[Applied Self-Confidence] Thirty-Three Years Young

“I hope you do something nice for yourself. Other than reading, writing, or rowing.[1]” “I was thinking of drinking an unhealthy amount of energy drinks. Otherwise, I had thought of doing things in Seattle or elsewhere, but nothing was appealing. [2]” I had been anticipating my birthday for a few weeks. I wanted to prepare myself to do whatever I wanted when I woke up. Explore the city on a nice summer day? Or do nothing?

Chapter 1: Mr. Brown Coffee
More than zero milligrams of caffeine coursing through my veins…

I thought about going into the city because Seattle is a wonderful place to explore on a leisurely late morning or early afternoon. I’ve found that going there in the morning should only be reserved if you have a goal, such as work, otherwise nothing is usually open for tourists of the local or international variety. It’s not that I want to dissuade you from going at 7AM out of some sort of trade secret. There is nothing to do in most parts of the city before 11AM.

I set my alarm for 4:30AM.

The night before, though I had accidentally consumed too much caffeine, I figured that if I woke up by 4:30AM, that would give me enough time to prepare to leave and go into the city on one of the earlier buses to get in, but as you might expect, upon waking up at 4:30AM and thinking for a minute about how I felt, I went back to bed without an alarm to wake me up hours later just before 8AM.

I lounged around for a bit.
I checked on my normal things that I’d check. It’s kind of a waste of time to scroll through social media sites, but that’s the life I’d build-up for 32 years.

When I got out of bed, I started up my coffee machine, used the restroom, and returned with the decision to crack open my can of canned coffee I’d bought the day before, which is to say my yesterday as I write this, along with enough other excessive energy drinks totaling an amusing $13.37. I’ve enjoyed many of these cans of coffee over the years since I first saw them in some Asian supermarket somewhere around here, and for me, they’ve always represented that rest stop I’d always take on the days where I’d stop through somewhere like Uwajimaya on a day trip into the city to get some liquid of either the caffeinated variety, some snacks, and maybe a trinket or two.

In a way, cracking open and through that can of mildly sugary coffee was my way of exploring the city without having to leave the apartment-mansion.

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Chapter 2: My Usual Coffee
If only we could measure the milligrams of caffeine in this…

I like telling this story about getting into coffee.

It was the night shift at my first job. Through my fool-hearted naïveté, I had not drunk any caffeine throughout all my years of school or college, but faced with a sort of impending doom over losing a job without staying awake through that 3AM lull, I had my first cups of coffee after fixing some issue or being invited over to chat, and that was that.

I think I’ve been drinking coffee almost daily ever since? I know I’ve had days where I didn’t drink any coffee at all, and until recently, most of those days were low-productivity days. On my birthday, here, I decided that I would only do what I wanted to do. A day of full autonomy. Dress how I want to dress, do what I want, except for the necessary stuff, and I suppose doing laundry or satiating my hunger. Included on that, since today is the first of two days off I had, I also wanted to explore as much of my mind as possible, to overcome some fundamental depression I had been experiencing for the past few days and weeks.

It’s a sort of ennui of the soul where I had felt a stasis sort of listlessness over where I was going in life, and whether or not I was proceeding in the direction that would enable me to write what I want to write. I’ve been reading more, which is fantastic, and I’ve kept up my daily minimum writing goals, but would writing about junk help me write not junk?

I spent part of the morning sitting in my reading chair, before starting the 4-Hour Body, thinking about my objectives in life and whether or not I was going in a direction to achieve them. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t be distracted by the piles of empty boxes I have for things to downsize. There was a distraction from outside, however: a kid was playing with his dog, occasionally saying “good girl!” which transported me right to where I needed to go: “The Story..”

I haven’t written about “The Story” much lately.

I’ve thought about Trishna and John’s world nearly daily, it’s just I’ve been distracted by so much of this stuff around me, from my downsizing project to work to the countless distractions that bring me away from this one singular goal.

It’s annoying to realize that I’ve been getting distracted by so much, but once I realized it this morning, it helped align my goals closer to where they need to be: I need to continue collecting things into boxes to donate to thrift stores, I need to be less worried about making the short-term penny as a sacrifice for the long-term dollar I’ll make by writing more elaborate things than just “this kinda sucks, I don’t want it anymore, but I kinda like it, so I’m conflicted,” which is important to write about as a sort of evolution toward my end goal, but I should be spending less time almost-wallowing in this process and more time actually doing this. I need to quit putting time into projects and people that aren’t serving me or aren’t helping me or us realize our best selves.

Once I thought about all that, my first of two cups of coffee was done, and I’d barely read anything at all, so I plowed through 4-Hour Body.

Let me now take another aside to talk about my reading strategies.

I read every day, first thing, and I read a minimum of two pages of light material. On the days before I go to work, that means I wake up, make my coffee, pee, cook my breakfast of grits and frozen vegetables and dipping cookies I guess, and sit with my coffee over one of three books. I have hundreds of books I want to read, but I’ll split them up into three categories:

1. Self-improvement. 4-Hour Body is a lengthy tome encompassing many aspects of fitness from useful to skippable. I won’t be using everything in this book, and Ferriss even says not to read the book in order but rather to skip around to what interests the reader the most, but what I skip tends to be either the hard science stuff or the sort of extreme stuff that I’m not interested in. However tome-y it may seem, it’s actually a breezy read. After I’m done, which I imagine might be in another three months since I’m already over 10% if not 20% done, I’ll read other books like this that are written by individuals that want to impart lifestyle advice, like the Art of War, Hagakure, and I suppose I could list off everything, but seeing some of my book collections in photos over recent months might imply these sorts of eventualities.

2. Writing improvement. I finished reading Save The Cat today. My editor J.D. lent me this and three other books on writing and it has sat for the very same reason as I would lead into if I were to write a review about it: Snyder provides many rules for storytelling but forgot the most important rule of all: making the story worth telling. It’s a casual book replete with examples of how he wants to help you, but it seems to be awash with examples of how much his success prevents him from seeing from the other side. It’s been so long since he was a starving writer that all he could do is recommend generalities, most of which can be ironed out just by writing and knocking that shit out of your brain. Hollywood is a different industry than fiction writing, but it’s all about the same sort of thing: keep on doing the thing you want to do and you’ll get better. Write more, read more, edit more. I’m not a big fan of rules, either. Everyone seems to hate expositional dialogue. Everyone proclaims “show, don’t tell.” It’s like doing these things are illegal in fiction writing, and, man, uhhh, the problem with that is that the worst examples of literature have too much exposition and telling. The more you practice, the more you find that balance of worldbuilding with world-doing, which is where the reader goes through the story with the writer.

Here’s another aside: I don’t often finish reading online articles because most of them are poorly written. I’ll give a general example. A journalist recently interviewed a musician in a spa. It’s a great premise and done well could be a great example of gonzo journalism where the spa serves to enhance the interview. The journalist experiments with that, writing about the food they shared, but I dropped off after the midsection with a lengthy biographical aside that could have been found anywhere. I’m reading this article about a musician I don’t care about because I want to have this sort of exposition sprinkled in along with your meal with this musician – that world-doing where I learn about the musician’s inspirations as you write about how hot the coffee is compared to the chilly restaurant with dark stone architecture just outside of the modern sauna. Rather than clinical descriptions written without any flair, introduce the spa as a character in this story you’re telling about interviewing this musician. The thing about this article was, however, it inspired me in some untold way. Since I cathartically hated this article, I could focus that negativity and ennui into that, close the page, and after concluding this paragraph, leave those thoughts behind.

3. Fiction improvement. My mind has subconsciously been obsessed over Murakami’s writing for some months now and I’d only read one and a half short stories in after the quake. “UFO in Kushiro” was such an unsettling work of literature in its humble disturbances that occasionally I might still think back to the man and woman in their rented hotel room in Hokkaido, not so much for that sort of mere description, but for the sort of lingering word choice that Murakami used. I’m not sure why I stopped reading “Landscape with Flatiron” just as runaway turned convenience store clerk Junko started talking to the older Miyake, but picking it back up was like I had never left, and after reading through the whole thing, I returned through the first part of the story to refresh my memory of these characters. In two sentences, Murakami can tell more about a character’s backstory than I could tell in three chapters.

I read for maybe one hour on my days off. Today, I read for about two.

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Chapter 3: Water
I should remain hydrated with water, but I’m disinterested in that…

I did two loads of laundry and went outside on my patio to get some sun.

About a week ago, as I parked my car after a tiring day of work and was throwing something away in the recycling bins at the apartment-mansion complex, I heard some music blaring from someone’s car. It was a symphony of some sort, almost like show tunes from a bygone era. It was an older neighbor that I’ve talked to a few times. “Nice weather we’re having.[3]” “Yeah.[4]” “Don’t waste your time.[3]” “Yeah.[4]” I don’t know why I was anti-social, but rather than have a conversation of any sort, I got something out of my car, and ended the conversation. I feel bad about that. I felt like I should go knock on his door for about a week to apologize, but now, I just put this in to provide an example of how nice the weather has been and probably why I stay inside so often on my days off like these.

There are millions of little examples of stories like these each day. This touched on a poignant moment wherein I was probably a little ruder than I like to be with people that I like, and in a way here this man that goes to the hospital several times a week was looking to impart some kind of fatherly or grandfatherly advice to me. I don’t know if he has any relatives. I don’t know much more about him than his name and that his health is stable, yet I feel like I’ve known him for much more than that. I try to focus as much effort as I can into getting to know people during each conversation I have with them to the point where I often like to think I can figure out generalities about a person within five minutes in a sort of Sherlock Holmesian deduction that comes from specific observations along with casual questions where when the questions land in the right court it’s a home run and when they don’t then it’s often close enough to get a reaction in that direction.

After I’m done clearing out the apartment-mansion of anything that could prevent me from moving somewhere cheaper or with fewer material distractions, I will start writing more about these sorts of encounters more regularly. The style of writing in “The Story” will be more a casual observation from the fictional perspective of two characters. Before I can get to that point, I have to write decently well, and I feel through these 900+ things I’ve written over the years, I’ve increased this skill of writing, the discipline of daily writing, and the consistency of keeping a cohesive narrative, even when things get a little chaotic like they are now.

I think I’ve been staying inside more because I’m not quite ready to get as many of these live samples of interactions with others as I will in the next year or so, just as looking over my writing from a year ago will prove that I’ve increased my writing abilities, so too will my writing abilities increase in the next year. I have a more keen sense of observation in the moment, where I can pick up the nuance of people’s speech or mannerisms, notice quirks, detect sarcasm, and overcome stresses that might have otherwise brought me down. I’m working a job where my role is to help stressed-out people become less stressed, and the process through which I do that means that I must manage my own stress levels. If that means I do less throughout the week to avoid fatigue that will show on my face at work, then that means I have to start building more pathways for dispelling the stress before it builds and consumes me.

To that point, I’ve been fairly drained lately.

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Chapter 4: Bang: Rainbow Unicorn
It was nice but then it became unpleasant, but just barely so…

Maybe as a reaction to that stress, I’ve been experimenting with drinking many different types of energy drinks. Or maybe this binging caffeine is a reaction my career ennui because let’s face it, we’re far enough into this essay now that I can be more honest with you: I’m not used to a lifestyle of prolonged stability. Even before I started Better Zombie just about three years ago now, my life has been in strife.

I hated school. I wanted to get out of the public school system as fast as possible. I was able to skip my senior year of high school and get my first year of college paid for in – almost – full, except I think it was for the textbooks or something else. I enjoyed college. Between college and going to Oahu, Hawaii, I felt like I’d been around tolerant people for the first time in my life. These people didn’t care that I was obese or socially awkward. They appreciated me as I was. It was nice.

That sort of rush to get out of school led me into the sort of frantic lifestyle I lead today where I’m always doing things. I write daily. I’ve been reading daily for the past few weeks. I’ll row about six times a week for anywhere between fifteen and thirty minutes. I thought of rowing for forty-five minutes or one hour today, but after cracking open this long-awaited Bang: Rainbow Unicorn, a can of gaudy, saccharine graphic design gone awry in colors of bright blue and humble pink clashing over a can that contains an actually pleasant tasting concoction somewhere between cotton candy, watermelon, and other politely sweet but not overly sweet flavors, I knew I couldn’t really row today.

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Chapter 5: Arizona Grapeade Fruit Juice Cocktail
I’m starting to feel a little sick right now, and less social, maybe this was bad…

It’s always a bit of a gift to hear from friends.

I wrote this thought originally to a friend of mine, then as part of a post to everyone on my primary social media page as a pithy way to show my appreciation for everyone that had wished me birthday wishes. It’s like how this Arizona iced tea doesn’t really count as an energy drink but was gifted to me by a friend that had bought too many drinks since they were on sale in that as I continued, sometimes people will scroll through their feeds and see that someone’s birthday is a certain day and wish them well in their thoughts but not say anything, instead proceeding through their day without saying anything at all. I’ve been like that a lot, especially over the past few months and weeks. I’ve shelled up in more introversion than maybe is healthy, but I think I can finally express why.

I’ve become disinterested in the community that I was part of for a while, in part because my interests are in writing and telling stories, and videogames only peripherally tell stories. EarthBound is my single favorite piece of media and that today I did not play it was perhaps my only major regret. I didn’t row. I didn’t go out to see any friends, acquaintances, or meet any strangers. I didn’t expand my experiences as a human being through getting out into this world of ours and experiencing things that I did not know yesterday. Yet I did not play EarthBound, a game whose dialogue inspired me to become a writer today, and playing it for five minutes to check off that box would not do it justice. I don’t really feel bad about it, but I am currently in a situation where I could not even play it if I wanted to, unless I were to download an emulator and ROM of it, so alas I have made some poor life decisions in the past few years.

What community would better serve me? My particular flavor of writing would suit many groups and organizations with some sanitation. I’ve written three comprehensive game jam essays about how it’s like to be there, all weekend. They weren’t amateur observations, so when someone had reached out to tell me it was too long, I told them they could edit the essay to fit their needs, just to let me know, and I haven’t heard back yet. I went to their website and I don’t even know that they host articles of any sort. There was no blog component, so they’re just some fools that distracted me for a few minutes of time.

It’s nice having a wide circle of acquaintances, especially some that are successful so I vicariously feel like I, too, can be successful, it’s just these are folks I can only meet up with a few times a year, now, it seems, since I’ve stopped being able to go to the weekly meetups, mainly because I work weekends now, but also because I’ve realized I’m less interested in games writing. I enjoy EarthBound and Final Fantasy 7 more as literature than as displays of challenge or skill. I can still appreciate a good speedrun, but for me, my creative and technical pursuits are more vested in learning to improve my conveyance of emotion, events, and evoking thoughts in the reader’s head than learning programming languages.

I’ve met some writers that program. I’ve met artists and others that, combined, could probably help me tell interesting stories. It’s just my path in life, in that regard, is set within these twenty-six characters, some special symbols, and the occasional picture to lure readers into the content.

If I can’t convey it using those tools, I can’t convey it.

I state that here and now because on my birthday, here, I decided that my path in life revolves less around writing for others’s pursuits and more around writing for myself and the pursuits of helping others. Occasionally, and often, those two objectives flirt with each other, but I find the primary difference between the two involves answering this question: Who’s the target audience? If I were to write about a 48-hour game jam, is it to appeal to the aforementioned media company that needs a tightly-edited, drink of overly saccharine sweetness, or one that can appreciate the value of a loose sentence at conveying nuance and thoughts beyond a certain word count?

I’ll still participate in some of the bigger events. I’m probably going to skip the next one because I would have to take time off to attend and the end result won’t help me write better, it will just help introduce my writing to more people. It’s just I shouldn’t rely on a community that I’m barely invested in to propel my writing because it would be inauthentic to myself, the community, and not really help me achieve success in my own right. Some of my favorite writers, contemporary and otherwise, have lived and written on their own terms. Their audiences may be smaller as a result, but would I rather read the writings of someone that edited for the sanitation of the audience or edited for clarity of language? I didn’t get my editor J.D. to review this and haven’t really asked him to edit anything other than those community essays in part because I was unsure of that aforementioned thought until just now. I dislike traditional English editors for the same reason I dislike technical support people: working within pedantic confines free of creativity don’t impress me. J.D. and my other friends appreciate that level of creativity, and the friends that have reached out today have been the most creative, wild people I know.

The ones that haven’t reached out to me today, on my birthday, or lately, well, I don’t really knock it against them. They’re cool friends to have, even if we might only talk a few times a year, it will still be like we hadn’t lost any time at all.

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Chapter 6: Full Throttle: Original Citrus
This Citrus flavor is too much for me, man…

I only started to write this thing, whatever it is [maybe an exploration of my brain, riddled with enough caffeine to fully explore my mind?], late into the afternoon, and now I’m about three hours into writing. It’s been a wonderful process. As you may have noticed, this isn’t like my traditional verse-chorus-verse writing style which works best to convey thoughts at a rapid pace. Each paragraph helps to explore the punchline sentence that breaks up the flow of the essay, whereas this has just been a wild mess. Still, I did have some kind of plan in place, where each chapter would be split up into a certain category of what I did today.

Rather than provide a recap episode within this chapter summarizing those overarching themes, where chapter one might have been about living an autonomous lifestyle where I wanted to stay home rather than seek adventure in the outside world, and so forth, let’s instead explore what my intentions are with this essay.

I am now 33 years old. My favorite living writer is older than me and my second favorite living writer is younger than me. I am not jealous of either one, but I know that just as my neighbor had said, I shouldn’t waste time. That runs the gamut from not wasting time thinking of regretful situations [both historical, such as screw-ups years back, and contemporary, such as screw-ups from yesterday at work that were unavoidable], interactions with others that aren’t positive [learning to use the block, mute, and other buttons has enabled me to lead a substantially better lifestyle], to projects that aren’t productive. Sure, that means my life has less variety, where I won’t mindlessly interact with some new hobby just because of some fancy, but that also means I won’t end up wasting time or money on things I don’t care about.

This energy drink experiment might not be completely healthy, but it serves a few purposes. First, I’m nearly at the point exceeding 1,000 milligrams, so I don’t really feel like I could row for forty-five minutes like I had originally thought I had wanted to do today, but today was kind of a gluttonous exercise in conducting life as I wanted to for one day. Long-term, I couldn’t live without rowing, but for today, I chose to focus most of my efforts on reading and writing, rather than, say, watching anime or playing videogames.

Here’s the value of such an experiment.

Going forward, I will prioritize my day around these sorts of activities. Think of today the same way as one might consider a physical fitness cheat day, in that it was a day where I could be gluttonous over the things I care about consuming. Throughout my entire birthday, there were many things I didn’t care about, and so going forward, I will continue that trend of not caring about them, and figuring out ways to downsize them from my reality.

For example, I only listened to two albums: Symphony and Metallica and now the EarthBound soundtrack. While I still appreciate many albums – I wore my Strung Out shirt with the certain reckless glee of knowing that consuming this much caffeine is not a good look, and after my first cold bath ever because of this oppressive heat, switched over to one of my Powerman 5000 shirts – I didn’t explore my many CDs much more than at a casual glance. I didn’t go over the CDs I want to sell. I didn’t continue down the list of ones I want to keep. So why would I spend much more time than necessary to listen to CDs I don’t absolutely love? I’m starting to sell anything that I would rank under a 4/5, with certain 3/5 exceptions.

As another example, I watched a few videos online by people I like, but I spent too much time looking at my subscription feed to find more videos to plan to watch later. There is something to be said for the fact that my two favorite living writers are more video producers that speak at length into a camera than actually write essays or books, but I think that’s more because that’s where the money’s at. I am a fool chasing after a fool’s gamble of wanting to be a successful writer, which is why I’m working away at a job that’s harder than it needs to be to pay for things that are more expensive than I’d prefer. Today was a luxury. It wasn’t just because it was my birthday and I’m some kind of narcissist.

[I would consider the line between confidence and narcissism to be how much of the “I” focus is on presenting an image. A confident person can admit that they’re a fool. A narcissistic person cannot. ]

I had asked two of my bosses a few months ago if I could have this day off, mainly because it’s my birthday, and I use this and my sobriety date as two days out of the year for self-reflection. We do not value ourselves enough. We sell our minds, bodies, and souls – in the sense that even on days off, when we wake, throughout the day, and before we go to bed, we think about our jobs with fear over failure or delight over what we can do next to fulfill career passions, causing us to propel ourselves into escapist activities harmless like television shows or harmful like addictive substances, which I guess includes caffeine.

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Chapter 7: Reign: Lemon Hdz
This lemon flavor isn’t too bad and I’m feeling better…

“I’m not on drugs. I just had five cups of coffee.[5]”

If there’s anything I’ve learned from sustained caffeine usage, it’s that some people handle it better than others. I actually feel similar now to how I felt once when I was drunk and wrote paragraphs about EarthBound, or maybe while listening to the EarthBound soundtrack, as sort of like having a slight dizziness that enabled me to focus on my writing without getting overly distracted with the world around me, except as I look at this now-empty can of Reign, I still have mental awareness. Whenever I’d drink, standing up would transport me to a different airport, with a turbulent take-off, and landing would be just as rough.

I like this sort of upper lifestyle, but it’s not sustainable, and I really only want to use it for creative pursuits like this. When I go to write “The Story,” I will need to be in my most mental and physical fittest shape, because it will require all of my senses to be working in their most optimal. Here, I can explore the depths of my mind like this because writing this travelogue of my adventures across my thoughts will help me understand these lingering thoughts in more detail and, honestly, if you’re this far into this crazy thing, I wish that you’ve been learning more about yourself vicariously through me as well.

I took an ice-cold bath before because I was feeling too hot. Now I’m feeling kind of hungry and out of thoughts. I may have actually summarized everything I wanted to summarize. It’s kind of a shame because I still have a few hours left in the EarthBound soundtrack to give it a complete listen, my brain probably has more caffeine in it still than I’m aware, but what else is there to write about?

I’ll take a quick break to explore the remainder of my thoughts.

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Chapter 8: Water
Now that I’ve experienced those highs, I have to maintain to prevent the lows…

Life is a rollercoaster of highs, lows, and turnarounds.

If reading Save The Cat provided any literary sustenance for me, it was reminding me of the basics of life through writing. Just like how Andrew W.K. uses the album format to bring every listener from their worst- to best-possible states in You’re Not Alone, without quoting him directly, we aren’t after an easy livin’ lifestyle. We want the strength to endure the highs and the lows of life.

Let me make some declarations for where I want to take my life over the next year. Maybe my 34th birthday essays will serve as a good time to judge whether I accomplished these goals or not?

  1. I want to write fiction more often.
  2. I want to find a lifestyle where I can have more time off like today.
  3. I want to waste less time.

If my actions today were any indication of how to get there, I have a really good idea of getting there: Focusing on “3” will enable “1” and “2.” I didn’t do as much high-octane stuff, other than all the energy drinks, as I could have by going into the city, playing some videogames, or whatever, but some of that is wasting time. Instead, I think I used the day as best as I could. Sure, it would have been nice to include rowing into the mix as a sort of healthy balance, but that just means that I’m just like most normal people in that exercise is still a physical and mental burden. Otherwise, any sorts of relaxation were just the same as the quiet scenes in any movie or novel, acting as calm punctuation to sensory overload.

I preemptively saved myself a bunch of time going forward by unsubscribing from a number of video content makers, making it until about the mid-Bs before getting bored and stopping. While I don’t compulsively watch all of their material, seeing thumbnails of videos constantly appear in my subscription feed does compulsively make me want to check to see what else is new. If I can trim my count from over 500 down to about 100, or less, I’ll be in good shape. Maybe then I could go a few days without checking my feed, add everything I want to see to playlists based on content or video length, and watch them either at my computer while I’m either drinking coffee to wind-up for the morning or water to wind-down for the evening, or while I row? Rather than just compulsively watching nothing in particular?

My stomach feels like it has a knot about halfway up it.

I’ve noticed this sensation after weaning heavily-processed sugars mostly out of my diet and then eating certain sugars through these energy drinks and other foods. It’s a terrible feeling, like being sick. This is all part of the larger experiment involved with learning what foods to eat and what foods not to eat. Maybe I’m allergic to certain sugary foods? I know for sure that I am less interested in the high-fructose corn syrup drinks or the ones with any sort of sugar content over a mild amount. Wow, I can really feel that Full Throttle energy drink from before with this energy bar draining my faculties.

For two days in a row, I didn’t row, and I handily exceeded my daily caloric allotment, highlighted in two ugly red and white cells. They’re not blood cells, but considering how much my blood is probably fighting against the terrible substances like sugar and needless carbohydrates that are circulating my body, I wouldn’t be surprised if my body is working overtime to fight back against any sort of dangerous nuance that might appear due to this gluttony. I like to say it’s an experiment because that means it’ll only last for as long as I can get some results out of it. Chief among them: I won’t be eating as much sugar going forward. I already diet during my workdays with strict caloric intake. I guess I want to feel that cathartic rush of harming that inner calm by consuming more junk food and drinks. Maybe it’s self-loathing to balance the self-confidence? I don’t like this feeling. I feel kind of sick now. Rather than enjoy the music of EarthBound, here specifically an auditory experiment that highlighted a quirky scenario in-game, I am instead thinking about how much my neck hurts, my stomach is knotted, and how tired I am. I’m going to be more careful from now on.

This was a good experiment, though.

If the music of Summers filling my ears reminding me of the digitized beaches are anything like today’s experiments of doing what I wanted, consisting of reading everything next in the queue, watching some curiosities, and writing this wandering mess, then like Dalaam’s music I am exploring the inner psyche of the mind to attain a greater understanding of myself. There are many things in life I enjoy as casual observations. I’ve enjoyed many summer days wandering the wharf, fall days exploring the city, winters looking out onto snow-covered vistas, and spring days wandering around forests, all within walking distance from job sites or on moments off from writing. I want to enjoy many more, but these are casual things that punctuate the words that act as the meat of my day.

If it’s not about reading, writing, or rowing, what’s it about?

Movies, music, videogames, videos online, and other forms of entertainment can appeal to the same storytelling vein that I enjoy, but there’s a reason why my favorite living writer is someone I appreciate as much as I do. I sent him some money via Paypal without any questions, just thanking him for a quip he had made, and stating how that had been inspirational for me. I omit the name here because although it could be obvious elsewhere, here it’s not so much the brag of having helped in some way to the lifestyle of this individual, no matter whether it’s to help pay for some new sunglasses or his rent. I am reading one of his essays and I compulsively read a few paragraphs there before I return here, like how he had suggested of his writing style in one of his essays, where he said that he had an open tab and would just write for a while until he got bored, then he’d switch to something else, only to return to writing.

I have one hour left of the EarthBound soundtrack. I think that will be a good cut-off point for writing, reading, or being awake on my birthday. This was a glorious celebration of self, and sure, that means I was selfish, but I don’t think it was to anyone’s detriment. No one was harmed today because of my actions and that’s the sort of day I like having. There are days where I know that my presence has caused inconveniences to others, whether it’s my spot in line at, say, the DMV meant someone had to wait longer or whether my lack of knowledge in a particular area caused someone to be inconvenienced longer. Or whatever. We are not free from sin. Just as long as our actions, our words, and our intentions aren’t aimed at hurting others, we should be good. Mine today, and almost always, has been serving the greater good.

Why is that?

I think that by providing more value toward others – here, the primary value being exploring what I want the most out of life, so that others could follow these same footsteps in lieu of their own to find their own paths toward figuring out what they want most – I can feel better about myself. I never really felt good about myself growing up. I hated myself. I hated my situation. There were respites in videogames or certain other lacking obligations, but they were momentary glimpses of happiness in an otherwise grim world. That world has unfurled into something more enjoyable for me. But it’s something that’s still deep inside like that mild consumerist poison I consumed today, cathartic as it may be to point the blame for that existential ennui to something physical rather than deeper still, where we can uncover that hidden truth about why I was so sad in the first place.

.

Chapter 9: Air
This is the deepest and darkest part of this journey starting off this year of mine…

Why do I care about these childhood bullies? Why do I care about these adult bullies? Why do I care about overcoming such battles? I want to live a lifestyle where I don’t live in constant fear. I fear going outside. I fear even talking to people. I fear almost everything outside of the apartment-mansion.

There it is.

I live in a little bubble that is safe for me. Even though I live in a place that is owned by someone else, no one will enter my apartment-mansion. The last people to do so left a note on the door a week before to check the fire alarms, entered and left while I was away without leaving a trace, like they hadn’t even been through. Before that, someone to fix a light.

Why do I fear others?

If we can consult my favorite living writer, who consulted the philosophies of the world, I might fear the person deep inside myself that is not myself. That person might actively hate me. Why? Why do you hate me so much? No matter how proper a life I try to lead, no matter how much I serve, why do you always bring up the worst-case scenarios? You’ll never leave me alone, will you? Why is it that I can never suppress you except through the inebriation of years’s past? Even then, you were still there, your motivations more violent, vulgar, and vile than they are even now. Now you prevent me from keeping relationships with others. Everything is always at a distance. Why can’t you let me enjoy the company of friends, acquaintances, or strangers? Is it because you were a hurt child? Is it because you never felt that camaraderie growing up?

You’ve been alone because you’ve always been alone, and you were alone because no one really seemed to understand you, because you had trouble expressing yourself. We were looking through some of your old schoolwork. You might have thrown away this note before the move, but it gave you your favorite grade of a B+, along with a note from a teacher saying that you had difficulty expressing yourself. Is that why you’re struggling with being a writer? Maybe it’s through this process of writing many words about the same subject that you’ll eventually grow that self-confidence you never received at home or in school, which always seems to be stamped out whenever you do taste it in front of anyone, and it will be a self-confidence that is independent of anyone else?

Is that the best lifestyle we can lead, you and I? There are many people that appear self-confident and can go through life with their swords out ready to kill. Are they really more self-confident than the rest of us? Or are they just putting on a façade that has left a lasting impression on your mind? It’s probably closer to the latter; because as you, a fan of peering behind the scenes, can attest, you see the cracks in their personas. You see the kintsugi because you’ve experienced that truth far sooner than most.

You’re living the best years of your life because you can block people you don’t like.

That’s great.

Remember when you blocked someone because all they did was cause you distrust? Or the person that just brought you down? Remember not responding to the person that seemed nice but didn’t really inspire you? There was that person that reached out because they wanted something from you without giving you anything in return. How about that person that tried to lowball you and wasn’t even polite about it?

Remember how you couldn’t handle these sorts of people years ago? Remember how the rude people in your childhood and young professional career would carry themselves in your mind like vestiges that wouldn’t erase from your vision or memory? Life is not like EarthBound. It’s not specially programmed to elicit every heightened sense of reality except for hatred toward you. It’s not your fault you don’t understand people or yourself very well. It’s going to be OK. You’ll get out there tomorrow, or today as this essay publishes, and you’re going to do the best you can. You may screw up, and that’s going to be OK, because the thing is that everyone screws up. Sometimes, they may screw up in ways that cause you harm, and it’s just a matter of distancing yourself from those people if you can. There will be terrible people and they won’t want anything positive for you, maybe because they’re withering in pain themselves. Don’t let yourself get attracted to their charm. Don’t let yourself fall for their seduction. But like you noted earlier, it’s easy enough to tell. These people won’t have the same kind of passion or drive that you do. They may be able to convey things, but it will lack nuance.

.

Chapter 9: Water
Just because you know it to be true doesn’t mean you can believe it right away…

Where do we go from here?

I’m nearing the end of this not-quite-bender of over-caffeination to arrive at the heart of my issues, just like the soundtrack is nearing its conclusion. There will be countless battles still to fight in my life, just like how the final boss music has yet to play on this loop of my listen to this soundtrack, and the thing about life that makes it so curious is that we get so many opportunities to see such grime and glitter in so much of life. It’s hard, yes, and there’s no escaping the tragedies that surround us daily, but the point of life isn’t to focus on these tragedies and glorify them – as so many that flashed through my mind do online so often – but rather to overcome them. The essay I’m reading by my favorite living writer has a tragedy as a backdrop for some deeply personal issues he probably worked through. I’ve read maybe a fifth or a tenth of it? I accidentally just read more of it.

The thing about reading and writing that captures my attention much more than cinema or videogames is something that was described to me by someone that also appreciates reading and writing. He told me that with literature, you can get inside someone’s head. I felt like that in the previous chapter. I shared a deep part of myself with you, or maybe, no one. I exposed this pathway into myself much the same way the cut on my chin exposed a pathway, except instead of deep insight into my psyche, it’s for the blood that still flows from my chin, but maybe they’re the same thing. I’m OK with this sort of blood-letting, whether literal or figurative, as a way to draw out the poison of the mind or body, preferably if it makes its way onto the digital page so it can be used for later reference. I like to imagine as I read these essays by my favorite living writer that these personal explorations of events, perhaps entirely fictional, helped him on his journey to becoming the individual that inspires me to become a better writer. He wrote about passing a kidney stone while masturbating and with the way he wrote it, you can experience it just as he did, or maybe not.

He just wrote something that summarizes my relationship with fiction.

I don’t want to quote it directly, because it’s just a singular example of something that happens frequently, a sort of future metacommentary on a past event made melancholy, as though he were sad at that moment but not yet knowing why until years later when he sat down to write about it.

It’s that sort of time traveling that’s not possible even inside the realm of science fiction movies, and maybe even novels, that exists within prose written about one’s self, because even when we don’t truly know ourselves, we know ourselves more than we know others. We may know these characters we find in our imaginations very well. I know more about John and Trishna than anyone else, and they are more real to me than any other characters, and yet I know that they’re just intricate lies. Even reading autobiographies where it’s possible a writer could be lying, there’s still a greater truth. Their symbolism and hyperbole represent their truths. They lie to tell the truth.

I’ve listened to all of the EarthBound soundtrack and it’s nearly midnight.

I feel that through all of this writing, I’ve understood myself better.

Chapter 10: Air
The post-script of the wandering mind, not yet ready to sleep…

It is now after midnight on August 7th and my mind and body are exhausted. I will be returning to writing as I normally do after I sleep, wake, make coffee, pee, eat a light breakfast, read, but before I go to sleep next. The adventures that will happen during those seven words I don’t yet know. Whose temporary faces will flash as overlays atop my vision? Whose permanent scenes will emblazon themselves upon my memories like legal documents binding themselves to my life forever? Does it matter? I don’t think it does, because really, we’ve explored so much and so little throughout those chapters that now all I can do is just proceed with living a life of compromise, until another day comes where I won’t have to worry about cleaning up the apartment-mansion, replying to messages from people, or even doing anything like exercising or eating well.

I am so tired and it’s almost 12:30AM.

There are certain pieces of literature I have written that I am very proud of for what I perceive to be possible contributions to our understanding of human experiences. This isn’t one of the better ones of those, but there are passages, thoughts, or even words that might lean into that. The more I write the more often those appear. Until that consistency becomes solid, like a steady stream of blood running down the chin, I will keep on digging, because there is no truer path for me. Why would I want to work on things that I know won’t give me the same rush? Maybe eventually they will, but this is something I know to be true. I have the skills and ability to write things that provoke me into a deeper consciousness where tomorrow, next week, and next year, I can operate with fewer guises of concern over certain situations. Not all. But I’m more willing to accept parts of myself now, having spent countless hours writing until this point at a frantic pace. I haven’t looked back. I won’t look back. Will I ever read through this essay? I may in some future where I can afford myself that time. Maybe next year, instead of reading the works of others, I’ll read my own? The thing is that reading all of their work is just a matter of learning about a perspective that is not my own. It’s just that we trust too often. I trust certain authors not so much to tell me my truth, but their truth, without concern for the fortunes that come with editing their materials down for commercial consumption. There is nothing wrong with that. I would like to get paid to write. That writing would be full of compromises.

I would like to write “The Story” without compromises.

Doing so requires me to write other things with compromises, or compromise my lifestyle to afford it. I am OK with that arrangement.

Endtable:
Quotes: [1, 2] My editor, J.D., and me. This conversation got me out of a rut I was stuck in, actually, because there were certain nuances I just couldn’t work through alone. [3, 4] Life is full of these sorts of missed opportunities, where maybe I was too tired, or maybe I just didn’t feel social, but if I had, where would my life be right now? Probably almost in the same spot, but without this sort of lingering social regret. [5] I don’t want to list this person’s name or anything because on its face its a hypocritical statement, just like my own sobriety is hypocritical for as long as I consume caffeine, in my mind, but I really haven’t broken my sobrieties, just like this guy just was a little too revved up, but we’ll just have to take each others’s words for it, right?
Sources: Besides my personal experiences?
Inspirations: Giving myself the time to look into myself from various perspectives until I truly found out things about myself.
Related: “Thirty-Three Years Old
Photo: A view from my patio where I took in a brief tan.
Written On: August 6th [8,000 words – 4 hours, maybe more] and August 7th [500 words – 30 minutes, maybe less]
Last Edited: No further updates. 28 errors caught by my editing overlay. I’m tired. I’m going to bed.
My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)