Changes, Updates, and the like...

Ok, so it's been a hot second since I've posted here...while posting regularly to this blog was always some part of "The Plan," it was only a small part and never the main thing. I left it derelict for 4 months, but that doesn't mean I've been idle - quite the opposite, in fact.

If anything, I suppose tumbleweeds here is actually a good sign...it means I'm working on something else. For the past few months, it's meant working on multiple something elses'.

RECAP TIME: TL;DR version

1) Hoyt and I are releasing weekly comics over at Just Comics Group. We're about two months in and only just getting started. 

2) I started a Patreon account for myself. This was a hard one for me...asking for something, anything, is hard and I don't like it. After a couple of talks with Hoyt and a few others, I'm learning to get over it. 

3) My first podcast audio-play will be coming out this coming Monday. It's called In Wolf's Clothing and I'm pretty excited (read: nervous) for it. 

4) It's high time this site start being used for its original intent. Other pages will start popping up with this one as it's hub. 

 

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Birthday Blues

 

Sunday marked my 31st birthday. It wasn't as sad or profound as my 30th, but a grab bag of feelings were had - not all of them pleasant. At 30 I took a hard look back on my 20s. I squandered them...plain and simple. My dreams, goals, and hopes for what and who I'd be by my 30th birthday weren't even remotely met, and it took me awhile to reconcile that lost time...that idle time. The aftermath of that mini fallout left me resolved to kick everything up a notch. I wasn't going to be idle and I was going to start actually making moves towards something

Well, fast forward a year. Here we are, in the now, and I have little to show. It's been a year since my resolution and nothing has happened. While my 30th was reflective, my 31st became prophetic in nature. Fear took on a new form. Because I had nothing tangible to show, I flashed forward to my 40th. I could see myself looking back on my 30s the same way I had my 20s...just another decade down the drain - wasted, idle time. 

Now, I wasn't totally idle this past year. I have begun to "make moves" towards some goals...I didn't just totally sit on my hands and do nothing. It's certainly a step in the right direction, but I know (if I'm being honest with myself) that it's still far below what I know I'm capable of pushing. Herein lies a change to my fear...well, more an addition. Last year it was focused on my past. I was afraid I wasted my 20s - that I wasted too much time and that it was too late for me to start down the path I meant to ten years ago. This year, however, my fear took me to the future. I know I'm still pretty young, but I'm becoming more aware that I don't have unlimited time to do all the things I want to do. I'm, as mentioned above, scared I'm just going to repeat my 20s all over again. I don't want to wake up one day, look back on my life and see all these missed opportunities, these chances not taken, exciting doors left unopen. I (and please forgive the easy pop-culture reference) don't want to give away my shot. 

At the end of the day, I've taken stock on another year passed and haven't seen much progress personally. BUT...all that being said, there has been some forward movement. I'm not stopping or giving up but doubling down on what I promised myself last year. Besides, I not only have the fear of my past to deal with but now the fear of my future to contend with as well...my future I can at least act on and act on it I will.

Geddy Lee and Me

Music is a pretty big part of my life. By that, I guess I mean I place a great deal of importance on it. I won't go down that rabbit hole just now, but I'm sure an overwrought post about how I feel about music is knocking around somewhere...no, this post is about discovery, experimentation, and a middle school crush. 

Ok, so middle school was a grand time of musical discovery for me. I'd imagine that's the norm, though. It's around the age of 12ish that I assume most start truly branching out from the musical tastes of their parents - partly to rebel, partly because it's when we start to lay the foundation of self...that's how it was for me, anyway. I didn't have to travel too far from the well-worn path my parents set me on (their musical tastes were pretty eclectic as it were) and I was surprised to learn that they knew a lot of the bands I was in the process of "discovering." This was at the advent of the internet (at least as I knew it). I learned from a few of my more tech savvy friends how to download .mp3s and play them from the computers media player. It got a whole hell of a lot easier when Napster first came out about a year after that...again, other stories for another time - the important takeaway here is that I was deep in the trying out of new music.  

It was in 7th grade that I discovered the band Rush. The song "Tom Sawyer" was getting plenty of play on the radio, but it wasn't until I heard YYZ that they hooked me. It was my first real taste of prog rock and I fell pretty hard. Most of my expendable money was already going to CDs, so after downloading a few other Rush songs, I decided it was high time to invest in one of their albums. I bought Moving Pictures.

As a budding percussionist in the middle school band, I was blown away by Neil Peart's drumming...but there was something else going on...this. what is this voice? This lilting falsetto...whoever this lady is can sing! I grabbed the CD case to see who it was. Geddy Lee. It's a strange name - ambiguous. Her picture on the back of the CD is really washed out and it's hard to see her face...well, whoever she is I think I like her...and thus started my misinformed crush on Geddy Lee, the female vocalist and badass bass player for Rush. 

That's her at the top on the back panel of the Moving Pictures CD case. 

That's her at the top on the back panel of the Moving Pictures CD case. 

If you're already laughing, it's because you know something I didn't at the time - Geddy Lee is, in fact, a man. Now, I know for a fact that I wasn't the only one who fell for this pitfall, but the part I'm most embarrassed about is that I went on to think Geddy was a lady until a sophomore in high school - for the record that's four whole years. While I had gone on to buy many more Rush albums (becoming something of a super fan), I never bothered actually learning much about the band members. The washed out pictures on the back of this one CD were the only ones of them I'd seen... I wasn't as big a super fan as I thought - I just really liked the music.

It was with a group of friends that the truth was revealed to me. We were listing out a few of our musical crushes. First on my list was Karen O, but I was coming up blank after that...I racked my mind for cool female band leads that I liked but was drawing a blank (it was supposed to be top 3). I landed on Geddy Lee and Rush next. They laughed and I was confused. Realizing that somehow, someway my idiot was showing, I started to claim all this knowledge about Rush. I started spewing mostly made up facts. They let me flounder for a bit before telling me Geddy was a dude but gave me an easy out without ragging on me too hard. In actuality, the flak I caught had to do with not knowing jack shit about a band I supposedly really liked. Though, that's more of an observation of how "woke" my friends were as 15-year-olds in 2001. They didn't go for the low hanging fruit of "that's so gay, you got a crush on a dude." They didn't care. The faux pas was in not knowing about a band you claimed to know a lot about and also a little about the fact that I liked Rush in general. 

Everyone let it go pretty quickly, everyone but me. I looked dumb in front of my friends who's taste in music I respected and mined for new bands. I just wanted to impress them. I went home and started doing loads of research on bands I wasn't necessarily into...not to rub their faces in my knowledge, but to never again commit the crime of being a poser or being into lame bands. I was gonna damn well know who the it bands were, who the members were, where and when they were born, and when the band was formed. These details didn't much matter before then...they don't really now. But there for awhile, I made it my business to know music - to the point of not taking a second to stop and actually enjoy the music. Luckily my know-it-all snob phase in music was short lived and I reverted back to not being caught up in the who's and how's - I just went back to liking what I liked. 

I'm starting to flirt with another music topic, but I'll stop here and save that one for later. Anyway, my short-lived, and ill-informed, crush on Geddy Lee, while embarrassing, taught me a little about not speaking out of turn - and never to pop off and claim to know a lot about something you don't. I claimed to know everything there was to know about Rush. While I could, at the time, sing their whole music catalog, I couldn't have told you shit about any of them...I didn't even know they were from Canada.  

New Year, Old Me.

Whelp...it's a new year. We've completed the annual trip around our host star. Reset. Reboot. Start over. Millions have set their resolutions (and I'd wager a few hundred thousand have already broken them)...but that's beside the point. While people overcrowd the gyms, "healthy food" flies off the shelves and cranky smokers go cold turkey, I sit here unchanged - resolute in not making resolutions. I...just don't see the point. 

Now, I'm simply talking about myself here. I might be a cynical asshole, but I'm not so much of one to hate on anyone who tries to better themselves. Any decision to make a change is worthwhile and should be supported...and whatever mental tricks are needed to help set you on that path of betterment (whatever it may be) should be used...within reason. It's just that the seasonally popular "New Year, New Me" mantra is just that...seasonal. After the first quarter of the year passes, there probably isn't too many out there still chanting it to themselves. It just doesn't have the staying power of real change - it's too...all or nothing in not enough time. Once that "New" part of the year wears off, there isn't much of a transition into a more long term train of thought. The bar is set too high and the cultural importance of succeeding can be overbearing. Maybe it's our "quick fix" mentality that makes it seem like a bust if we haven't mastered our goals by March. Lofty goals that would reasonably take a year or more to reach get abandoned by spring...either because smaller goals weren't set along the way, or a benchmark was missed early on and the whole goal was scrapped. 

I guess that brings me back to failure. Once the diet has been broken, the workout missed, the class skipped, that cigarette smoked...it's game over. Now, this is something much bigger than just New Year's Resolutions, but it applies. Failure sucks. Giving into old, bad habits blows. That moment of instant gratification from your late night bowl of ice cream ends and turns to instant regret before that last bite is taken. It's in that crushing moment of defeat, that moment we've fallen off the bandwagon, that we decide it's over. It's easier to just throw in the towel, make an excuse for why the goal was totally unreasonable in the first place, and go back to old ways...I mean, it wasn't so bad...I didn't actually fail. I should be able to eat what I want...and both work and school are really hectic right now, there was no way I could've kept working out with that schedule. I'll pick it back up when things calm down a bit for sure. Admitting failure isn't easy and most of us will do some pretty crazy mental gymnastics to justify our way out of anything. 

I'm babbling poorly about something much smarter people have been covering...I'll move on.

For me personally, I stopped making "New Year" resolutions. Our arbitrary position around the sun is neither the beginning nor ending to goals. I try to address the changes I want to make when they come to me, and I mostly fail and make excuses in my own special little ways. There's the silly little (and mostly superficial) things I'd like to change about myself. Then there's the more lofty and long term goals like career and whatnot. Regardless, I try not to lose sight over this one fact - After it's all said and done, I still want to be me. I don't want to change so much that I'm not who I was. At the end of the day, I like me a lot. Sure, there's lots of little things I'd love to change about myself in the name of betterment, but I'm not willing to sacrifice who I am to obtain them. I'm who I was 10 years ago, just a little smarter...I don't want to lose all that progress or experience. That's why I say, in the face of 2017, "New Year, Old Me."

Old Trey has seen plenty of failure, but he's seen some nice victories and triumphs as well. Growing and evolving as a person is what I'm after, not the complete overhauling of who and what I am. I'm where I am now in life because of Old Trey, and while Old Trey made tons of mistakes and missteps along the way, I wouldn't be primed and ready to do what I want now. It was Old Trey's dreams to write, to tell stories, to be creative. Chasing those dreams has caused plenty of heartache and failures - he was down but never totally out, though. Old Trey stood up to his inner demons, and while they won more often than not, Old Trey kept at it...I can't get rid of that dude. I can't give up on him...I mean sure, he's got his vices and issues (just ask his wife), but Old Trey is me and I him. Old Trey was strong in his own way, and that's something I should take heart in...it means I can be strong now. I guess what I'm trying to say is, regardless of whatever it is you think you need to change about yourself, don't lose sight of the old you in the process. Whatever faults the old you has, there was something in them that brought about the will to betterment, that saw you through to where you are now...for better or worse. 

Honor your past self, but don't worship it. Be willing to change and adapt, but don't sacrifice who you are to do it. If there's one thing I'm learning (slowly), it's that honesty to yourself is the first step to betterment and an unbreakable foundation on which to build. You'll still fail from time to time. Things will get rough, but so long as you can look inward and not lie to yourself, you'll rebound quicker. You'll get back on the horse faster, maybe not let those resolutions slip through your fingers. You'll make fewer excuses and will redouble your efforts instead of giving up after a misstep. 

I'll keep blundering through 2017 if you will. 

Metaphysical Existentialism: It's Elementary!

The Holidays have thrown off my game a bit...that and I'm waist deep in a project that's eating up much of my writing time...I'm pulling this one out of the vault. It was hastily written a few months ago, and it's being hastily posted now...cheers.

Sometimes, when I find myself laying in bed but my brain won't shut the hell up, I have to play out a little mental exercise. I remember doing this going all the way back to elementary school...couldn't say when it started, exactly, but I had to be around 6 or 7. Back then, counting sheep was a no-go. I needed something bigger...something all encompassing. I'd focus on myself, my body, and it's relation to the bed. I'd become painfully aware of my heartbeat, my breathing, and any little movement I made in my very still room - I'd try to match that stillness. With relation to the bed, I'd shrink myself. I'd imagine myself getting smaller and smaller; when I was an infinitesimal speck on the pillow, I'd then picture the bed getting smaller and smaller in relation to the room, then the room to the house, the house to the neighborhood, neighborhood to city, city to state, state to country, country to world, world to solar system, solar system to galaxy, and finally galaxy to universe...damn, that's a mouth full.

Maybe it was because I'd recently seen Honey, I Shrunk the Kids combined with learning about space (super into space, if you haven't noticed), but the idea of shrinking and being small in the grand scheme of things was certainly on my mind. On the nights I had to evoke this rite, I hardly made it out of my house. I'd be asleep somewhere between shrinking myself or my bed. I should say, before I go too much further, that doing this was terrifying. A strong sense of anxiety washed over me the second I engaged with the exercise...with my single semester of college Psychology I'll make a slapdash diagnosis: I felt small and was beginning to understand I was actually behind the other kids in school and this was some weird manifestation of those feelings? If I was nothing, I'd return to nothing. That thought didn't manifest until middle school, but even in elementary, I was scratching at it. Ultimately, I had no idea of what I was doing at the time, nor could I put words to what I felt; however, now looking back with slightly more worldly knowledge, I realize I was forcing myself into a state of existential dread - in that dread, I fell asleep while attempting to mine those feelings. Needless to say, forcing oneself into an existential crisis roughly once a week since the 2nd grade makes for a rather addled kid. Having such an intimate relationship with this fear and anxiety over existence (and my incredibly small place in it), simply compounded my troubles with self-worth and trying to navigate through school with the label and stigma of being "ESE." 

It sounds all doom and gloom, but it wasn't. It is weird that I had such and open and constant relationship with these anxieties and that I helped myself to sleep by inducing this state of existential dread...I mean, the fact that I somehow found some kind of peace through that fear in order to fall asleep...weirdo. But, in the end, it's ultimately served me well. About 5ish years ago I had a pretty serious crisis of self one night- the kind where you wake up at 3 in the morning in a cold sweat, your heart beating out of your chest. You question everything you've ever done, what lead you down the path to that moment, drown in feelings of being trapped and doomed to repeat your failures over and over. I was falling hard down the rabbit hole, but then it hit me. I've felt this before...maybe not this extreme, but I know this feeling. I was out of bed by this point and had been pacing around my dark room in panic. After a couple of deep breaths, I got a glass of water, drank it, laid back down, and began the time-honored ritual: Be still, focus on your heartbeat, slow your breathing, BE STILL DAMNIT, breathe...slowly but surely, I began the process of shrinking myself in relation to the bed. That night, I made it all the way to through the whole of the Universe and back to my room. I never actually fell back to sleep that night, but I did manage to stave off the worst of what was a huge anxiety attack. I was by no means "cured" afterward, but I can only assume it'd have been much worse had it not been for my controlled descent into existential dread and back out. 

After navigating that particular hurdle in life, I feel I've come out for the better. Of course, it's always easier to laugh at stuff in the aftermath, but I was being dumb and overly melodramatic (like melodramatic isn't a strong enough term)...not to downplay anyone else's anxieties or battles with depression. 

In the end, I dodged a bullet because I'd been experimenting with existentialism on accident since elementary school...

 

 

When you fail...

Whelp...NaNoWriMo is officially over...I...I didn't make it. There were a few slapdash attempts there at the end to try and make up the difference. I capped out at a little over 30,000 words. One of the craziest, most terrifying parts of NaNo, is the suggestion to start a story on the first of November without much of an idea...while I had a pretty strong idea and basic beginning and ending to shoot for, the story as a whole was mostly not there. I had some ideas and specific plot points I wanted to hit, but outside of that? Not a whole lot.

It's not that I got stuck, or that there wasn't enough there to fill out the story...quite the opposite, actually. Once I got going, the story just took off. Ideas and possible plot points just started flying. It's how I made such a large dent in my word count early on. BUT, some of those ideas clashed with others...even more of them would clash with things I knew I wanted in the story that would be revealed in later episodes. With all these new ideas starting to play havoc on my tenuous grasp of what I wanted, I had to take a step back...

It's funny, some writers talk about a story or their characters "coming to life" on the page and forging their own way (despite what you wanted them to do). I don't go in for that sort of flowery stuff, but I was faced with a fork in the road. Down one side, I could continue to bullheadedly force the story down its original trajectory, OR, I could let the story grow more organically as I wrote it and see where I ended up. I'd, more of less, arrive at the same endpoint...it's just the journey my characters took to get there was changing. Sounds easy, right? While I know I made the better choice (don't force it), I still fought with myself constantly...single ideas or beats in the story that I became too precious with were on the chopping block and I didn't want to let go of them...there's no quicker path to writer's block and procrastination...no quicker path to just saying "screw this mess, I'm gonna play Skyrim instead."

 I made my shitty bed, and I'm now laying in it...so now here I sit, It's December 1st and I failed to hit my mark...but, the show must go on. The good news is I learned a lot about my story while writing out the script, so I'm just gonna keep failing until I land on the right telling of the story. I'm gonna fail my way right into having the completed scripts and then fail my way through recording and producing it as an audio play released as a podcast. Despite not completing the story in the original timeframe I'd planned, I'm still roughly on track for starting to release it early January. 

You win some, you lose some...with regards to my NaNoWriMo track record, it's lose most of the time, win once or twice.  Anyway, onward and upward...

An Insufferable Know-It-All...

I wrote this one about a month ago. It's been sitting in the drafts folder, tee'd up and ready to go. Since I've been slow on the post train here lately...holidays, other writing projects, and guilt-ridden bad habits (looking at you, Skyrim), have kept me off the site...while my plan was to make November "creative month," and have all the posts be about NaNoWriMo or other creative projects, I need to fall back on the drafts folder...I suppose that's what it's there for. Anyway...

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 Hello, my name is Trey and I'm an insufferable know-it-all.

 

 

 

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Guilt...

Well, it didn't take too long for me to do all the things I said I wouldn't do...I had a couple of powerhouse days in the first week, felt great about where I was, have a few little things pop up, pushed back writing because I had a nice lead, caught up to and quickly lost my lead, and am now in the throes of guilt for falling behind...in my guilt I did something stupid which was squander most of my weekend playing video games and hating myself for it. The weekend before that I jumped on a bottle cap mosaic project that ate my weekend whole...no writing was done.

I'm not too far behind, though, and I'm determined to get back on the horse. It helps that my writing subject is actually for something. It's probably the saving grace of all this...past year's failures were easier to drop unfinished because the story was still too nebulous. It didn't have any weight - didn't mean anything because it wasn't for anything - at least not anything outside of writing just to write. However, this year I've got plans for the content I'm creating. Writing for writing's sake is great and all, but writing with a purpose lights a special kind of fire under my ass. While that guilt creeps into everything (I am wickedly good at procrastinating), knowing I'm working towards a deadline amps up the fear of failing and letting myself and others down. That fear always trumps the guilt. 

What's more, even if I didn't hit my 50,000 word mark at the end of NaNoWriMo, I'll continue on with the project...I've got plans. Plans to start releasing my audio play by the beginning of 2017 at the latest. Ultimately that 50k mark is just bragging rights...that's all it ever is. Well, that and the feeling of accomplishment.

This post is a light due in part to said guilt and trying to use my written words sparingly...but I also committed to posting to this blog frequently, so there you go. I also had the grand idea to have all November's posts be related specifically to creative endeavors...what better way than to give a little peek at one of the largest forces behind every creative endeavor I've ever embarked - Guilt.   

Onward and upward.