700 Posts and Counting

The post that went up today (the day I’m writing this and a week prior to this post going up) was the 700th post on my blog (which means this is post 706). I have no idea what the average word count is on my blog posts, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that my blog is the longest thing I’ve ever written, in both terms of word count and in reference to the passage of time. What an accomplishment, right? 700 whole posts! That’s so much stuff! Probably a lot of interesting stuff and some absolute drivel. After all, they can’t all be winners and I used to have a far less rigorous process for weeding out dumb or bad posts. Still, the sheer volume is worth celebrating. Turns out all I needed to be this productive was a task that had no real end goal other than continued activity. Can’t finish a book to safe my life most times I try, but I can do this without end.

Given how long this past winter felt like it lasted, it feels strange to realize I’ve been updating this blog six days out of seven for nine months. I’ve made it through almost another year of posting without the stress and obsession it took me the last time I tried to update this regularly. My, how I’ve grown. I still wish I had the capacity for more creative work each day, but given the rise and fall of my personal stress levels due to factors mostly at my day job or tied to the world at large, it feels like I should just be grateful I’ve managed to keep this up without falling behind or scrambling to get a post up long after my usual posting time (which happened A LOT the last time I did this). And, you know, I actually am. I feel like I’ve gotten better at working incrementally and applying personal discipline to every aspect of my life except cutting myself off of video games at a reasonable hour when I’m playing something that scratches my “control” itch.

At the same time, it feels like nothing has changed. Which is demonstrably false, given that I’ve spent a bunch of time thinking about myself and my life, resulting in a decision to use different third-person pronouns. There’s more, but I’m not really into sharing personal information on that level these days and honestly the pronoun thing was a pretty big deal given that it took me thirty years to convince myself it was worth considering something that would only serve to make me feel more comfortable and happy with myself and then most of another year to actually take action on it. That feels like enough to be writing about publicly, you know? All the other stuff is my personal business and literally no one else’s.

I talk a lot about how I feel on this blog. I do a lot of processing, exploration, and expression here, putting my feelings out into the world in hopes that they resonate with other people. Who I am, how I identify, my sense of self… All of that is my own business and not something I feel comfortable pinning down by writing it out. As some of my poetry indicates, I’m happy to allow myself to leave most of that stuff without a clear definition. After all, people grow and change frequently, maybe more so than we would like at time, but enough that I feel like codifying myself is only ever going to be a disserve to my future self.

Which isn’t necessarily to say that I won’t ever write about myself in that way or that I won’t ever talk explicitly about identity and myself on this blog, just that I haven’t yet and might never. I’m not committing to anything at this point because the future is a wild, unknowable thing and I honestly couldn’t have imagined being in the position I am now, a year ago. But it sure feels nice to reflect on my blog, the past year, and how much has changed (and, you know, to choose to focus on the positive changes in my personal life, specifically). Maybe a year from now I’ll be doing the same thing and wondering why I ever hesitated on some thing I can barely even allow myself to consider right now. Just about anything is possible.

Readying Myself For Summer

Even after nearly a decade away from anything resembling the US school year, I still find myself thinking that the coming of summer heralds a shift from my busy and exhausting days to a time when I can take a load off mentally and physically. I haven’t had more than a week away from my labors in nearly a decade and I still find myself mentally preparing for the coming warm months and the freedom they once brought me. It’s a weird mental space to be in. I know I won’t have any extra time off or a chance to enjoy being outside in the summer without much restriction, but I still find myself hoping for it just as fervently as I did when I was a student.

I haven’t actually had a summer break in much longer than that, though. When I was in high school, my parents forced me to find ways to fill my time. Either by getting a job of some time, by doing chores around the house (usually gardening on behalf of my mother), or by taking care of my younger siblings who needed minding while my mother did other stuff. In college, I had to work since I couldn’t return to my parents house and I needed to pay for summer housing at my college. Even before high school, I was usually occupied with some form of household chores or other work assigned to me by my parents, so I really can’t imagine why I expect a chance to rest and relax.

What the summer has actually brought me is change. In college I shifted from work and school to just work, and in high school I could stay up and sleep in as late as I wanted. My schedule shifted from what was demanded by the world I lived in to one that I could largely set for myself. Sure, I had to be at work at specific times, but the other sixteen hours of the day were mine to spend as I wished. Nowadays, though, the only change the summer brings is how generally sweaty and gross I feel at the end of the day. And I supposed the number of blankets I keep on the bed also changes, so there’s that too.

When I graduated college, I wanted to eventually get into academia in some form, probably as a college professor, so I could stick with that schedule. And, you know, because I loved what I was doing with my degree and wanted to keep doing that kind of stuff (still do, honestly). I eventually realized that a career in academia was likely not in the books for me, given my already substantial burden of student loans and the need for more loans if I wanted to continue my education, not to mention the generally sorry state of academia today. I used to keep up on articles about what was going on in the world of academia, tenure, and literary studies, but that effort was what eventually convinced me I would probably be happier sticking with work outside of academia and writing in my time away from my occupation rather than as a part of it (in an academic sense, specifically. I still think i’ love being a full-time writer of fiction)

Still, as the grey, chilly April days come to a close and we head toward whatever the hell May has in store (it has been unseasonably cold and cloudy thus far this spring, so all bets are off), I find myself planning vacations I’ll never take and looking at my life for whatever big changes I might make. I don’t really have any right now, since I’m trying to work on feeling more at-home in my apartment (rent is rising too quickly to make it worth moving this year, at least at my current income), but I keep taking stock of my life in the hope that something will jump out at me. I’m already making slow but steady steps toward most of my goals, so there really isn’t much to do other than stay the course, keep up the life maintenance, and keep my eyes peeled for any opportunities that show up within my reach.

Slow Change And Matters Of The Self

There are moments in a day, as I pursue my usual routines and common pastimes, that I find my mind at rest and my head empty of thoughts. These moments frequently arrive on the tail of simple thoughts, small ideas bouncing around my head as I direct myself toward some goal or task. A reminder to thoroughly scrub my scalp in the shower. An errant consideration about skipping the current song on my playlist. Some spark of imagination or creativity ignited by the podcast or audiobook I’m listening to. A recollection of something I meant to do earlier in this room I just entered but had forgotten until just now. As my body responds to the thought, taking action, or my mind files the spark of creativity away until I can focus on it, I become aware of the sheer size and emptiness of my mind in those moments.

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Weird Weather And Warming Walks In Wisconsin

Lately, the weather has been changing more than usual. Setting aside all the potential problems this might indicate (for sanity, not because they aren’t necessary), I’ve been enjoying the variability. There are very few places in the world where the weather can go from “potential frostbite if the wind blows long enough” to “you’ll want a sweatshirt, but you’ll need to roll the sleeves up before long” in less than twenty-four hours without drawing remark. I happen to live in one of them (the midwest of the US). As a result, I got to enjoy a pleasant walk in the sunny fifties one day and then had to bundle up tight against a frigid wind that sought to claim my exposed skin the next day.

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I Have Post-Workout Sludge Brain

As part of my general efforts at improving myself and my life, I’ve started waking myself up at 6am again (something that I stopped doing a couple months into the pandemic) and immediately getting out of bed so I can exercise. Even with the extra hour I’m spending on working out, this has meant that I’m now at work by 8:30 every day, thirty to ninety minutes earlier that I was previously. Even though I’m only getting up an extra hour earlier. After all, if I get out of bed and start working out right away, that means I’m not spending thirty to ninety minutes of every morning laying in my bed, browsing twitter or reading comics on my phone. Or, you know, wallowing in depression as I struggle with motivating myself to get out of bed and actually do stuff with my day.

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This, The Year of Our Pandemic, 2022

It can be difficult to nail down a change in perspective. Sometimes, you know the change was within you. You see the world a different way now. Some part of how you interact with and perceive the world is different. Sometimes, the world has changed, either gradually or suddenly doesn’t matter since you tend to notice it all at once regardless. What is within your view has been altered and now things look different to eyes that have largely remained the same. Sometimes, the world hasn’t changed and you haven’t changed, but you’ve noticed something for the first time.

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Lingering Chill

There is a certain pleasure in hunkering down for the winter months in the cold, enduring Midwestern north. As the temperatures drop, the rain turns to sleet that turns normal stairs and sloping lawns into treacherous slides for those without adequate caution. Empty, grey days turn into cozy retreats as people turn from excusing their flight from the worsening weather to embracing it. Life goes on, as always, but the quiet moments that once demanded to be filled are now left empty save for rest and warmth, attention turned inward instead of outward. Homes become bastions of warmth and life, drifting and disconnected from the world around them save for the moments that they open up to share their light with those daring enough to still travel between them.

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Some Change Would Be Nice. Not Time Change, Though. That Sucks

Man, fuck daylight savings time. I don’t care if this is going up a week removed from the event when I don’t feel as mad about it, but the whole “change your clocks twice a year” thing is bullshit. We should just adopt DST as our always time. I think more people could use the afternoon/evening time in the sun than the morning time, but I recognize that people who actually get up at that time would maybe prefer the sunlight then. Ultimately, I don’t really care which way we go, so long as we just stick with it. I have enough trouble sleeping without needing to suddenly offset my normal sleep schedule by an hour.

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As Soon As I’m Ready

Some days, as I go through the ordinary tasks of everyday living, I find comfort in the humdrum moments of the life I live. Much can be said about the power of the familiar and the comfortable. Like a cliche in a pleasant movie, we enjoy the familiarity as much as we might decry the sheer normalcy of it. Everyone wants change, and excitement, and for the world to respond to us as we seek to interact with it, but few want it constantly.

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I’m Just Gonna Unload All This Anxiety Over Here, By The Other Anxiety

I had an enjoyable day, today. Facebook was down for most of it and, as much as I’d like to say I got a lot done as a result, I definitely did not. Partly because I have already taken steps to disconnect myself from Facebook and partly because it was hard to focus while enjoying the feeling of being free from one of my larger, more nebulous anxieties.

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