“I want to write movies.”

For a really long time, anytime someone asked me what I wanted to do for a career, I did my best to re-phrase my hopes and dreams into something respectable (or at least less preposterous-sounding). “I want to write.” “I want to be a freelance editorial writer.” Sometimes, I’d just lie and say something I didn’t even want to do. “I want to go into Research Neuroscience/Philosophy of Mind.” Just… something sufficiently academic or fancy-pants sounding so that it didn’t sound like I was wasting five years of my life on something that it was absurd to think would happen.

This evening, I was sitting outside my grocery store after a particularly grueling, under-staffed shift, when an older employee on his break came over and stood beside me (apparently some panhandler was bugging him at his usual spot :P). We got to talking, and he started telling me about his son, who just graduated in History and Philosophy this past May. “I was worried about how hard it would be for him to get a job with that,” he said, “But then I came to realizing… if you love what you do, really love it, chances are you’re going to be outstanding at it, if not at the top of your field. You’ll find a way.” He then turned to me, and asked quite simply, “What do you want to do?”

Maybe it was because it wasn’t prefaced with the usual “What are you going to school for/what is your degree in?” I usually get, but the answer just seemed to slip out as naturally as breathing.

“I want to write movies.”

Not “screenwrite.” Not “write editorially for magazines/websites,” nothing that had me desperately screaming “I CAN get a job with this, my dream is legitimate! You’ll see!!” in the undertones. I just said what I felt. I love writing. When I’m down, one of the few times that I feel happy again is when I’m writing something. Either here, or a book review for the Bookshelf, or something for The Rogues’ Gallery, or even something for class. I. Am. A writer. Not professionally, but the only thing separating me from that reality is the qualifier “yet.”

He just smiled. Not in the way that many older adults will with the “Oh, that’s nice. It’ll never happen, but that’s nice…” but just in this way that was entirely un-judgmental. We went on talking for a little bit, and I came to realize that regardless of the walks of life people tread in, there’s a lot of wisdom to be found in listening to those who have made the trek, whatever direction they’ve chosen. The very process of experiencing things, regardless of the actual content of the experience, is something that there is a lot to learn something from.

I walked away from that conversation feeling considerably lightened after such a hard day’s work. I’m sure the fruit and nut laden chocolate bar helped too, but what the heck.

Running on Fumes/The Big Lie

I’m someone who is subject to an emotional roller coaster of very high highs and really low lows. Today is one of the latter. I just feel so frustrated and exhausted and sick of struggling every day. Everything I do is getting to feel like this monumental exertion of willpower, and even if I have the time to get everything done, I never manage to have the energy. Or if that’s not true, the opposite is. No matter what I eat, when I eat it, when I go to bed/wake up, how long I sleep for, how I organize my day, how often/how long I exercise, all of this stuff.

I looked on my course website the other day to discover that the first blog assignment I’d posted had received a zero. This blog, actually (second post down on the page).  I was so proud of that blog; I put my writer’s heart and soul into it. I DID fail to do the peer review training for it so was told I’d be deducted marks accordingly, but this can’t be the reason ALONE. I mean, a ZERO? Between that, and not getting my MUST-do list completely done yesterday, and being too tired to go to the gym in the evening, and not having the time/money to spend with my friends or try to date… I just feel tired. Tired of feeling like I’m giving it my all but only spinning my wheels. Working a job I dislike because without it I won’t be able to afford the school I need to get a degree I likely won’t find a career in, driving myself nuts over deadlines for assignments in classes whose teachings I largely won’t use, and performing sub-par in those classes anyways.

I try to build myself up to be this competent, confident, driven person, willing to do what it takes to get what I want, but some days, stuff like this happens, and I wonder if it isn’t all just one big lie perpetrated by my own mistaken self-belief. Am I the naked emperor, mentally clothed in imaginary drapings of motivation and talent? I wish I wasn’t as messed up as I am, sometimes. Wish I was someone who didn’t have that chronic self-reflection and awareness that I do, or that instability of emotion.

I just feel like I’m running on empty at this point.

Update: 17-06-2012 New Diet, Fitness Sites for the Nerdy, and Potential Writing for Money(?)

New diet is going well. Well, it’s kind of pseudo-new. I’m still generally following the Primal/Paleo Diet outline (minimal dairy, no sugar other than from raw fruit, high protein, all whole food-based meals), which is continuing to be a good choice. According to my body composition spreadsheet, I’ve been making slow but consistent improvement in terms of slowly gaining muscle mass and losing body fat percentage points.

This new diet is largely based around Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Diet, a main component of which is intermittent fasting. Basically, the idea is that you can help correct a number of negative biological trends which hinder staying lean and gaining muscle by reducing the amount of time your body spends digesting food. It recommends ceasing eating at 9-10pm at night, and then fasting for 14-16 hours, eating a couple small meals of high-protein, low carb/mid-low fat for the middle of the day, and then a big meal in the evening. Same amount of calories, but the different distribution of food ingestion is supposed to reduce the amount of cumulative stress on your organs from continually digesting all day. I’m going to try it for a month and see how I feel; so far, it’s delivered on it’s promises of increased energy and mental clarity in the mornings. Anyways, if you’re further interested in this, or fitness in general, check out Ferruggia at his site. He’s trainedMMA fighters and private clients for years, and I’ve always found him to have a very practical, intelligent skeptic-progressive approach to weight training and health.

Hey, while you’re at it, check out nerdfitness.com if you’re like me, and simultaneously of the geeky persuasion and wanting to get stronger/look better naked. They’ve got a great, supportive community and Steve Kamb (the guy who runs it) posts a lot of fun, informative articles. Finally, I bookmark Mark’s Daily Apple for lots of really well-researched, helpful blogs on lifestyle health.

So that’s a bunch of stuff I like around the internet I thought I’d share.  In other news… I’ve been looking around online for websites that hire freelance writers, and managed to find a few. However, like I stated in my previous post, I currently have some SERIOUS time constraints on my writing. As such, I’d have to quit, or at least SERIOUSLY cut the number of hours I work at my current job in order to write often enough to make a decent amount of money. I’m a little bit scared. It feels like I’m standing on a precipice, a 21-year old kid in university with a pile of debt and not a whole ton of options and one risk-free but unsatisfying choice, and another more risky but potentially rewarding one. Writing is what I WANT TO DO. Period. But freelance work is this big, black unknown that I don’t know if I can hack it at. And the money implications if I don’t… *shudder* like I said, scary. Dunno what to do.

I’m thinking I might work my ass off at my current job until the end of the summer, then put out a shrapnel blast of writer’s applications at these sites, and depending on the number of bites I get back, make a decision on cutting my hours at my grocery store job I have right now. I’m really, really hoping this works out. I can’t do joe jobs for the rest of my life. I just can’t.

Anyways, that’s my eclectic entry for today. Thanks for reading!

Update 14-06-2012: Significance in the Mundane

A riveting title, I know. I haven’t been posting for a while, and while I’m waiting for my housemates to finish in the washroom so I can take out my contacts, I figure now is as good a time as any.I think the thing which keeps me from blogging on a regular basis is the excuse that nothing exciting happened today, or that I don’t have anything important to say. But I think I need to remember that this is a life blog, and not every day is an extraordinary one (are you listening, producers of 24?). But they do all matter. Both in terms of the actions that I choose to undertake in each of them, and the ability to reflect on them later on. Maybe I’ll learn something.

-Recorded the first Rogues’ Gallery podcast in a WHILE with my friends on Sunday. It ended up being our “talk about stuff that’s been out for months/years that we just got around to trying and loving” episode, but it was great to get the gang (or most of it) back together. It was really fun, and I’m hoping pretty entertaining for listeners. If any of you reading this are into movies, tv, comic books, video games or geeky stuff in general, give us a listen or check out some of the written content by me and the gents over at the site and maybe you’ll dig it. 🙂

-Had a couple soul-draining days at work. Was goaded into a screaming match that I shouldn’t have let myself get into with one of my co-workers. Just exhausted me, between the yelling itself and being told everyone hated me, I had nothing going on in my life, I’m pathetic, etc. It seems like playground stuff, but when you’re dealing with anxiety, comments like that still eat at you, regardless of the source. I just found out today he’s either been fired or moved to another department though, which made my day.

-My faithful iPod died. It served me well through the trials of Vancouver, through thorough and repeated abuse, good times and bad. But now it’s time has passed. It has joined the choir invisible. It is an ex-iPod. As such, I bought a new one on eBay. Not a 200 bucks I was looking to spend, but given how often I use it, worth the purchase. It’s a current-gen iPod touch, too, so it has the wi-fi browser, HD video and camera recording features and built-in mic, as well. Hopefully I can make some creative use out of it as well as it being my media companion.

-Picked up a bunch more hours at work (one of the reasons for the lack of updates). I work part-time in a grocery store, and asked around in other departments if other managers needed some shifts picked up. One did, and I managed to grab about 10 extra hours than my usual. So hey, one less thing on my mind financially.

-However, that’s much more to work around for schoolwork and writing. I’ve been behind in a good chunk of my schoolwork and missed a couple important due dates, which really freaked me out for a while.  There’s a growing part of me that just doesn’t want to do academia any more. I’m happy when I’m writing and talking to inform, help, and entertain people. Not memorizing bits of minutia. I need to find a way to use the internet and the local resources to try and make connections to bring myself closer to an actual career in writing. The question is how.

As always, thanks for reading.

-Vince

Compulsion

Hey guys, just to let you know ahead of time, this might be a bit TMI for some people. If you get squicked out easily, probably best to skip this week. Cool? Cool.

So I’ve been doing some more work insofar as trying to figure out this whole productivity thing, as well as my own mental issues. I mentioned in an older post how I tend to go into autopilot and just zone out a lot, in which times I’ll make bad decisions for myself because the part of my brain for future planning isn’t really engaged. Instead, I have a set of rote behaviours I take part in, which I’ve started to take note of in hopes that I’ll notice when I trigger them.

I think they might have a root in my childhood experiences. I was bullied on as a kid… a lot. I was the fat, awkward, loud kid who everyone hated. I didn’t even have friends, period, until high school. I was really dedicated to my studies and keeping out of trouble, though. I used to cry a lot when I got made fun of, because I wanted to hit and hurt someone SO BADLY, but I knew that I’d either get ganged up on and beat up, or that I’d get in trouble with the teacher and my parents would get called. And then afterward, I’d get bullied even MORE by the friends of the kids I’d fought back against. So I just broke down and cried out of frustration. But again, kids can be cruel, and I got made fun of MORE because of that. So finally, I just kind of withdrew. I wouldn’t react. Wouldn’t cry, wouldn’t look at them or do anything. I think that was the beginning of my tendency to zone out. Just to remove myself presently and emotionally from whatever stressful thing was happening so I didn’t have to feel the pain of it.

Not having any friends, I was alone a lot of the time, and like a lot of us with the geek gene, I got lost in my head a lot (still do). But thinking thoughts about how I was worthless and how no one wanted to be around me so me so depressed that I did things to take my mind off of it. You had the usual stuff like reading, playing video games, and watching tv for long hours in the day, sure. But I also ate compulsively, discovered masturbation really early on, and had this thing where I’d look on my skin for the tiniest imperfection and pick at it until it bled or until I was satisfied that whatever was “under there” was gone.

A lot of this stuff, I still do. I had to get rid of my video games because I’d mentally retreat so much with them that I’d spend upwards of 5-8 hours a day just zoned into it, neglecting my real life and not caring that I did. I’ve already mentioned the lapses in my diet, my exercise regimen, and my work discipline that occur too… not to mention the compulsive porn pursuits. These happen when I get frustrated with my own procrastination, so it’s a vicious cycle which only serves to dig me deeper into my little pit of neuroses. It’s something I’m not proud of. Honestly? I’m more than a little ashamed of it. I still withdraw too. When I broke up with my most recent girlfriend, she asked how whenever something emotionally retching would happen to me, I’d go all “stoic.” I didn’t say.
I still do the compulsive picking at myself sometimes too. I don’t know what I can do to help some of these things aside from just being more aware that I’m doing them. I guess that’s part of why I started time/activity tracking myself all day, to keep myself accountable. But though I’ve made progress, I’m not satisfied. It’s not enough. I need to get rid of these things. They’re remnants of a time long-past and they have no place in my adult life.

I need to figure something out.