Great ideas.

About two weeks ago I decided to try being vegan. I think I hoped that something would spark inside me and make me want to stick with it. Saying “I’m vegan” is just so much easier than saying, “I eat dairy and meat substitutes to avoid the chance of stomachache…unless it’s something really good like a cookie or a ribeye in which case exceptions must be made, but I’m really gonna try to eat less meat because it means I can afford to eat more bread. Also, I might be allergic to eggs.” Yeah, way easier.

For seven days I made rice and broccoli and dairy-free grilled cheese sandwiches and staunchly avoided Chipotle and sushi and other things that bring me joy.

The trouble is, unlike this blog post, I began with an end in mind. I knew that at the end of my vegan week, there was going to be a holiday party with free food, and I knew that would be the end of my vegan life. That Friday, I left the holiday party buffet disappointed. My plate consisted of green beans, carrots, mashed potatoes, and a chicken breast. There was no ribeye. Apart from the possibility that my green beans and carrots were heavily buttered, neither was there a great challenge to my vegan lifestyle. I ate my sad, mediocre chicken breast and immediately felt as if I’d compromised too soon.

You know what I did in the days that followed? Got Chipotle. Then dairy-free grilled cheese. Then more chicken. And I’m back to where I started.

I have a tendency toward spontaneous short-term commitments driven by manic episodes of overconfidence. Also, I keep forgetting the word that means both reckless and spontaneous, yet it keeps coming up.

“I’m gonna go vegan” followed “I’m gonna give up candy.” “I’m gonna give up alcohol for an indefinite period of time.” “I’m gonna do an ab challenge for at least half a month.” “I’m gonna make my lunch every day until payday.” “I’m gonna save $400 a month.” “I’m gonna go to Costa Rica.” “I’m gonna sit by myself at the Trevor Noah show and hope he notices me.” Do you see a pattern?

Nothing bad comes of these decisions, but nothing great has happened either. Instead, I’m in this weird limbo where I’ve accomplished something and absolutely nothing at the same time. At least that’s what it feels like. I feel like I’m wandering around trying to create the best version of myself and failing repeatedly.

Some say there are lessons in failure. (I heard this in an awesome movie recently.) Maybe they’re right. Maybe I’ve gained something from all this random trial and error. Maybe I’m a better, wiser, more experienced person. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have to wait until I’m seventy-five years old to finally say “I’m really glad I did that.” That would suck, though.

Who sampled?

The other day I got on my high horse and started ranting about them “youngins” again. What a shame it must be that these young bucks could listen to the radio and not know who SWV was. These same kids who disrespected Missy Elliot when she attempted a comeback last year would never know about the greatness that was “Weak” and “Rain” in the 90s.

I wondered aloud, “kids today probably hear this and think this is a new group.” I was fully dismayed.

Just yesterday, I got on my high horse again and wondered if these youngins knew that K. Michelle’s “Kim K” was sampling one of the greatest songs of all time…something, something, don’t leave me girl, please stay with me tonight.

Or so I thought.

When I visited whosampled.com to figure out the name of that damn song K. Michelle sampled the website fed me a Debarge song called “A Dream.” WTF?!

I listened to “A Dream” and was dismayed. This wasn’t the song I was looking for. This was the song before the song I was looking for. I didn’t know that Blackstreet’s “Don’t Leave Me” was just a sample of DeBarge’s original song. Add to this the fact that I didn’t realize that El DeBarge was one man and DeBarge was a whole family, and you’ll understand why I’m suddenly feeling pretty low.

I’ve taken such joy on looking down on those ignorant young folk that I couldn’t see the truth. I am the young and ignorant masses. I have much to learn, grasshopper.

Winter is here.

The temperatures have reached their “holy shit it’s cold” phase, millions of people are remarking “gee that snow is actually sticking,” and sleep is life thanks to days so filled with such darkness (mostly literally) that we may evolve into nocturnal creatures. Winter is here, and no, I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, but I’d like to think I can use the expression anyways.

My dog, Cleo, just stopped by to let me pet her, and then scooted back a couple feet to place her body in front of my miniature floor heater. This is life now.

As much as I hate winter, and the fact that grammar allows for no capitalization of the seasons, I find myself appreciating a few precious aspects.

  • Chili is now game any day and every day. It’s not that I don’t eat chili in the summer, it’s just that I feel less foolish eating it now.
  • Instead of asking myself if I should wear a t-shirt or a cami, I wear a cami every day now. In this cold world, more is more, and I can always use an extra spaghetti strapped shirt under my long sleeve shirt under my sweater.
  • Hot cocoa. ‘Nuff said.
  • Telling friends “I don’t feel like leaving the house” and not having to explain yourself because everybody gets it.
  • Winter is the absolute worst, so..it’s only up from here! Pessimists will tell you that it isn’t even winter yet, but we’re too busy making blanket burritos to hear that malarky.

If anybody has been wondering what I’ve been doing lately, I’ll sum it up as this: I’ve been living in a constant state of anxiety. (My, this post has taken a turn.) The above bullets are some of the things I remind myself while sinking under the pressure of revving up for 2018 while still sloughing through the remaining dumpster of turmoil that is 2017.

At this time of year, everybody wants something from you: your clients, your boss, your friends coming to town, the folks on your Christmas list, the car insurance company, your future self. There ain’t no way I’m pleasing everybody. Still, I try.

I think the safest thing for each of us to do is retreat. I mean this in the most Emily Dickinson way possible. When the tough gets going, this is not the time to play hero. This is the time to hide. Find a few anime shows to fall in love with. Borrow enough books from the library that you’ll be busy for the entire 21 day lending period (for many, this will equal exactly one book). Make ridiculous savings goals so that it’s not even possible to go out. Buy floor pillows because your pillow/blanket fort needs them to reach perfection. But order them online, because going outside isn’t safe. Upgrade your Hulu subscription to commercial free because ain’t nobody got time for that. Stare at the dog while she sleeps in front of the heater.

And only, only interact with the outside world when it’s truly, absolutely necessary. It’s a dangerous world out there.

Or you can ignore all the sage advice I’ve just given and live on the edge. Sure, those tickets you just bought may bring you joy and excitement. And working out every day may be somewhat fulfilling, but is it really worth leaving your covers for? Only you can decide.

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle. If it’s Star Wars related you might see me out the house, but 9 times out of 10 you can guess where I’ll be. Doing the Emily Dickinson. Fortunately, nothing lasts forever.

When the snow melts, what does it become? Spring! – Fruits Basket

Bad decisions followed by bad decisions.

This post will otherwise be known as “why you should just keep your ass at home next time you have a cold and your brain has forsaken you.”

So today I went to Target…

I know, I know. First mistake. But I was really good today. I only bought things off my grocery list apart from Altoids, Snickers, SkinnyPop, ramen, and some beefless beef. But all that’s edible so it’s still a really successful trip. What’s also impressive is the number of things that I purchased actually on my list. Including three gallons of distilled water that I put at the bottom of my cart. Pause.

So I checked out only $70 in the hole and oh, happy day, I didn’t have my RedCard, but just yesterday Target told me I could add it to the Target app and scan the barcode, so I was still winning. Scanning my RedCard from the app was even faster than ever and seconds later I was back in my car speeding down the road. Home. All the way home.

I made it all the way home before I realized that I left my fucking water in the cart in the parking lot of Target 15 minutes away. Also, I suddenly remembered a 20% off coupon that would expire unused unless I returned to Target or risked spending another $75 at Target in less than a week.

It was a full hour after I intended to be home. That means 2-3 episodes of my favorite show unwatched. I was pissed. Also hungry. Which means I was a raging devil.

I grabbed a snack, called my best friend for consolation, and drove back to Target.

Talking to my friend made me feel a bit lighter. She reminded me that Mercury is in retrograde and bad things will happen that I can do nothing about.

Still, when I returned to Target, I didn’t expect that it could get worse. I didn’t imagine that my receipt would be right where I last saw it, on my kitchen counter. Apparently, you can pick up purchased water without a receipt, but you can’t get 20% off something you just bought.  Who do you think I hated most at that moment?

Myself.

It hurt so bad. The possibility of wasting more time and gas driving to Target a 3rd time to get back the money I rightfully deserved. So I put on my pajamas and fell into the couch. Defeated.

My money was gone. Time fully wasted. And physical pain creeping upon me. What was that nagging pain in my heel? It couldn’t have been that bad when my own cart ran me over two hours earlier…could it?

Well, there was skin missing, so I guess it was worse than I anticipated.

Target royally fucked me over today, and I had no other choice but to treat myself. So I did what I had to do and accidentally dropped $200 on flights. Why cry when you can travel?

 

P.S. This is version 2 of today’s post. Version 1 was lost in an unfortunate refresh. Who’s surprised?

New beginnings before the new year.

Hey folks! December is here and you know what that means? November is over and I’m done with NaNoWriMo, the month-long writing extravaganza that drives writers across the globe to write 50,000 words a month (1667 words a day)! Yay!

You may have noticed I took a little hiatus from my blog, but that wasn’t for lack of thinking about it. All month, I was gearing up for this fresh post-NaNo post. I was gonna tell you about how amazing writing like a madperson is and how it changed my life and how I was gonna edit the hell out of my story and have it published by 2019.

Yeah, that’s dead.

NaNoWriMo, for me, was like college. It was hard as hell but I gave it my all. I learned a few things, most of which I’ve already forgotten. Midway through I wanted to quit, so instead, I overachieved as much as I could and finished early. And after successfully completing three years of it, I’m not sure if this is something I’ll ever want to do again.

I’m a bit jealous of my friend – oh my partner who bestowed me with a magic pen and pad and the extra push I needed to commit this year. She, too, conquered NaNoWriMo and found something amazing. She learned that with a regular push, she could make writing a priority in her life. And she wants to keep going! I pray that she does because she’s the type to have a dope ass book that’s beautifully written but so random everybody talks about it and it turns into an overnight bestseller.

Me? I’d be okay with my book being published posthumously. They say there’s a bit of the writer in every story. Well, there’s a whole boatload of me in there, and I’m not in a rush to share it with the world. The story was more for me than for anyone else. And as my novel gathers dust, I will happily resume my normal writing habits.

Don’t get me wrong. If you have always talked about writing something big, but never gave it a real shot, NaNo is perfect for you! You must do it! I’m proud of what I accomplished because that mess was friggin hard. I got up an hour early every day (4:30 am on workdays) to write. I wanted to quit almost every day and I didn’t always know where my plot was going or what I wanted to say, but somehow I kept writing every day until it was done. I love that I proved I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to.

But for me, at least the third time around, my life was unchanged. I didn’t magically become Stephen King with a feverish desire to write each and every day. My creative juices are not an overflowing stream of magical inspiration and I am no longer married to my story. In fact, I may never read it again. The moment I got my certificate, all I could think about was doing anything but writing.

I cracked open a paperback and devoured it in one evening. In the last days of November, after my 50,000 words were written, I slept in later than I slept in for months. I started reading fanfiction and watching anime again. I started craving social contact and texting my friends about nonsense, dinner, and travel.

If I learned anything, I learned that there’s a lot more I want to experience than just the inside of my own head. I want to see what else is out there in the world. I want to go to plays and cook vegan meals and stare at the wall sometimes. I want to see a rainforest or the Northern Lights. I want to read all the other stories I didn’t think of and forget myself for a while.

So, my life-changing novel writing marathon wasn’t as life-changing as I hoped it would be. But at least it counts as something dope. And now I’m back. B)