Time Flies

Wow. I didn’t think it had been that long since my last entry, but time seems to really fly by when things are pretty busy. If I understood much about physics, Einstein’s theory of relativity would probably be a good reference to make here. But I majored in English, so I don’t think that’s going to work for me. So instead I’ll just work on giving an update on how things are going here.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the University of Houston on my application; I don’t know if they only start looking at applications after the deadline is up, or if they just take several weeks, but the waiting is really nerve-wracking. I think I have a pretty good chance of getting in, but the waiting is still really hard. I haven’t heard back from any of the peer specialist jobs I’ve applied to, either, which is also frustrating, but at least I haven’t gotten any outright rejections, so that’s something.

Work has been a little weird lately; we just finished up our yearly inventory, and this is a slow part of the year for our store, so hours have been a little more sporadic than normal. Sometimes this is nice, especially on days when my back is already sore, and the extra time gives me a chance to get through more reading, but it also cuts my funds a little short. Of course, if I get into UH, I’ll probably be hoping for shorter hours, so we’ll see how things work out there.

I haven’t had a chance to get together again with my Dungeon World group – since they work for the same company, just a different store, they’ve also been caught up in inventory, so scheduling has been rough. I’m hopeful for this coming week, though. And a D&D group composed mostly of employees from my store has gotten together, and we’ll be meeting for our second time on Monday. I haven’t given up on the idea of running another game at a game store – I have some ideas for a Monster of the Week game or FATE Atomic Robo running through my head – but right now I’m getting a pretty good level of social interaction, and both groups are made up of pretty awesome people. I get a few hours every now and then to pop into Final Fantasy XIV, too, to play with another friend, so things on that front are going well.

I had started Gretchen Rubin’s book last time I wrote, but I found myself just not able to really get into it; I’m not sure why, but I think maybe her experiences were just not fitting with me. I did, however, start The Science of Happiness, by Stefan Klein; I’m only a couple chapters in, but it’s more interesting to me already. He spends a whole chapter talking about smiles, and how all people – even people who had never interacted with the greater world – smiled the same ways, and how there are many ways to smile – but only one shows genuine happiness. I think his being an academic, but with a relatively conversational writing style, is helping to get through the book. I also picked up the Codependency Guide for Dummies, though I haven’t cracked it open yet, and when not reading the Klein book I’ve been going through Atomic Robo comics – a great, weird, upbeat comic – along with a book called Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, the first in a series about a kind of steampunk Civil War-era US; it was good, but a little slow, and I hope the next picks up speed. I’ve also been browsing through cookbooks I got for Christmas, and while I keep finding some great-looking recipes, I am put off by the fact that most seem to be designed for 2 or more people, and I don’t want to have a ton of leftovers sitting around.

Mental health-wise, I think I’ve been doing pretty well, aside from maybe yesterday – the loss of Leonard Nimoy was kind of a hit, because I grew up with Star Trek. While I’m still mostly a Next Generation kid, Nimoy and Spock were a big inspiration to me; I identified a lot with his (and Data’s on TNG) struggles with emotion, because those are issues I still have problems with. It was a joy seeing him in the new Star Trek movies, as well as the recent TV show Fringe, and I’ll miss knowing he’s around – but I imagine he’s off somewhere with James Doohan and DeForest Kelley having some pretty cool afterlife adventures. There’s some other big stuff going on – a good friend of mine is just a few weeks away from leaving Texas for good, as one big example – but I’m taking things as they come, trying to be optimistic and hopeful. I have been thinking, though, about another round of the Gratitude Challenge that I did much earlier in my blog’s lifespan; I think it may be about time to do that, if only to remind myself of all the things I have to be grateful for.

So, that’s what’s going on. My lack of posting hasn’t been a result of too little going on, but rather quite a lot, without a lot of time to try and articulate it here. So, what’s going on with you?

Take Cover!

So, as promised, my blog. This week (well, the first week ended yesterday), I started the Nutrisystem diet. It was not fun, and I can’t say I’d recommend it; it was such an unpleasant experience, and left me with so little energy, that I can’t really say anything good about it; it just didn’t work for me, so I guess I’ll have to find something a bit more tailored. Aside from that, though, the week went well, exemplified by my day on Wednesday, which was a really busy day for me.

First, I woke up earlier than planned, and knowing I would be having company over later (I host my Dungeon World game at my apartment,), I took the time to clean the place up. By clean up, I don’t just mean pick up trash and clothes left on the floor; no, I busted out the cleaning supplies and went to town, cleaning counters, tables, the whole bathroom, and even got rid of the pesky ring in my tub. While I was at it, I tossed some laundry in, and then showered and went to go check my mail. In the mail was my GRE score report, and so with that in hand I came back and plugged in the info to my MSW application for University of Houston, and as that was the last information I needed (aside from a transcript request that I faxed later in the day), I finished it up and sent it off. Then I hopped on technical support to troubleshoot a problem I’ve been having with my laptop’s battery.

Simultaneously, I was planning what to do with my group in my game; it tend to be pretty heavy on the improvisation, because letting my players hang themselves with rope I generously provide (metaphorically speaking, of course) is way more fun than running them through deathtraps I come up with. Once I finished with tech support, I headed out. While out, I filled up on gas, refilled my car tires (they’d been showing as a bit low), got a haircut, sent the fax for my transcript request, and then headed to the grocery store. Normally, game night falls on a night when I work, so all I can provide int eh food department is chips and soda, but since I had the day off I wanted to do something cool for my players and do some cooking, something I don’t get to do often enough. So I had to pick up the ingredients for what I was planning: spinach artichoke dip, and spicy bean dip. Then, loaded up, I headed home.

All of this activity took me from about 9:30 AM to 3 PM or so, and the game time, normally at 7, had been moved up to 5:30, so I had to get started cooking as soon as I got home. I began to realize some of the shortcomings of my kitchen setup, but I persevered, and by just after 5, I had the spinach artichoke dip cooling and the bean dip just finishing, and so I put them both in the oven to keep them warmed up. People started arriving around 5:30, and so I brought out the food and kicked the night off. The last player rolled in around 6:30, with a surprise guest, her boyfriend (who runs a game of his own, but I think wanted to check out the game his girlfriend plays in), and we got started, much of the food having been consumed (sadly not by men, because of the aforementioned Nutrisystem diet, but I am told the dips were quite good, which is cool as they were both first tries for me).

Gaming can be pretty intense at times, and as the guy running the game, it falls to me to describe the areas the players are in, the people they speak with, the fights they get into, and I like to be (often comically) dramatic, so lots of gesticulating wildly and funny voices. It actually was probably a good hour or so before anybody even rolled dice, but nobody seemed to mind overly much. Things went pretty well after that, and we finished up a little after 10, when everybody said their goodbyes and headed out. I proceeded to clean up (nothing severe, just making sure the dip dishes were cleaned so they didn’t attract bugs and getting all the trash situated – my players are good folks, and they don’t leave much in the way of mess, aside from the ones their characters get into), and then, consuming my entirely-too-tiny Nutrisystem dinner, I finally got a chance to kick back and relax.

My day started at around 9:30 (unusually early for me on a day off), and went pretty much nonstop, and with quite a lot getting accomplished, until 10:30. I was tired at the end, and I felt pretty drained, but I also felt a sense of accomplishment, because ordinarily on a good day I’ll accomplish maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of that much. I wouldn’t want to try that kind of thing every day – for one, I just don’t have that much to do every day – but it was nice to get it all done, find myself up to the challenge, and pull everything off well. Especially considering Wednesday now falls right in the middle of my work schedule – I work Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, receiving, sorting, unpacking, arranging, and sometimes repacking big boxes of books for 8 hours at a time, which can wreak havoc on my back and leave me pretty trashed.

I’m currently trying to finish up a job application for a peer specialist position my therapist pointed me towards, and also planning another game (hopefully one run at a game store at a regular weekly time, because my current group, while awesome, can have some truly bizarre scheduling trouble, while trying to keep up on my reading – I just started Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, because I’d like to feel happier, especially on days when I know I should be feeling more upbeat and it just doesn’t happen. And I’m writing this just after finishing up my shift at work, and boy are my feet (and back) sore. So this week has been long, and busy, but also productive, and pretty good. I’m glad I can manage things like this, and now I just have to see, and hope, that I can do it more often.

Incoming!

Just a filler post; been a busy week with a lot going on, but right now I am just too exhausted to type it all out. Look for a more in-depth post tomorrow or Saturday, though.

What’s Goin’ On

So, it’s been almost a month since the last time I posted anything. In that time, there have been doin’s a-transpirin’. I went to Omaha to become my niece’s godfather (though, sadly, there were few Godfather jokes made). It’s weird, because I find most babies terribly annoying, but my niece is just really cute. Also, I took the GRE again, for the first time since I got out of undergraduate college. For only having a little over three weeks to study and plan, I think I did pretty well. I’m waiting to receive the score report in the mail right now, so I can finish off my grad school application and then begin the agonizing wait to find out whether or not I get in. No pressure there, right?

Much like last year, I’m trying a diet thing to try to lose some weight; I don’t know why, but I’ve been feeling very self-conscious lately, and I’m going to try and change that. So starting tomorrow (well, it’ll be today when I post this), So I’m going to try Nutrisystem, and see how that works out – not that I disliked My Fit Foods, but it was more expensive, so if this can do the same thing for less, I think I’d prefer that.

I’m going to try to get back into reading some books on psychology and therapy; I’ve been kind of out of touch in that area for a while, and it’s been bugging me. I think a lot of that has had to do with my mental state over the last two months; losing Calla as a friend hit me really hard, but I think we were both coming at our friendship from different places, and it just couldn’t work out. Part of it probably came from the fact that my social support system is so important to me; I won’t say they’re the main reason I can manage my depression, but they are certainly a very important part of it. And when things get bad for me, I go to the people in my support network and try to talk things out. That might be overwhelming at times, especially if other people are having issues of their own, but I try to reciprocate as much as I can. But we were in two different places, wanting different things, and so it didn’t work out.

Honestly, I keep trying to move on, and I think I’m getting there slowly, but things keep popping up that make it harder. Most days go pretty well, but there’s usually about one night a week where I try to go to sleep but just sit there wondering what could have been, or sit on the couch really wanting to talk to her. I know getting in touch with her is probably not my greatest idea – she was the one who said she no longer wanted to be my friend, so if there’s going to be any further contact, she should be the one to initiate it. That makes sense, right? But still, there are times when I just miss talking to her. She was an important person in my life, and I let her in more than most people, and that emptiness still hurts. And I know that the only thing that can really fill that emptiness is time; trying to fill it with food, or buying things, or other nonsense will just make me more miserable in the long run.

On the upside, my gaming group is still going – though they may regret that, because at our last meeting they did contribute to the resurrection of a dead serpent god, and serpent gods? Not really the nicest deities. Between that and the cabal of elven drug-dealers, they’re making quite a rogue’s gallery. And that’s not even counting the stuff I haven’t hit them with yet. Mine is an evil laugh (and hey, according to Wizards of the Coast, the owner of D&D, February is Dungeon Master Appreciation Month, so appreciate your DM, players!).I’m also trying to start a regular game at a nearby game store, so I can hopefully keep expanding my social ties. I’m open to online gaming, too – it might be a cool way to keep in touch with some old friends from college or grad school, and I’ve been trying out the Final Fantasy MMO, Final Fantasy 14, to spend some time chatting with an old friend.

So in the next couple of weeks, hopefully I’ll be back to reading through some good books – I have one on the psychology of happiness on deck – and trying to work my brain around them here. Maybe I’ll have some amusing gaming anecdotes, and hopefully – fingers crossed – once my application gets in, I’ll be accepted to the social work program at University of Houston. And who knows, maybe I’ll find some cool new people to hang around with, as well as the cool people I hang around with now.So, we’ll see how things go. But this is my notice that I’m back.

Moving On

It’s been over a month since my closest friend was lost to me, and there’s been a lot of sadness and grieving on my part. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what led her to her choice, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop considering her a friend, even if she no longer does the same. But I think the time has come to move on. There’s no going back to the past, even if I wanted to revisit the happier times we shared; there’s only moving forward, and hoping for better. I figure a new year is the perfect time for that.

I don’t know what the new year will bring; soon I’ll be taking the GRE and sending off my application to grad school for my MSW, and hopefully I’ll get in. I want to expand my social circle as, well, since I know another close friend is about to leave Houston. While I enjoy the group of people I currently game with, I want to see if perhaps I can reach out and find some others to play with, a more regular crew that can meet most weeks at a set time. And maybe, if I can find someone who likes me, I’ll try the whole relationship thing again. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find somebody who actually wants to be with me, and that would be a blessing indeed.

I really have no idea what the future holds for me. I know that I will continue my struggles with mental illness; that will never go away, but I will continue to manage it. I hope that I’ll be able to do something for others, if only a few others, going forward, so I’m going to try and find some other good reading on mental illness to get into. Hopefully it will result in some new topics for posting about here, because as you might have noticed, my posting has been pretty sparse lately. And hopefully, with the losses I’ve had to deal with over the last year, this year will be a year of gains instead (the good kind, not like weight gain).

So, whatever the future holds, I guess I’ll be facing it and trying to look on the bright side. Let’s hope it helps.

Anxiety

Ever have one of those days where you listen to a song – on the radio, your favorite playlist, a CD, or what have you – and the words just feel like they’re about you? I’ve been having those a lot lately. There are so many song lyrics that I can think of that practically hit the nail on the head lately, and even though it feels that way, it also feels like a very teenager-y thing to think about. I guess that makes sense, though; My last attempt at a relationship was when I was a teenager, and I don’t think I’ve really progressed that far past that. I haven’t had any reason to, really, because I’ve either never had the courage to try to tell another woman that I Was interested or never gotten more than a few words out of my mouth before being shot down until last year. So I guess I haven’t really had the opportunity to progress. In a lot of ways, I still am that teenager, scared and unsure of myself, especially right now.

I don’t know about you, but me, I have a voice in my head – well, not so much a voice as a nagging sensation telling me that I’m not good enough, that I’ll never be loved, that I’ll never be able to give a woman what they might be looking for in a relationship. For the most part, I can tune that feeling out, especially when I feel like things are going well. But right now, after having lost not only someone I loved but all contact with her, that voice has been singing out loud and proud. It’s there when I wake up, and it’s there when I go to sleep; sometimes it keeps me up an extra hour or two just so it can make sure that I hear all about how it was right, that I am hopeless, that no woman will ever want me, that my best efforts will be seen as not supportive enough or, worse, too needy, into an area that borders on mental or emotional abuse. It’s there, and I don’t know how to make it stop, because somewhere inside of me, I wonder if it isn’t right.

I wish I knew how to stop letting this get to me. I wish there was just something I could do, or say, to convince myself that as painful as this is – to lose both a close friend and someone I love, to have them never want to speak to me again – that the pain is just temporary. I don’t want to see this as a pattern – two failed attempts at relationships, both of which feel like they reached into me, pulled out my heart, and made like Mola Ram. Technically, I suppose I’d need a third for a pattern; two is really just a coincidence, unhappy and unpleasant though it may be. But I also don’t know what to do to move forward. I can never tell if a woman is attracted to me, or even likes me, unless she practically hits me over the head, and right now, I don’t think that even if a woman found anything about me attractive, that I’d be in any shape to do anything about it.

So, as you might have expected from the way this post started out, lyrics:

I don’t fear none of my enemies
And I don’t fear bullets from Uzis
I’ve been dealing with something that’s worse than these
That’ll make you fall to your knees and that’s
The anxiety the sane and the insane rivalry
Paranoia’s brought me to my knees
Lord please please please
Take away my anxiety

Unhappy Holidays

The last two weeks have been two of the most miserable I can remember.

It’s not just losing a friend, someone I loved. That is a big part of it, yes, but not all. It’s the little things around our relationship, the everyday bits and pieces that are a constant reminder. Every time things seem to start healing, something reopens the wound; whether it’s the theme song to Frozen, which I watched with her, and which now plays every day at my workplace; the air freshener scent that was her favorite and pervades my apartment; the favorite movie that I saw first with her. There are lots of little things that make it hard to keep her from my mind. And I can’t, even in this season of peace and love, comfort and joy, even wish her a Merry Christmas.

It doesn’t help that I still have faith in her as a person, and believe that she will, eventually, reach her goals for wellness, and find a better, happier life. I don’t hate her, and I’m not angry at her; far from it. I just don’t know that our ideas of friendship can mesh without better, more honest communication, and right now there isn’t any. I don’t know if friendship would even be good for either of us, but right now I could use more friends.

You see, I just found out a few days ago that one of my closest friends and greatest supports here in Houston is going to be leaving in a month or so. I know she’s been miserable here for a long time; she never wanted to be here, and she was forced to leave her whole previous life behind. And while she values my friendship, she can’t seem to move forward here, and I don’t want to watch her just spin her metaphorical tires and drive herself into further misery just to stay here. I’d much rather know that she has a chance at finding the life she wants back in the place she considers home, even if that means she won’t be able to come hang out at odd hours of the night, or provide energy drinks and comfort when I’m in one of my bleakest moments. I know we’ll still be in touch, but it won’t be the same.

So with the loss of Alice earlier this year, and then a friend who showed me a part of the emotional spectrum I had thought lost to me, and the impending loss (at least in a physical proximity sense) of another close friend and strong support, I’m left wondering what I can do to shore up my support system here.

This is supposed to be a season of hope and miracles, but right now I don’t feel like I have much of either. And while I am confident I will make it through this, I also know that with each loss it will take longer and hurt more.

So while I look forward to spending a day or two next week with my parents, sister, and new niece, I can’t say that these holidays are looking very merry and bright. And, being in Texas, I doubt they’ll even be white.

I hope that all of you who read this look at your own lives, and realize what you have that you value and cherish, whatever or whoever it may be. Because more than any material possession, the people you care about, and who care about you, are the true gifts of the season, and recognizing that is the only bright spot in my holidays this year.