I’ve Been Doing This For A Year Now

When this post goes up, it will be the last main post of July. There will be one more “Recorded and Reposted” poem going up tomorrow, but that’s been scheduled for well over a month now. More than a couple months, actually, come to think of it. My next post will be the first post of August, which will mean I’ve been doing this for a year. One whole year passed since I started updating this blog again and I did over three hundred new posts. With a few reposts of update poems with attached audio clips. Looking back at 2021, I feel like I’ve made progress in some areas but lost progress in others, but I am fairly certain that’s just my perception tainted by my anxiety.

I would be lying if I said that I don’t feel different. I feel incredibly different. Some of that is just due to my perception of the passage of time. Though it was only about a year ago that I started updating this blog again, it feels like several years have passed. I’m pretty sure I’ve aged five years in the one that passed, thanks to the stress of living in modern US society as our rights are slowly eroded, income equality worsens, and the entire planet continues to glide toward fascism and collapse. Most of the improvements have been in my personal life. I’ve finally started exploring an aspect of my identity that I’ve known about my entire life after finally being able to silence the voices in my head (my parents’ voices) that told me nothing mattered except being the person they’d taught me to be. Aside from one poem I wrote in high school, I’d never expressed any of this stuff to anyone else and barely even allowed myself to think it.

I’m still not sure I’m ready to write about all that any more specifically on my blog, all of the stuff behind why I am to be referred to using they/them pronouns and my explorations of my own identity, but I’m doing a lot of work on that. It’s been nice to take a break from processing trauma in every therapy session to focus on exploring who I am to myself and talk through how to reconcile the first thirty years of my life with my life after that. After all, my sort of blind acceptance of the person I was (as dictated by my parents) also meant that I was able to accept everything I went through in a way I’m struggling to now that I finally FEEL that what my brother and my parents did to me was unacceptable.

I think that working through all of that again is going to be ultimately helpful, since I’ll be properly processing it and accepting myself as having lived through that stuff rather than just accepting that it happened. The former is critical and doesn’t let anyone off the hook while the latter is unquestioning and lets everyone off the hook. Not that it matters much since there’s little that can be done in terms of accountability other than preventing any of them from being a part of my life going forward.

So a lot has happened. I’ve grown a bunch. I hate myself less frequently and while I’m not quite to the point of liking myself that much, I do accept myself most of the time, now. And I’m getting better at speaking up, though the events of the last few days prove that I still have work to do. I need to get better at correcting people. Though I’ve spoken up in a few incredibly difficult situations at work, I’m still having a hard time doing that around my friends. I know they don’t mean it, you know? And I don’t want to make it a thing when most of the time I’m just so damn tired. Still, it’s worth doing and only by correcting people will the need to correct people eventually disappear. After that, anyone using the wrong pronouns in reference to me will be doing it on purpose and I’ll know what kind of person they are as a result. Good stuff.

I still struggle to stick to my creative goals from one week to the next, but I’m defintely more creatively active than I used to. I still actually make monthly progress on my main projects rather than having to speak about yearly progress since I used to go multiple months in a row with no progress. I’m going to keep working on that and hopefully some continued focus on rest and careful spoon management will get me in a position to create more. Or maybe I’ll win the lottery, quit my job, and just create all the time non-stop. What a life that would be.

Anyway, I’ve reflected and muttered on long enough. Here’s to one year completed and the start of a new year after. After all, regardless of everything else that has happened in my life, one of my core character traits has been and will always be a refusal to actually give up. Stop, yes. Give up, no. A small distinction to some people, but an incredibly important one to me.

Lactose Intolerance In America’s Dairyland

(Just a quick CW for mentions of lactose intolerance, dairy, and being sick when those two things come together. No gross details.)

As a US citizen who has always had decent health insurance but not enough spare money to pursue all of my minor ailments to full comprehension, I’ve gotten pretty good at finding ways to deal with minor day-to-day health issues. Now, this practice is no replacement for actual medical aid, nor are my actions entirely without negative consequence (the thing about trial and error is that you get a lot of errors before you find out what works, generally speaking), but as a person living in an imperfect system who is methodical in almost everything they do, I’ve managed to mostly resolve a few minor problems that come up for me. I keep a close watch on them, of course, making sure I’m not ramping up my mitigations without realizing it to account for worsening symptoms because I know there’s a chance that they’ll graduate from minor problems to major problems, but so far this strategy has paid off pretty well for me, all things considered.

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Progress Takes Effort, Which Kinda Sucks

The longer that 2022 goes on, the more I see how my mood on any given day is effected by more factors than I could ever account for. I’ve been working to get into better habits this year and while I’ve made some progress, I don’t feel like my average mood has gotten any better. I feel more productive for sure, but I also feel more tired. No matter what I do, I seem to always wind up trading one thing for something else and making almost no net change to how I’m feeling. For instance, I recently changed my wake-up playlist to music that engenders positive feelings in me, but now I’m having a more difficult time feeling awake and alert because the old songs did an incredibly job of rousing me as the playlist played through. I’m getting out of bed later than usual, but I do feel a bit better in the mornings.

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Space Pictures and Tabletop Roleplaying Games

I love me some space clouds. Thanks to the advances of modern technology, a whole lot of science, and an even greater amount of international cooperation, we now have some pretty fucking cool pictures of space. I can only imagine that more and more pictures from NASA have come out since I wrote this and if I go online for anything over my vacation, it will have been to look at neat pictures of space clouds. I mean, just look at this thing! It’s so freaking fluffy! Which makes since, since it’s a loosely adhered cloud of space dust that is only visible because we’re so far away from it. Like the haze of humidity during a warm summer sunset, we can only perceive it because we’ve got light bouncing off every bit of it towards our eyes.

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Vacation Conjecture

Today is my first day back to my normal life following my vacation. I can only guess at how I feel right now, since I’m writing this two weeks prior in order to allow myself a break from daily blog updates during said vacation. The actual week I’m on vacation is going to be only flash fiction so I can avoid feeling guilty for not posting anything. I’ve spent a week in a distant cabin a few hours north of where I normally live, enjoying a getaway with two of my younger siblings and two of my friends (all of us made up my old Monday night D&D group back before I realized I needed to dial things back a little bit in 2021). Some of these people met each other in person for the first time while sharing a cabin with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and probably just a little bit too little space for all five of us to be comfortable together. As someone who has lived alone for two years, I imagine it took a bit of getting used to for me and that I found great solace in the ability to just go for a walk or sit outside in the shade.

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Recorded and Reposted: False Summer

It takes only a moment,
The space between whispers of wind
On a scorching September day
As the sun roasts pavement
Two feet from where shadow shelters
A wilting garden unaware
Of how little time it has left,
And the past mixes with the present.
Fingers tracing rows and lines,
Too large now to intertwine
With the holes left in the table
Made of rubber-coated steel,
But still looking for something to hold.

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A Moment In Time

There is a moment in every intense fight where time seems to slow down. Motion becomes fluid, action becomes exact, and the fight changes from ultimate chaos to pure order.

It only happens when the combatants are evenly matched and battling with everything they have. They need not be skilled; they need to be committed to their cause. Anything less and their contest will not warp time like this.

People who survive these moments feel it as it happens, but almost no one outside the conflict notices anything beyond growing intensity. The explosions seem bigger, the movements faster, the blood splashier. The crowd responds, roaring and cheering as their favored fighter battles for their life, feeding into this intensity.

I have been accused of many things. Slavery. Murder. Cruelty. Warmongering. And so on. Not a day passes that I do not walk through my city followed by a crowd calling for my blood from beyond the perimeter of my guards. They know I’ve spilled my share already. After all, what kind of emperor would I be if I did not conquer everything put before me?

I have conquered the world and they refute my power with mere words and the occasional stone or bullet if they feel so daring. Still, none can topple my throne. I’m sure someone will, someday, but not until they learn my secret.

After all, what is the point of having people kill each other? There is no need in society being met by bloodshed. No one wants for food, their health, or their safety. Everyone is taken care of. These warriors seek glory, reknown, and a shot at my throne. In exchange, harvested one sliver from every warp these fighters create, I get the one thing no one else can ever get more of. Time.

Making The Most of a New Day

Wren checked the clock and saw they’d overslept. Grumbling under the music playing from their phone, they heaved themselves upright and sat on the edge of their bed for a few luxurious mintues, mind blank as sleep slipped slowly away.

After their routine of exercise, stretching, coffee, showering, and breakfast, they slumped into a lounge on their deck and spent an hour planning their week. Meetings were maneuvered, appointments shifted, and plans confirmed as their second cup of coffee dwindled. Wren clambered off the chair after finishing, left the pool of lamplight on their deck, and went for a brisk walk through the woods.

It still felt wrong to hike in the dark, but they’d adjusted to wearing a headlamp and marked all their favorite paths with reflective trailmarkers. Their parents had gotten used to winters without snow eventually, so they figured it was just a matter of time.

After their hike, Wren settled down for lunch in their kitchen, absorbing the warmth and light of a sun lamp while eating. They could have taken vitamin suppliments, but they found comfort in the routine of basking.

After cleaning up, they settled into their office and put in a few hours of work, doing a few pages of roughs and working on some flats for their currnet graphic novel. The idea was about five years old, but it felt nice to draw sunlight. Nostalgic, even thought it had only been a few months since the Shutter project failed, cutting Earth off from sunlight permanently.

Since the shutters were all solar panels, humanity had plenty of power to turn the moon into a replacement. Days were 28 hours long now, after adjusting the moon’s orbit, but Wren always felt like they were built for days like this. Shame about the tides, though.

The Sword And The Alchemist

Tej slipped silently through square, disappearing into moonshadows as she neared the park. Even the guards at the entrance didn’t see her, despite their torches.

Once inside, she moved swiftly, heading for the column of moonlight over the plinth. As she neared, she saw the familiar glow of the blade magnifying all the light that struck it.

She took a moment to observe the churned mud surrounding the plinth. So many tried to free the sword and earn the Xendran crown. Who wouldn’t be tempted by that much power?

Certain she was alone, Tej slipped into the moonlight and laid a hand on the pommel. The blade began to brighten and she leapt away. “Shit.”

Tej threw her cloak over the blade, leaving the hilt uncovered. After a deep breath, she pulled it free and set it on the ground. She could see the blue and gold glow pressing against her cloak, so she worked quickly. It had taken weeks to convince people it had been struck by divine lightning after the first time.

She poured both her flasks into the plinth and stirred the liquid with a stick until it began to stiffen. Careful not to toss aside the stick, she grabbed the sword from the ground and plunged it back into the plinth. The light beneath sputtered and disappeared as she tore free her cloak’s hem to wipe the adhesive from the plinth and wrap up the stick.

As she snuck away, she checked the sky. By the time the sun rose, the sword would be sealed in the stone again. This recipe should buy her enough time to finish negotiating with the Aluskan Empire. Better to sell the crown and disappear with the money than be assassinated like the last four fools to pull the sword free.