Being An Adult Is Hard

I’m sure you can all agree with my above statement and if not… then please tell me your secrets so I can be living the good life too! I would love to live one of those picture perfect lives where everything you do and stuff is instagram worthy and make sit look like its all so effortless but, apparently, I’m not graced with that (though from what I’ve read not a lot of people are even of those who make it seem like they are).

So I not only just got diagnosed with Lyme disease recently (something my doctor is pretty sure I’ve actually been struggling with for a while without knowing it – something that is very common) but I have also gotten a job! I am ecstatic at having some income and a reason to leave my house every now and again. However, there is one thing that I am slowly learning that I sorta wish I’d already known and that is that I am just not built for retail.

Now I want to make this very clear: I have the utmost respect for those who actually work retail because it is not an easy job.

Now I want to delve more into why I can’t do retail and why I’m coming to terms with that as being okay and not something I need to force myself into. To start I want to explain the reason why I can’t do retail, which is really quite simple. I can physically do all the things that the job requires of me, that part isn’t the problem, but when it comes to dealing with that many people for 4 to 8 hours a day (depending on the length of my shift) I can’t cope with it. This part of the work is so mentally and emotionally draining that I basically become a bit of a walking zombie by the end of even a 4 hour shift.

Now you might be asking why is that and I’ll happily answer that for you. The simplest answer is that I am introvert and have really bad anxiety on top of that. Let’s break that down and talk about each reason on its own.

We’ll talk first about the introvert part. I have a feeling a lot of you know what an introvert is and why someone who is in this class of personalities might not make such a good retail worker. Being an introvert means that one gains their energy from time spent in a more solitary setting doing something calming rather then gaining energy through shared experiences with groups of friends. It does not mean that I do not like to socialize but that I prefer to do it on my own terms with small numbers of people who I know and feel comfortable around. Though even with those people I consider friends I can still get overwhelmed and I certainly still need time on my own to recharge my battery. Basically the fact that I have to deal with a large number of people who I don’t know every day working in a cafe means that I am very quickly drained of my energy reserves since I am required to be an extrovert at work. That on its own is quite tiring but not enough to be utterly draining.

Now add to the natural introvert nature the anxiety and you start to see why it becomes something that is so overwhelming. I am not currently taking medication for my anxiety (though my therapist has recommended it but my own personal issues with taking lots of meds are sort of getting in the way) and I don’t really have any coping mechanism in place to deal with it either. This means that I spend pretty much my entire work day panicking about things that haven’t happened and generally aren’t really likely to happen. I panic that I’m going to mess up someone’s drink horribly and they’ll be angry or that I’ll take too long and they’ll be upset. Its all these little things that build on each other in such a way that even writing this is making my chest feel tight, making breathing difficult, and giving me jitters and I’m not even at work right now.

It is this combination of things that results in a draining of every ounce of energy that I would prefer to be putting into writing (something that requires a lot of emotion for me to do well). I end my day wanting nothing more then to curl up on my own couch and just lay there. The most I do in the evenings when I work is read or play with my dog because he’s adorable and demanding. It takes me multiple days off in a row to recover even a fraction of that energy and by then I’m back to work again. I realize this is an unsustainable cycle in the long run because it will, inevitably, lead to me not writing anything at all which defeats my life goal of becoming a writer.

This job will eventually eat away at all my free time just as the previous retail job I had did and I’ll wind up miserable again and yet I get myself into this situation again and again. I want to work and make money. I want to be able to go in and do my job every day and still write in the evenings. I want to be a normal(ish) member of society who can do their job without it being detrimental to my mental and physical well being. These are all things I am desperately trying to grasp at while making sure I’m not doing myself the grave disservice of forcing myself into a situation where I have to pick work or my love and desire to write stories that touch people’s souls. It is a struggle and I don’t know how to win because the ‘responsible’ adult in me says to forgo writing for now in favor of having a stable job even if it means I’m exhausted and emotionally drained outside of work because that’s what everyone expects and wants of me. But on the other hand the dream in me says to screw work and go all in for that perfect life I dream about, the one where I can create and make things on a daily basis and not worry about money. These two aspects of my being are so fundamentally different that I don’t know how to reconcile them.

My entire being and soul yearns to be creative and make beautiful things that people can admire and that make them feel something but my mind reminds me to be practical and says I don’t have the skill or resources to make that a viable possibility. I want to reject my current reality in favor of the one I wish to create but the fear of failing and being without the resources to live are a crippling weight that I do not know how to shake off.

Maybe some day I will look back on this time in my life and see the path I’ve taken has lead me to where I want to be… but I fear I’ll look back and realize this was the moment of me giving up all those dreams.

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What Even Are Words?

There are days when I just don’t even really know what words are and that’s really annoying. Its not the dyslexia that causes it, though that does make words generally difficult and bothersome on a regular basis, but rather something else. Some part of my brain just sort of refuses to allow words to connect into a coherent sentence or thought. They become these foreign things that take on a life of their own.

On these days the words themselves morph into sentient beasts that refuse to be tamed or often times even to be found. I cannot remember common things are such as forks (obviously a dinglehopper) or spoon. I’ll start some sentence with an idea of where I want it to go but halfway through it takes a sharp 180 and I no longer know where to go but only where I came from. At such times I tend to wind up repeating the start of the sentence again while gesticulating wildly as if that will get my meaning across. Not that wild arm waving and gesturing in a direction actually is all that clear to anyone else.

There’s just something about the words that eludes me in the most frustrating way possible. They are all there on the tip of my tongue or hiding in the dark corners of my mind where they are just barely out of sight. I can feel them tauntingly close as I want to speak them but my tongue cannot form them and my fingers hesitate over the keys. I become entangled in my own inability to articulate to others what I mean or what I want to say.

On these days I find I wind up saying things that I don’t mean if only because I can’t figure out how to say the things I do. And my writing becomes convoluted and circular in a bad way (if you can believe that!). More then once I’ve went to go read back through what I’ve written on such days only to cringe and delete the entire thing for the simple fact that it has gone nowhere and barely makes sense.

I often wonder if other authors, would be authors, and people in general ever experience such days. If not perhaps it really is something to do with my dyslexia but that just doesn’t feel right. Maybe its just my brain denying the truth because I refuse to let it come down to that one little fact that has defined so much of my life yet again. I don’t want to think that everything I do or am is somehow connected to something I was born with and that I could very well pass on to any future children I choose to have because its a part of my DNA. I want there to be parts of my life that don’t revolve around the fact that my brain isn’t wired to work in the “normal” standard manner. I think that’s a bit of a failing on my own part. I should accept and embrace that my dyslexia has so shaped and formed my life that I get to think and see things the way I do. I know for sure that my view point is unique unto me because of my experiences in life and so many of those experiences have been shaped and caused by the dyslexia. Nothing drove this home more for me then mathematical proofs in High School (if you remember these then you’re either cringing in utter horror or grinning in delight). With mathematical proofs you were supposed to be from point A to point D in precise planned out steps in exact order or it didn’t count. It didn’t matter that my answers were always right because the way I got to them was not the “correct” set of steps. It didn’t matter that my way was shorter because I made intuitive leaps that were considered “wrong” by the standards set by some guy (or girl) who was probably no longer alive. It was glaringly obvious then that my brain decided to go about figuring problems out from a different point of view and with a different set of guidelines then what society considers “normal” and “right”.

This has become a lot deeper then I really meant it to. I’d just meant to comment on how some days I just can’t words and it amuses myself and my friends but then I just let it go. I suppose that’s really what this blog is for in the end. I wanted a place that I could share my writing and my thoughts so this still applies. These are my own thoughts that I am sharing with you now. So, again, what even are words? If you know please do enlighten me.

Story Start To Story Snippet

(A while ago I posted a story start about Fay and people not remembering if they existed or not. Well I finally got a sort of interesting idea in my head for a start to something and it fit best with this idea. So I wound up writing it down at a Starbucks this weekend over an iced chai tea latte with soy milk – I’m lactose intolerant. Either way I wanted to share the progress of this and give you all a chance to see and critique what I came up with!)

 

Foreword

It is said that long ago the Fay and other such creatures retreated from this world. But the problem with long agos is that no human is alive who remembers them.

 

Chapter One

The stars winked in and out of view behind wisps of cloud that floated aimlessly across the sky. The only indication of their existence was the blacking out of the stars that they, themselves, caused. There was no moonlight to give a silver lining to the edges of those wisps and, in fact, there was no moon at all. It was one of those rare nights when it was a new moon that had drifted over the horizon early in the evening, brushed along the treetops, and dipped back out of view. And this far out into the uninhabited mountains there wasn’t any residual light from the settlements that lay on the plains below.

It was on nights like this when the shadows run the deepest that it was easy to trick the brain into believing that something was out in the woods moving among that near absolute blackness. It was always said that nights like this were the times when dreams were closest to our world, so close in fact that many said whatever one dreamed on a night like this would come to being in the darkness only to fade away with the morning light. Perhaps it truly was the dreams of those slumbering through this dark night that were causing the flickering movement in the shadows or perhaps it was something else entirely.

Vanja was inclined to believe that it was neither. Instead she preferred to believe that her tired eyes that were ill suited to seeing in the dark were simply mistaking the swaying of a branch or two for movement of something she could not name or properly see. Still, her eyes tracked those swaying motions deep in the shadows as she listened to the muttering taking place behind her.

Ideally the fire would have been lit way before this but heavy rains all evening had prevented them from getting that task done. Now Somerled was struggling with that while Mieke and Noelia were trying to cobble together some sort of dry patch for them all to sleep on for the night. It was Vanja’s job to keep an eye out for anything that might want to harm them, of which there was plenty that actually existed in the world. This forest was deep and old, made mostly of pines this far up into the mountains. The only good thing was that it was the height of summer and not the dead of winter. This was a two fold gift in that the weather, while rainy, was not below freezing even tonight and most of the predators around here had plenty of game far easier to hunt and catch then the four humans.

A Light Bulb Going Off

Writers block is a terrible thing that all writers have to deal with at one point or another. If someone who claims to be a writer tells you they’ve never had writers block then please send them in my direction because I would love to know their secrets! I have had a lot of writers block in my life and I’ve heard a million different ways of dealing with it.

The most frequent advice I have been given is to take a step back and go do something else while letting yourself think about it. Or, you know, not think about it because that might be better. Either way its usually advice saying that you need to step away from the problem and give myself time to let my thoughts figure themselves out.

Honestly this never really seems to work for me and I usually just get myself more confused and more blocked. It just never seemed to work for me and I just didn’t understand why. I thought I had to be doing it wrong or that I had to be mixing it up somehow because if everyone said it then it had to work, right? After all no one would be giving out advice if it didn’t work for them or work for someone, right?

Well I think its because it certainly works for some but not for everyone and I’m just not one of those people it works for. That really hit home today when I was googling random writing related quotes and found this one. I think I’m one of those people who needs to write through my thinking block and not think through my writing block. I think I’ve been looking at it wrong all this time because its not really writing block for me so much as its a thinking block. My brain is getting in the way of the story and I need to let it get all its words out of the way so it can get back on track.

So, here is my contribution for today and to all those other writers out there who aren’t finding the “just think through it” advice for writing block helpful. Hopefully you’ll find this advice as helpful as I have found it.

Yeah… I’ve Got Nothing

So I’ve spent most of today trying to figure out what to post about today…. and, like the title says, I’ve got nothing. I’ve wracked my brain over and over again but I keep coming back to a big old blank page. To me blank pages are a little daunting and most certainly intimidating so I think I’ll talk about that.

One of my biggest challenges in writing is honestly just getting started. Those first few words that I put down on an otherwise blank page seem impossibly difficult to pick out from all the words in the English language. I feel like they carry so much weight and thus must be the perfect words to start a new story or a new whatever its going to be. I feel like everything that I think of to put down just isn’t good enough. Even starting this I wasn’t sure about what words to use and kept second (third, and even forth) guessing myself.

I feel like I frequently forget that I can go back and change the start if I don’t think its up to grabbing people’s attention. Just because I’ve put words down doesn’t mean they have to stay there in that particular order forever. This is a medium that can be changed and altered at any time when inspiration or thought hits home and provides you with exactly the words you think are best. And of course your opinion on what exactly is best can change as well. One day you might think you have hit on the very best idea out there and the next day you go back and wonder what the hell you could possibly have been thinking the day before.

Frankly I find a page with words on it much preferable to a completely blank page. Once I’ve gotten started and have something down its easier to continue from there and keep going. I feel like the words somehow get together and birth more words in my brain but its that first spark of black on a white page that is so very hard to come by. In the end, however, every great novel has (at one pointed) been born from a blank page. The words needed the space to move, breath, expand, and become the great work of words it was meant to be. And even then it only does that after you’ve gone back a time or two and allowed yourself to edit the words on what had at one point been nothing more then a blank page.

So maybe I shouldn’t fear the blank page but embrace it as a chance to create something new that, in the end, may or may not be all that great. But without that first creation on a blank page I’ll never find all the words to write a novel worth reading.

Awkward Small Talk – First Draft

Eulalia had purposefully picked a table in the corner that allowed her to face the rest of the room while having two walls behind her. No one could come up behind her and startle her and she could easily see anyone heading her way and attempt to avoid conversation by ducking behind her computer and pretending she was busy. It was a good coping mechanism with not wanting to talk to most people or at least that was Eulalia’s opinion on the matter.

She’d finally gotten herself engrossed with the show she was catching up on when she reached out to pick up her chai tea and realized it was empty. That was enough to bring her attention out of the show and back to reality. She let out a little annoyed sigh and stood, jerking her headphones out of her ears with a wince as she did so. She looked around, her cheeks already flushing with embarrassment, to see if anyone had noticed. A few people were looking at her and she quickly averted her gaze, hastily trying to get her headphones coiled on top of her laptop. After a few moments of struggle she just left them where they were and made her way back into line at the counter. The little cafe was busy but mostly with people just grabbing their order and going so she didn’t feel too worried about leaving her stuff. Not to mention it was within her line of sight the entire time anyway.

She was focusing on the board trying to memorize her order so she wouldn’t stutter over it and get it wrong again when she heard her name called from behind her. The sound practically caused her to jump out of her skin as she turned with wide eyes to look behind her. She could already feel her heart both sinking and galloping a mile a minute, neither of which was an enjoyable feeling. The voice was masculine and slightly familiar but the face, when she saw it, brought a blank to her mind.

“Ah yes?” The words came out more as a question then she meant it to, which made her cringe. She was still groping for a name and bringing up nothing. She knew this guy was a friend of her brother’s that she’d been introduced to one or maybe two times before but that was all she was getting.

“It’s good to see you again!” Mister Nameless came up towards her with arms outstretched. If Eulalia could have she’d have stepped back up she was frozen to the spot and wound up giving the guy an awkward one armed hugged.

“Oh, um, you too?” Oh god there she went again speaking in questions instead of sentences, she really needed to stop doing that. At least she hadn’t stuttered just yet! That was a blessing from whatever god was watching over her right then.

“How have you been?” Mister Nameless was beaming at her as if nothing was wrong and somehow that made it worse. Could he tell she didn’t recognize him and was gloating about it? Was he going to tell her brother about how awkward she was later? Her brain was certainly working perfectly if in a negative spiral of anxiety even if her mouth seemed almost glued shut.

“Oh, you know good.” Ah, that time she managed to make it a statement and not a question. She paused and god was she pausing too long? Before she realized it was probably polite to ask in return even though she wanted to turn away instead. “So, how about you?” And wasn’t that just the worst having to come up with a way to ask the same question that wasn’t just a parroted repeat of the way the other had asked it first? If it wasn’t then she didn’t know what possibly could be.

“Well I’ve been out of the state for the last few weeks visiting with family, you know how it goes.” Mister Nameless started prattling on and Eulalia could feel her palms growing sweaty. He was still talking but Eulalia had accidentally tuned him out and, with a guilty start, dragged her brain back to focusing just in time for the next dreaded question. “How has school been going?”

She gulped and for a moment forgot what her major even was much less how class had been going. “Oh, school?” Why had she said that? She sounded like an idiot. “It’s, uh, been good. I’m almost done. You?” Why did she just ask you with no context? That had to be confusing and she dropped her gaze quickly to avoid the strange look she knew Mister Nameless had to be giving her.

And now he was laughing and she had to physically stop herself from cringing because that couldn’t be good, right? He had to be laughing at her and what she’d said. She barely managed to peek up at his face before her eyes riveted themselves to the floor again. “If you mean how school is going for me,” Mister Nameless said, and was that a mocking tone in his voice or just condescending? “Well I graduated a year ago so I’ve been out of that loop for a while. Finals getting to your brain Eulalia?”

“Ah, yes… that must be it,” she mumbled, inching forward in line. She was almost desperate now to get to give her order and scurry back to the safety of her table. “So, um, how was the weather for your trip?” That was an appropriate question to ask someone who’d just recently been on a trip, right? Or was she supposed to ask about what he’d done? She never could rightly remember.

“Good, good.” Mister Nameless waved a hand to indicate that the last person in front of them in line had already moved off. “Why don’t you let me treat you and we can chat a bit more?” He gave her a bright smile and again her brain told her that he had to be relishing in her awkwardness to be smiling at her because what other reason could there be?

“S-sure.” She managed to mumble out even though she desperately wanted to shout the word no and make a break for it. She turned to the barista and managed to mumble out her order after a few tries. She stepped back while Mister Nameless ordered and paid, dreading when he’d turn around.

Oh god, was this ever going to end?

Story Start – 2

“By the time I was born there were no more trees.”

This was a sentence that I started with a while ago and have since developed into a story. I really wrote it when I was feeling particularly upset about the way we (as in humanity) were treating rain forests and forests in general. We’ve made some great leaps and bounds recently and seem to be coming around to realizing we have to protect and preserve these areas if we want to have a bright future but we still have a lot of work to go. Still, I really just liked the idea of writing a post apocalyptic story that involved a lack of trees instead of all the ones that seem to take place in forests or cities being retaken by forests.

Anyway, here’s the first two paragraphs of the story as it stands right now:

“By the time I was born there were no more trees. How do I know there were no more trees? Because I’ve seen paintings of trees hanging in the Hall of History but I’ve never seen a single one arching beautifully into the pale blue sky. Though, for that matter, the sky is hardly ever pale blue here as it is in those paintings. Instead it tends to be varying shades of gray depending upon what the weather is that day. On what one could call a nice day the sky is a light gray with sunlight filtering through a layer of smog thick enough to choke on if you go to high and on the bad days the gray is so dark one could understandably mistake it for being black instead. On days like that I used to sneak into the Hall of History and stare up at the paintings of things I knew I would never see.

The Hall of History held more than just paintings of trees of course. It also held paintings of animals of all kinds that no longer existed as well as plants and even a couple people. There were forms of art there that we couldn’t replicate and to me they were the most precious and beautiful thing left to us. It was those paintings that showed us what the Others had taken from us. The Others were all those that had taken of the world without giving back until they’d choked it into near death and left us and it to rot away. They were the ones who, through money and power, had managed to flee to what had been classified as Earth Two.”