Muddled

Thinking about my photo trek to Gibbs Gardens, the Botanical Garden, and Piedmont Park, I can’t help but feel that I wasn’t really present for it, like I was going through the motions, like I had somehow forgotten how to do it.

I did have a good time. But I also rushed, and I don’t think I got very many good photos. And I don’t feel satisfied.

I wonder if I should try again this weekend. Of course, I will need to fix my camera first…

Beautiful weather, beautiful day

budding daffodil, Gibbs Gardens

Today was lovely :) I got up around 8, poked around online until 9, then headed out for a day of photographing spring blossoms.

First, after gassing up at Costco and picking up a Bacon Egg n’ Cheese Biscuit, I made the drive up to Ball Ground to visit Gibbs Gardens. Normally I go early and arrive right when the gardens open; since I was late today, I had to park in the secondary lot and walk back to the entrance. On the way, a lady approached and asked me if I’d been there before. She was new to the gardens, so I told her as much useful information as I could—including that I think the best time to visit is the middle of summer, when the crape myrtles are in bloom. Spring is pretty in a subtle way; summer is ostentatiously gorgeous.

The daffodils were out in full force throughout both of the main gardens, as well as in their own special woodland fields. I went through the Japanese Garden, spotting a cherry tree and a plum tree, then hiked up to the Manor House, where I saw that the distant mountains were clearly visible against the bright blue sky, and two ladies asked me to take their picture in front of the house. Finally I strolled into the forest of daffodils, and it was incredible. Last year when I saw them, it was sort of early, so there weren’t nearly as many. Today, they were neverending.

daffodils at Gibbs Gardens

The gardens were packed with people. As I was leaving, there was a line not only at the cafe and the restrooms but even just to get in the door! It was lunchtime, so I ate a CLIF bar in the car, then drove to downtown Ball Ground to get pictures of the flowering trees I’d seen on the drive in. There was a lot of traffic, and plenty of people were milling about near the Cajun restaurant and the German butcher shop, but I couldn’t tell if something special was going on, or if they were all just enjoying the beautiful weather.

flowering tree in downtown Ball Ground

I decided I wasn’t quite done taking photos, so instead of going home, I went to Midtown and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Parking was a little nuts, but I found a spot in the lower levels of the garage. On my way out of the parking structure, two men approached, and one of them asked hesitantly, “Excuse me, do you know where the botanical gardens are?” It is sort of confusing when you’re leaving that garage. “Yes,” I said. “It’s this way.” And I gestured the way I was going. The men thanked me and strode off ahead.

Like Gibbs Gardens, the Botanical Garden was filled to bursting with people. There was a bonsai exhibit set up at the entrance, and daffodils and tulips were everywhere.

me and many tulips

 

I had made it through the Edible Garden, the Fuqua Orchid Center, and the Conservation Garden and was trying to take a photo of a pretty white flower near the Great Lawn when my camera decided to stop working. It’s a known issue with Nikons; apparently I will have to take it apart to fix it. This put a huge damper on my mood, as I felt I had just barely gotten started. Annoyed, I took a few more photos with my phone, then made for the parking garage. I ended up not seeing the Japanese Garden at all.

As I reached the parking garage, I realized I was hungry, so I decided to walk over to Park Tavern at the other end of Piedmont Park. It would be nice, I thought; the restaurant had always been quiet and empty the other times I’d gone there, and I could take the opportunity to rest and catch up on Tumblr. So I strolled past the pond toward the other side of the park, stopping for a skyline shot.

Atlanta skyline as seen from Piedmont Park over a pond

Unfortunately for me, Park Tavern was not quiet and empty today. Every table was either reserved or filled with people. The outdoor section looked to have been expanded and it was still overflowing. I don’t know if I had just never been there at that particular time of day, or if something was going on—maybe everyone was watching NCAA basketball. Regardless, I left disappointed and hungry.

On the way back, a young couple asked me to take their picture in front of the pond and skyline. After that, I stopped to rest on a park bench alongside the pond. I read Tumblr and took a couple pictures with my phone until I was ready to walk again. I felt pretty good when I finally made my way back to my car.

On the drive back out of town, I passed my exit again, this time so I could pick up some Zaxby’s for dinner. Then, at last, I went home. I ate my dinner and surfed the web and took a nice, long bath. And now here I am recounting it all to you.

So yeah, it was a nice day. I’m glad I got to get out in the sun and see some pretty flowers. :)

Well, this is bad

It’s after 4am, and I haven’t been to bed yet.

I’m pretty sure I’m exhausted, but it’s hard to tell.

I had a frustrating conversation that lasted until about 1:30am. It didn’t really have a conclusion; I just said I needed to go to bed. But I didn’t do that; instead, I got on the computer and listened to the new episode of Welcome to Night Vale. The episode was pretty lighthearted, up until the end, so I thought I’d be able to go to sleep after that, but then the ending hit. And then I made the mistake of reading other people’s reactions to the episode.

My brain feels numb, or overexerted. Like it wants to do something, but is in no shape to do anything.

I am constantly struggling to prove or believe that my feelings are valid. That my choices are valid. That my life is valid.

It’s after 4am, and Dad just got up and offered to make me breakfast. Fried eggs and hash browns. Dad’s breakfast is another of my favorite things about visiting home. I accepted his offer immediately.

I wonder if I’ll sleep tonight? Or today, I suppose I should say?

Heat

There are many things I love about being home at my parents’ house. Talking with Mom. Hugging Dad. Having discussions with Connor. Being showered with affection by Logan. Joking around with everyone. Eating home-cooked meals. Walking in the yard I played in growing up. Listening to the birds. Driving through Nicholasville and seeing what’s changed and what’s stayed the same.

But one thing I am always happy about is how hot the water is.

The water at our apartment doesn’t get very hot, usually. Every now and then it does. But the water at my parents’ house gets hot enough to burn you. I love this. I love a searing hot shower. I love standing in a cascade of heat, sucking in a deep breath of air at the sudden change in temperature, letting the pounding water paint any tension away. I love how a hot, hot shower leaves me filled with warmth long afterward.

It’s so nice, especially when it’s been cold. It’s a relief. It’s a therapy.

Not much real writing lately

The past two weeks have been pretty light, writing-wise. My moments of strongest inspiration were a Night Vale one-off called “Brother” and Flace; otherwise I’ve been struggling with Opening a Door and its side story, trying to get back into the rhythm. It’s possible this writer’s block, or whatever, is contributing to the low moods I’ve been having. Or vice-versa. Regardless, it’s very irritating. I’m hoping being in a different place—my parents’ house—and being around lots of people who love me will help reboot my brain. I wrote about my moods separately so I could count that as today’s writing, because since I’ve been here I’ve mainly just been reading or spending time with family, and I haven’t written any fiction at all.

It is so easy to fall into “rumination,” thinking depressing thoughts over and over. My worst one lately has been questioning whether my writing is even worth doing, when there are so many amazing writers out there already. Who will read me? Does my writing really affect people? Does anyone care? Will it matter if I don’t write? It’s possible that these thoughts are affecting my motivation, even as I consciously fight them.

It’s also hard to feel good about my writing when the majority of what I’ve done so far is fan fiction. I think fan fiction is wonderful, and some of the best writing I’ve ever seen is fan fiction. Hell, much of our “legitimate”—culturally acceptable—entertainment is technically fan fiction, retellings of existing stories. But somehow it’s not seen that way; there’s an arbitrary distinction between the fan fiction that is licensed, sold to the masses, and the fan fiction that is just done out of love. “Do you have any original work?” one person asked me. “Oh, no, why are you writing fan fiction?” moaned another.

Honestly, I have just been trying to write every day. I’ve really been trying not to worry about writing something important. I want to write good stuff, but I’m not trying to meet any other criteria.

I want to have fun with my writing. It would be nice if it led somewhere. It would be nice if I could sell something I wrote. But it’s hard to profit on writing. You have to be far more prolific than I’m managing at the moment.

Let me just try to write what I want to write, what I enjoy writing, for a while longer. Let me get to a point where I feel like I can consistently put out a decent amount of writing. For a time there I was doing really well, but these past two weeks have been a significant bump. For now, let me just try to work through this.

Time to reboot

I’m home in Kentucky at my parents’ house for a long weekend. I wanted to get away. Do something different. See something different. At first I thought about going away somewhere. I considered Savannah, or New Orleans, or Charleston, or Orlando. But I’d be making such a trip alone, and I’m starting to think alone isn’t really what I need.

On the drive up here, I listened to two-thirds of a book called The Depression Cure by Stephan Ilardi. It discusses lifestyle changes you can make to combat depression. I think the recommendations make sense and might be able to help me with the mood swings I’ve been having. The book cites six key strategies: “dietary omega-3 fatty acids, engaging activity, physical exercise, sunlight exposure, social support, and sleep.”

Of those six items, I think I’m okay on at least one: sleep. Other than a couple times that I’ve let writing interfere with going to bed on time (like right now), I usually sleep well. I suppose you could also argue that I’ve done engaging activities (writing).

But my diet has been pretty terrible in recent months—takeout and fast food—so I’m sure my balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (ideally 1:2) is completely out of whack. While I do take the stairs, in the parking garage at work and to get from our garden level apartment to street level, I don’t get any other exercise. I haven’t been outdoors much this winter, so I haven’t had the benefit of sun exposure. And lastly, perhaps due to the writing, I’ve been spending a lot of time alone, even on my lunch breaks at work. (A week or so ago I actually had lunch with three other coworkers, and I felt amazing afterwards.)

I’ll finish the book on my drive back home—I’m just about to get into the part with actionable steps. When I get home, I’ll try to start making some healthy changes.

But here, now, at my parents’ house surrounded by family, I’m going to relax and listen and talk and hug. I’m going to let this little break rejuvenate me.

That time I wrote a love story about a face and a floor

Tumblr is a lot of fun, I’ve discovered. Here’s an example.

I was about to go to bed the other night when I noticed a hilarious conversation on my dash. One of the people I follow, Athena, had sent another person I follow, Tasogare, an OTP/BROTP/NOTP ask. OTP stands for “one true pairing” and basically means you ship it—you want those two characters to get together. BROTP signifies a strong friendship, and NOTP means nope, you never want to see those characters romantically involved. The OTP/BROTP/NOTP ask is where you send someone a pairing and see how they feel about it.

The pairing Athena asked Tasogare about? “Face x Floor.” Apparently she was typing a different question, tripped over her cat, and smashed her own face into the floor, and so she decided to ask about that instead.

Tasogare replied seriously that the relationship seemed aggressive, and so it was a NOTP.

This was too freaking funny not to get in on. I reblogged with:

WHAT NO FLACE 4 LYFE

THEIR LOVE IS SO MISUNDERSTOOD

Athena and Tasogare responded with false outrage, discussing how horrible I was for shipping an abusive relationship, and then started discussing how great it would be to have fan fiction of this ship. Another person, Usual, chimed in with a funny, pun-filled story. Athena kept pretending to freak out about how terrible the whole idea was, and I was so amused I asked my followers if the next thing I post should be Flace fan fiction.

(Tasogare “liked” this.)

Late last night, I was crawling into bed after posting a new chapter to a fanfic that’s been dormant for awhile. I wasn’t thrilled with the new chapter, but it was something. As I pulled up the covers I realized I wanted to write about Flace. I was already in bed, though, and my laptop was shut down for the night.

So I wrote the following on my phone.

Brain was opposed.

No. Opposed was not strong enough a word. It needed a modifier.

Brain was violently opposed.

It was unnatural, after all. Face belonged in the heavens. Beautiful Face, soft of skin, should remain here, where her loveliness could be seen and appreciated by all. Here, far above the hellscape that was the domain of Floor. That rough, cold, low demon, that…creature, unworthy of even seeing Face, let alone touching her.

Brain was violently, violently opposed.

Unfortunately, the traitorous Legs were not.

At every opportunity, Legs would attempt to wrest control away from Brain, to stoop, to kneel, to lie flat.

Brain’s struggles against Legs were difficult and tiring and only marginally successful. They sent Legs stumbling and set Arms, the uninvolved bystanders, flailing. At the best of times, Brain would force Legs straight, continue walking. At the worst of times, Face would crash down to Floor, supple cheek smashing into that lowly being.

Brain could only hope that the pain would dissuade Face, would convince her that what she was feeling was little more than a fancy, a crush, a passing notion.

But time and time again it happened, and Face was resolute.

“I love them,” she said fervently, and Brain wailed. No, no, no. This was wrong. This was obscene. Face belonged in the heavens.

“She loves them,” Legs said. “She loves them.”

“I love her,” called Floor from below, their voice horrid and grating and evil and offensive to Brain’s delicate sensibilities. “I love her.”

Face was resolute, and Floor was resolute, and Legs stood by them.

But Brain was also resolute.

I posted it and went to bed, feeling satisfied.

This morning I woke up to such nice comments. This is extremely egotistical, but I want to save them here, to remember how fun this was and how much I enjoyed it and how happy I was to have my contribution appreciated.

Athena wrote:

 I DON’T WANT TO LIKE THIS

I REALLY DON’T WANT TO LIKE THIS BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN FIC

I DON’T

I CAN’T

I AM THE ANTI-FLACE

WHY MUST EVERYONE ON HERE BE SO PERSUASIVE WITH THEIR AMAZING WRITING

NOOOOOOOO

*rocking back and forth w/ covering eyes* I am the anti flace, i am the anti flace, I am the anti flace. No matter how gorgeously written the fic, I MUST stay strong for my cause. I cannot ship  it. I CAN’T. I MUST KEEP MY IDEALS INTACT. I MUST NOT GIVE IN TO FLACE.

#I really am going insane #It’s actually happening #Imagine me checking into a mental hospital and the thing that pushed me over the edgde of the cliff of insanity WAS A SHIP I ACCIDTALLY MADE DURING AN ASK WHEN I TRIPPED OVER MY CAT #*ACCIDENTALLY #WHat evEN. #You really are an amazing writer though #Seriously write a book or something #flace #anti-flace #FacexFloor

(That last bit is the post tags…you can probably see why I want to keep them)

Tasogare liked the post, and Usual chimed in with:

We have the best shippers!!

#Conversations #Flace #Flace 5ever #OTP #I love you so much cosleia that it should be measured in light-years #And I bow down to you #All hail and long live the Queen of Flace #The Writer Supreme #All Hail cosleia!

So yeah, I wrote a love story about a face and a floor, and people enjoyed it, and it was nice. :)

Time

It’s weird how time can seem so slow and yet disappear all of a sudden. This weekend is gone, and it feels like it just started, but it also seemed very leisurely.

I spent the majority of my time reading, as usual. I read lots of fanfic. I also read the latest volume of Natsume Yuujinchou, which was fantastic. It’s been sitting on my desk for months now. I’m glad I finally cracked it open. Not only was there a sweet love story, but there was a cool Natori story!

Sean is working this weekend, so my Saturday was quiet. I did laundry and poked around online and watched Star Trek IV. When Sean came home, we went to Sushi Huku for dinner, which was wonderful. They have the best sushi I’ve had in Atlanta. Their tea is also the best. And I like that they give you free edamame at dinner. And the dinner I chose came with a delicious flan-like dessert. Yum!

Sundays are half days for Sean, so today he slept in and left at noon. My chores were done so I took a leisurely shower and actually blow-dried my hair for a change. I got a Quarter Pounder Deluxe and a cookie dough Blizzard for lunch, which necessitated a drive into Smyrna–there are three McDonald’s locations near us, but the Dairy Queen is a little far out. I went for the Blizzard first, which was kind of silly of me, especially given how long it took to get home. I was looking at Tumblr in the drive-thru and ended up pulling into a parking space to read for awhile. Then I drove to McDonald’s and sat in their drive-thru for about ten minutes, no lie, and then they said they were only accepting cash, so I had to drive to another McDonald’s. By the time I got back to the apartment, at least a third of the Blizzard was melted. (This may be partially due to the fact that it was like 70 degrees out. Very nice weather!) I had to remove the lid over a bowl and then dump off the excess.

When Sean got home, we spent a little time together and then he ended up falling asleep. I got on my computer and started making Welcome to Night Vale ringtones, because I’m a dork. Around 10pm I realized that it was 10pm, and I went to Taco Bell and picked up a couple of cantina bowls. Sean got up shortly after I returned, so I was glad I’d gotten him something to eat.

It’s now quarter after 11 and I’m feeling dumb for eating dinner this late, but hey, that’s Daylight Saving Time for you. Here’s hoping I get some good sleep tonight.

An extremely slow week

This past week’s word count is extraordinarily low compared to that of previous weeks. Just 2827. My lowest-output week before this was the second week of January, at 3436. My highest output in a week so far has been 9568.

I’ve had some stuff on my mind, so that’s probably why this week has been slow. I’m trying not to worry about it too much. I’m also trying not to worry too much about the “fact” that I’m not writing anything “important,” but I think this may be bothering me more than I realize.

I’m taking this coming Thursday and Friday off work. I feel like I need to do something different to recharge. I definitely want to go somewhere, but I haven’t decided where yet.