A Piece of Something Greater

As I reflect on the life I’m currently living, one marked by solitude and distance chosen over potential social engagement and closeness due to the risks of the on-going pandemic, I find myself thinking about all the moments in my life that I actually felt like I was a part of something larger than myself. Generally speaking, these moments happened in crowds or as part of some collective action since I’ve never really been one to attach my sense of self to a cause or group identity (like fandoms or social archetypes), and there are far fewer of them than I thought there’d be when I started this reflection. As I’ve worked through it, though, it started to make more sense. After all, my childhood was marked by a sense of being lesser-than, my college years were filled with me attempting to rationalize that sense of self with the way other people treated me (both those who treated me well and those who took advantage of me), and my entire life has been marked by a desire to avoid chaos, crowds, and spaces in which I have no control. It is no wonder I rarely felt like I was a part of something more than myself, though it does hurt a bit to realize how rarely I felt like that in spite of how frequently I sought it out.

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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.

The Power of Influence and the Folly of Originality

As a person interested in creating my own stories, worlds, and whatnot, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to create something “original.” In terms of criticism, I think the word has been so bandied about and overused that it has lost most of its meaning, leavied as it has been against everything from creative works acknowledging their influences to entirely unrelated and unconnected works that coincidentally had similar themes. In this vast, wide world of ours, it is not unthinkable that two incredibly different people might have similar ideas. Not everything alike is a copy or partial copy, and there’s nothing wrong with copying something if you’re planning to build off it.

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The Stories That Stick With Me

As I’ve been trying to balance editing my novel, recording my poetry, editing the old serial story to repost once I’m out of poems, updating my blog every week, and the various Dungeons and Dragons games I’ve been running or playing in, I’ve wound up spending almost all of my free time thinking about stories. I tend to get contemplative when I’m incredibly busy, usually as a means of procrastinating whatever work I’ve given myself to do, and this time is no exception. I’ve tried to avoid any topics that might make me feel upset, sad, or regretful, and I’ve landed on the kind of stories that I still think about to this day and what those have in common.

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The Only Good Thing to Come Out of My Childhood is My Younger Siblings

While I’ve probably mentioned my older sibling with some frequence (he is the source of a significant portion of my childhood trauma, after all), I don’t think I’ve mentioned my two of my younger siblings nearly as much. A fact I’d like to rectify as I reflect on a funny moment from a few years ago that I was reminded of yesterday evening while talking with some friends. Given that we’re all from the same difficult family situation, we’ve all got a great deal of individual baggage. A lot of it is similar, but the last few years make it pretty clear that we all reacted to and were harmed by our shared childhood in our own unique ways. As we’ve all done what we each needed to gain distance and perspective, we drifted apart a bit. In the past few years, as I started to work through stuff after our grandfather passed away and opened up about stuff I had previously protected them from and kept hidden, we’ve slowly reconnected and grown closer than ever.

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Recorded and Reposted: At End of Day

When the day is done and the fire’s stoked,
When the night is fresh and the world is cloaked
In star-soft mantle of darkening blue 
I still have one last job to do.
I compile the words I have found,
Feeling out their shape and sound
As I sort them into categories
In preparation for all the stories
I haven’t had the chance to tell,
Until the fire’s down to a sullen swell
And the first glimmers of morning sun
Tell me that my work is done.

What Makes A Story A Gaming Campaign Or A Book

I wish I had the time and energy for more weekly Dungeons and Dragons games. Specifically, the time and energy to run them. At present, I’d like to get myself to one weekly game (that, you know, actually plays weekly) and two every-other-week games that alternate so I can run two games a week but have more time to prepare the two that alternate. If I didn’t have to spend time working a full-time job, I could probably run a game every day. Do prep in the morning, run in the afternoon, and have evenings to myself. I’ve thought about trying to get into the “Game Master as a day job” gig, but I’ve decided that for now, I want to keep this as just a hobby. Still, if I had more time and energy, I’d love to add another game or two into rotation.

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What You Leave Out Of Stories

I’ve been thinking about stories a lot lately. Which, you know, is nothing new. I was going to start this next sentence by saying “what is new is…” but none of this is actually new. I’ve been thinking about story craft for decades at this point and recent years have only seen the amount of time I spend on it increase. In the past, I’ve mostly thought about the way books are written and how stories are told in that format, from what gets included to what gets left out and how not enough of either one can make an otherwise enjoyable story unpleasant. My go-to example for that has always been the level of unnecessary mundane detail that started getting included in the Wheel of Time books after the conclusion of what was originally intended as a trilogy. There are only so many times I can read about characters’ individual hygeine habits in a two-week period that was initially skipped over before it was returned to so the author could describe what happened during that period in detail. For as many memorable, cool story moments I remember from the series, I have an equal number of gripes about frustrating repeated details that shouldn’t have been included.

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Looking To The Future

I took a weekend off. It was nice to get a chance to rest. Or at least sort of rest since it is me and I still did laundry, Dungeons and Dragons prep, and worked on story ideas in my head. I also spent time cleaning and doing home improvement/winterization projects. I experimented with insulating my windows with plastic, the first time I’ve had to do so since I have been lucky to have good windows and well-insulated apartments in the past, and learned a lot about the struggles inherent in this sort of shit. They look terrible and half of them need to be fixed or entirely replaced, but it’ll be easier going forward since I have some experience now.

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