Sunday, November 27, 2022

I want to let you know, that it's okay to feel sad even after you had a good day.  That it's an adaptive human behavior for negative emotions to overwhelm positive ones.

Do you think it's a necessity, that we make up for our mistakes?  Isn't an apology owed even when no wrong was intended?  How important is it that we repent for our sins?  Just how virtuous is it to feel regret?

Once upon a time, I believed that negative emotions carried no use.  That it was best to learn from our mistakes, without agonizing over them.  To do the right thing, without unnecessary anguish.  At the time, I was surrounded by what I will only describe as toxic negativity, coming from multiple fronts of my life.  It was only natural for me to learn to see negative emotions as overbearing, to establish a belief that they were hindrances, that the only way to survive was to cast them aside.

Is that really right, though?  Now that I have broken free from those dark realms, is there another way to survive?  To allow myself to feel sadness and regret, yet to believe that I need not correct my course.

I think it is difficult, too difficult, to allow oneself to feel negative emotions, without a belief that one will also be protected from them.  Whether that protection be in the form of conviction, self-compassion, experience, or the grace of others, perhaps does not matter.  Only that we have something that we can lean upon when we stumble, somewhere where we can take shelter from the inevitable storms.  That is why it shakes me so when the universe lays bare the cracks in all of my pillars.  When it becomes clear that sometimes, we have no choice but to fall to the ground.


Sunday, November 20, 2022

Forever

I stare into your eyes and I

am reminded of a time I thought would last forever

even though I know you will soon be gone

 

(Originally written on November 19, 2019, almost exactly 3 years ago)


Today at dinner, I saw one of my parents using their smartphone at the table at a family gathering.  I don't think there was anything wrong about it.  But thinking back to all those times when I was remanded as a child or young adult for quietly escaping into the solace of something like a GBA game, it made me feel sad.

Sad that the will and values of people are so malleable.  That when Twitter is in its heyday people regularly complain about it, but when it's "purportedly" on its "death throes", they begin to share gratefulness and appreciation for everything they've seen on it.  I feel sad that virtues are so quick to be bent, that people are willing to hold themselves to different standards depending on the situation.  Sometimes myself, too.

But I also feel sad at the oppression that results from power dynamics.  That when you are a child you get told everything not to do, and that when you are an adult, you get told everything you have to do.  That when I was put down and walked all over by certain adults and teachers in my life there was nowhere I felt that I could turn to save for disassociation.

It reminded me that even in the times that I feel spurred to admonitions, I must remember to be gracious and humble.  To not assume a holier-than-thou attitude, to be open-minded even as I am steadfast, and to forgive even as I detest.  It is only through forgiving others that we can begin to forgive ourselves.  Only by believing that others will improve, that we can understand how to repair our broken selves.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

There are good days and "ok" days.  That's only natural though, you aren't going to win everything all the time, sometimes you just take the L, you know?

My cough (which ended up being allergy-related...?) is doing much better, so good on me for getting a second opinion on that.  Unfortunately I ended up with (everyone's favorite) some insurance baggage to deal with since my insurance changed due to changing counties, which threw things off.  A headache for future me to wrestle with, to be sure, along with some other annoying finance-related management stuff that I'll have to start thinking about now that the end of the year is drawing closer.

I DJed at Friday Night Waltz and enjoyed putting my best self out there despite (due to various factors) not many people at all coming out.  Nine years ago I put on my first dance event, which also had a really small crowd of people show up...it's really interesting thinking back on how much I've gained during that span of time and how differently I run my events, in almost every single sense.  I guess the one thing that hasn't changed is my responsibility and preparation efforts.  Sure, nine years ago I didn't put great music in, and my mannerisms were probably off-putting at times, but I still did my best to make sure I had everything under my belt to the best of my then-limited capabilities.  That much hasn't changed.  I definitely could have just phoned in this FNW event, there were a LOT of things that I did not have to do but chose to do anyways.  This is not only because I hold a high standard, but because sometimes it is satisfying to do a good job even if in the end it doesn't really make a huge difference.

I cleared another Caesar 3 mission, and continue to revise and iterate on my preferred housing block(s).  I've discovered that my denser blocks need two, or even three markets to properly supply food and goods to all of the residents, so that's something I'm starting to add into the plan, along with some additional entertainment to keep sentiment up.

I finally pulled the trigger on some LTEK hard pads for DDR.  Those will take a while to arrive, but they should be really fun and shiny to play around with and spur me on to play a bunch, maybe try to just go down the setlist of DDR A or whatever.  Interestingly enough, I actually ended up buying them after first looking at Beatmania IIDX controllers (I have a stubby KOC one only).  I'm not sure that I'll end up getting one of those though...maybe if I end up downloading a more modern BMS client (mine is ages ages old) and try more charts out and feel inspired to, but else I should maybe just stick to pop'n.  Perhaps I should download a PMS client as well, or even try one of those stepmania forks?  Lots to experiment with on the rhythm game front, for sure.

Rhythm Quest continues to chug along somehow; I drew up some backdrop sets today without too much issue, so it's nice to know that I'm still able to function creatively for the project -- that's always a source of uncertainty.  But I guess that sort of creative productivity IS something that can be trained -- certainly, after many many many many iterations of One Hour Compo, I feel like being able to make a song is a given instead of a flip of a coin.  My pixel art is getting a little closer to feeling like that, perhaps.  Someday my freestyle dancing may as well.  There's levels to it, anyways.


Friday, November 4, 2022

Better write another one of these before I push it off...

Unsurprisingly, it's much more of a challenge to spend a full day on Rhythm Quest, even when in theory the day is scheduled out for it.  The tough part about it is that it's not like I didn't do good work today, just that the time was spent on other things.  What I think this means is that I'm going to have to do my best to chunk out the Rhythm Quest work into very small pieces whenever possible -- this will make it easier to squeeze in at other times -- and then do whatever I can to make sure that I am actually setting aside entire afternoons (or nights...) to work on larger tasks like trying to start on that next level.

Instead today I cooked both meals (as usual) and actually put a bunch of work into putting the second chicken coop together, which involved lugging all of the pieces up to the backyard where the other one is, and then starting to do the assembly itself.  It's about halfway done now, so I decided to call it quits so I can try to move it into place tomorrow and see if the doorways can actually connect well, then maybe I can see about assembling the rest of it, and putting down some more hardware cloth.  Chickies are doing well in the meantime, they are getting along slightly better, though there is still some bullying.  Shockingly, Black Chicky seems to have given up on brooding very quickly this time.  Maybe because of the cold...?

Speaking of the cold, it certainly has gotten a lot cooler here recently.  The new place does get quite cold (although I guess the old place was cold too), I've previously been leaving the heater vent in my room closed but maybe it's time to open it during the day at the very least (and maybe close it at night).

One Hour Compo was today -- initially I was thinking of doing some more work towards the current soundtrack commission that I've got on my plate, but the image theme came up and I thought it would be nice to do a nice downtempo chillhop track.  I ended up with this song titled "infinite night sky" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBR1VtSPY_U), which I was quite happy with.  I don't think I've got enough experience with this type of music that I can be confident to write one the entire way without stopping and fumbling on something or another (pad sounds are a tough one for this genre), but on the other hand, I feel like I've really started to find my voice in it.  That's been a pleasant surprise to discover.  I don't think I could have told you exactly what my brand of chill music would have been before, but now that I'm listening to it, it sort of makes sense.  I use similar structures from a lot of my other music -- using layers that play throughout, while switching up others.  Slowly building up to a section that speaks louder than the others, than pulling back and returning back to the beginning.  It's still my writing, just, slower and everything is more washed out by reverb and vinyl processing.

It's cool to go back to my previous work (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA53w3Fonek for example) and see how far I've progressed and developed this sound.  You could say the same about my other styles too, of course, but I think this one is more apparent since it was developed in isolation, yet much more quickly since I already had such a solid foundation to build upon.

My Pokemon Unite group fizzled out and stopped playing (to nobody's surprise), so it's back to solo queuing for the most part for me.  Well, I'm no stranger to sticking to something after everybody else has left, so that's just fine.

I took a stab at the next Casear 3 mission (Carthago) and eventually admitted defeat after a somewhat-successful start.  The main problem I ran into was food distribution, which is always a finicky thing -- and tricky in this map since you have scarce farmland to work with, and have to supplement it with fishing.  I also got stomped by the military invasions later in the mission -- I'm going to have to actually import iron/weapons and train some legionnaires in order to stop them, no more just being lazy and trying to kite all day with javelin auxiliaries anymore.

I should have already known this before, but food distribution really is key to everything in laying out housing blocks.  Especially since it's very difficult for the market ladies to "do the right thing" when it comes to fetching food from granaries, I think it was a mistake how I haphazardly let some of my housing blocks be connected to the same food supplies, and wasn't strict on isolating different food types.  For my next go-around I'll need to try and avoid intermingling fruit / fish, and separate the food distribution wherever possible.  Maybe even build a grand temple to reduce food consumption.  It somehow seems to be a lot more difficult to get food to an entire housing block than I remembered before, but maybe my memory is wrong or I just need to experiment more with my market placements, or stockpile more food before starting to distribute it.

I got a chance to just vibe and dance for a bit at an event last week, that was nice!  I was pleasantly surprised by my movement not being as rusty as I expected despite not really have practiced at all in recent times.  Ah, speaking of dance stuff, it looks like I will be hopping down to DJ at Friday Night Waltz next week on the 11th.  I'll be competing with Fall Ball (I guess my fault for not penciling down the date after the initial email), so it might be a quieter night, but I'll be bringing good music as always, so come stop by if you're so inclined.

Progress on the Christmas letters continues slowly and steadily (as with most things in my life) -- 17 of those are done now, so I'd say I'm like a good half of the way there.

Somewhat surprisingly (?), my recently chronic cough (gerd related?) has gotten better this week, probably in no small part due to eating a bit lighter and more healthy.  I was (probably to the chagrin of my care team) initially supposed to have a spicy-food week, but due to various factors it seems like I've been eating relatively "nice" instead in terms of foods that might be better for acid -- porridge, some premade refridgerated pizza, brussels sprouts, seafood pasta, chicken and broccoli.  I've tried to ease back on the citrus juice a bit as well for the week, along with elevating a bit more while sleeping.  I didn't actually expect to notice a marked difference, but I have, so that's actually quite encouraging.


Friday, October 28, 2022

Things are good.  Better, certainly, than when I wrote the last post.

I have some new friends to hang out with in the South Bay, it seems like...that should be nice.

It's been a mix of relatively good things lately, I think.  I continue to try my best to get things done here and there.  A music commission piece done, another one mostly done.  Pixel art done for the month.  MA set of Rhythm Quest animations.  Another devlog post.  Groceries and cooking.  Monthly album release.  Another Christmas letter here and there. ...  Tomorrow is going to be trying to pick out some new glasses, maybe sharpening the knives, and god willing, maybe even starting on another Rhythm Quest level...

I tackled another Caesar 3 mission (Mediolanum).  My modified housing block seems to be working pretty well -- and I might even be able to compact it in the future since it seems like the 10x small temples might actually be overkill.  I might be able to swing the lever back in favor of more (potential) housing in each block.  Still, this mission was quite challenging, mostly in terms of keeping my finances afloat.  I am going to have to experiment in the future with spending more employment on raising city sentiment (entertainment, food types, desirability) and then raising taxes past 7% to supplement income more.

The next mission is Carthago which is annoying for two reasons: it's in the desert (fire risk up), and you start with a half-assed city being ransacked by natives.  On the plus side, said natives trade with you eventually, so I think money probably isn't an issue here once you really get the city rolling.  We'll see...


Monday, October 24, 2022

Existential Loneliness

There have been times, sleeping in the same bed as a companion, when I would be kept awake by my troubled thoughts.  By thoughts of being unloved, by thoughts of not being good enough, and by thoughts of having being left behind, and of losing what I once had.  And during some of those times, these thoughts lasted so long, were so painful, that I left the room, and lay down in the hallway, on the floor, feeling alone.

During one of those times, I did not leave to go to the hallway, but instead quietly lay down on the floor in the same room.  I remember putting in my earbuds, and listening to songs by Leigh Nash, the vocalist I am a fan of.  It was, 4AM, perhaps -- who knows, really -- and a song came up that I had not listened to in quite some time.  The name of the song is "Nervous in the Light of Dawn".  The lyrics start like this:

Dreamed I was in the desert
Without any love
Storm gray clouds
Hovering above

Silence all around me I was wandering alone
And I realized there is nothing anyone can really own

And I wished for guidance
And I wished for peace
I could see the lightning
Somewhere in the East
And I wished for affection
And I wished for calm
As I lay there
Nervous in the light of dawn

Of course, there have been other times in my life -- too many, probably -- when I have felt lonely and unloved.  Nights when I would wonder what was wrong with me, or why things were this way, and why it didn't seem to matter "how hard I tried", that I could not find the type of connection that I was looking for (I would come to learn more about the answers to this question, much later).  But these times, lying on the hard floor, not 10 feet away from a warm bed with a companion -- these are times that stick out in my memory.

The feelings that I had -- have, really -- are perhaps not easily captured in a short phrase, but I have referred to the experience at times as "existential loneliness".  That may be a bit of a misnomer, as I think when we say "existential loneliness" we often tend to think about how no one can truly know one another, and about the human condition, or perhaps about a lack of purpose or meaning.  I think for me this experience is a little more like a shattering of the illusion of comfort.  It's the realization that you =will= be alone, that you can never be loved always and forever, that you can feel the cold hard floor beneath you even with the warm bed within arm's reach.

And I think that is why I think of it as "existential" in nature, because it doesn't appear -- at the time, at least -- to have a solution.  To not have anyone to love, to love you, is one thing, but to have that in your life and realize that you are still at the mercy of inadequacy, of transience, of pain, is something that cuts deeper.  At least when you are alone, you know what the problem is.  But nothing can ever bring comfort forever.  You =will= be alone, and there is no one, nothing in this world that can ever fully save you from it.

Sometimes, something that can help with existential crises is to reconnect yourself with the present.  But I remain too firmly attached to the things I lost from my past in order to do that.  I would not be having this problem in the first place if I was not living with my head stuck in the ground.  Taking me somewhere new will not solve anything, for I will still look back and grieve.  Grieve everything that I have lost, and all of the sins that I have committed along the way.  How would I ever forgive myself?  Surely, my loss must be due to my sins.  And these sins are not ones where I could ask God for forgiveness.

Choosing to let go, to move on, and to seek happiness elsewhere, is the same as consigning yourself to experience the same thing, again and again.  To say that the solution is to move forward is to say that you will continue to be alone, next time too.  That is why this feeling causes my breath to quicken, and for me to feel hopeless and hapless, to feel despair and depression.  Because there is no way out.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Mmm, yeah, things are doing alright.

I used my epipen for the first time yesterday, so that wasn't super fun =(  My food allergies aren't life-threatening, so I was taking a risk, one that I've taken before in the past, but apparently this was my unlucky day, and I figured relatively quickly that it was probably going to be better to get stabbed by the autoinjector than to deal with the negative effects.  It was a little more painful than purported, maybe I wasn't fully relaxed or perhaps it was a little misplaced.  My leg was sore, but it did its job...

Anyways, that was not the most ideal start to the first meal of the day.  That was quite draining for me so I ended up spending the rest of the day in bed, which kind of threw me for a loop.  After "dinner" I began my "day" in earnest and stayed up quite late (as expected), managing to do a really good bout of work on Rhythm Quest (mainly a bunch of localization-related tasks).  As messed up as the rhythm of my day was, it felt great being able to just sit down and be productive in that way.

As always, I'm trying to figure out how to make life better for the chickies.  Whitechicky is still growing back her feathers after a very thorough molt, so she's very unhappy at being picked up (or bullied), I feel bad for her and hope she feathers out soon.  I've tried setting up a divider to stop dumbchicky from bullying her, in the end I might just have to end up setting up the second coop to have them live their best life.

A challenge with balancing my 3-days-a-week job and Rhythm Quest is going to be that when you have 2 weekdays off work, it's really tempting to just occupy those days with all of the miscellaneous stuff that you never got to during the other parts of the week -- vacuuming, organization, grocery shopping, chicky chores, that kind of thing.  Not to mention the million other things that I always have spinning around in my life -- music commissions, Christmas and birthday letters, producing content for ALTTPR, filling out my ballot, etc.  Given that, I feel like these past two days have been a great step in the right direction, as I've managed to put some good progress toward concrete tasks for Rhythm Quest.  Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come...

Speaking of my ballot, I mailed mine in already...I'm ahead of schedule as I tend to be.  That is just what happens when you just steadily allocate time to these things bit by bit.  I was pleasantly surprised with the measures on the ballot for my city; besides a few egregious offenders they actually mostly seemed reasonable.

I'm thankful that last night went well, working late at night.  I know there's a world in which instead of getting absorbed in productivity I simply felt lonely.  There are two sides to those late nights...the freedom of being alone, and the pain of being alone.  Sometimes I'm not really sure which one I'll get.

Today, has been pretty okay too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

But perhaps, the reason that I so vehemently wished to offer myself up, to self-sacrifice in the so-called name of others, is because I wished to believe that this was a world where that kind of person =did= exist.  That one could find someone who would give without receiving, who would stay by your side forever.  The kind of person who would extoll the virtues that everyone says they admire but no one actually wants.

Use me, abuse me, walk all over me, as long as you don't leave me.

Silence, I think, is problematic in a relationship.  But it is an ideal at the same time.  It is the easier path, to be mature, to speak your mind, to get on the same page.  It's not as simple, to communicate through silence.  And yet, I can't help but think to myself, that I've spoken too, too many words in these years.

Who, in the end, would receive my silence?

Who...would be the one to fold their wings around me?  To lift me gently from the stream?

I am alone here, maybe have always been.  But there are lights in the darkness.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Of course, there is freedom in being able to say whatever comes to your mind.

But there is also a freedom in being at peace with saying nothing at all.