Where have I been? Maybe you’re not really asking. I don’t know how much interest there truly is in this blog, but maybe someone out there misses me and my posts.
Short answer: distracted.
Long answer: Working on my other blog, posting everything I have ever painted/photographed/photo manipulated. And getting way bogged down in the complexities of life.
How am I doing with my New Year’s resolutions? Well… I dunno.
I don’t know if I have recaptured any of my youthful vigor yet. I’m still listening to local music and I even went to a show recently. I left with ringing ears and a headache but dagnabbit I was there!
The first month and a half of 2020 was hell. About mid February everything started to look up. Well, most of it anyway. I honestly had no time to think about trying to go back to all of my good character traits from the past. Instead I would like to think I gained new ones.
I have learned to be content, I faced the struggle of January with a stiff neck and a clenched jaw. I worked myself to exhaustion just trying to keep things afloat. Most of that work was met with success, some of it not so much. But I didn’t let the failures knock me down. I just kept swimming.
When things started to get better, I breathed. I slowed down and took stock of the situation and started planning for the future. Bad times could come again, as they have many times in recent years. Perhaps I can be a bit more prepared so I don’t have to work so hard to stay afloat.
All of this was financial stuff mind you. My house is falling apart, my relationship with my wife is rocky, and my mental health is… Well… It’s day by day.
And that’s just how I’m going to face those challenges: day by day.
Despite my recent absence from this page, I’d like to keep the tradition of birthday/New Year’s resolution making. After all, this year was “Stick to the plan” year, so I should stick to my plan of making plans. Or something like that.
Did I stick to my plans?
Nope. Not even close.
Three months into the year the plans got chucked out the window. The only plan after that was to survive.
In some ways I believe I am better off than I was at the start of the year. With such turbulence often comes a new breadth of wisdom. I have learned and grown and adapted myself to chaos in a way that I always struggled to do before.
In many other ways my life is not so good. It’s obvious that my resolutions should be aimed at fixing those specific problems, right ? Unfortunately, most of life is a complicated web of circumstances, so tweaking one or two things isn’t going to change much. If last year was “Stick to the plan” this year can be summed up as:
“Relearn to be me.”
I kinda want to get back to the person I was at 15. Not the immaturity and the youthful ignorance, mind you. I want to rediscover the good qualities of my youth and combine them with the wisdom of my current age.
I was confident back then. I was warm. I had real friends. I genuinely cared about people and I genuinely loved my own talents and gifts. I had a sense of humor and the ability to be genuinely happy and excited about life.
Twenty years on I feel like I have lost all of that. My confidence was largely dependent on exercising my talents. But now my talents sit in the corner covered in dust. I am a faded version of my old self.
Stress and exhaustion have left me a bit bitter and grumpy. As a result I seem cold and aloof. I have acquaintances, but no one gets close enough to be a friend. I still care about people, but I’m often overly consumed with my own self loathing to love others properly.
It’s going to be an uphill trek. Circumstances were different then, with age comes responsibility and obligations. And so many struggles. I react quite caustically to hard times. When the going gets tough, I drown. There is hardly ever a time to catch my breath.
I have already started working towards these resolutions. I applied to a new job. Just filling out the resume and creating a cover letter was a confidence booster. I used to hate doing them because I despised tooting my own horn, but this time I actually looked at what I wrote. I haven’t completely relinquished my talents.
Those are real accomplishments and real experiences that I have had. I have used my talents in a variety of ways, and each of them is something to be proud of. And if they help me get this job, that is all the more reason to be positive about them.
I plan to force myself off of social media and get into the real world. Social media is a cold, terrible place to interact with others. Real human interaction is a breeding ground for warmth and real relationship. This is probably the most difficult part of relearning to be myself. The entire culture has shifted in the past 20 years to be dominated by fake screen relationships. It’s almost an act of rebellion to seek real people out and make friends of them. But I need friends. Real ones. That I can drink a beer with. So rebellion it is!
“Lesser” things include working out to improve my health and self-esteem, working on my appearance overall (it’s hard to like yourself if you’re a slob), and liking what I like un-self-consciously.
I used to have my own tastes, even weird ones, and it didn’t matter what others thought. Over time I started to care what others think about my likes and dislikes. This is a tremendously crippling worry. Nearly everyone struggles with peer pressure to some extent. But I feel like I lost my entire self to it.
This year I intend to embrace my own tastes, even the “weird” ones. This includes embracing my own talents, even if others aren’t as impressed as I’d like them to be.
I also intend to be warmer to people. I’m going to start smiling more and try a little friendliness. This may not be as much of a return to my past as it is just trying to be a better person. I don’t have to be the creepy silent dude or a mumbler. Friendliness is often reciprocated, and if it’s not oh well. At least my smile brightened up my own day.
While I am sure no one has noticed, sometimes posts pop up and then disappear on here. This is because I am a scatter brained mess. Sometimes I write something and I just think “nahhh, I don’t really want to post this.” and because I don’t know how to use the app as well as I should I schedule the post for a few months out and forget about it.
I think two of them have popped up this week, lingering only a few minutes until I rescheduled them for next month.
Part of the problem is that I have too much going on in my life and in my mind. As much as I like to think I’m a great multitasker, just ask my wife, she’ll probably tell you I’m not even that good at one thing at a time. Apparently I’m good at something if she’s still around…
Anywho. What have I been up to?
Well, I’ve been reading “Philosophy 101” by Paul Kleinman. It’s a basic overview of Western philosophy from pre-Socrates to the modern day. Sometimes it’s difficult to follow, sometimes it’s easy. The easy ones are probably the ones I agree with, so I have a bias.
Personally, I don’t think Mr. Kleinman is the best writer. I have read some of the philosophers he discusses and I understand the direct subject matter better than his descriptions of them. If your summary is harder to understand than the source material, I don’t know what that says about you.
Despite the difficulty of getting through some of the sections, I have learned much. And what I have learned has been surprisingly helpful.
I used my newfound knowledge to debate with Presuppositionalists on Facebook. No one won.
I also “used” it while watching “The End of the F***ing World” on Netflix. Knowing a little more about Existentialism and Nihilism makes the dark humor go down smoother.
Good show. But I cried hysterically afterwards. I don’t recommend watching it after a long week of losing pets and fighting with loved ones. Maybe save it for a day when you just want to feel a bit of ennui, not when you’re already immersed in full blown anxiety.
In addition to finding new shows I have found new music as well. Go check out “Clueless” by Hensley and pretty much the entire catalog of “Remo Drive“. Good stuff.
I’ve also been enjoying the new Steemit. For those of you who only read this on WordPress, you really ought to go check out Steemit. It’s a slow process but eventually it starts paying off. Perhaps one day the cryptocurrency markets will get back up to what they were back in late 2017 and my Steemit account will be worth loads of cash. Until then I will be content with my measly amount.
There are various and sundry other things happening, not all of them blog-worthy. Some are still processing and may end up as posts which pop up and then disappear, or even posts which stick around forever.
I know I said I wanted intimacy, but maybe not that much!
If you follow me at all you probably know I write about all kinds of subjects (how to be a Butthole Wife, abortion, art, music, modesty, sex, politics, you name it). Sometimes I get really personal. I don’t have much of a filter on how much I share. This might get in me in trouble one day!
My post last week got a Facebook like from none other than my pastor. The post where I called out pastors and elders for not being out there in homes. Yeah. That one.
The thing is, I’m not sure I really want what I called for in that post.
Right now my wife and I are working 90 hours a week between the two of us. That means that our time is extremely limited. When we are home we are either sleeping, cleaning, cooking, eating, or catching the kids up on school.
I say cleaning, but what I really mean is we are trying to keep up with just that day’s mess. Not the previous mess from yesterday (and before), just today’s.
We are juggling. And when you juggle you drop things. When you drop things you make a mess. And you’re too busy keeping the rest of your life in the air to clean up every mess.
So messes pile up. Real messes, metaphorical messes, mental messes.
From all outside appearances my life is falling apart. I have nothing together.
Outside appearances are often all that anyone who bothers to peak in sees. Which is precisely why I am terrified of someone suddenly becoming interested in my life. What if they see the messes? What if they see my juggling and my dropping? What if they judge my entire character on the circumstances surrounding this terrifically tumultuous season of my life?
I have to be careful what I say. Someone might take me up on my challenges. Someone my try to get to know the real me, not the mumbly me that most people know. They might see the silly me, the sloppy me, the me that loses his temper way too easily, the anxious me, the passionate me. They may see the ugly side of me. The side of me that struggles with all types of temptations and often fails.
They might get to know me intimately as a friend, only to find out that I can be a disappointment as a friend. I am selfish and miserly. I am far too busy with my own life to take on the weight of others. I can’t invite you to my messy house and I’m too broke to go out for a drink. My texts are all somber and I breathe on the phone. I take far more than I could ever give in return.
I may speak a big game when it comes to intimacy, but ultimately I am too ashamed of myself to let you in.
Except when I blog. I’ll lay it all out for you here.
Not the end of me, nor of this blog. You can’t get rid of me that easily.
No, this is the end of the summer. And the end of a long, hot, dark season of my life.
I had high hopes for this summer. But they were dashed by some not-so-fortunate circumstances. I had plans. But none of them happened.
I learned a lot though: Regret is a terrible response to disappointment. God always provides, though not always how we want or with what we want. Anxiety is physically draining, but you don’t have to let your mind get caught up in what your body’s doing.
We’ve had a rocky couple of months, almost a year’s worth. We almost lost our house. We thought we would. We had our water cut off once (though that was just missing the payment because we were distracted by other bills, we actually had the money) and almost lost it one more time. We spent a week internet-less, much to the kid’s chagrin. We had to reinstate our car insurance twice because it was canceled. We got phone calls threatening to re-possess our trailer (good luck with that). Food got short once or twice. Cars broke down. Jobs were had, jobs were postponed. Church got over-crowded and we had to find a new one (still figuring that one out). The house is in disarray. Projects have been put on hold.
I spent my summer mowing lawns, weeding gardens, and moving boxes and furniture. And a load of driving here there and everywhere.
But now we have two stable jobs. The bills are getting caught up. Routine has come back.
And looking at that list I can’t help but feel it’s all first world problems.
But problems nonetheless. Especially for an anxious brain like mine.
I say I have writer’s block, but really I just have too many ideas. Too many thoughts floating around, bouncing off the walls of my skull. Too many short thoughts without context or the rest of the thoughts to turn them into something good.
The sexual habits of married Christians. Christians and mental illness. Working for Task Rabbit. Being poor. Depression and anxiety and all the troubled thoughts. Several bands local and not. How I want to make art but my life is too messy to do much of anything right now. My back pain. Aging. My many desires that will never come true. My messy house. My tendency to be an escapist. The idiocy of raising the minimum wage.
Pinballs in my head. Any number of topics to be explored. But I am overwhelmed. I am too busy with trying to stay afloat in so many ways to begin digging too deep into anything.
My life revolves around trying to make money to pay the bills. Free time is unfortunately limited but all too abundant. I need more work, even if more work means less time for life. Life is work and work is life at this point.
Praying that it all settles. But who really knows? This could be my life for awhile. I hope not, but at least it’s interesting, right? Maybe when it settles I’ll have some tales to tell.
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Fortunes change for better or worse, sometimes changing as frequently as the wind. One never knows what tomorrow will bring. Recently we have been under a bit of a shake-up, a stressful change in fortune which leaves the stomach in knots and the eyelids droopy from lost sleep.
But it’s turning out. Slowly….
All the anxiety is turning into fruitful action. We are doing, instead of just talking. We are stepping up instead of just teetering on worried legs.
We are moving ahead.
Even though the thought of change is a terrifying thing to a comfort lover like me, I’m excited to see what this next chapter brings. I’m cautiously optimistic that our decisions, as unconventional as they may be, will turn out for our benefit.
Keep reading, I’m hoping these next few months will be an explosion of new growth and material.
Maybe you follow me. Maybe you don’t. If you do, you might have noticed my recent absence. What is the reason for this absence, you may or may not ask?
Long story short: life is nuts. I was going to “stick to the plan” this year. It would seem that plans are obviously for the weak. God laughs at our plans. He has better ideas for us.
We haven’t stuck to the plan. We have made a decision to stay in Florida and pursue whatever we can. This has led to mounting debt and some very tight weeks, since the “whatever we can” has been slow to materialize. Sure, I’m driving a bus full time and doing delivery on top of that, but the money sucks.
I know that this is intended to make us more trusting and reliant on the Lord. But pain and struggle is never fun to go through. Getting used to a routine of 4:30 AM wake ups and virtually no time to myself has been a big adjustment from last summer’s mountain top freedom. So has getting used to the lack of funds.
And seeing others in more difficult situations makes me feel ashamed for feeling overwhelmed. I feel like I should be able to suck it up. I guess different people handle different levels of stress. I thought my tolerance level was higher, but it seems I am wrong. However, stuff that was huge to me before is practically nothing now. It amazes me to think I got so worked up over so little not that long ago.
I can only hope that means that what I am anxious about today is going to feel very small to me in the near future. I do realize that that could be the case in two ways: either my future problems will be that much bigger (like now versus three years ago) or the problems will be resolved and I will realize how trifling they were in the scheme of things. Let’s pray it’s the latter.
One reason I have been away from here is that I started journaling. Something about handwriting out all of your feelings, fears, and doubts is cathartic. It may not be as quick as typing but you can’t beat the tactile feel of a pencil scraping across paper. I love to make marks with my hands, no matter the medium. And I love to make words. What better way to combine those loves than with a journal?
You should be glad I am writing in that book. Along with the busyness increase there has been a flare up of the old anxiety. Not the particular anxieties of money and weariness, no, the general anxiety that speaks some pretty awful things into my brain. I get those out on that paper. There was a time when I thought “hey, I’ll be real on my blog”, but those days are gone, or at least put away for a bit until I can get a lid on this nonsense.
There is a plan now, and contingencies. It’s not all bad. There is dim light at the end of the tunnel.
I am a bit sporadic on this blog if you haven’t noticed. I don’t write consistently and when I do write the subjects are all over the place. My mind doesn’t function in a linear way, everything is intersectional. Connections are made where perhaps there should be none. Dead ends are frequent. Hanging bits…
I have been told, and have read on other blogs, that this is no way to blog. Blogs should be consistent and subject matter oriented. Readers should know what to expect and when to expect it. This gets a blogger tons of followers and many tons more hits. He/she might even make a bit of money for some well read posts.
But that’s boring. At least to me it is. I don’t want to read about the same subject day after day after day. And I really don’t want to read someone’s whole life story before I get to a recipe, especially if the whole post is inundated with ad after ad for junk I don’t want.
Variety is the spice of life, right? That’s why I usually only post when I have something I think is interesting to say. I like to keep you guessing about when the next post will be and what random subject I’ll be spouting off about. That was the whole point of this blog, to be unconventional and a bit off the deep end.
But now I am entering a new chapter in my life and I want to be more stable and more intentional. I want to settle down and be more successful with all the facets of my life. This may mean that you will be seeing recipes from me, but instead of telling you my entire life’s story I will probably just say “Hey, here’s a recipe!” This may mean I’m going to try to stick to one subject for at least one day a week, like I have been with my “Music and Art Mondays”.
It may mean even that I disappear for awhile while I figure this whole behemoth out. So if I’m not around for awhile it’s because I’m letting my brain reset. There is too much data floating around in there and I take in far more than I should. A much needed sabbatical is looking good right now. I just haven’t decided if it should be just a break from social media or a break from everything online.
Again my brain is too ADD to focus on one topic at a time, so here are a few to chew on:
Outrage Porn and Social Media:
I was kicked off Facebook for a week last week. Not by Facebook mind you, but by my wife. She changed my password and I was only allowed on to share my blog posts. As grumpy as I was at first I’m glad she did it.
I did not realize just how much time I spend on there. Every spare moment is spent mindlessly scrolling through the newsfeed blindly clicking reaction buttons. And for me most of what shows up in the feed is nonsense trolling or posts designed to stir irritation. Or click bait.
So much of what is out there is nothing but outrage porn. Someone posts some video or article or screenshot of a Tweet that has something horrible in it. Everyone else jumps on board and rants about it. They too share it and on and on it goes. Outrage porn is not quite click bait, it’s more akin to virtue signaling.
Basically outrage porn is designed to outrage who ever views the content. People who post it are basically saying “Look! Look at me! Look how outraged I am! Aren’t I special?!” Well, no, you’re not really special if you’re angry about something that most people are angry about.
It’s not just Facebook where you find toxic people. Pretty much everywhere you look you can find them. Go to work and people are disgruntled. All they want to do is gossip and complain. It gets old quickly. I could very easily be dragged down into the office politics and misery of these people but I prefer not to.
Not being on Facebook gave me the perfect opportunity to put energy into productive pursuits. I managed to write more. I engaged in some of the creative activities that I had been neglecting. I got on Instagram, which is wayyyy better than Facebook in terms of posts to get angry about.
Who knows, I may self-impose the next hiatus!
Posts and Editing:
In the past I would just write my posts and never look at them again. I might tweak a few things here and there before posting, but heavy editing to ensure clarity? Ha! My thinking was “If you read it and don’t get it, you just don’t get it, there is no helping you.”
Then my wife started reading my posts and critiquing them (not mean critiques though, helpful ones). She offered to edit my posts from now on. You will notice that she edited the post on Wednesday. That post turned out to be a very successful post. Who knew that someone who knows me so well could interpret my words better than me? She does a much better job than I do of understanding me sometimes. Now that I think about it, she is often my translator when people have no idea what I’m saying.
I think I will go back and edit some of my old posts for clarity. From now on, with the exception of this post, I’ll have her look over my posts before I subject others to them.
Since I was on the topic of outrage. There are some things in the world that you should legitimately be angry about. The latest law in New York and the push for a law in Virginia allowing abortion up to birth is something that we should be outraged about.
However, I’m not sure the best way to share my opinions on the subject. I could make posts on Facebook about it which would lead to endless arguments and the anger from my friends who mostly don’t know what they’re talking about. Or I could post it here and maybe ten people will read it. I have written about it before and the stats are pretty sad.
Let’s just say I oppose all abortion and I find the latest developments pretty disgusting.
That’s it for now. There are other things bouncing around in there but they will have to wait. Soon, brain, soon…
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