Soulful Saturday: NYE

Hey guys! Welcome to the first Soulful Saturday of the new decade! Are you liking my changes to the blog? There’s likely to be more to come as I try to figure out a layout I like that doesn’t have an issue with the comments. Just so you are aware, if you comment and it says it doesn’t go through, it’s lying! I promise I get your comments, and absolutely love them. 🙂

Today, I’m going to be talking about New Year’s Eve. It’ll be a short topic to talk about, but it felt like the longest night ever to me- and yet the shortest. See, I don’t drink much. I drink socially, but normally I know my limit and avoid drinking anywhere near it because of my medication and things like that. But on Tuesday night, after I’d already posted for the last time last year, I was invited to a party. And while I’ve forgotten a lot of details… It’s a party I’ll never forget.

It started with drinks with our neighbors. Dad and I bought some interesting liquors and offered to share them, so we went upstairs to have some drinks and hang out before my neighbors were off to a party. I had a big cup of mixed alcohol that was nearly 200 proof. I didn’t think that through and thought, ‘okay, it’s one drink’. I also had a shot of tequila. All in all, let’s say I had… 4-5 drinks through that cup and shot, shall we?

Then, my neighbors invited me to go to the party they were going to with them. I’d met the hostess a couple times at their house for parties like a birthday, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. The neighbors have very friendly and nice friends, so she was more than happy to have me join them without any notice.

The party itself was fun, from the little I remember. I was chatting with friendly people, had a shot… And then had one or two too many drinks after that. I remember what I drank- I had a hard tea and a hard cider. But everything after opening that hard cider is a total blur. I only know the details of what happened from my dad and the neighbors telling me about it. It was like one minute I was having some hard cider and chatting with a nice guy, and the next thing I knew I was waking up in my recliner at home!

I had no recollection of anything- I had no idea how I got home, how I’d been hugging the toilet most of the night, and how much trouble I might have caused at the party before I blacked out. Luckily, my neighbors invited me to hang out again a couple days later (we all had killer hangovers on Thursday, so we hung out on Friday instead). They told me everything that happened- well, until I got home, at least.

It turns out I’m a very calm drunk. In fact, if it weren’t for my mild incoherence, paled skin and heavy sweating, my neighbor wouldn’t have noticed I was way too drunk to stay at the party safely. She offered me to hang out outside the house, sat me down on the door step and called me a car to get home. She made sure to come with me, taking care of me in the car until she could hand me off to my father when we got back.

Of course, that night was more wild than my drunk self was. Apparently they took me home with the wrong coat- which the owner said wouldn’t be a problem until they remembered their house keys were in it. So, the neighbor had to come back to fetch it, and basically was on a lot of ubers because of me that day.

I told friends about it, and the thing that shocked them even more than the fact I managed to get that drunk, was the fact my father wasn’t angry. In fact, dad told me it was a sort of ‘rite of passage’. It was a learning experience- where I learned one big cup of mixed drink can count as like 3-4 drinks depending on what’s in it. I know my limit with tequila and fireball is usually about four or five- meaning I’d basically had my limit before going to the party- and then added three more to my repertoire. There was no one angry at me, and I am beyond thankful- to my neighbors that invited me and then helped me get home, to my father for nursing me during my epic hangover, and to the kind people at the party for making sure I felt welcome and had fun before my early departure.

And, even more so, to my neighbors for becoming good friends of mine. I’ve learned just how much they care for me through this whole situation, and their generosity is beyond compare. I will never stop thanking them- for helping me break out of my shell a bit, and for protecting me while I do so… And just for letting me spend time with them from time to time, just to hang out.

What did you do for New Years’ Eve? And have you ever gotten as drunk as I did at that party? I’d love to hear any anecdotes or advice you might have for me for the future. So please, feel free to comment! 🙂 Until next time- take care!

Throwback Thursday: The Game I Feared The Most

Welcome to the first post of 2020, guys! Today, since people are still probably busy with the new year rush, I’m going to make this another short but sweet post. Today, I bring you an anecdote from my teenage years: an anecdote of coincidence, anxiety, and…. Video games!?

See, I’ve always loved video games. I’ve been playing them since I was five at minimum, often joined by my male friends in my basement playing Sega back in the day. However, as mobile games for things like GBA and other such things became more prominent, I too spent long hours with a mini console in my hand. And one day, the game I’d put into that mini console gave me the fright of my life.

It was a DS game that promised to be an interesting series of puzzles. Its name? Trace Memory. But what scared me wasn’t the ghost hero- it was the very human heroine. Let me tell you why.

It started off as a fluke to me. The heroine, Ashley Robbins, had the same first name as me (in case you forgot, Jaluna is my pen name!). Big whoop- Ashley was the most popular name for girls in the year I was born. There were plenty of girls named Ashley, right?

Then, we found out Ashley’s birthdate. It was the same as mine! Looking back, I know it was just reading the data off my DS, but for the longest time I almost felt like I was being stalked. Especially when the story began to unfold.

The story starts with Ashley going to look for her father on a mostly deserted island with her aunt J. She was under the impression for a long time that he was dead. It just so happens that, for my 14th birthday, I was living with my own aunt J. And, my dad was in and out of comas when I moved there- I had no idea if he was going to survive or not, and it scared me. So, the aunt’s name and my dad’s health made me feel more and more like this game was not about just any Ashley- it was making a mint off of me.

To be fair, I do have schizoaffective disorder, which as my doctor explained, means I have a mood disorder while having notable schizophrenic tendencies. That includes paranoia (well, that and my generalized anxiety disorder). Mixing together my anxiety and paranoia, I began to struggle to play the game. It was enthralling, so it was hard to stop- but every fiber of my being was terrified I’d find more personal information in it.

Eventually, I stopped playing it. I regret that decision now, as its always haunted me- both the game’s effect on me, and the fact that I never found out the ending. But now that I lack the game (I lost it like I do sometimes)… Well, I miss it, and wish I’d just been a trooper and stuck to it.

Have you ever felt like a game was similar to your life? Or maybe a book? Share in the comments your spooky tales of something hitting too close to home! I don’t want to think I’m alone in this… I’m not, right?

Topical Tuesday: Year in Review

Before I get into this likely to be short and sweet post, I’d like to apologize again for not being steady with my posts. I intend to adjust my posting themes/schedule for the next year, though I’m still brainstorming right now. If you have any ideas for daily themes, please share them with me in the comments so I can use them as reference. Topics in general are also well appreciated. 🙂

Anyhow… Hello, my friends! Can you believe today is the last day of 2019? On my youtube channel, I do a week in review each Sunday… But today, I’d like to do a year in review here. I admit, I can’t remember a lot of things, but there were a number of memorable moments that touched to my very core.

For starters, I won NaNoWriMo for my second or third time in a decade! That’s a pretty amazing feat if you ask me. Considering I was totally burnt out early in the year, it shocks me how much I got done on various projects since November started. I think focusing on world building may really be a huge aid to me, so I’m doing more of that now.

A memory from before NaNoWriMo would be my trip to Arizona in August. It was my second time there staying at my boyfriend’s place, and my first chance to be there for his birthday. It’s honestly a miracle I was able to afford it, but the biggest miracle, to me, was how sweet his family was towards me. I mean, they were nice last time too, but this time was different:

We were all watching Scare Tactics while eating dinner, and I was a little (okay, a lot) scared. I told him never to do that to me, and one of his family members said, “If he does, just tell one of us and we’ll beat him up for you.” I’m not a fan of violence, but it was the thought that counted, right?

I’ve had a number of other small events happen over the course of the year. I entered (and lost) my first short story contest. I just recently also entered my first pay-to-enter poetry contest with a notable cash prize of $500. It wasn’t insanely expensive- well, it sort of was. If you were just entering one poem, you had to pay $4.50, but if you donated $5.00 or more, you got three free entries. So, naturally, I paid the extra fifty cents to get myself three entrees, which were fun and difficult to choose/write. I don’t actually know when the winner is to be announced, but I’m feeling at least a little confident in my work, so that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

A problematic thing that happened, however, is my weight: I gained enough to reach over 200lbs. However, dad and I got really into Pokemon Go together this year, so we’ve been taking more walks. I hope to take even more next year! But that’s not the point of this post. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing a video about my goals and resolutions for the year on my youtube channel. I plan to link it here, so please come back when the time comes! 🙂

Other notable things: I changed the layout, as you can clearly see. Hopefully this one has comments working better. I wanted a fresh look for the new year. I might adjust the colors some more, but I liked the dark mode look. This is just one of many changes I’m hoping to make. I intend to make new banners for my posts, and I’m also in the midst of looking at huge lists of prompts for blog posts and videos so I can help avoid my recent tendency to have no idea what to write and skip days at a time.

So, how was 2019 for you? I hope there were some good memories to be had, and I hope you’ll share them with me in the comments! Look forward to the future changes- I promise to do my best to make this blog even better in 2020… Because I know it can be!

Topical Tuesday: Apologies and Stuff

Hey everyone, sorry for skipping Saturday’s post! I had no idea what to write and have been having really severe migraines the past week or so. My migraine is more manageable now that I’ve properly taken my specialty medication just for them- I thought they could be other forms of headache and didn’t want to take my migraine meds if it was potentially the wrong type. Triptans are heavy duty and lower your blood pressure, which is a natural cause of worry for me, since, well… I already have low blood pressure. That said, dad got me to take it and kept an eye on me and I didn’t seem to have any problems with it, so all is well with the world! Well, maybe not all of it, but… my migraines are better. So yay!

A few life updates for now. First off, I completed the main storyline of My Time at Portia. I decided to make a third save (my second save is for streaming) and made the character the hero from my primary writing project, Kieran. I was even able to give him purple skin to match his reality in my story! It really is fun to play games as one of your characters. It’s a great way to experience different play styles and just get to know them better. So yeah, that’s been happening the past couple days now.

In other news, I finally wrote a poem I like enough to have three to enter into the poetry contest I’ve been excited for for weeks. I made my donation to get my three free entries, and am now waiting for an email from the company to tell me how to enter my three poems and whatnot. I’m a little worried since it’s the holiday weeks now, and waiting for the email is making me fairly impatient, but I’m just so excited! I ended up not on the short list for the short story contest I entered, but I’m trying, and that’s what counts… for now.

I intend to start writing my goals for next year over the next week. I also need to start setting my binder up for the new year. I haven’t decided what to do with old months yet- I may keep them or throw them away. But my first goal is to make a nice cover for it, and then start setting up the front section that’ll have things like my year in pixels mood tracker, amongst other things. I’m doing a total readjustment. It’s gonna take time, but it’ll be fun!

What are your goals for the coming new year? I know for mine, I want to enter more writing contests, find an IRL DnD game I can take part in, and maybe attend more writing groups throughout the year. I also want to work on my hygiene and general health. I want a lot of things, basically. It’s gonna take a lot of work, but I’ll manage to get through it somehow! I just… Haven’t planned it all out yet.

That’s all for now. Comment with your plans for the holidays, your goals for the new year, and some tips and tricks you might have that can help people (namely me) conquer their barriers and fulfill their great desires. Or, just share your desires you’ve made into reality yourself- sometimes, an anecdote is just what we need to learn from!

I’ll still be posting throughout the holiday season, but for now… Take care!

P.S.: Should I change up the look of the blog for the new year?

Throwback Thursday: Glasses Galore

As some of you may already know, I got new glasses just this weekend. I’d needed a new pair probably for three years, but it finally happened- we were able to (sort of) afford to get me not one, but two pairs of glasses. I now have one regular pair of glasses and one prescription sunglass, since I’m always struggling to deal with bright lights due to my migraines.

Today’s post is going to be pretty brief, but getting my glasses was such an important thing to me, the memories I have of getting them feel like they go on for hours. See, I’ve needed glasses since I was about five or six years old. I was teased a lot as a child because of it, getting the usual nickname of ‘four eyes’ which, by the way, totally confused the pants off me. But the name calling wasn’t even the most annoying part about having glasses as a kid…

It was how often I broke them.

I wasn’t a notably active child. Sure, I ran around the schoolyard with the boys making mud bombs and playing a game of chase, but otherwise, I didn’t really do much in the way of exercising. I spent a majority of my time playing video games or watching TV. But somehow, in my childhood, I broke my glasses a lot- once a year was the bare minimum. What’s weird is, they almost always broke in the same way:

The lenses just kind of… fell out.

When lenses fall out of a frame, it’s not as easy to fix them as if a nose piece comes off. What was weird is it was almost like clockwork: I’d be on the line waiting to get on the bus home from school, and it’d fall out while I was just sitting there. Every. Single. Time.

Of course, I broke my glasses other ways too. I sat on them, stepped on them- pretty much any way you can break a set of glasses, I’ve done it a number of times throughout my twenty plus years of needing them to see straight. And to me, what sucked wasn’t the wearing glasses part: it was getting an exam each year and dreading the eye drops to dilate my pupils… mostly just because they were eye drops.

What’s funny this time though is that, after so long going without a change in glasses, I forgot one important thing: your eyes need time to get used to them. The moment I put my pair of new lenses over my eyes, I started to feel dizzy because everything looked… rounded and weird. It was like I was in a fun house, and I had to be reminded how normal that was, especially when you go so long without a change when you need one. I spent three days with my eyes feeling like everything was out of sorts: things were slanted where they shouldn’t be, as if the world was on tilt, and everything was randomly too big or small to make sense out of.

Still, the glasses do work better than my old ones. I found that out just in the waiting room at the ophthalmologist’s office, where I could read a poster from across the room that I couldn’t read at all with my old pair. Let’s just hope I don’t break these ones, as I managed not to my last ones. After all… I can’t afford a new pair anytime soon with the two I got this time around!

Do you use glasses or contacts? I’d love to hear some of your experiences with corrective lenses! Share your thoughts and stories in the comments. I hope it’ll be as fun for you as it was for me to share!

Topical Tuesday: ComiPo Conundrum

Season’s greetings, everyone! Can you believe it’s getting so close to the end of the year? I was thinking about how much I’ve changed over the past year, and I realized something… the most major change, I’ve found, is that I’m using ComiPo a lot less than I used to.

Now, It’s not like I never use it at this stage. I still play around with it, mostly to make backgrounds for my computer based on projects I have… But it’s not my only comic making program anymore. During a sale, I ended up buying Kuma Kuma. Each program has its perks and downfalls, but this isn’t a review or comparison post by any means. I’m here today to talk about why I’ve grown to use ComiPo less and less… And why I don’t consider myself necessarily part of the community anymore.

You see, the ComiPo community was strong for a long while. I felt comfortable there, and I was using ComiPo so much that it felt only reasonable that I take part in the community. But, when I had a major case of burnout from writing, my comic work also plummeted. I began to use ComiPo less and less. And, the less I used it, the less I felt a connection to the community.

Of course, there are other reasons I left the majority of the ComiPo community. There was a lot of drama and stress in it after a certain point. I’ll spare you the details, but the basic point is that certain members showed different kinds of quirks that weren’t exactly comfortable for me to be around. And, as the ‘quirks’ led to drama, I became more and more stressed just watching from the sidelines. So, I basically left to preserve my limited sanity.

I’m not completely outside the ComiPo community, however. I have high hopes for a trip to Canada in 2020 to do a panel about the program with some friends that use it as well. I have no idea if it’ll come to fruition yet, of course. If it does work out, I’ll have a lot of preparations to do, including getting myself a passport, making my part of the presentation, etc.

Now, I’m totally looking forward to the panel assuming it happens. If not, a friend said she’s trying for an artist alley booth that we can share, too. That said, I haven’t really been sharing much of my ComiPo work on my deviantART or here. And the reason for that, besides not really having much to share, is my anxiety. I’m honestly scared of returning to the community- I’ve vanished for so long, and I can’t help but have doubts about whether I’d be welcomed back or come back to a new set of stressful scenarios. And, it’s not like my focus is on ComiPo- though I do have some stories I want to make into comics again, but I don’t feel I have remotely enough skill or planning to make it work well.

So, what am I working on lately? I’m glad you asked (no, I know you didn’t, but I’m pretending you did anyway). I got a nifty new program for planning out stories and have been using its worldbuilding pack quite a lot. I’m making languages, fleshing out cultures and religions, and many more things. I’m also doing a tiny bit of game dev every day, as dad said he’d like to work on it with me at some point, and I’ve met people on Twitter who are thinking of making a group that I’m invited to join. I’m still working on my novels, but they’re mostly in the planning stages again, as I try to figure out if they’d make better scripts than novels.

And, finally, I’ve been entering writing contests again. I have a paid one I want to join, but I can’t seem to come up with a third poem right now. I’m going to keep working extra hard on poetry until I write one I think sits well- and I hope to spend a lot more time on writing contests in the next year.

What kind of creative projects are you up to, guys? Do you prefer to write or draw, and no matter which, what’s your favorite medium for it? I want to hear more about you guys- I want to become a part of your community, as you are part of mine. I hope you’ll comment to share your thoughts- I love to hear them!

Soulful Saturday: Counseling

It’s hard to believe it’s already Saturday, isn’t it? Looks like it’s time for a soulful conversation! I was struggling to decide what to talk about as usual today when I suddenly came upon a youtuber talking about things they won’t promote… and something really resonated with me when they mentioned online counseling.

I’m not against online counseling, mind you. I admit I’d try it- but that’s not what I intend to talk about today. I want to talk about counseling in general, and how counseling and therapy have played a part in my life over the years. I’ve been in and out of therapy and counseling since I was six years old.

I’ve always suffered from notable anxiety, ever since I was small. I think when I went to my first therapist, it was after an incident where my social anxiety made me vomit because it got so bad, but I can’t quite remember for sure what really started me on the journey. The journey only got more confusing and convoluted as time went on though. Here are some anecdotes as to why.

My first therapist was a man- and we often played with dolls and stuff as part of my therapy sessions. It was the good ol’, ‘show me what a typical day is like through these toys’ type of thing. But, one night, I had a bizarre nightmare. The content was something that may be a bit triggering, so be forewarned before you read the next sentence. I had a nightmare that I was raped.

You’re probably wondering, how at such a young age did I know what rape was? I can tell you right now I have no memory of it ever physically happening to me. The thing is, in case you’ve forgotten… I have exceptionally strong hearing. And, it just so happened that around that time, my aunt was telling my dad about a time she was attacked, or so my father recalls. We’re pretty sure it’s from me overhearing her talk about it from across the house, looking back. But, that didn’t change that over the course of a single night I became terrified of men, including my therapist.

So after that, all my therapists were women. You probably don’t see how much more I can talk about this subject- and you’re right, I can’t talk about the nightmares anymore. But therapy has had its ups and downs in my life. I was in a group therapy at school, and one year, I ended up ruining my relationship with one of my cousins through it.

From middle school onward, I was in a special group therapy for kids with divorced parents. It was hosted by my school itself, so we kids in it were taken out of classes for our group sessions. This group continued into high school, when my aunt and uncle were starting divorce proceedings. Our therapist asked us in one group session if we knew anyone that might benefit from the group. Considering I knew how hard it was on my cousin, I mentioned he might.

That was a big mistake.

Someone went up to my cousin at school surprised to hear his parents were divorcing. He got really upset finding out I talked about it, even though he knew my heart was in the right place. For a long period of time, he stopped talking to me. All because I thought he could make use of some therapy like I had. But understand, I knew it was hard on him. He came to my room upset numerous times when visiting our grandma’s house, where I lived, when the proceedings first started. He’d always been there for me during my parents divorce and my father’s illness. He was like a big brother to me. That’s why, when I saw him suffering, I wanted to help him. And I thought I was… But clearly, I wasn’t.

Don’t worry though- we’re on better terms now. I don’t talk to him that much, but when we see each other, we chat. High school’s a stressful time enough as it is, that’s all. As adults, we’ve grown a better understanding of the past.

Therapy isn’t always helpful for everyone. Sometimes, it’s the method the therapist works with that doesn’t work. I’d like to share one anecdote about this as well. You see, I was needing psychiatric and psychological help in 8th grade. Yes, I’m going out of order with these stories, but please be patient with me regarding that.

In 8th grade, I moved across the country to live with my aunt for six months. I’d only just started psychiatric help when it was decided I’d be moving… And my aunt didn’t believe I needed it. She also didn’t think I needed the kind of therapy I was getting, or so I suspect. See, she did get me a psychiatrist- but the psychiatrist wasn’t there to deal with my mental health issues. She took me to him for ‘family counseling’. Also, ‘family counseling’ was just her complaining about the things I didn’t do as she said, and him telling me to do them.

At the time, my aunt truly believed that with structure alone, I’d get fixed up and turn into a perfect mini adult. But what she didn’t count on was the fact I was a teenager… a teenager who needed help. A teenager that would rebel if necessary. And, as I rebelled, the therapy showed it was working less and less. My aunt filled my schedule to the brim with activities she wanted me in, that I had no say over. I admit I enjoyed some of them, but with a packed schedule of school, homework, and extra curricular activities, I didn’t have time for my own thoughts or coping skills that actually worked for me.

I started to do worse in school, I started sneaking snacks (she was very against snacks and sweets, which while understandable, isn’t always the best thing to just stop eating cold turkey as a kid). I felt like I had no say in my own life, and the therapist we were seeing wasn’t making me feel any better about it. It all ended up leading to me returning home to New Jersey after just six months, with me feeling quite aggravated with my aunt. We’ve started to fix our issues together since then- she realizes she could have done things differently, and that I did really need the help she was told I needed. She even started admitting some of her own problems, which I’m very proud of her for.

The truth of the current situation is this: I do still need therapy. I see a psychiatrist, but he can only do so much. I’m working on finding a therapist that takes my insurance with my case manager’s help. I found out, also, about a specific kind of therapy that would help me most likely more than other forms, thanks to a friend. I need to talk to my case manager about that still… But the end of the story is this: everyone’s needs are different, and so everyone’s counseling should be different as well. If you need help, make sure not to give up just because your first therapist isn’t helping you enough. Try another one, who has a different method. Therapy and counseling isn’t one size fits all. It’s a lot of trial and error, and actually trying.

Are you in counseling or therapy? What kind of counseling do you find helps you the most? Share what you’re willing in the comments- I want to learn more about you, and you never know how your story might help someone else!

Throwback Thursday: Obsession

Hey everyone! Today’s topic may be a bit recent, but the problem in general stems way back in my childhood. You see, I’d like to talk about my obsession issue: I unconsciously collect things, because I’m just obsessed with the type of product. I’ve had this problem since I was young, and I know for fact I get it partially from my dad. I want to share with you today the things I’ve obsessed over in the past, and the way it affects me today.

When I was in my school years, I had two great loves: bags (especially messenger bags) and stationery. It was a common obsession between me and my dad, so we always had lots of bags, notebooks and pens around. When I was in high school, my apartment had a small room attached to the main part of our basement… and it was filled to the brim with school supplies. My friends used to say we owned a miniature Staples (though we never sold anything- though we did give things to friends as gifts). In our current home, we don’t have that room full of stationery, sadly… But we do have quite a number of notebooks, binders, pens, coloring tools, and many other things we’d managed to keep during the move here. But that’s just one obsession. One reason our house is a disaster (besides my laziness).

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always loved bags as well- and while it was mostly messenger bags when I was young, I’ve come to enjoy all sorts of bags- though messenger bags are still probably my favorite of all time. I have a lot of bags now, including three I got as part of the bags of clothing my neighbor has been giving me since I’m heavy and they’re too big on her now. One bag has a lot of metal on it, so I’ve been touching that as a form of therapy for my metal aversion (yes, I’m quite serious about this issue). I also use a computer bag I got recently a lot as a general out-and-about bag. It’s really handy, because it’s not too heavy but fits my essentials in it, including a drink or two!

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more obsessions. I’m mad about make-up nowadays, and once spent 80 bucks on it at a drug store during a manic episode. I work really hard not to buy much now, as I shouldn’t need as much as I do- but whenever I buy something I’m out of, I tend to find sales that require buying multiple products, so… I end up buying more to enjoy and make use of the sale instead of, you know, just buying what I need like a smart person.

I recently have been obsessed with one other thing: writing programs. Okay, that’s not really all that new… But it’s only recently I’ve been spending a fair amount on the stuff. For years, I’ve loved finding new free writing software, but recently, I found two programs outside Scrivener that cost a pretty penny… But I loved them, so invested in them anyway. I didn’t do it without talking to my dad, of course- we share our finances, so we discuss all purchases before making them most of the time. The first one I got, Liquid Story Binder, I’d used in the past and really enjoyed, so when it was half off, I asked and was allowed to buy it. Then, just the other day, I learned about a program called Campfire from a friend… And as a NaNoWriMo participant, I got a small discount on it. It would’ve been a bigger discount, but dad and I felt the heavier duty version would be a better investment than the plain pro version. And so far, I’m using it a lot for world building!

I do have other obsessions, of course. I’m obsessed with games, books, and many other things. But of the ones that cost me money the most often, I naturally wanted to go into more detail on those today… But if you want to hear more about any of these, let me know!

Do you have any obsessions or collections that are crowding your home or just taking a toll on your finances? I’d love to hear your stories about obsession and the like as well! But until then, and until Saturday… See you later!

Topical Tuesday: The Winner Train

Oh hey there! As you all know, I am a winner from NaNoWriMo this year! That means a lot of things to me: it means discounts to get new writing programs to try, and gives me the right to pat my own back for finishing when I thought I never would. I’ve always liked competition, but especially competing against myself, you see. Sure, some people make rivalries even in the writing community, and yes, I did team sports and such in middle school… But I didn’t like that form of competition. There were insanely loud cheers and it felt more aggressive half the time. It was stressful because people were relying on me, too. That’s why, for the most part, I’ve spent my life focusing on competing with my own self, rather than joining something more interlaced with aggression.

The reason I’m bringing up competition is two-fold. First off, a friend recommended it while I was struggling to think of a topic for today’s blog. Second, though, is I’m spending the end of the year finding and joining writing contests that have some form of meaning or interest to me. I joined my first ever short story contest (and my god, writing such a short story is hard!). I also found a poetry contest I plan to enter this year as well. I’m going to be getting 3 entries, so I need to decide on two more, or write them. My first poem for it is already secure.

What’s funny is when you compete with yourself over time. The poem I have set for the poetry contest is actually one I wrote a long time ago when I had a murderous migraine. I reread it since I planned to enter it, and just… my god. Why was this my favorite poem I ever wrote? I don’t get it. And yet, it still served its purpose, and I still plan to send it in.

I do miss some other forms of competition. I really liked discus when I wasn’t getting hit in the knee by a moving disc of six pound rubber. Basketball wasn’t bad either. In fact, I get jealous when I walk to the park and there are kids playing basketball because I want to join… But asking them would be far too scary. So, I just watch.

Also, competition can be great for things like household chores! I sometimes treat the dishes as a competition. They’re no longer my job, but I inspect how my dad did them and always feel eerily pleased when there’s a mistake he couldn’t see but I can. It’s pathetic, I know- but it makes me feel a little better about myself in some weird way.

I’ve watched videos about motivation lately, and a lot talk about a ‘ten minute tidy’, which is a competition with yourself to clean more in ten minutes than the last time. I was really into them for a while, but I kind of just stopped. I hope to start doing them again, maybe during word sprints other people do. I have plenty of tidying to do- so focusing on just a bit for ten minutes would probably make it easier on me.

Do you consider yourself a competitive person? What kinds of things do you like to compete with, and with who? I’d love to hear your own stories of triumph over rivals, whether that rival be your friend on another basketball team or yourself in getting a task done. How do you find competition helpful in life? Comment below to tell me all this stuff and more- I love hearing about you guys, and learning from you too!

Take care!

Soulful Saturday: Daddy Dearest

Hey guys. Welcome to another Soulful Saturday! Today, I thought it’d be really good to talk about my relationship with my father in a bit more detail.

Most people know me as being very close with my dad- we tell each other everything, and we get told we’re a lot like a sitcom family by people that meet us and see us together. We make fun of each other a lot, but it’s all in good fun. In fact, my dad encourages it. But, before I talk about how close we are, I feel I should talk about a time where we weren’t so close… Which would be the time when I was a small child.

See, my dad used to yell a lot, especially at my mom. With my hyper acuity syndrome (that makes me hear up to ten times louder than normal), I could hear it through the walls and make out words being said. I didn’t understand many of them, mind you, but… It wasn’t just yelling I heard. I heard thuds like someone falling.

I know it’s sexist to assume the man is beating the woman, but that’s all I saw in the media at the time, so that’s what I wondered. It made me fear him, both from how my head and ears hurt from overhearing things to fearing the thuds were my mom being harmed. I also had androphobia after around the age of 6 caused by nightmares I had- all of which were about being assaulted by men sexually. I’d never had it happen to me, but somehow I saw it clearly when I was in my sleep… And it terrified me. So yeah, I had a lot of things on my plate that made my dad seem like a monster to me.

I forget when I found out, but dad finally told me that, while the thud was my mother, he was just trying to push her away from him because she was hitting him! She attacked dad verbally and physically, even if she was fairly weak. My mom wasn’t in perfect health by any means, and she also was very inactive. She constantly used her medicine as a drug rather than what it was intended for, lied about quitting smoking constantly, and just generally wasn’t a great role model. She was my main role model at the time though- dad worked insanely long hours on and off based on the job he was consulting with, and there were times I didn’t see him at all because he’d go to work before I woke up and come home after I was already asleep. So, my neglectful mother was what I knew best. And sometimes, in some ways, I’m a lot like her. Just saying that makes me detest myself, but let’s get back to dad.

While we weren’t super close, we did grow closer after my mom left. Dad was my rock, always taking care of me during my crying fits, and reminding me my mom, who had supposedly just left to go to rehab in Florida, was doing a good thing by going there.

Then, 9/11 happened. I was in… third or fourth grade at the time. Dad saw it on the news and immediately took me out of school just before the school went into lockdown mode. I was really confused at the time, because dad just took me home out of nowhere. Then, he sat with me to watch the news of what happened. He wanted to be there for me when I learned about it- so, he took me home to see it in a safe environment where he could relax me more easily.

I cried a lot that day. I didn’t know anyone personally that was there, but something about it just terrified me to the core, likely the visuals of explosions, which with my hearing and pyrophobia scared me shitless. Hell, they still scare me shitless half the time. Watching Mythbusters, I always had to alter the volume or cover my ears to handle them remotely. I digress again though. Let me return to the story at hand.

My dad became disabled when I was in 4th grade. We were in a number of car accidents when I was a kid, and the lingering spinal/nerve damage he had from a previous accident was emphasized by the most recent one at the time, and he had to get surgery to use things together. Dad couldn’t work for a while because of it, and with his pending divorce, he wasn’t going to be able to keep our condo or car. He also wasn’t allowed to drive since he had to wear a neck brace, so we moved in with his parents for me to go to middle school in a stable environment. Not that it was stable at all.

The house was chaos. There was constant arguing and shouting. Then, dad got sick. He just started having trouble staying awake, and slowly but surely, he started going in and out of comatose states. I was scared he was going to die, honestly. By then, my fear of him had dwindled down, so I spent a lot of time in his room at the back of my grandma’s house, wanting to be with my father. But slowly, as his health deteriorated and he was constantly bedridden, I found it too hard to watch. So, when my aunt offered to take me in to live in California for a while, I agreed.

The transition wasn’t smooth and my time with my aunt was a mixed blessing that I won’t get into today. Point blank, after my last year of middle school ended there, I was sent home to my grandparents house. My dad’s health had turned around after he got a special blood test: it turned out his blood ammonia was the highest ever seen in our county hospital! They called him saying he had to be in a coma while he happened to be awake. It was insane! This happened while I wasn’t around, of course- but when I got home, my dad being better than he was was a godsend.

We moved out of my grandparents house since dad was doing better and my grandmother didn’t want to have to take care of us anymore (I’m just assuming that’s why she demanded we move). We had to stay in town due to custody issues, but we had our own apartment and it was just the two of us again, meaning less yelling by a longshot. I had a rough time throughout high school and even now am still struggling as an adult… But my dad has always been and always will be by my side, cheering me on, giving me advice when I need it, and just generally be there for me.

With all that’s happened in our lives, I still worry dad will get seriously ill again. He’s had MRSA twice now, has psoriatic arthritis, and a laundry list of other issues and conditions. He takes more medications in a day than I take in half a week most likely. However, while he has his off days, he does his best on the days he’s well to be with me and work through things together. He may be disabled, but he doesn’t define himself that way… And I’m grateful to be able to have him by my side.

To me, he’s everything: my father, my mother, a good friend… Everything.

How do you guys get along with your parents? I’d love to hear how different people have different relationships with their fathers and mothers. What have you guys been through together with them? Leave me a comment so we can learn from each other!