It’s the day of the eve of New Year, and I’m doing the tiniest bit better. I had a horrible night in which I was shivering and sweating alternately. I have Googled cold vs. flu several times, and I still don’t exactly know the difference. I feel like being ‘feverish’ (I don’t get fevers as my base temp is 97) is a symptom of the flu, and there is some writing that backs me up, but it’s hard to say. It doesn’t really matter as there’s no cure for either a cold or the flu, but it’s just my natural inquisitiveness that I want to know. Either way, I woke up with the feverish symptoms gone. Now, it’s ‘just’ a stuffy head (nose, brain, throat, ears–the left one is blocked), sometimes a runny nose, a hacking cough with a sore throat, and just a general exhaustion.
Here is ABBA’s cheerful Happy New Year song. Enjoy!
It’s my birthday today (yesterday by the time you read this), and I have a history of hating my birthday. As a kid, it was always fraught with who to invite to my party (which I was expected to have), and it only underscored what a loser I was. I remember one birthday (but not which one) in which I had friends over. I was blowing the candles out on the cake with all my friends watching, and I was utterly miserable. I felt like they were there because they felt they had to be (my depression started young), and I hated being the center of attention if I wasn’t on the stage.
In my twenties, I actively hated my birthday. I refused to say when it was, and I preferred to pretend it didn’t exist. It reminded me every year that I was still alive and that I shouldn’t be. I got really bitchy* a week or two beforehand, and it carried over for the next few days. I don’t think I can emphasize enough how toxic I thought me being alive was in those days. I thought I was actively harming the world by being alive (which is the weird egotistical part of having a low self-esteem–an outsized sense of impact–and I hated that I was too cowardly to kill myself.
It’s strange how my twenties were when I was both at my most depressed and when I was out doing the most things. I was involved in the theater community, which was probably one of the best experiences of my life. However, I stopped once I moved to the Bay Area for a short time (to get my MA), and I never started up again once I returned because I had a few big issues to deal with at that time.
I became less hateful of my birthday in my thirties. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either. I would never offer it to someone else, but if they asked, I wouldn’t obfuscate and refuse to answer. I never made a big deal about it, but I didn’t freak out if someone else brought it up.
Side Note: My amusing birthday story. When I first started Facebook, you had to provide your birthday, and they displayed it. There was no privacy option at the time, so I used a fake birthday. I always do this online. I may not care about my birthday, but I don’t need others to have it. Anyway, I set it as one day in January, and I promptly forgot about it. When that day came around, my FB wall was flooded with birthday wishes. I was like, “What the–oh, right.” FB will still wish me a happy birthday every year on the fake day, and it’s still hilarious to me. Thankfully, now the setting is private so I don’t have to explain to everyone that it’s not actually my birthday.
Two or three years ago, I slowly realized that I didn’t hate my birthday or even really dislike it that much. I mentioned it casually and didn’t feel weird about it. Last year, I actually bought myself a piece of (gluten-free/dairy-free) cake and enjoyed it thoroughly. That’s because cake is the best, even when it’s a lie. Today, I ate a banana walnut chocolate chip (GF/DF) muffin, which was delicious. I will have GF/DF ice cream later and call it a day.
Not gonna lie. I still don’t love my birthday. I don’t dislike it, but it still brings with me the feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do with the rest of my life. My birthday is coming up, and that usually causes me to think of what a waste my life is. This year, there is also a strong sense of ‘what do I really want to do?’ alongside the usual ‘my life is worthless’. I’m putting them in order of most important to least important, but I haven’t sorted them out completely in my mind. I may do some moving around as I write.
1. Finish Sekiro. Sorry. I know that’s not a huge life goal, but it released on Friday, and I’ve been playing it almost compulsively ever since. I had to mention it because, duh, FromSoft game. I’d been nervously anticipating it because there was so much hype, and it had so much to live up to. There was no way it could be everything rabid FromSoft fans wanted it to be, right?
It’s fucking amazing and blew my mind from the very beginning. Again, I’ve only put in a dozen or so hours, so I’m not ready to declare it the best FromSoft game ever, but it’s definitely as good as Soulsborne games. I plan on finishing it this week, but we’ll see how it goes. It’s very difficult, more so than Soulsborne games because of the technical combat, and it’s already kicking my ass. I will definitely have more to say about it later on.
2. Get back on the stage. I miss performing. A lot. I remember my days with Theater Mu back in the mid-nineties, and it was such a fun time. It was one group I actually felt a part of, or at least as much as I can feel a part of anything. Those were my peeps, and while I had reasons for not trying out any longer, I do miss it intensely. Not just performing with others, however, but also writing, staging, and performing my own pieces. I was quite good at it, but it took a lot out of me. Basically, it was two to three months of intense prep plus an hour or two of sick anxiety for ten minutes of actual performance and two minutes of an incredible high–only to be followed by a crash and a lethargy for hours if not days afterwards.
I have never felt the high such as immediately following a performance. It’s intense, and it made me feel as if I could do fucking anything. I have never done anything stronger than marijuana, but I imagine it’s like being high on drugs. If I’m honest, I also miss the planning and writing almost as much as the actual performance, but I feel as if I’ve missed my window to do the kind of performing I used to do. It’s hard to explain, but it usually read like a funny stream of consciousness, but every word is carefully planned and mesmerized.
One of the worst things about my depression is how it makes everything at least twice as difficult. I am my own worst enemy, as I have noted time and time again. For those who have never experienced depression, it can be difficult to comprehend just how time consuming it is. A small example: when I have to go out, say to taiji, I first have to convince myself that I will go. Even if I want to go, the idea of driving fifteen minutes to get there is daunting. On my worst days, it seems impossible. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done it in my past. It doesn’t matter that I can do it in my sleep. Every fiber of my being does not want to do it ever again.
It used to be that way when my BFF and I used to go out dancing. Both of us suffer from depression and the overwhelming desire never to leave the house. We’d talk about how we both had to stop ourselves from cancelling, and we always had a blast when we went out. Not only was it difficult to make myself leave the house (my leaning towards inertia is high), but I would imagine everything that might possibly go wrong while I was out. Again, even for something as simple as going to taiji, I ruminate about will it drain me (not completely invalid when I’m sick), can I put up with talking to people for that long (an hour and a half. Not exactly earth shattering), etc. I go to the co-op afterwards, which brings with it a whole new set of worries. Even something as banal as talking to the cashier can tie me up in knots.
I mention this because there are two things I really want to focus on in 2019. As I’ve written before, I am not big on resolutions, but I do like to set goals for the upcoming year. The difference to me is that goals have steps with concrete actions that seem achievable. By the way, I hate ‘actionable steps’. I know what it means in context (something you can actually do as opposed to a theory or an idea), but to me, actionable means something that you take legal action on. It’s a personal pet peeve, but it sticks in my craw every time I read it.
All of that is explanation as to why I tend to have the same goals every year, even if I have concrete steps I can take to actually meet the goals. I have to overcome my inertia to even get to the point of doing something about it. Then, I have to deal with the negative self-talk. No matter what I’m doing, there’s a voice in the back of my head saying, “What’s the point? Why bother? Nobody cares.” Some days, it’s better than others, but it’s always there. It’s happening as I write this post. Most of the time, I can ignore it enough to get what I need done if it’s part of my routine. But, if it’s something new, then it’s much harder. Or if it involves driving. Which is one of my least-favorite activities in life.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo several times in the past decade, and while I haven’t done it every year, any time I did participate, I completed the original goal–handily. I have a personal goal of writing 2,000 words a day, and I’ve been doing it consistently for many months if not a year. This means if I just continue doing what I do, I will easily meet the NaNoWriMo goal.
One year, I set my own goal. I decided I would edit a manuscript I already had, and that was very satisfying in its own way. I’ve realized that while I appreciate NaNoWriMo and thinks it’s an excellent way for people to make themselves write if they ordinarily wouldn’t, I have no use for the original goal. I don’t feel any sense of accomplishment in meeting it, so the whole thing is a bit hollow for me. One year, I set the goal at 200,000 (I think). I made it, and that was quite the thrill. However, I’m not sure that setting an arbitrary number is the most productive use of my time. In addition, I have OCD tendencies, which means I fixate on numbers as if they’re gods.
It was one of my biggest problems when I was dieting. I had all these numbers that Meant Something, and they slowly morphed into the be-all, end-all. In addition, the final number (the goal weight I wanted to be) kept moving any time I got even close to it. The first time I started a diet, I was counting calories. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but I started assigning values to the numbers. Some were bad and some were good. That spiraled into they were all bad, and at the end of that road was anorexia/bulimia.
The second time, I had a goal weight, plus I used a tape measure. I was losing roughly a half inch a week, and that quickly became the standard. If I didn’t reach that half inch, it would make me miserable for the whole week. In addition, I had a hard and fast rule about how much exercise I had to do a day, and I thought it was reasonable that I set it at 2 hours of aerobics every day and forty-five minutes of weight-lifting every other day.
It works the same when I’m writing. Because I have a personal goal of 2,000 words a day, I have a mentality like, “Reach 500 words and take a mini-break.” “Reach a thousand words and do one mission/quest in MHW.” It’s not a bad way to write, but it can become rigid. My own weird brain thing is that things have to be broken up into quarters. In this case, quarters of a hundred. I’ve told this story before, but I used to have a compulsion that if I saw a clock at any quarter of the hour, I had to rapidly count to 25 (another quarter) before the clock changed. My last therapist once asked me what would happen if I didn’t make it, and I said I would be upset. She persisted, asking me what practically would happen, and I was flummoxed. I couldn’t answer her, of course, and that was the beginning of the end to my counting.
I’m mostly over the sickness right now, but I overdid it in taiji yesterday, so I’m exhausted. I could barely keep my eyes open last night, and I kept dozing off while writing and doing other things. I finally gave in and went to actual bed around two in the morning after falling asleep and waking up every half an hour or so for several hours. I’ve been doing the stretches my teacher taught me for my back and leg, and they seem like they are helping. However, my knees are aching, which means I’m overextending on my postures. This was a problem I’ve had for several years, and while I’m much better at not doing it, I still slip every now and again. I think being sick and adding these new stretches has made me concentrate less on my form, much to my knees’ detriment.
Anyway. I mused a while back about my life and what I need to do differently. Looking back on it, I’m doing a bit better with health. The thing I’ve realized that while I’m really good at quitting things cold turkey (in general. Potato chips are one exception), it takes me a long time to get to that point of actually making the move, and I can only cut out so much without feeling seriously deprived. It’s better to add something to my diet rather than constantly take away things. Right now, I’m concentrating on eating an apple a day (which, as we all know, keeps the doctor away). Before that, I added an orange a day (or two clementines/mandarins) for achy joints purposes. My theory is that if I add things to my diet, I’ll naturally want to eat less of other things. I’ll let you know how it works.
I mentioned caffeine in the previous post. Currently, I drink one cup of caffeinated tea every few days, so I’m mostly caffeine-free. It was so hard in the beginning, but now, I’m mostly used to it. I’m over the initial ‘can’t keep my eyes open’ stage, and I rarely miss the jolt. I occasionally have a pop when I go out to eat, and it now tastes weird. It’s not the same as gluten and dairy, both which still tastes delicious–god, I miss cheese so much. I still eat gluten-free pasta and bread, and I’m back in love with white rice, but there is no good substitute for cheese that I’ve found. Damn it.
My brother is urging me to get an Instant Pot, and I’ve been resistant to it mainly because it’s new and seems like it’d have a steep learning curve, though everything I’ve heard about it has said it’s easy. But, easy for people who cook already or easy for people who don’t cook? Plus, batch cooking is not something that appeals to me. Yes, I know I can freeze it and warm up each portion a day, but that’s a lot of work, yo. Also, read the description to this bad boy. It’s full of techno-babble and shit that doesn’t interest me. My brother laughed and said it’s geared towards guys, and I said, “Yeah. I’m not a guy.”
Side note: My brother likes to run his advertising ideas by me. I have a hard time giving him useful advice because what works on most people actively turns me off. Anything relentlessly cheerful and positive is boring to me, and anybody who hypes their product too much makes me suspicious. My brother was leaning towards using words that are old-timey and suggest solidness like ‘trusty’ or ‘trusted’. To me, if you’re those things, you don’t have to say it. I’m not just going to take you at your word, either. You have to prove you’re trustworthy–you can’t just say it.
In taiji yesterday, a classmate was talking about celebrating her youngest stepdaughter’s birthday. She (the stepdaughter) turned 51, and my classmate said that ‘young’ is relative. She also mentioned that the stepdaughter made a crack about some old man, and her sister said that someone who had just turned 51 should be careful about calling someone old. It got me to thinking about turning 50 and how I’m not ready for it. I’m 47, and, yes, I know that’s closer to 45 than 50, but this birthday was really hard for me for some unfathomable reason. I don’t usually care about age, and I’m not upset about being 47 specifically. It’s just that it crept up on me, and I don’t know what happened to the last ten years. I’m nearing half a century on this planet, and I have nothing to show for it. It’s messing with my mind, and I think par of my current depression is because of this.
1. Health. I’ve talked several times about not being happy about my weight. It’s not about health, though I’m sure that could be improved as well. It’s that I hate the way I look, and I want to do something about it. I thought giving up gluten and dairy would help, but it hasn’t. Probably because I started eating rice again which is SO GOOD but calorific. I haven’t eaten as much as of late, so that’s probably helpful. As much as I love rice (and I love it a lot because I’m Asian), it doesn’t really have any nutritional benefits. I’ve also cut out potato chips, added them back, and cut them out again. I’ve slowly added back fruit and veggies, and I cut down my caffeine intake by four-fifths.
Which, by the way, was by far harder than giving up dairy and gluten. I was so logy and cranky, I could barely function. It was two weeks before I felt human again, but I’m still adjusting. I have one cup of tea/coffee a day and have completely given up pop. I had some while I was in Malta, but those were extenuating circumstances. I will have a glass occasionally if I’m dining out, but more often than not, I’ll stick to water.
Side note: I want pizza right now. I want it so bad, I can taste it. There are many tasty substitutes for many gluten and dairy foods, but gluten-free/dairy-free pizza just isn’t that tasty. A local pizza joint had a fall special a few years ago that had sausage and sauerkraut, and it was amazing. So delicious! Heavy as hell, yes, but I would eat it every day all day long. I have a feeling I’ll break soon and get one because I can’t stop thinking about it, but I don’t want to fall off the gf/df wagon. I did while in Malta, but again, it was extenuating circumstances. How the hell could I not try pasta in Malta? Especially pasta with cheese in it?
I need to start cooking. I’ve said it several times, but I’ve yet to do it. I’ve boiled gf macaroni and added spaghetti sauce to it, but that’s not exactly cooking, now is it? I should get a pressure cooker because it’s magical, but it seems like a lot to learn. I could be wrong and probably am, but that’s how it appears to me.
When I was in my twenties, I had stories in my head all the time. They were clamoring to be heard, and I couldn’t wait to sit down and write. I could write for hours with the words just pouring out of me, and my biggest problem was knowing when to stop. It’s the same when I started blogging. I had so much to say, and there seemed to be so little time to say it in. I was passionate about my opinions, and I wanted the world to know what I had to say. Even when I was depressed, I could write. It’s the one thing I didn’t have to force myself to do. I couldn’t make myself take a shower, but I sure as hell could type thousands of words.
When I first started writing at the tender age of seven, I wrote poems. They weren’t great poems, but they were heartfelt. I never much cared for rhyming or more traditional poetry, but I loved free-form, and I wrote what I considered prose-poetry before it became a thing. I found it limiting, however, especially as I did not enjoy reading poetry, and I eventually switched over to prose. Part of the reason is because I loved to read, but I never saw anyone who looked or acted like me. I’ve nattered on about representation in popular culture so I’ll skip that whole spiel right now, but I felt a longing in my heart any time I read to see someone, anyone, who looked like me and/or had a life experience that was at all similar. There’s a Toni Morrison quote that has stuck with me about this sentiment:
If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
She also has said unapologetically that she is a writer for black people, and she doesn’t have a problem with that. She said it was “in the same way that Tolstoy was not writing for me, a 14-year-old colored girl from Lorain, Ohio.” I felt the same about much of what I read. Even if something was exquisite literature and moved me, there was always something missing. There was an explosion of Asian immigration stories when I was in my mid-to-late twenties (I blame Amy Tan), but they didn’t feel that relatable, either, because they were about Chinese laundries, broken English, and three generations of suffering women. It became so prolific, I remember standing in the middle of Modern Times (used bookstore) in San Francisco, seeing another spate of books like this, and loudly declaring, “If I never see another book about three generations of suffering Asian women, it would be too soon!” My friend shushed me, but I was fed the fuck up.