Holiday Spirit?

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Glendora recently had their Christmas parade—on the street I work on. Don’t get me wrong, parades can be fun; they can be interesting. But they can also be horribly annoying. I feel I can complain about it because I had no attendance choice. Or maybe it’s fun to complain?

Thankfully, parking wasn’t horrible. At least not for my work. The city cordons off the streets and lets the merchants/employees park in their usual lots, which is necessary. The first entry after the Glendora High Marching Band (which was fine), were emergency vehicles. Blaring their sirens. First thing in the morning.

The parade featured about three musical choices. The first one was the marching band that played their regular tune—a modified Scotland the Brave. Then it was Jingle Bells or Jingle Bell Rock (at least seven times, please kill me) played the rest of the hour, save one maybe two other songs. I get it, it’s like the only tune that is super easy. But please. Try again. Update the music people!

I probably would like Christmas music more if I didn’t have to listen to the Bing Crosby version (oh god I hate it so much) 4-6 times every day I work in December. In fact, I pretty hate most “traditional” Christmas music because it’s played all day every day during December on Glendora Ave. I’ve only heard that “people love it” meaning the dear elderly that walk around the streets and get their hair done. That’s about it x_x

I have to bring my external speaker and play something all day or I just get so annoyed and hate life. Not worth it. Besides, I find that my work day is more enjoyable. Now to just get a permanent speaker for the office.

Perhaps I’d be less grinch-y if I didn’t have to be subjected to these things. I have decorations and I like decorations and such, but the music it what is killing the Holiday Spirit. For me at least.

/rant

What annoys you during the holidays?

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Writing Retreat

IMG_6078A lot happened last month that deserves some blogging time, and this is one of them. Just after I came back from Portland, I had a few days to settle in before my birthday—with no time to plan anything so perhaps I’ll do something next year. My birthday weekend I went to Lake Arrowhead for a writing retreat with fellow NaNoWriMo participants that I’ve known for several years. We rented a cabin in Blue Jay which is in the Lake Arrowhead area and spent two nights in the mountains. Trees included, water extra.

IMG_6083Our first night we went to Stone Creek Bistro to celebrate writing—we talked and had some amazing food. One of their chefs is celiac so I even got a nice choice of gluten-free dishes. That night everyone turned in pretty earlier and I wrote out a list of writing projects that I wanted to take care of. I wrote a little in my novel that I’m working on, but it wasn’t go that well, so I ended up writing some poetry and blogging. After a long vacation getting back into the writing habit has been difficult to say the least.

IMG_6092The following day was scheduled to be our “writing day.” Though I got about 5000 words—in a variety of medium, blogging earned the majority—I was hoping to make a breakthrough in the novel I’d planned on working on. I think I really needed to work on the characters before actually embarking on a writing journey. I have a good character sheet up on my drive that I use. Though I think I’ll need to adjust the questions toward the end because some of them just do not apply. I also worked on a couple poems I’ve been meaning to write. Overall, the writing portion was nice! Perhaps next year we’ll do more word sprints.

IMG_6093That night we played Cards Against Humanity for several hours. We went through the whole deck I brought (which is just the original deck and maybe the first expansion?). Sometimes a good laugh and good company helps breakdown some writing barriers. I had coffee that morning, so I couldn’t sleep that night—should have written, but I didn’t. We left the next morning after a light breakfast and a little more writing. All in all, it was a nice way to easy back into thinking about writing and actually getting words on the page. The process for writing is different than the process of editing and switching back and forth between the two is not always the easiest.

Support me on Patreon—a site for creators to connect with patrons. Your support will help me worry less about how to survive and more on how to create better art (including blogs!). I appreciate any and all levels of support. I post poems, short fiction, observations, and blogs (before they appear here).

Annual Reflections

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Sunsets promise sunrises.

It was my birthday a few weeks ago and this is the time I tend to reflect on the past year and what has happened. (78) The past year has been one of the roughest in my life. I’ve had to deal with learning about my gluten intolerance, debilitating muscle pain, cumulative emotional and mental issues, and some pretty hard writing setbacks. Of course there has been a lot of good things that have happened. I’ve met really cool people, had some amazing trips, and also had a few things published—one of which is still under wraps for now.

I remember it was shortly after my 30th birthday last year when I began to deal with numbness in my hands and arms. My doctors treated it with ibuprofen and naproxen, though I had a massage and it turned out to be a muscle issue. After almost fixing it, I pulled them so hard I had to be in bed when I wasn’t using the bathroom or eating. I could hardly shower, make food, or do laundry. I try to be pretty independent and that was extremely difficult for me. Some of you may remember this. My sanity was saved by audiobooks provided through the local library. Over the course of the year, I’ve figured out the source of the problem: emotionality leading to physical tension, injury (which makes the area easier to re-injure, especially if tense), and incorrect posture. I’ve mostly been able to manage the tension and pain by regular stretching and relaxation techniques. It’s not easy but I can manage much better. I’m not as hampered by the pain as I was a year ago and the numbness is mostly gone.

Sometimes comfort food is the best
Sometimes comfort food is the best

As documented here, I’ve been on a mental health journey these past few years and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. It’s opened up my ability to write and edit; begin, manage, and end relationships; understand my mental processes as processes and not be all/end all of everything; and last allowed me to begin to think I could actually have a decent life. I always figured I’d be dead by 20/21 and since I’ve lived quite a bit longer, I have to learn how to adult properly and take care of myself. I know I still have so much work to do, but now, I know it will help me.

I’ve done some awesome trips and some awesome things this year. I’ve made it to Portland a few times, I’ve gone to San Jose again, seen some of my favorite musicians in concert, gone to several conventions. It’s been great for connecting and reconnecting to my friends across the world. When you realize you have a vast social network there to support you when you are down is probably one of the reasons I’ve been able to heal and learn to trust their supportive voices telling me I’m worth something. Thank you all for that. It means a great deal to me.

The journey hasn’t been easy and I’ve had so much adversity to deal with. I used to minimize my problems as not as bad as other peoples, but that doesn’t make my issues any less valid and any less necessary to deal with. That is something a lot of people come across. Just because someone has it worse than you does not invalidate what you are going through. Understand their struggle and help those in need if you can. As long as you know the difference it can be very helpful.

IMG_5423Writing this year has been super hard with all the physical things I’ve had to endure. It’s not easy to have to relearn how to work and play, and writing was no different. I always think I should be about ten years further down the road then I am, but I’ve come to understand that I need to trust my own work. I’ve had some great publications come out that I’ve been proud to be a part of. There is so much work left to do, but I’ve sent off a novella for publication. I’ve got a good grounding for where my writing needs to be. I know I need to work more and more on it, but I have a place to go, a place to start from.

Life is looking up. I have supportive friends, a network of awesome professionals I can rely on, a grip on my physical problems, and a beginning understanding of the traumas I’ve endured. My life is by no means easy and by no means the hardest. It is my life and I’m coming to terms with where I am and where I’ve been. With that knowledge, I can plan and work out where I want to.

Thank you for your support and comments. You are all wonderful people. 😘

Support me on Patreon—a site for creators to connect with patrons. Your support will help me worry less about how to survive and more on how to create better art (including blogs!). I appreciate any and all levels of support. I post poems, short fiction, observations, and blogs (before they appear here).

Portland Trip

I may have made the mistake of driving to Portland, OR. It’s certainly a long trip (it took me about 16 hours over two days) to drive. Flying is about 2 hours plus travel time to the airport and TSA security. But this time I decided to drive up to have an adventure of sorts. It may not have been the best idea I’ve had but it was interesting in it’s own right.

IMG_5912On the way up, I stopped in San Jose (if you remember from a few blogs ago) to see some friends I made while there: Martin and Alice. We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant that was simply fantastic. Amazing gluten-free food and so so flavorful. Alice found it yay! I was probably a little loopy from driving so long, but it was great to see them again.

Black Butte, I believe
Black Butte, I believe
Mt. Shasta is hiding
Mt. Shasta is hiding

I stopped in Sacramento for the night and stayed with my friend Brian. Better to break the drive up then try and do it in one shot, especially with how gimpy I can be. Over the course of the trip I found out that I have to stretch every couple hours or so if I’m sitting or especially driving. My hips and armpits get really tight and sore. And it’s no fun. Anyway, the next day was when I would finally get to Oregon. If you weren’t aware, California is a very long state, and it takes about 10 hours to drive from LA to the border.

IMG_5934Gorgeous country up there, but still very dry. Of course, the moment I entered the state of Oregon, it began raining. To be fair, there was a little rain on the way up California as a storm had moved through, but it was pretty precise on the rain. The way up and through on I-5 is fairly straightforward (compared to, say, mountain roads—another upcoming blog, stay tuned!). Anyway, the drive through Oregon would have be very pretty, but it was night by the time I got an hour or so in.

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Powell’s map plus coffee from the World Cup?

IMG_5939The next morning, I went to Cup and Saucer for some gluten-free pancakes and some delicious food. Driving doesn’t guarantee great food—unless you already know where to go, so I needed to grab something more than the quick bites I’d been having. Always a good idea to catch up on food. Also went to Powell’s on Veteran’s Day (woohoo free parking!) and picked up some awesome books. It’s so easy to spend lots of money there.

IMG_6013After the convention (see previous post) we didn’t do much so I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but, Karina and I made it to Olympia, WA and hand lunch with my high school friend Bethany. It was a pretty arduous drive (what with the heavy rain and hydroplaning), but I had a nice conversation over lunch—always good to catch up with old friends.

IMG_6042On my way home, Mt. Shasta came out from under the cloud cover and it was quite a stunning view, especially with the dusting of fresh snow. It’s hard to see in the picture, but if you click to expand you can see it in better detail. The country up there is gorgeous. I’d love to be able to explore up there a little longer, maybe when I have more than just a week to hang out in Portland and when I have enough cash to enjoy it.

Support me on Patreon—a site for creators to connect with patrons. Your support will help me worry less about how to survive and more on how to create better art (including blogs!). I appreciate any and all levels of support. I post poems, short fiction, observations, and blogs (before they appear here).