in line (that calender will never know what hit it).

More writing must happen!  My notebook featuring the Joshua’s Nightmares notes keeps reminding me I’ve been a lazy little shit.  Motivation would elude me here.  Sleepiness would creep up on me there.  Did I mention laziness?  The point is I’m going to work harder on being a self-motivated, strong writer who actually writes.  My wealth of notebooks need the appropriate level of love, and I’ve got enough tea to accompany about a thousand years worth of writing.  I wish that were an exaggeration.  I’ve got tea knocking the tea off of my cabinets because its being displaced by other tea.  And whiskey.

Naturally, I work bright and early tomorrow, but I promise more regular updates, some short stories here and there, and better efforts at getting things published because I need to actually make those efforts if I ever hope to accomplish anything as a writer.

Once again, I wish you all a happy, healthy, and, yes, belated New Year.  I only feel a little guilty for it being this late because it’s already crossed the social threshold from “what a thoughtful sentiment” to “well-wishes from someone who clearly spent the start of the year hiding out in some Doomsday-proof bunker”.

Taking a moment to give thanks

I could go on for hours, easily, about how much I cannot stand the abrupt transition from Halloween to Christmas.  It’s partially a selfish thing, as my birthday falls around Thanksgiving (and yes, occasionally, on Thanksgiving).  Black Friday, shopping at all hours, and getting every new gadget and whatsit on the market before everyone else has become such an important thing, and something about that has come to bother me to such a degree that even just typing about it twists my stomach up a bit.  Yes, this is coming from someone who had waited in line in hopes of getting a Nintento Wii years back.

Moving along.  I’ve done my fair share of bitching and moaning this year.  It has certainly been a year of stress and loss, and I have had days when all I wanted to do was cover the windows to get that dark-as-midnight kind of darkness in my room, pull the covers around me nice and tight, and not deal with anything.  I am still grieving over losing Missy earlier this summer, and now I’ve got to deal with Mackenzie, one of my family’s other dogs, passing away recently.

I mention these things because I have so much to be thankful for.  This might get to sounding a little preachy at times.  Not intentionally, of course, but this veers away from my usual writing to a point where it might do things it wasn’t meant to.

As I was saying, I have so much to be thankful for.  Not just the good things in my life, mind you, but the bad ones as well.  Without the bad things, I could perhaps lose sight of just how good the good things in my life really are, and that would be a real shame I think.

I am thankful for having such a strong support system; for a family that supports me through everything, even though I can be a bit much to deal with at times with the snark and sarcasm.  I am equally thankful for Brianne’s family (and, of course, Brianne as well) being so good to me, since living two hours away from everything I knew all my life can be a bit terrifying at times.  I am thankful for my two cats and my dog back home with my family, even though I am still so lost without Missy and Mackenzie (who were, beyond any doubt, two of the greatest dogs in the history of all existence as far as I am concerned).

I am thankful for my friends who are always there for me, when I’m at my best or when I’m at my worst, because they’re the people I know I can always count on.  I’m just as thankful for my friends who haven’t always been there for me, because they’ve reminded me of the importance of being able to stand on my own at times.  Life beyond college has proved to be such a tricky beast, and the things it has shown me about people have been rather eye-opening.

I am thankful for the job I have, and the pay and benefits it provides me with, because it has made it possible for me to move out and start to work on becoming a proper, responsible adult (I mean, as responsible as I can possibly be).  I’m truly thankful for the people I met because of this job, or gotten to know better because of it, because they’re all right in their own rights.  I’m also thankful for the hardships it has put me through, because I’m still here after dealing with them.  Even if a lot of the work-stress has been caused by avoidable situations.

The list could go on and on, really.  Just remember, whether you’re gunning for a new XBOX One, a tremendous flatscreen that would look perfect in your man-cave, or whatever, to take a moment–at the very least, a moment–to be thankful.  If I’ve learned nothing else from this past year, it’s how life is far too short, and so many things that seem like they will be there forever tend to go away much, much too soon.

More importantly, I’d like to wish an early, but very happy, healthy Thanksgiving to everyone out there in the vastness of the Internet.  I hope you all have time to stuff yourselves with delicious food, and spend quality time with family.

A bit of writing laryngitis

Or “How I seem to occasionally misplace my voice”.

I have some very bad writing habits.  That’s to say I’m still figuring out what constitutes good writing habits, since there are so many different opinions on the subject.  Not writing regularly, mind you, is certainly not a good writing habit by any  means.  It’s something I’ve not done nearly as regularly as I would like since I graduated from college.  Because of that, I’ve noticed something when I do get around to writing.  It’s one of those creeping realizations that sneaked up and slapped me good and hard upside my (admittedly, at times, somewhat dense head).

I’m losing my voice.

One of the things stressed by a number of my writing professors (or, at the very least, by a number of professors I took seriously and respected a great deal) was the importance of writing often so as to establish and preserve one’s writing voice.  Mine’s changed a great deal from early high school writings, where the strongest tool I had at my disposal was the ability to completely bullshit a persuasive essay with the standard distanced voice high school papers seemed to call for.

The last post, for instance, didn’t quite feel right.  There was something about it that registered, for me at least, as the croaky gasps I’m stuck trying to use to convey my thoughts when I’m losing my voice.  I had gotten accustomed to having a certain ease with writing with my relatively relaxed, somewhat snarky, tone, adding in parenthetical asides here and there as they felt necessary.  The writing, itself, isn’t any more or less difficult; I just seem more prone to distractions and letting the big, bad world of real life push my writing to the backburner.  And then off of the stove completely.  On a similar note, having a small cat walk across the keyboard, only stepping on the WiFi toggle button, is very distracting indeed.

I was honestly going somewhere with this, but then the magical process of me opening Microsoft Word and getting to work happened.

Don’t drink the water (and other recent events)

I’m doing that thing again where I try too hard to compel myself to write, only to become frustrated with the efforts I make.  I end up shutting down as a result.  This revelation brought to you by the on-again, off-again functionality of my left Shift key, which has seen more than its fair share of use in college writing.  Good old Satellite 5 (why yes, my computer is named in reference to something from Doctor Who).  More on the writing stuff in a couple of paragraphs.  A pair o’ paragraphs?  A herd of the written word?  I’m not sorry, but I’ll stop.  For now.

This has been a strange month, with more parts frustrating than good.  The sighs of relief were, by and large, outnumbered by the groans of frustration, and I have taken so many trips to my Happy Place (to those of you in the know: no, it does not involve a place where I go to set fire to my enemies, thank you very much) I’ve taken up dual citizenship.  My car was deemed totaled, and then through the good graces and unending kindness of my parents it was replaced (I got their car, they got a new car, and everyone but the environment won out I suppose).  There were two instances in which I was double-charged in a way that left my bank account missing at least $200.  Not many people I know are all right with that kind of money just floating about in Limbo, and I am not such a person.  Those problems were, in time, reversed.  Most importantly, or at least I’d like to think, I’ve taken the pile of good things and bad things this month has provided me with and understood that the bad things didn’t make the good ones any less good, and the good didn’t make the bad any less significant.  More Doctor Who references.

My household also welcomed a second kitten, now named Meowiarty.  He’s an extremely affectionate little kitty who moves with the speed of lightning and all the grace of someone who is about ten beers past their limit (read as: lots of magical moments featuring little M headbutting walls).  I mention his speed, specifically, because his ability to suddenly be places he hadn’t been moments before resulted in nearly getting shut in the fridge today.  He is also co-authoring this post, sporadically running across the keyboard.  That’s totally where the typos are coming from.  Not me at all.  Probably.
Speaking of authoring and co-authoring and writing and so on (I’m being lazy with transitions; just go with it, people), my good friend, all-around entertaining guy, horror movie enthusiast, and author of “Beauties in the Deep”, Zachary T. Owen, has asked me to contribute something to what I think is still a super-secret project.  I mean, in hindsight I could’ve always asked him how secret this is, but this is mostly a chance to point out how it’s close to Halloween.  There’s no better treat to give, to others or yourself, than a copy of “Beauties in the Deep”.

Unless you give it to someone who is easily frightened, in which case it’s the perfect trick to play.  Win-win situation, I think. The plan, as of now, is to at least have one short spooky story, minus the alliteration, posted as a Halloween treat.  Or, in the event I don’t deliver, I can always say it was a trick.  Joking.  Only joking.  I can think of a handful of people who wouldn’t let me live such antics down.

Funny enough: I almost forgot to include any explanation for the title, which was part of why this post is happening to begin with.  Drawing upon my half-hearted reporting skills I learned from one semester of hating my life-choices at Point Park University, I will take a moment to relay recent Hollidaysburg news.  Some asshole left what is being called a “vague threat” (note: the quotation marks are crucial, as they appear in most mentions of this “threat”), and so I’ve been advised against using tap water all weekend long.  Something about bomb threats in Hollidaysburg, too, but I feel like any explosions would have to be cleared as historically appropriate so as to not affect Hollidaysburg’s overall historical aesthetic.

It’s about time I wrapped up this collection of comments, or perhaps these meandering musings, since I’ve got to go back to what amounts to herding cats before a vet appointment.

Still living out of boxes and bags

I’m officially moved in and renting like a proper twenty-something with a degree.  I’ve been officially moved in since the 16th of last month, but it’s been a very busy couple of weeks in a number of ways.  To be fair, this is the first time I’ve really up and moved anywhere beyond the to-and-from of college, and it’s been an experience to say the least.

Central Pennsylvania is absolutely beautiful.  I mean this in the scenic, could-be-on-postcards sense.  I think that’s what makes the trip between Pittsburgh and here so tolerable.  Lots of mountains and trees and so on.

What I’d like to say is I waited to post until I could boast I survived my very first rent payment.  This is partially true.  It’s more of a “I’m still adjusting to the new location, both in terms of living situation and job” thing, really.  This post is really just an excuse to write again, because I’ve been doing a lot of joking about how I’m doing such a great job lately of making use of my higher education in writing by doing no writing at all.  I could list the excuses of being tired and busy and so on, but I can’t really consider those valid excuses at this point in time.

Oh.  And I’m still looking out for any eccentric billionaires who would like to make me extraordinarily wealthy on some impossible to explain personal whim.  Any takers?  No?  Worth a shot.

Unwanted, previously unplanned, hiatus

Life lessons, I’ve found, are the sort of things that sneak upon me, tap me on the shoulder, then hit me over the head with large, usually blunt, objects.  Sometimes I come away from such events with a fresh, new view on some aspect(s) of my life.  Or a greater appreciation for what I have.

And sometimes I go away from them understanding why I have developed a taste for single barrel whiskey.

For instance: moving out for the first time since going to college is actually a pretty involved and taxing process.  It could be that way because I have spent a fairly substantial amount of time at work, which gave me enough leisure time to eat and sleep in less-than-equal measure (spoilers: a three hour nap between shifts does not constitute a full-night’s rest).

Short version: I’m pretty well burned out from taking on weird, longer-than-expected shifts at work and trying to pack my stuff up for moving it two hours east.  Not a huge move, but let’s all take a moment to consider how I am made up of 10% planning and 90% crippling neuroses.  I would say 25,000% neuroses, one for each year I have been alive, but I’m told by people with a higher-than-my-basic grasp of mathematics you can’t actually exceed 100%.  Which is horseshit.  Moving along…

I’m forcing myself to take an official hiatus until my move happens and I’m at least somewhat settled in.  From there, and getting my new schedule, I’m going to work on making time for actual, proper writing, instead of excusing myself for choosing sleeping over creating (when it could have been the other way around, really).  Through the magic of scheduling posts, this should be appearing on the 12th.  My laptop will, at that point, be two hours away from me because I don’t feel like hauling it back and forth one more time when I will be needing all the space I can use in my car.  It will provide invaluable insulation to keep in the streams of expletives I will no doubt be spewing by the time I reach the seventy-mile line of traffic leading to the Squirrel Hill Tunnels (and if you have ever driven the Parkway East or West in/around Pittsburgh, during any point near rush hour, you are probably nodding in agreement because A TWO LANE HIGHWAY THROUGH A MAJOR CITY IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE A SHITTY IDEA).

Thanks to my regular reader(s) for their patience, apologies to newcomers who might think I’m the flakiest writer in the blogosphere (and can we all just agree that’s a terrible word, because it is), and hopefully I won’t manage to drive off the road in a way that ends in a Michael Bay-esque explosion during my actual move this Friday.

Next post, after this one, should arrive from historical Hollidaysburg.  Unless I decide to post something from my phone between then and now, effectively making this line into a lie.  Potentially scandalous content?  Who knows.

The Good, the Bad, and the Additional Misadventures

First and foremost, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate how the next four days are my own little mini-vacation.  Mini-cation?  Whatever.  The important take-home point is I don’t have to work the next four days.  Huzzah!  A recap of my recent misadventures, and some more writing-related stuff (which coincides with a lot of boring, non-writing stuff, I’m afraid).

First, we have the Good.  Finally, after much scheduling and rescheduling hijinks on my part, I’ve interviewed Hello, The Future about her album Giant Robot Album, which is kind of a big deal.  The album far more so than the interview.  I’ll be making a post surrounding that, which can be expected by some point on Monday.  That way I can do the post justice.  And still manage to cater to having a house full of guests.  The house full of guests is part of another good thing, however, since it’s a bunch of relatives here for the express purpose of celebrating my not-so-recently married cousin’s wedding (reception).

The Bad…Last week, I worked seventy-eight and a half hours.  Overall, I worked sixteen days straight.  These are things I was not quite prepared for, though I do have serious doubts there is an effective way to prepare for such things.  Some days I worked nine hours.  Some I worked over sixteen.  Mostly, I ended up completely burnt out, which isn’t really productive for someone who is both trying to be creative.  Or pack everything he owns for a move that is rapidly approaching.  I also had to have my dog Missy put to sleep this past Wednesday, which was, and still is, extremely painful.  There’ll be a post to follow this one in which I get a bit emotional and miss my puppy.

Thankfully, things seem to be calming down to the point where I can at least start trying to plan out uses for time other than working and sleeping (today, by the way, was spent finishing an overnight shift, sleeping, and then working again, so that doesn’t count).  I should clarify that I’m very happy to have a decent-paying job with all the benefits it comes with, as I’m aware I am indeed fortunate in that sense.

In any event, at least I didn’t accidentally fall off of the planet or something.  I’m sure I’ll manage that at some point later.

I’m not actually dead, I promise

I just seem to have fallen off of the face of the planet because I sort of did for a bit there, and it was mostly because I have (pause for dramatic effect) burned myself out quite thoroughly.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in Relay for Life, and it was an entirely spectacular experience.  Alternatively, I also worked a seventeen hour shift not that long ago and I am still, in fact, recovering from it.

Basically, I need to let myself slowly revive because I can’t produce anything when I have no creative drive whatsoever.  It seems like a really obvious thing there until you’re trying to ignore that problematic bit of information by, say, insisting on continuing a very work-heavy project while putting in around 50 hours a week.

The plan from here: Short Story a Week will receive a reboot at a point I’ll figure out later.  Since it’s being rebooted, it will start back at Story Number 1, which is painful to think about right now.  However, it was an amazingly fun challenge until everything suddenly went belly-up and starting stinking of failure, so I stand by my desire to make that happen.

The interview with a musician has been postponed (clearly) because of scheduling difficulties, in that I apparently retained nothing from my brief stint as a journalist..

Oh, and then there’s the whole “working on getting ready to move out on my own for the first time” thing going on in August, when I’m moving to Hollidaysburg.  Exciting stuff.

However, I have had a dreadful, awful, miserable bad day today, and so I am due for some Netflix and Animal Crossing: New Leaf therapy.

Catching up at my own rate

I feel a bit lazy admitting this, though I feel that could be laziness misplaced by my not feeling like writing today, but the Short Story backlog will probably grow a little more.  Just a little.  There’s a bottle of bourbon and a shiny new copy of Animal Crossing New Leaf calling out my name, and my day off has very politely requested, in the form of perpetual sleepiness, that it is a day off of everything.  And so it goes, right?

However, I am not without good news.  Far from it, in fact.  I have decided, in the spirit of at least keeping my Short Story a Week project news kind of up-to-date, to share the topics.  I know.  News of earth-shattering importance, of course.

The short story from two weeks ago (I know, I’m doing rubbish) is tentatively titled “The Feeling of Falling” and takes place on an orbital colony built in the heart of Jupiter’s massive, never-ending hurricane.  The other missing short story is about an AI who becomes self-aware, then speaks out on the news about how he (and his fellow self-aware computers) just want to fit in.

I also have another something on the way that I won’t announce beforehand (I know, that’s really awful of me, but the wait will be completely worth it).  I will admit it’s an interview with someone who happens to be a musician, and I am truly happy to have such an opportunity to feature it here.  The rest will have to wait until some point next week.

With that all being said, I have a bottle of 1792 Ridgemont Reserve waiting impatiently.

Oh, and one other thing before I forget: for those of you who haven’t, it’s a pretty good idea to go check out Full Blown Cranium’s debut album, “Cacophony of Weirdos”.  Click here, then follow the respective iTunes or Amazon links.  If you’re not fully convinced this is a great idea simply by me saying it is, check out the previews of each song (available on iTunes; possibly on Amazon, but I don’t actually use Amazon Music so I can’t say for sure).  I could have just as easily linked to the iTunes and Amazon stores respectively, but I also whole-heartedly recommend checking out Eric’s blog as well.

New stories soon (I promise), an AWESOME interview with an artist who will be revealed then so you can go buy even more great music, and more of my usual shenanigans, because without my misadventures this page would just be “in Fiction”, and that’s not as catchy.