Therapy yesterday…

I go to a psychologist weekly (usually). We talk about a lot of stuff, from my marriage to work to friends to dreams, and even my writing sometimes. It’s been really helpful, I’ve figured out a lot of stuff, and obviously I’m still a work in progress. But it’s something I definitely recommend!

Anyway, last week I sort of dropped something in at the end, as is my trademark, almost. I mentioned that something that has been weighing on me off and on over the past year is this concept of “emotional cheating.” A friend brought it up ages ago, and it left me a bit unsettled, as I wasn’t sure I understood the concept. And I never really *thought* about it, it was just something that would surface every once in a while. So she tasked me with, over the course of the next week, trying to figure out what it meant to me. How I would define it.

So there was some journaling, with… well, some mixed results. I figured some stuff out, still unsure about others. But I did make some progress, at least!

I started off my session yesterday talking about this, and touched on some things that I came up with. And finally, FINALLY, I decided to bite the bullet and bring something up that I’ve considered bringing up at least once per month since I started seeing her. I admit, it was really scary. My fear has been that it is something SO TERRIBLE that I’m really abnormal and there is something wrong with me.

Turns out I’m not abnormal. At all. I’m in fact, perfectly normal. That everybody does this thing. Which I’m not admitting to here, because baby steps, ok.

So we ended up talking about this for a huge chunk of our session. And I felt a bit embarrassed about parts of it, but her constant reassurance was soooooo helpful. Ultimately, I felt really relieved at the end of it.

But here’s where the other shoe drops.

So I leave to go back to work (I use my lunch hour for this) and I’m two minutes away. When it dawns on me.

THIS IS TOTALLY NORMAL AND EVERYBODY DOES IT.

EVERYBODY.

And I just… my brain just kinda overloaded at that realization.

I know what I’m thinking.

WHAT THE HELL ARE OTHER PEOPLE THINKING.

Let me tell you. That was one of the most difficult afternoons at work ever.

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Today was rough…

Work was super rough today. Yesterday, I wanted to code and enter a bunch of invoices that have been piling up over the past couple of weeks. Well I only got through the coding. When I went to upload them, the client’s software was being a right bitch. So I said, ok, I’ll do them tomorrow (today). So today I get in, and go to get started on them first thing. I get them all loaded, and it takes about 45 minutes, between the software just being slow and me being interrupted. I finally start in on entering, yay! But I have to stop to go to a meeting. Said meeting takes about half an hour. Come back, more entering. And then by the time lunch rolls around, between the software being terribly slow and even more interruptions, I’m maybe halfway done. FML. Go to lunch, because fuck this shit, I am so done with the “I have all this shit to do, I’m just gonna work through lunch” mindset, it is NOT good for my mental health. Especially this, because I desperately needed a break, and thought coming back refreshed would be beneficial. Get back from lunch, more entering, and finally, an hour and a half later, I’m done! Thank. Fucking. Shitchrist.

Then I get to move on to the stuff that yesterday, before the whole entering thing got axed, I thought I’d be starting at, ya know, 8am today.

Then finally it’s 3:30. Fuck this shit.

On top of all of this… I have this one coworker, M, who… Is a bit of a prankster. We haven’t really been close, up until this past year. But I started eating lunch with M & comrades, there’s 6 total including me that make up the usual group. So I’ve gotten closer to all of them, to varying degrees. M perhaps moreso than anyone else, outside of A, because (1) they’ve worked there for long periods of time, so they’re good for advice, and (2) because with my changing job duties, I get to interact more with them. And there’s just something about them. Now that we’ve gotten past the semi-awkward, only know each other well enough to make small talk, phase and have moved into relatively comfortable territory, I’m actually getting to know them as people and friends, not just coworkers.

Anyway. So M is a bit of a prankster. Getting to know M, we’re starting to edge into … geez, how do I describe this. I don’t want to say meaner pranks, but stuff that you wouldn’t do with people you don’t know very well, because you don’t know how they’ll take it. Well, me being me and overly paranoid and anxious, I was worried that our last interaction, I might have crossed a line. Why do I think this? Because heaven forbid M actually work, oh no, M must be avoiding me. Yes, brain, this is completely true. *sigh*

So not only was I frustrated about what I got accomplished today (or lack thereof) but I was also anxious that M wanted to push me away a bit.

ALSO. I was just reminded. I had a laughing while breathing issue at lunch today, and inhaled a small piece of spicy noodle. And I think it’s STILL IN MY GODDAMN SINUSES. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

But, the plus side is that I did see M towards the end of the day, and confirmed that yes, I was absolutely worrying about nothing, M is still going to be antagonistic, so I will feel free to dish it right back out. ūüėÄ

It’s amazing how that one little interaction affected my mood… But that happens a lot to me. Sometimes I wish I could turn my brain down…

Election Day!

I was a bit torn today on whether or not to go vote, I have to be honest. There were a few county seats and local seats up, and just 3 issues on the ballot, so I wasn’t sure it would be worth my time. But I decided on my way home from work that I was going to.

The seats, honestly I couldn’t care less about. Supervisor, sheriff, … some others…

But the big thing I cared about was the first issue, which was the Constitutional Convention.

I started seeing yard signs for this issue a month or two ago, and had absolutely no idea what it was. Queue up the research hat. Turns out, New York state is special (surprise!) and every 20 years, votes on whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention. This is a chance to basically wipe the slate clean and re-write the state Constitution, and bypass the normal legislative procedures. So it’s very, VERY fast in comparison. The catch is that all the changes made must ALL pass. So if there’s say 7 things up for a vote, and only 6 of them pass, it doesn’t count and nothing happens.

A lot of people are against this for a number of reasons. One of the big ones I’ve seen is that state pensions could be jeopardized. And I know a fair number of people who would be affected by that. Also, it’s a big expense with no guarantee of any meaningful outcome, other than a giant waste of everybody’s time and money. It’s also interesting in that anybody can run to be a delegate, and there is no limit on contributions to these delegates. Which is a bit scary. I mean, that opens the floodgates of potential corruption (“corruption”) and buying off delegates.

MID BLOG UPDATE: Apparently we decided NOT to have a Constitutional Convention. By an astounding majority at this point. NYT is reporting that 81% voted against it. This is not particularly surprising… I don’t think anybody I talked to about it was in favor of it.

Personally, I was on the fence about it, and didn’t decide until I had my ballot in front of me. On one hand, there is the potential for things to go terribly against what I would be in favor of. But on the other hand… that same potential could mean amazing things could happen! Do you keep with the devil you know, as my coworker stated earlier, or do you risk it all for the unknown?

The important thing though is that I voted. And I got my sticker.

America is not the greatest country in the world

Facebook kindly reminded me that a few years ago, I shared the opening clip to the TV show Newsroom. Here is the important part: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkgJZntgaEc

I was resharing it on Facebook, and realized I could go on for much, much longer about how much this resonates with me, so I cut it short and decided to bring the babbling over here.

I think the part that resonates the most with me this time around is:
“We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior.”

Shit is complicated. Unless you are an expert or have spent ungodly hours researching something, chances are you don’t know everything there is to know about any one given topic. You may think, “Well I know enough,” but that’s not true, that’s never true. One example, one deviation from the norm, that is not enough. Try to learn, try to understand, try to see things from another perspective.

I think I’ve spoken about this previously, perhaps not on here, but this relatively neatly loops together the backfire effect and the attitude of “educated” people to those who are not.

It’s so, so easy to pull one little fact that supports your belief and say, “Hey, here is proof that I am correct!” and leave it at that. And when someone tries to explain to you why you might be wrong, a couple things happen. One is that hey, they’re sounding kind of condescending, so you’re less inclined to listen to them. Another is that they’re potentially threatening one of your core beliefs, can’t have that! This is very strongly a part of who I am, and I cannot admit to being wrong! So all this combined with any opinions you have about the other person makes it so very difficult to have an actual¬†discussion about anything without it devolving into a fight. (Or someone getting offended and leaving.)

I don’t know if it’s people don’t want to learn, people don’t know how to learn, or what. But there are a fair number of people out there that, even though they may ask “I don’t understand, can someone explain?” are unwilling to hear out the other side.

Take the “Welfare Queen” stereotype, for example. This was some made up concept (by Reagan?) to bias people into thinking that everyone on welfare was just lazy and taking advantage of the system. They don’t want to work if they know they’re going to get free stuff! Nevermind the people that have lost their jobs and need to figure out how to make ends meet for a few weeks or months in the interim. Nevermind the single parents who can only take a low-paying job because they need a flexible schedule. Nevermind the college students who get fucked by their schools and literally don’t have enough hours in the day to work and study. And nevermind the people who had an unexpected medical issue come up and have to choose between hospital bills, food, and rent each month. But goddamn it, one person freaking bought steak and lobster with food stamps, so everybody must be doing that. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck that.

Intelligence is not something to be shunned. Trying to have a discussion is not something to be shunned. Not everybody is out to prove you wrong, and I’m not trying to say you’re a bad person for your opinions. (Usually.)

Can we all try a little harder to embrace these ideas?

Long time no blog…

And of course it’s nobody’s fault but my own! Because I have commitment issues, or fear of being judged, or whatever other excuse you’d prefer. Or maybe I’m just easily distractable! (This is definitely part of it.)

So what’s going on in my head right now? A few things, but in particular, I need to use this space to discuss something that happened at work yesterday.

I ended up taking Oct 27 (Friday) and Oct 30 (Monday) off of work. In the back of my head, I was regretting it a bit, because it’s a bad time of the month for me to take off, and I was worried about falling behind on work. Which, yeah, happened, but I think I’m mostly caught up now, at least.

Also, right before I left, things between my department and another department started to … uhh… become a bit tense, I guess? I’ll try to give the short version here… Someone in the other department (I will call this person FF for short, no, not initials, but every time I’ve mentioned this person to another coworker, he find a way to work in “Oh you mean that fat fuck, (insert name)?” So… FF.) (Yes, it’s means, no, I don’t care, this person is not nice.) So anyway, FF is in charge of doing task B. Task B is dependent on my department doing task A. Well, due to staffing issues, task A wasn’t getting done in a timely manner. So, understandably, when there was a sudden flurry of task A being done over the past couple of weeks, I understand not being able to keep up with task B. Fine. But when I reach out to FF and ask “Hey, our cutoff deadline for October task B was yesterday, you still have A LOT of task B to do, do you think you’ll be able to make a dent in this this morning? Please let me know.” and you know…. get NO RESPONSE …. I get a little frustrated.

We tried to take steps to prevent situations like this from occurring. We… No, strike that…. *I*. I made a calendar that listed cutoff dates and deadlines, and had my manager send it out to everybody (or almost everybody) involved so that nobody could be surprised by any expectations. This apparently failed…

So I have a bit of anxiety on Monday, wondering what the hell I’m going to come back to on Tuesday. Where I left things on Thursday, my manager was talking to FF’s manager, and that FF’s manager was apparently either playing CYA or was really ignorant about what was going on.

Also, wow, this is not the short version, I apologize.

So I come back on Tuesday. Find out shit hit the fan on Monday. (1) FF stated that it was completely unreasonable to do the amount of asked task B, because of whatever reasons, but also because FF needed to work on a certain project that was assigned A MONTH AGO. (2) My manager told FF’s manager that FF was lying about frequency of doing task B. That did not go over well. (3) FF and FF’s manager went downstairs to the basement conference room and there were loud discussions about something, according to my friend, coworker A, who works RIGHT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE THIN CONFERENCE ROOM WALL. (4) When FF said, “I don’t have enough time to do task B”, the relationship manager for this client said, “Ok, fine, I’ll do task B.” And relationship manager was NOT happy about having to do (relatively low-level) task B. I talked with him on the phone a couple times on Tuesday, and you could just hear it in his voice that he was pissed off.

SO! Because shit hit the fan on Friday/Monday, the things I was expecting my manager to do did not get done. And I do not believe these were unreasonable expectations. These were things we talked about, and when I left on Thursday, it was with the promise that these things would get done. And then they weren’t. So I started my week off mad at my manager… great.

Tuesday goes by… I’m stressed out, but I get a couple specific things done, that needed to be done by the 1st. Yay!

Wednesday comes. I do a series of steps that are necessary before anybody can do the following two things for this client: Monthly financial reporting, and invoicing. The reporting is more important, by far. So I go up to my manager and say, “Hey, so I’m done with [blah blah steps]. How do you want to do the reporting this month? Do you want me to start it and you review it, or do you want to do it?” I should mention here that the first two months of reporting, he completed. Last month, I ended up doing it … because … he was sick? I think? And it needed to be done, so I took some initiative and did it, but I left it for him to review. So I do know the basics, and it’s really not that hard, but because this is something that gets passed around at a higher level (after other internal review, of course) I would feel much more comfortable with another layer of review between me and the final product. Knowing all this, and also having whatever else on his plate that needed to be done yesterday, he said I should go ahead and start it. Ok, that’s fine. Not really, but it needs to be done, and I’d rather do it and push back some of the less important stuff than have it NOT BE DONE. Which was a genuine worry.

Thursday rolls around. I spend the morning catching up on other stuff, because I realize my desk is too chaotic and I need to *finish* some things before starting in on this reporting. Thursday afternoon I spend a few hours preparing for it. While I did have all the data together and in one file to use for the reporting, it did need to be sorted and segregated and double checked and… yeah, so there’s some additional prep-work that I had to get done. I started in on it, got the first page done, decided it was about an hour till it was time to go, and I was very tired and wasn’t sure working on this would be the best use of my time. (Tired = mistakes.) So I started working on this import that I was told needed to be done. Ran a report, exported to to Excel, started sorting things and rearranging… realized I couldn’t remember a certain entity number for one of the properties… Looked up a prior one in our accounting software… Discovered that, hey wait a minute, all this data that would need to be imported because it didn’t integrate correctly? Yeah, it integrated. Somebody (my manager) didn’t actually READ the error that was generated, and just assumed the entire thing failed. Thank god I discovered this so early, or I could’ve spent major time on it unnecessarily. Still… pretty annoying to discover that I was told I would need to spend 3 hours on doing this import, and that nobody double checked to make sure I ACTUALLY would have to do that.

Ok, so… now it’s Friday. Friday is when I do my check runs. You know, one of those things that was supposed to happen while I was gone? That didn’t? So I’m a little stressed about that, but I know that I cannot do anything until my manager does the cash sheet for this week. (Basically, another check of how much money we actually have available, and it’s got a forecast built in, so it gives us an idea of an acceptable range of how much we can spend this week.) I know I’m on hold, so I go do some little things, start in on the reporting … 9am rolls around and my manager isn’t around. Ok, sometimes he’s late, but usually if he’s going to be *this* late, he lets somebody know, and if that somebody isn’t me, the somebody does let me know. So I go over to one of the other managers and ask, “Hey, did you hear from my manager this morning?” “No, why? Isn’t he here?” “Uhhh… no.” Dunno what happened, but now:

(1) I am a bit frustrated that I have to do the financial reporting, something I was not planning on having to do, on top of being behind on various things because I was off for two days.

(2) I am pretty annoyed that I almost spent a ton of time doing an import that wouldn’t have been required, goddamnit why is it so hard to double check things. (And this is a conversation we’ve had before, and his justification? Depending on the specifics, either it would take him too long to do it when someone else could do it faster, or it’s not his job, both of which are really shitty and petty excuses in my mind.)

(3) I’m really frustrated that he decided that being responsible was optional today, and was late and also didn’t let anybody know. (I actually ranted about this to two coworker, C & M, Thursday afternoon. I don’t remember how it came up, but I basically said, “Look, dude, you’re over 40. I don’t really care if you stay up too late playing video games or eat junk food and then feel shitty the next day, but goddamnit be an adult and take some fucking responsibility for your actions!” So… this was fresh in my mind Friday morning…)

WOW this really is not the short version. Sorry again. We’re almost to the end though…

Finally, he shows up. I can tell he’s not in a great mood, probably because the manager I was talking with antagonized him a bit via text, but… well… he deserved it. I let him get settled… Then go over. “Hey manager, did you do the cash sheet yet?” No. “Do you have any kind of guess for what I can spend this week?” No. “O… ok… I’m gonna go back over here and work on the reporting…”

He comes over a bit later, and we’re talking about… something or other… his phone rings, he ignores it, we’re talking … He leaves …. Then my phone rings, because the relationship manager (see above) apparently knows that if he can’t get ahold of one of us, we’re somewhat interchangeable and if the other can’t help, will know where the first one is and will make sure whatever needs to get done will get done. (I find this both funny and depressing at the same time…) RM: “Hey btw that meeting I need the reporting for is actually 2 days earlier this month, so I definitely need that report today.” Me: “Uhh.. ok, so when were you going to tell us this?” RM: “I just did! Besides, according to your calendar, it was going to be done today anyway!” Me: “Yeah, but I thought I had some buffer time in case stuff came up!” So, yeah, now I’m stressed about having a hard deadline when I thought I had a soft one. Cue panic, headphones, and loud music.

Lunch time rolls around… I go downstairs with a yogurt and an energy bar, not really feeling like eating because of stress… A wanders in, then S wanders in, so they’re getting settled, when…. my manager walks in. The jist was…. Him: “So hey, do you want to go to lunch with me & P (other coworker)?” Me: “Eh, no not really.” Him: “You sure you don’t want to go to lunch?” Me: “Nah, I’m good.” There were other words, either A or S asked why they were going to lunch, and my manager replied because it had been a shitty week, and finally my manager left, after about my third time declining.

I go back downstairs later in the afternoon for supplemental coffee, end up talking with C & M. I tell them what happened, since they missed it, and add on… “The whole time, I’m biting my tongue trying not to say, ‘the reason I don’t want to go to lunch with you is because I’m mad at you for not doing your damn job!’ Jesus fuck, dude.” And then they start laughing and comment that spending time in the basement with them is apparently rubbing off on me.

I almost always feel better after talking to them, or one of them, either one, really. I know that their area acts as a sort of confessional space. What is said down there, especially if it involves how people feel about their coworkers or work in general, stays down there.

Anyway… The thing that is really frustrating about the whole situation is that my manager either seems to be completely clueless that I’m pissed off at him, or he knows and thinks that the appropriate way to deal with this is not to buckle down and get work done, but rather to engage me in small talk that distracts me from MY work, including asking me, “So how’s it going?” (One of these days, I’m going to answer that question honestly and possibly get in trouble.) Like, “Oh, Tamishu’s not in a good mood, let’s talk to her about things that will make her feel better!” No, let’s not talk about not work, because the thing that will make me feel better is GETTING THIS SHIT FUCKING DONE. If he wasn’t the reason I was behind on stuff, I might appreciate the gesture more. (I mean, going and killing half an hour talking with C & M about whatever the hell? That made me feel better, but they weren’t the source of my frustration.)

But it boggles my mind that I can ask the question, “Did you get [task] done?” repeatedly, get the answer of “no” every single time, and this person doesn’t make this connection.

And the problem I have is: How the HELL do I tell my manager that the problem is him, and not come across like a jerk? I know I can’t do it in the moment, that will only lead bad places. But… how do I say, “Jesus dude shut the fuck up and go do what I asked you to do days ago, and then I’ll be not mad at you, ok?” Cause, you know… he’s my manager, so I can’t exactly demand that he do anything. And while we do have a degree of casualness, and I do sometimes make “demands” like that, it’s always been in a joking manner and offense has never been taken. (Or if it has, it’s been forgotten shortly thereafter, and I’m assuming not a big deal.)

I really don’t mind working with the guy 95% of the time. It’s just been one of those weeks that was going to be high stress even if everything went smoothly, which of course it didn’t, and all the things that have individually been snowballing over the past couple of weeks have now reach critical snowball all at the same time.

Father’s Day

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of Father’s Day this year. I mean, Mother’s Day was… The writer in me wants to say “quite traumatic” but that’s a bit misleading. It was more revelatory, I guess. I’m still working through what some of it means. So, like I said, not really sure what to expect out of this day.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t bother me near as much. Seriously. Mother’s Day, especially this year, really rubbed something the wrong way. It’s been a weird holiday for me for most of what I can remember, what with my mom passing when I was 8. Teachers would have little projects for us to do for various holidays, so I learned to substitute people in for “mother”. Like, my father, my aunt, or my grandma. Best intentions and all, I’m sure, but a bit weird for me. A few years ago, I remember really starting to see people talking about others who may have a hard time on Mother’s Day. People without mothers, with absent mothers, who wish they could be mothers, etc. And I thought that was pretty nice. But I dunno, this year I was just overcome with all this frustration at basically anybody who dared mention the holiday.

My mom died. That was something completely out of my control. My father, on the other hand, I willingly don’t talk to him. I haven’t spoken to him in almost 6 years.

So this year, what with the insanity that this past year has been, I figured I might have some different emotions this year. Guilt, regret, longing. Heck, maybe even frustration and jealousy of other people’s happiness.

What do I have?

Desire to tell the people that were more father-figures to me than mine ever was just how important they were to me.

Enjoyment at other people’s cute pictures on phaseborg.

Exactly zero feelings one way or the other about my own father.

“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

The bonds we make by choice are stronger than that which we are born with.

Free will at it’s best.

Happy day.

Writers confessions, Part 2

I’m on a roll, and I want to keep going, but I figure I should really break these up instead of having 1 ginormous post…

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MC Chronicles — I will make these about my current WIP, which is still unnamed. It’ll come to me eventually. I’d rather get the content down than worry over a title.

11) MCs name? My MC is named Charyl (no last name yet, if ever…) No real deeper meaning. I somehow came up with it for my Skyrim character, and I like it. (It’s better than my MMO chars, which are usually Tamishu/Tamichu.)

12) New protag? Probably her best friend, Halyna.

13) Gender swap MC? Well. It would be a bit weirder for me, as that would make it my first gay character. Because yes, a secondary plot line in this story is Charyl’s relationship with her mentor, and yes, it is a very confusing relationship on both sides. I’m still trying to decide how much of what should be part of it.

14) MC favorite character? I mean… I don’t hate her. She’s cool. But I think her mentor is probably my favorite.

15) Who sees MC as the villain? Probably the REAL villain of the story! Which is a bad box to put the poor guy in, but honestly, he’s just a good excuse for (1) Charyl to discover nepotism and corruption, (2) have a traumatic incident to push her closer to her mentor, and (3) be the bad guy for how Halyna sees Charyl’s problems.

16) What makes MC worth reading about? She’s smart, and not afraid to flaunt it. But she’s also not afraid to admit when she doesn’t know something (at least academically speaking). But for all her intellectual abilities, her personal life is a bit of a wreck, and she’s trying to stumble through it the best that she can, and I think that makes her relatable.

17) Death of most important person to MC? I think it’s a toss up at this point whether or not she would go on the warpath or just shut down completely. I mean, it’s definitely the proverbial straw, it’s just, which way does the camel’s back break? And where it’s undecided now, I have planned out for her to make some pretty tough decisions, so I’m leaning more towards down the warpath.

Writers confessions, Part 1

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I found this fun thing on Twitter. I think you’re supposed to answer each question in a single tweet, and just tweetstorm the whole frakkin’ thing, but… that’s a lot of effort. So, as a fan of list-posts all the way back to my Xanga / MySpace days, I’ll answer these here…! Or, at least the first half. These are getting a bit lengthy…

  1. How old? I mean… I remember writing short stories when I was 6? 7? And by short I mean, like, a handful of sentences. Kid stories, yaknow? So, pretty much the literal definition of “as long as I can remember.” But I didn’t really take writing seriously until sometime in high school, maybe 14 or 15. And even then it was off and on, and I’m just in an “on again” phase.
  2. First story? I’m pretty sure it was either a ghost story or a princess story. I also remember writing some crazy thing about a cat eating the solar system for school… My first “real” story though was probably a lame MS&T knock-off. Sorry, Tad! :S
  3. First motivation? Hmm, this is a tough one. What I feel now, and what I’ve felt for a number of years, is that sometimes I’ll just get ideas stuck in my head, and they’ll turn and tumble around and grow and shape themselves, until finally there is too much of them to stay neat & compact (relatively speaking) inside my head, and I have to set them down on paper (or .. word processor.) It’s only recently that I’ve really stopped to reflect on my normally analytical mind (I work in accounting, I majored in physics, you see where this is going) finding just desire and joy in doing creative things like writing.
  4. If I had to stop writing? Bleh! Probably die or explode. No, really, I would probably have a mental explosion. There is something incredibly therapeutic about writing. I mean, I recently started keeping a journal again, and that has been incredibly helpful. I think it’s the logical part of my mind asserting itself. If I’m just thinking about things, my ideas stay rather loft and unformed. But by writing them down, I’m forcing them into a structure and to have cohesion.
  5. Most active WIPs? Uh. Like… 1. Maybe 2. I’ve found I’m not particularly good about hopping between WIPs.
  6. New genre! Can I go for the generic “literature”? I guess I’ve never written a pure horror work before, I could try that.
  7. Weirdest search? Definitely looking up information about how lethal injections are performed. What’s the general procedure. What types of drugs are used. About how long the whole thing takes. The whole story was pretty much flashbacks. A snippet in the present, when the execution is occurring, and the significant other reflecting on “how did we get here?”
  8. Backups??? I mean, technically all my work is on an external HD, so if my main computer fails, that’s still safe. But yes, I do have a backup of that as of a few months ago. Which reminds me, I should really do that again…
  9. Missed anything b/c of writing? No, not terribly. I am frequently back from lunch 5-10 minutes late because I’ll be in the middle of writing out an idea, and not want to stop / lose it.
  10. Weird place to write? Well… I did some character-building while I was on a conference call a month or so ago. ūüėÄ But I pretty much write either sitting on my couch, or at the table in the sunroom… Oh, or at one of the picnic tables at work. Pretty much nature is my preferred surrounding.

New music experiences

(I was debating on making this a FB post or a blog post, and had ultimately decided on an abbreviated FB post. Buuuuuut then FB ate my post. So, here I am.)..

Recently, I’ve been listening to some new music. Well, new to me. I’ve been a rock/metal fan for years, though the last few years have seen me shift towards exploring electronic music, like electronic rock, dubstep, DnB, synthwave, ambient synth, etc. But while all of the above is still interesting and I do enjoy it, it hasn’t been catching my ear as much as it used to. What has been? To give the short answer: folk music.

It all started, oh about a year or so ago now. And it’s a relatively meandering path, so bear with me.

I’d say what really set me down this rabbit hole was discovering the band Kaleo. My coworker sent me a link to their official music video for their song Way Down We Go¬†(in a volcano!) And, just, love. It took only a few short minutes, but I decided this was an AWESOME band. I listened to their album A/B repeatedly. My favorite song, hands down, is¬†Vor √≠ Vaglask√≥gi¬†even though I can’t understand a damn word of it.

Somewhere around this time, I also discovered Hozier, specifically the songs¬†Take Me To Church¬†and a bit later¬†Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene. Previously, I’d also fallen in love with The Glorious Sons’s song¬†Sometimes on a Sunday, so I was just starting to touch on folksy / bluesy side of indie rock, and discovering there was some really cool music!

In the autumn, I had discovered Bon Iver, and this led me to investigating some Celtic folk music. I started with some Gaelic Storm (you know, the guys who did the music that Jack & Rose dance to in the movie¬†Titanic.) I ultimately discovered Scottish tribal music, which lead to listening to a LOT of Albannach. I really enjoy the instrumentals, the pipe and drum. There’s something primal about it. Seriously, I dare you to listen to listen to¬†Unleash the Albannach¬†and tell me it doesn’t get the blood flowing.

Then, in the winter, I finally heard Mumford & Sons. I mean, REALLY heard them. I knew the band name, and had pointedly avoided them for rather silly reasons, but I heard their song Babel on the radio on a drive in to work and knew I had to hear more. The entire album is great, I have a post on here somewhere about it.

So I finally had to admit to myself that there really was something to folk music, and that I should explore it a bit more. One problem: That covers a ridiculously huge amount of music. Much like rock has about a gazillion genres that fall under it, folk has all kinds of different sounds to experience.

Within the past few months, I discovered there’s this… thing… called southern gothic. I guess you could call it a style. Not specifically related to music, Wikipedia gives us this definition: “Southern Gothic particularly focuses on the South’s history of slavery, a “fixation with the grotesque, and a tension between realistic and supernatural elements”. Similar to the elements of the Gothic castle, Southern Gothic gives us the decay of the plantation in the post-Civil War South.” But specifically on music, Wikipedia says, “Southern Gothic (also known as Gothic Americana, or Dark Country) is a genre of music characterized by a fusion of alternative rock and classic country/folk.” [An interesting aside, I colorize this style with lots of earth tones and blacks, which is subconsciously how my dress has been tending.]

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Spotify listening to various southern gothic playlists. And I am in love with so much of it. Some of the artists are: Kaleo, Hozier, The Builders & the Butchers, Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, July Talk, Leonard Cohen, and Blues Saraceno.

Being the nerd that I am, I’ve spent some time trying to put specific names to the music that I like, but like always, I’m finding it a bit difficult. And, like always, there are things in one “box” that I like but things that I don’t like in the same box.

I’ve had this same struggle so many times in the past five or so years, when I’ve really tried to expand my musical knowledge and listening. It started in earnest a couple years ago when I first discovered the German group Seeed. When I found they were technically a reggae group, despite¬†Augenbling¬†(the first song I heard by them) not being remotely close to what I would consider reggae, I realized I had to throw my pre-assumptions out the window. I did some research on reggae, and found that it, like my more familiar metal genre, is riddled with subgenres and styles, and songs that cross over between them. Fun fact, ska punk came from a blending of ska (part of where reggae originated) and punk rock. Reggae styles including dancehall, dub, hip hop, and it’s own drum and bass, and has origins in jazz, mento, ska, rocksteady, R&B, and soul.

So recently, I in turn performed this same research on folk music. Folk music, at it’s base, is simply traditional music that is passed down orally, played on readily available acoustic instruments. An easy couple of examples of this are songs like¬†When Johnny Comes Marching Home or the Irish¬†Lannigan’s Ball. It’s hard to pin point who the original composers were, often because the same melody has multiple lyrics written for it, and because they have existed for decades in some form. I guess the proper term for what we listen to now is folk revival, but to me that seems like splitting hairs. But what we really have now are styles like bluegrass, Americana, southern gothic, Appalachian, Western, country, and Cajun.

After all this research a new, shiny knowledge, where does this leave me? Can I finally put a name on what I like?

Sorry to disappoint you, but the answer is a resounding “no.”

The plain and simple truth is that I like what I like. Doesn’t matter if it fits into box A, B, or C, or says fuck the boxes and has hints of all three. I will forever have an eclectic taste in music, and simply listen to whatever fits my mood, to hell with labels.

But this brings me back to a recurring question: Why do people continue to limit themselves to only the old, familiar stuff and are hesitant to give anything different a chance? Why write off an entire catalog of music, including dozens if not hundreds of artists, because you had one or a few bad experiences? And this isn’t even considering all the stuff that toes the line, pushes boundaries, and experiments with unfamiliar mixing of sounds.

Sure, you’re always going to have your fallbacks and favorites, we all do. But I find that I enjoy new discoveries, and don’t understand when other people don’t seem to.

Star Wars Day, love it or hate it?

Yesterday was May the Fourth, or Star Wars Day (you know, May the Fourth be with you!) As a nerd, I have known about this day for years, and have seen it increase in popularity within the past few years. Which is great! More people embracing their inner-nerd is always a good thing in my book.

On my way to and from work, sometimes I listen to the radio, sometimes I listen to my own music. Yesterday was a radio day on my way home, for whatever reason. The afternoon show host was talking about Star Wars Day, and how he wasn’t a fan of the movies, so he didn’t really get the whole big holiday thing. He said, ok, you like something, that’s fine, just don’t wave it in my face and shove it down my throat, ’cause I don’t really care!

And I had this moment of clarity.

That this is EXACTLY how I feel at Christmas.

I am an atheist. I am not a Christian. I am not going to tell you not to celebrate Christmas. But don’t be offended when I don’t care and don’t place the same value on it that you do.

If you get to not care about a nerd holiday, I get to not care about a religious holiday. That seems fair, right?