Why are you counting days on Twitter?

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that on Friday I started counting days. I’m on Day #6 as of today. What is that? You might remember that last week I wrote a post about how I was in something of a dark place. And so many of us are for all different reasons. I think I’ve heard it described that we’re all in a storm. Each boat we inhabit is different and some are sinking faster. Our norms have been destroyed and our daily reality changes almost by the hour. Regardless of someone’s financial or personal situation, a dark place means the same thing, and it can lead to bad things no matter who you are. My count is the number of days since I’ve decided to focus on getting myself out of that dark place by focusing on ways to cope that aren’t self-destructive.

What have I been doing on those days? To start, on Wednesday, I wrote a blog post, forcing myself to recognize I needed to fix some things. Thursday, I spent time on the phone with a friend who is going through some shit. I’d argue his shit is shittier than any shit I’ve got, but it’s been good to connect with him. Don’t think we’ve spoken this much in years. On Friday, I took steps to actively recognize an accomplishment —it’s an esoteric thing relating to my day-job, but could become one of the biggest accomplishments of my whole career. Yesterday, I slept in, cleaned the house with my family, played Microsoft Flight Simulator (I have a YouTube channel about Alaska if you’re interested in a bit of demography, history, and general sight-seeing), and then we watched TV together. It was nice. Today, I spent most of my day on Twitter.

*insert record screech* – What? Twitter? A wellspring of dystopia – that can’t have been good, right?

A week ago, starting the day on Twitter meant dodging anger, vitriol, and honestly a hell of a lot of misinformation, plus general reports of the US coming apart at the seams. It wasn’t fun. Today, it was a totally different story. I was greeted by a great thread about road trips and a mad uncle. It it made me think of my own last road trip, nearly 20 years ago now. As you do, I put out a poll about the longest road trip. To my surprise, most people (and as I write this I’m up to about 90 votes) who responded have traveled in excess of 3000 miles on a road trip. My longest was around 4500 —not unusual for urban-dwelling Alaskans. Better than that though were all of the stories. I met new people and got to hear their tid-bit.

My whole point? I’m working on it still and still holding myself to it. Today is better than Tuesday last week, but I have a long way to go. As I said before, I’ll likely continue to use this blog to just talk, because it keeps me on track.

Image by tigerlily713 from Pixabay

A bit erratic

Look at me! I’m blogging again —I mean, not because I’ve got time or anything, but because I’ve had a few thoughts. The first thought I wanted to share comes from some serious start of the year reflection after having written my January 1 post. If anything, this expounds on that a bit. We’re just two weeks into 2021, a year I simply haven’t got high hopes for, and it’s proving to be all the awful of 2020, but with new awful stuff thrown in for good measure.

This post could be about how I’m losing faith in humanity, as I watch thousands of people choose to believe, repeat and forgive verifiable lies without thinking twice about the consequences. It could be about the gaslighting out politicians are trying with the “We need to unite talk”. Yes, we do need to do that, but it’s going to look like certain people taking responsibility for their actions and holding those responsible accountable, not giving people a free pass and claiming it’s “unity”. That’s what you do in a society based on the rule of law.

No. What I need to talk about, and probably shouldn’t in a public forum, but will anyhow, is me. I had a moment the other day where I realized my behavior has started to become a bit erratic. Not so bad that I went out to storm the capitol building with full intent of doing harm, but bad enough I’ve finally noticed it. My temper at work has been short, I’ve been impatient, and I’m not as prepared for things I need to be. In my personal life, I’ve ranted on Twitter, been unnecessarily negative, and even more self-deprecating than is normal even for me. To top it all off, I’ve accomplished very little. Normally, I’m always in motion, always moving and trying. These days, by the end of a day, even a relatively calm one, I’m unable to function.

As I reflect on myself and who I want to be in 2021, I realized that I’m in a pretty dark place. It’s hard not to be when the sun sets at about 4pm. In the latter part of 2020, I found MS Flight Simulator 2020 and got all hooked up on that – my problem now? Too much anxiety to play. I made it halfway through a flight last night and was told something got into the duck-yard and killed some ducks. Yup. That was all I needed to break me. I couldn’t even sit comfortably and watch Mrs. Maisel (I love the writing & dialogue, BRILLIANT).

Really, I don’t know what the solution here is. So, I thought I’d turn to this blog —for the same reason I started it. The whole point of sharing my thoughts etc… was to force myself to achieve my goals. Only this time, it’s not about forcing myself to finish that book, or make another YouTube or even find ways to talk about being an indie author. Instead, I need to force myself to find a way out of this damn hole – a way where I can get back to making and thinking and generally getting people to ask me: How do you manage all of that? A job, writing novels, raising kids, and even normally cooking a pretty okay meal. What’s more, I want to feel good about it again. Anyhow, if you made it this far, thanks for listening. I’ll try to do better on the blogging more, and maybe even try to keep it shorter.

A new year and nothing to burn

Normally, I ‘burn’ a book on the new year. This year, I have nothing to burn. I simply haven’t been able to write.

It hardly needs to be said, but it’s been a difficult year. Writing has been pretty far from my mind for most of it. I even have to remind myself I published The Dark Queen of Darkness in February. I’m absurdly proud of that book and I had high hopes for the launch. Instead, the whole world shut down, hundreds of thousands of people (millions?) lost their lives, and folks who rely on in-person events for their livelihood found themselves without a source of income. My hopes for Hexe hardly even seem relevant looking back on it.

On launching Hexe this year, I had planned a whole PILE of new and interesting things to try and amplify my platform. I was going to start doing regular blog posts on my experiences. I had planned YouTube videos (not the airplane ones, those are a fun 1-off) that talk about my experiences. However, after everything shut down, and my author event was cancelled, effectively killing my book launch, the day job pretty much took over my life.

I’ve spend my last 10 months at the epicenter of contingencies to adapt our processes and tools to work in a remote environment. And for anyone who thinks that after the pandemic is ‘over’, that we’ll just get to go back to old and comfortable ways, that’s a fantasy. The pressure to continue remote work to ‘reduce costs’ and ‘improve efficiency’ will absolutely remain and are likely to increase. My division (or section? I don’t know anymore), spent more than 40 years honing and perfecting data collection practices and tools that make us a world-class organization. What we can tell you about subsistence in Alaska is quite literally unparalleled in the subject area. In March, I found myself repeating: “Yes, we can adapt, we can because we have to.” Now that I’m mid-way through that process, I’ve got two observations. The first is that you can change long-standing business practices nearly overnight. The second is that it’s crushingly difficult, but not for the reasons you might think. It’s emotionally exhausting, creatively exhausting, and takes a significant mental health toll. There’s no time to take a break and not think about it. This is all on top of the routine work we do.

I think this is a long way of saying. I’m exhausted and by the end of any given day, I can’t face it. I open my iPad to pluck away at Apple Pie and Comfortable Shoes (the sequel to Wine Bottles and Broomsticks), and immediately feel overwhelmed. What’s more, those books are intended to be a satirical take on how we treat each other and how people manipulate each other and how in the end we’re all just bloody human and make bad decisions. The “witch hunt” is meant to refer to the colloquial expression and also literal expression. Doom-scrolling through Facebook after an emotionally exhausting day has me fully unable to cope with it.

So, that’s it, I’ve got no writing goals for the year, no goals to keep up with my blog, no goals to get my YouTube stuff in order. It’s not because I’m lazy or giving up, as much as I just can’t cope with another thing right now, especially when that thing, though I love it, doesn’t pay the bills or ensure future employment. I do hope your year is a good one and maybe next New Year’s I’ll have a more upbeat post.