To-don’t

I made a to-do list for the weekend, which guaranteed I wouldn’t do any of it today. The items on the list were:

  • see Selma
  • start reading a friend’s memoir
  • start reading another friend’s play
  • write each day, of course

Later, I added:

  • self-care, which so far has included sleeping for approximately 12 hours

The sleeping was glorious. I went to bed just a little later than my usual time, and I awoke naturally at 6am. After a bathroom break, I got back in bed and read social media, listened to a couple episodes of Welcome to Night Vale, and then went back to sleep. I slept from around 8am to noon, and when I finally got up for good, I felt well-rested and happy.

I guess I did manage to take care of myself today, insofar as I read a bunch of things that made me smile, and I ate relatively proper meals. I also did one load of laundry. But I did not see Selma, or start reading my friends’ stuff. I also didn’t write anything, other than a long comment on Facebook about people’s interesting reactions to rediscovering Friends, now that the series is available on Netflix. (I may rework that comment into a blog post.)

I think I need to get outside. Yesterday it was very rainy. I’m not actually sure how the weather was today, as I didn’t go out at all. Tomorrow, if it’s clear, I should at least go for a walk.

Sean went to grab us a late dinner from Steak ‘n Shake. He has been very sweet to me while I have been feeling low and unsociable. Earlier we discussed getting Chinese food, but I didn’t want to talk on the phone. He didn’t either, so he decided to go pick something up instead. He didn’t ask me to ride along, perhaps sensing my apparent need to live in a cave today. I told him I loved him, and thanked him for taking care of me.

And that has pretty much been my day. How are you?

Sometimes it’s good to turn back

Sean and I had a sweet moment this morning when I left for work. I’d just finished blogging about how low I felt yesterday. I was heading out the door, and Sean’s alarm went off. He stirred on the couch, sat up, and said, “Have a good day, baby.”

“You too, sweetheart,” I responded.

He said something else, and I think it was “I love you,” but it was very quiet. I went out the door and shut it and went to lock it behind me.

And then I stopped, and opened it again, and went back into the apartment. I crossed the dark room and sat next to Sean and snuggled into him. He murmured contentedly and I kissed his neck.

“Sorry for being depressed yesterday,” I said.

“It’s okay,” he said, in a tone that made it apparent he didn’t think depression was something to apologize for.

I squeezed him tight and talked about yesterday, going through the things I’d blogged about, and then talked about today, and how I’d belatedly realized that tickets to the Welcome to Night Vale spring live shows were going on sale while I would be in the basement of my workplace for a team event.

“I’m tired,” I said.

“I can relate,” he replied.

We snuggled and kissed and then I had to go. I was very glad I’d turned back. I felt lighter, freer, as I stepped out into the cleansing rain.

(And as for the tickets, I ended up getting them just fine.)

Managing myself

As of yesterday, I’ve successfully written something every day in 2015. Sometimes it’s been a little, sometimes it’s been a lot, but it’s always been something. I’m pleased to be able to say that.

Unfortunately, all this sitting at my desk writing has resulted in a side effect: back pain. Something about the way I sit causes a soreness in my middle back on the right side. It almost feels like getting a stitch in my side, but on my back instead of my front. I’ve had this pain before. It makes it hurt to bend over or twist or carry things. When the pain suddenly flared up when I came home for lunch on Wednesday, I made two changes in response: I switched desk chairs at home, and I changed my desk at work to standing mode.

I worked the rest of Wednesday and then all of yesterday standing up, a day and a half, and it has in fact helped my back. It also made me feel very energetic for most of the workday yesterday. I told my coworkers that I felt “powerful”. I even did 20 standing pushups against the part of the desk that wasn’t raised, because why not?

I came home at lunch and wrote a tiny story, which is good, because I hadn’t written anything that morning. And then, when I got home last night, I was completely exhausted. I don’t know if standing up all day sapped me mentally, or if this week’s work, which has involved a lot of editing and providing feedback, has been more of a drain than usual. In any case, my brain didn’t seem to want to do anything. I couldn’t figure out what to do for dinner, let alone write. Worse, I kept feeling discouraging thoughts creeping in–that everything I have written and everything I’m trying to write is terrible, and that there’s no point to any of it. At about 6:30 I gave up on everything and went to bed, still wearing all my clothes.

Sean came in eventually and asked if I wanted to go to Sushi Huku, which I would normally love to do, but “I don’t feel like going anywhere,” I mumbled. He kissed me and left me alone, and I slept until midnight.

When I awoke, I got up, took a shower, and got into a t-shirt and yoga pants, my typical pajamas. Sean was asleep. I opened the fridge and discovered that he’d ordered pizza, which was a relief; I’d worried he hadn’t eaten anything. Then I teared up at the thought of having to feed both of us every day. It occurred to me that I probably hadn’t had enough rest yet. But I was still pretty awake, and I knew I probably needed protein too, so I made myself some hot dogs and got online to read for a couple hours. I didn’t try to write anything. I did try not to feel bad about that.

Around 3:30, I climbed back into bed and put on an episode of Welcome to Night Vale. Eventually I fell asleep, I guess around 4, meaning I got two more hours of sleep before my alarm went off at 6.

I think, I hope, that I am rested enough to get through today. At least I am able to recognize that the bad feelings I was having were due to being completely drained, and that I don’t have to feel that way.

It seems that after each sleep, I have a certain amount of energy. I’m not sure if I get the same amount each time. But I can certainly run out of it too soon if I’m not careful, and running out tends to plunge me into depression. I’m glad I recognize this and know what to do (go to bed, basically) when it happens.

Some old stuff

This morning I looked through my Writing folder to see if I had any old ideas that seemed interesting. I came across two pieces, basically finished, that for some reason I’d never posted. I edited them a little, backdated them, and put them up.

The first is a reaction I had to reading someone else’s reaction to the movie Brave. It’s been nearly two years, and my reaction is still pretty much the same: Really?

The second is a Twilight Zone-like dream I had last year. I actually really liked that dream, and I’m surprised I didn’t put it on my blog.

Since comments are disabled on posts that are over 30 days old, feel free to respond to both posts here.

The writing continues

I’m feeling pretty good about my writing this week. Focusing on writing first thing really seems to help. As of yesterday I had surpassed week one’s word count with two days to spare. This morning I started work on a third piece, an original idea I came up with some time ago and left notes for on my phone. It’s fun to have multiple projects, so I can bounce back and forth among them when I lose momentum.

I tend to have highs and lows, so I’m not expecting the energy I have right now to last, but I’m going to take advantage of it while it does.

So, how’s it going?

I am managing to write something every day.

Some days are much harder than others, especially when I’m entering one of my personal angst fugues. And then some days are fun and positive and energizing, and the writing comes smoothly.

Thursday was one of the bad ones:

I went on to tweet about how I’m not sure anyone will understand one of my projects. I did not go so far as to tweet that I thought all my projects were pointless, but I admit that this thought has been ghosting at the back of my mind. I have to keep reminding myself that writing every day is the goal, not writing something publishable–that will come later. I especially have to remind myself of this when I’m feeling that low.

I didn’t manage to get anything written until 11pm, but it was more than just a couple hundred words, and I ended on a mild cliffhanger that made me excited to figure out what would happen next. This also resulted in me waking up Friday morning thinking about the story. So I skipped part of my regular morning routine, reading webcomics, in favor of writing the next part of the story. And I went to work feeling amazing, and I felt amazing all day.

It seems that how things go one day can strongly effect the next day. And I also think effects can be cumulative. Here’s a breakdown, starting at the beginning of Week Two:

Thursday, January 8: Coming off a week of working on a new project, Whispers, I started strong with 905 words. I had written two things the previous day, a little bit on Whispers and a blog post. I hadn’t included the blog post in my word count because it was a discussion of the writing process (like this post, which I guess I won’t count either). I’d intended to write in the morning before work, but I ended up spending that time researching the universe of the story. Work that day was pretty draining, and I watched two episodes of Agent Carter to wind down before finally getting to my writing. This meant I was up an hour past my usual bedtime of 10:30.

Friday, January 9: I did not even attempt writing in the morning. I may have slept in, I’m not sure, but I do know that I spent the time I did have on reading webcomics. That night after work, I tried working on a different writing project, the vignette my friend Heidi won in my silly Facebook contest. I did not get very far. Then Sean and I went out to eat, which of course took up a fair amount of time, but loving my husband and doing things with him is a high priority for me. (We had a cute moment in the car listening to the Welcome to Night Vale episode “Antiques”, which I happily shared with Tumblr the next day.) Finally I wrote a blog post about Heidi’s writing prompt and called it a day, because I couldn’t think of a topic and I wasn’t quite in the zone for Whispers.

Saturday, January 10: Continuing to research my Japan trip for Heidi’s vignette, I unwittingly stumbled across some old, old emotions. This completely derailed me; I needed time to process and recover. And as I was clawing my way out of that, I was intensely feeling all the horrible things that have been happening around the world lately. This resulted in:

Watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier made me feel better, but then I watched episodes 12 and 13 of Sailor Moon Crystal. The juxtaposition of Usagi’s infantile emotions with the real horrors of the world left me with a sort of numbness. I spent the rest of the day reading academic-style critical analyses of Welcome to Night Vale. The tiny blog post I’d made in response to remembering something I’d managed to forget ended up being all I wrote that day.

Sunday, January 11: First thing, I pulled together my thoughts on Sailor Moon Crystal in a blog post. I then spent most of the day watching the webseries Whatever this is., which was excellent, and reading news and opinion pieces. I also wrote a happy little blog post about fanart, and included it in my word count to make myself feel productive.

Monday, January 12: Back to work. I didn’t seem to remember that I’d resolved to try doing my writing in the morning; I spent that time reading webcomics and social media as usual. I’m not actually sure what I did after work, as I was kind of quiet on Twitter other than retweets, but I do know I didn’t start trying to write until 9:50, which is ridiculous. The result was a short, silly blog post that I do enjoy, but I could have done much more if I had prioritized writing earlier in the day.

Tuesday, January 13: Again, I spent my morning on webcomics and news. I figured I’d write at lunch.

I sat down to write immediately after work. Recognizing that the Japan vignette wasn’t going to happen anytime soon and that I seemed to be stalled on Whispers, I turned my attention to another project I’ve been thinking about for awhile. It’s a gender-swap (among other things) reboot of a popular franchise, and I don’t want to name that franchise publicly yet, but I’m kind of excited about it. I worked my way completely through the intro scene, stopping here and there to consider how my character changes would affect the story and how a modern telling would affect certain elements. It was the most I’d written all week, and I felt wonderful.

Wednesday, January 14: I’m not sure if I would have tried to write before work, but I ended up spending my time investigating why there was a balance on my Macy’s card, when I had paid it off last month the same day as making the charge. This absorbed my morning, to the point that I didn’t read webcomics either. I ended up coming home at lunch and reading webcomics then. After work it was time for a new Agent Carter (I watch everything the next day at the earliest, on Hulu, as I don’t have cable or a trustworthy antenna), and then I read a long but fascinating article, and then it was 10:23pm and I was only just getting to writing. And even then…

I finally forced out some words on the reboot project and went to bed.

Thursday, January 15: A new episode of Welcome to Night Vale was released at midnight. I spent the morning listening to it and reacting to it. I skipped Tumblr because I knew that would be endless and instead read webcomics, then went to work. Thursday is where the angst mentioned earlier started. I started to feel trapped by how I spent my time and worried that what I was writing was stupid. Finally I shared my feelings with my writing mentor. She had absolutely no sympathy for my angst and told me to schedule my writing time.

I haven’t actually tried it yet. But I did prioritize writing on Friday morning, and it seemed to make the whole day better. So I think my morning schedule will be this:

6:00-6:45: Standard morning prep
6:45-7:30: Write

And I’ll leave all the webcomics and social media for later.

At this point I’m not prepared to try getting up earlier, because my current schedule generally works well–I get enough sleep and I get to see Sean in the evening. But if I find that 45 minutes isn’t enough, I’ll come back to the idea.

Today I prioritized writing this blog post. I haven’t read webcomics yet, though I must confess I have looked at Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately, this post doesn’t add to my word count, but it is writing, and it is non-work-related, and it has also been pretty illuminating, so I don’t regret it. Also, in the middle of writing it, I wrote 294 very personal words that I will not publish, but which do count.

And now, I’ll write something else.

You

Seeking something to write, desperate to avoid the personal anecdotes that have recently cracked you open to revivify, or at least set off echoes of, long-dormant emotions, you google.

Specifically, you google “writing prompts”.

The first link sounds very promising. It’s called “Creative Writing Prompts.” You click it.

It is full of suggestions for stories…about you.

  • You turn into a baby (with adult memories).
  • You wake up in a car with a bag full of cash.
  • You must choose between two mystical items.

Who is you, really?

Is it actually you? Are you meant to write about these things happening to yourself?

Is you a first-person character? Would you then have to work out your backstory and personality and family and friends in order to then discover how you would react to these situations? Do you even know what you looks like?

Is you a second-person character? That’s apparently in vogue.

Is you even a thing? Does you even matter? Are you? Do you?

Feeling meta, you reject the idea of writing prompts entirely and instead write about writing about you. (Or, possibly, yourself.)

Wonderfully unexpected

Recently I posted a bunch of Welcome to Night Vale art prompts on Tumblr.

The first one was simply this: “I need a picture of Carlos putting his lab coat on Cecil’s shoulders, please…someone…” I didn’t know if anyone would even see it, let alone reply, but Sisaat, one of my favorite WTNV fan artists (their style is just so dreamy and beautiful!) took the idea and ran. (“okay so this is turning into a comic for some reason so it might take a while and be sloppy, but it will happen,” they posted.)

Cecilos fanart

Carlos putting his lab coat around Cecil’s shoulders, by Sisaat (fansbyproducts)

And here it is!

I don’t even know what I expected. Maybe I was thinking it was just cold out and Carlos was offering his lab coat for basic warmth. But this…this is so sweet, yet sad. I’m just overwhelmed by how a random request I tossed off one day became this absolutely gorgeous artwork, this amazing little story.

My next post in this vein was a list of ideas, starting with “Carlos in Science Goggles.” This post was actually reblogged by popular WTNV fan blog sexybaldwin, so now I keep seeing artists fave or reblog it. An artist called classynerdpot responded to the prompt “Carlos giving Cecil a traditional, careful shave with a straight-edge razor.” You can view that one here. Again, not at all what I was imagining–to be perfectly honest, I was thinking of this scene from Skyfall–but oh, isn’t this funny and cute? I love it!

I wonder if anyone else will draw any of my prompts? It’s so exciting!

This experience makes me miss the Anime-Manga Roleplaying Network. Writing was so much fun when I had other writers to respond to and plot with. Other people have such interesting ideas. They see things I don’t, go places I never would. And then I can build on that, and so on, until we have something amazing.

I need to find someone to work on a project with, I think.

[Update: Carlos in Science Goggles!]

Outgrowing Usagi and Mamoru

Watching Sailor Moon Crystal episodes 12 and 13 yesterday, I came fully to the sad realization that Usagi and Mamoru just don’t do it for me the way they used to.

Usagi and Mamoru were my favorite couple for many years. I loved their story, loved the idea of destiny and a connection that would find itself again incarnation after incarnation. It all seemed so romantic and magical.

The thing about magical, destined things, though, is that you can’t aspire to them. They either come to you or they don’t. Your actions have no impact. You are reactor, not actor.

Usagi's murder/suicideAnd indeed, in these episodes, it felt like the characters were doing a lot of waiting and hoping. The actions they took often seemed pointless, a stall for time if nothing else. And it wasn’t long before, in despair, Usagi chose murder/suicide as her solution–because “We’ll find each other again the next time we’re reincarnated.”

How awful.

I can’t identify with this anymore. I can’t identify with making decisions based on things that might happen in a future life. I can’t identify with love that just is, that requires no struggle, no sacrifice, no commitment.

I can’t identify with giving up on what you have so easily.

And that’s not even taking into account everything else Usagi is giving up on: her friends, her family, the world. The idea that she can just get a do-over allows her to deny her responsibility to save everyone. This is not a hero. This is a teenager, blinded by selfish emotion.

Maybe that’s who she’s supposed to be, but I find myself longing for the Tsukino Usagi of the live action Sailor Moon. The girl who saw the selfish teenager in Princess Serenity and rejected her. The girl who did what it took to save the world, regardless of personal sacrifice. The girl who struggled. The girl who kept going.

Drowning in a torrent of memory

I knew that I had once fallen in love while already in love with someone else. But today I realized that it actually happened twice. I remember the second time best because I had to actively fight it. The first time was easy to forget. Distance did most of the work for me.

I wouldn’t even really remember it now, except slightly vaguely, if I hadn’t written a story about it a few months after it happened. I definitely wouldn’t have remembered how it felt. A dull ache, twisted, suffused with desperation.

It’s been so long. I had pushed it all away. I had forgotten. But I read that story today, and it all came back.