Changes

Changes

Habits and routines aren’t made over night. Nor are they destroyed any faster, despite what people will have you think.

Up until rather recently I’d been working two jobs: Full time as a concierge and manager, as well as a part time martial arts instructor. I had been fortunate to do both for a good couple years, and I really loved teaching.

Change eventually happens, and I had decided I wanted to further my writing beyond what simply writing could afford me. What should I do? Go back to school, the voice in my head responded.

I had never really attended what would be considered a “traditional” college, always going through the two community colleges that were relatively in driving distance. Since I had gotten my Associate’s in Psychology, it had been years when I actually took my last class. Not because I felt I was finished with schooling; Too busy, too poor, too everything.

Though I had a buffer of years, a ghostly voice that seemed to reside in the back of my mind kept calling to me. They persisted, and when things in my life seemed stable, I had finally decided to take the plunge. Financially, I was okay to cover my apartment while I relied on financial aid for my classes. Work wise, I was into a grove that I felt I could manage around. Socially, well I’ve never been super social unless someone pulled me out of my comfort zone kicking and screaming, so what more harm could it cause?

For the record, I really do enjoy the company of people, no matter how much I might radiate an opposite vibe. I tend to wear “resting-bitch-face” while I’m either deep in thought or trying to nonchalantly be aware of my surroundings. Stemming all the way back when I was the miserable fat boy who did nothing but play Pokemon and video games, I don’t actively seek friendships or company. I’ve had my ego smashed and mangled enough times by others thank you very much. Some hurts never fully heal, only scab over to leave a deep reminder.

Back to the present. My first quarter of school went very well. All A’s and such. The Filipino blood in me rejoiced, as well as the shunned fat kid. It wasn’t until right before the start of my second quarter was to start that the routine I built for myself over the last couple of years began to crack.

Around the same time things were falling into place for me, other certain issues in my life began to take root. The certain things that we often care about yet take for granted in our lives; Health and relationships. My health wasn’t super for some time, but I managed to keep it in harmony. My relationship already had its share of baggage too. But again, it was manageable. Eventually though, everything has a breaking point. And when they broke, I broke.

Relationship imploded on the pressure. Mentally I was done. Soon after, my physical health began to sour. My life began to change away from what I was use to. When you begin to see your life before you fall like sand from an hour glass, the immediate reaction is to grasp before it’s all gone. I had to salvage something.

In my schooling, despite everything, I managed to keep my grades to 4.0. Keep that. My concierge job was steady and paid well. That stays too. My apartment was a little too big for just me, but I had things I wasn’t ready to part with, as well as a cat that likes his personal space. I could manage the cost myself still. That could stay.

Regretfully, along with some other things, my martial arts job had to slip through my hands. My sleep was averaging four hours a night. My stress levels were perpetuating my health issues. Still, it was tough to say goodbye.

I miss the people I worked with, that I trained with. I miss my students. I miss my teacher. Change is sometimes necessary, but it doesn’t make it easier. Some nights, I find myself dreaming that I’m still at the school, teaching alongside all too familiar faces.

Life right now is… different. But I’m managing; A day by day process. Some days are good, some days are bad. Before, I had a well-worn path where I knew largely what I was doing or where I was going. Now, it’s a more like finding a path among tall grown weeds. It’s unsteady and unsure, and will take time before my steps will trod another clear path. My feet still look for the places where it knew to step, only finding debris.

Never take for granted the sameness of your day to day, because eventually it will change. And that familiarity will be gone, replaced by unsureness. Find the things in your life that will keep you anchored against the flood of moving water, like deep rocks in a fast moving stream. If you choose the things that look appealing but with little root, you might find yourself swept in the torrent of change. Plan for change, but enjoy while the sameness lasts.

On a final note, if you want to give the biggest “f-u” to someone, try the old Chinese saying among enemies: “I hope your life is interesting.”

How to Text Hoard like the Professionals

How to Text Hoard like the Professionals

Here’s the scenario. You’ve started writing on that short story or novel, and you’ve completed a great deal of work. You keep on writing along until “BAM!” You’ve hit a dead end. You sit there for a few minutes, or maybe hours, staring at what you have and eventually realize that either the story is not recoverable from where it’s gone. Or, perhaps you’ve just lost interest in the story itself and don’t feel like forcing your way through it.

What now?

Some would be satisfied with trudging through just to complete it. But in my opinion forced work makes weak work. You have to be invested in it.

And I am definitely not saying to send off your hard work on a raft in the middle of a lake and set it ablaze like a Viking funeral. For you dramatic types, I know that’s how you feel sometimes.

When you’ve amassed some good work, simply put it away for safe keeping. If you’ve created a dynamic character or weaved a plot so cool that it kills you to bury it, it’s a crime to bury that six feet under. Time to become a Text Hoarder!

“Text Hoarding” as I call it is when you take work that you’ve either put in lots of time but just can’t see around getting it done, or simple ideas and scribbling that have nothing to do with what you’re currently working on but just can’t bear to let them go, and just file them away. You know, like rainy day savings. Later, it allows you to repurpose that creativity that you put so much of yourself into. We’ve all caught ourselves holding on to something, be it an item or part of something else, and saying we were going to get some good use out of it later. Recycling doesn’t have to be for paper and plastic anymore. And there’s no harm in it, as long as you don’t reuse the same text multiple times that is.

Now, don’t me wrong. I’m not asking you to do anything like collecting newspapers dating back from the early 60’s and walling yourself up with them like you see on the T.V. In today’s era of computers and digital word processors, we don’t have to worry about paper clogging up every little free space we have. All of our work can fit on a tiny USB flash drive. And as technology gets more advanced, memory sizes and its costs go down. So keeping all of that unfinished text doesn’t have to take any physical room. It’s all “1’s” and “0’s.”

I myself have a folder on my laptop with half-a-dozen unfinished short stories or just word documents of random inspiration I couldn’t let go to waste. I even have a black leather bound journal that I carry around with me just in case I get a great idea or overhear a snippet of conversation that I simply must write down at that moment. I can’t always trust my short-term memory on ideas, so best to get them down A.S.A.P. I’ve used a couple of those writings so far, so in my opinion it’s already paying dividends.

So really, hoarding can be a good thing. It may be a month, a year, or a few years till you get the chance to give a second life to that work, but it will be there waiting for you in its creative cryogenic slumber.

We all hate to waste something so good (like a piece of pie). So put it in that fridge called memory till you are ready for it another day. And as I always say, a story untold is a waste and a shame.

Wayward Thoughts

Wayward Thoughts

I’ve been having these weird thoughts lately.

Every time I say that to myself, I can’t help but think of “Kingdom Hearts.” Like a lot of people my age, video games have played a large role in my early life (when there was actually time to play them). I obsessively played Kingdom Hearts. The whole quote from the very beginning of the game is; “I’ve been having these weird thoughts lately. Like, is any of those for real, or not?” The whole premise of the game revolves around three young kids who dream of getting away and exploring lands unknown. Very befitting my situation if I really think about it.

I’ve been harboring ideas of wanderlust. Those unfamiliar with the term, it represents a strong desire or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world. To leave the familiar world behind and venture into the unknown. Those who “suffer” from it do so for various reasons: Boredom, tired of the sameness of the day to day, unhappiness, nothing left for them where they are, etc. I guess for me, I feel so overwhelmed with the our modern conveniences. I’m so tired of hearing people complain that mail is running late. So tired of the advertisements that constantly surround us, trying to shove down our throats the products or services that we for the most part don’t need or consciously want. The thousand choices of food that are all equally unhealthy that line grocery shelves. We’ve made things so complicated. I want something simpler than all this.

This festering idea of a simpler life can’t help but bolster the want of seeing more than what’s in my own backyard (which right now is nothing more than a brick wall, with another apartment building beyond that). More so, I want to know more. I want to know just how the rest of the world looks and feels. For me, traveling and living out of a van seems like a perfect option. There’s a romantic idea behind taking only what you need in your backpack, maybe a few choice books, a CD full of your favorite songs, a compact computer or an old typewriter for writing, and hitting the open road for new experiences.

I brought the idea up to my mom, feeling I wanted to share with her what’s been on my mind lately. I figured she wouldn’t be totally on board with it, but her full reaction surprised me. After I told her as we both sat on her living room couch, she looked at me for a few seconds in silence, the television playing in the background. She began to cry. “You want to be homeless?” she said in full earnest. I never really looked at it that way. I just saw the imaginary van in my head, as a home that I could take anywhere. This idea of an alternative lifestyle, living on wheels, greatly upset her. Frightened her even. It filled her with concern for my wellbeing. “So you’re telling me then that you don’t want the house when I die?”

I knew my thoughts were outside of the normal, but I never really dwelled just on how out of the ordinary it really was. Are we as a collective just in such a mindset that if we don’t submit to living in a house or apartment, that we don’t settle down in one location, are we really seen by others as strange and unusual? From my mom’s reaction, I guessed so. It wasn’t just her when I looked back. The few other people I had confided to, a couple friends, a coworker, they all gave me the same wide-eyed silent look. Like I was an alien that had dropped his human mask. Is it really so wrong to want to disconnect? To realize the things that much of our society holds as important is meaningless to you? To want “more than this provincial life?” I guess that’s why all the towns folk thought Bell to be strange in Beauty and the Beast.

Though I’m almost into my thirties, I still harbor just enough self-consciousness to care about what other people say. Maybe someday, when matters in my family life settle, and I’m old enough to not give a damn what others think about me, I’ll have the courage to sell all but a select number of items, and set out to places that reach far away from where I currently am. I guess until then, my weird thoughts will have to suffice, biding their time until they either decide to fully ripen, or die prematurely on the vine.

Beginning

Beginning

I’m nearly 30.

Not much of a statement in itself. More or less the making of a not so funny Mad Libs.

I’m nearly 30, and I’m in a job I can’t see myself doing for the rest of my life.

I’m nearly 30, and I regret not going to college.

I’m nearly 30, and I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.

It is said that we spend our thirties making up for the mistakes we made in our twenties. That’s what I’ve heard at least. If you were to ask me from whom I heard it from, I would blame the ever popular them. We all know them. They’re the same people that tell us we need to forget our silly and childish dreams, to get grown up jobs, and deal with the harsh realities of life. The same them, in the form of my then love, told me I needed to quit my dreams of being a photographer and get a better paying desk job. Like a lout I listened, and extinguished in my love of taking pictures.

I’m nearly 30, and I’ve yet to accomplish anything.

I’m nearly 30, and I’ve wasted the better years.

I’m nearly 30, and I’m alone.

I guess I made enough mistakes in my early twenties that I qualified to get a start on fixing them in my late twenties. Don’t think I’m doom and gloom about entering my thirties, mind you. I’m just playing a little of Devil’s advocate. I don’t equate my life in terms of the decades I’ve lived, but rather I see my life up to this point as a continuous stream. When I look back on the different turns and flow patterns in certain sections, remembering the person I was then compared to now, I have to hold back a shriek of terror. I was also so awkward, so much a loner, so unknowing. Compared to then, I rather be the me now.

Not everyone shares my view, which I do understand. There are those who would say that their life was much better before; that they were happier then overall. There are certain aspects of my life that I do miss, but I don’t wish to go back to those points. Sometime around twenty-three, things began to click for me. I first discovered my love for writing, I got serious with exercise and my diet, became a martial arts instructor at the school I trained at, and stopped being a gullible kid. Yes, I was broken up with in a very horrible fashion, got hit with a serious illness that I still carry to this day, and had dug myself into some serious debt. But from all of those terrible things, I’ve learned. I learned to be better with my money; I learned that heartaches are a reminder that you still have a heart; I learned that it was my own damn fault for not taking better care of myself; I learned that life isn’t one big video game that can be restarted if lose. If I went back, I wouldn’t have any of that knowledge. I’d still be the not so little, ignorant man-child.

I guess what I’m saying in my drawn out way is that getting older provides opportunities for learning. What you learn can lead to positive change, if you let it. If I went back, I would lose all this valuable knowledge, becoming that ignorant person again. What’s scarier to me is the thought I might make worse decisions a second time around.

Regardless of what I may think or what people may want to argue against my claims, we can only move forward. And I’m not saying to forget the past. That just opens up another assortment of problems. Remember, learn, and move forward.

I’m nearly 30, and I’m finally taking control of my life.

I’m nearly 30, and I’ve enrolled in online college classes.

I’m nearly 30, and I will do better than I did in my early years.

I’ve learned. I took the reins on my life and gave them a hard pull. I’ve since curtailed my spending and got control on my finances. I’ve made a lifelong commitment to manage my health. I’ve enrolled in Arizona State University online and actively seeking to get my bachelor’s in English. Though I can’t bring myself to take up photography with the same passion I had before, I found a new love in writing. I heard a wonderful quote last night. “You only have one life to live, so if you’re doing what you love, go for it.” What a wonderful mantra. It’ll take some time before I can be in a financial place for me to put all my efforts into writing and leave my day job, but everything long lasting comes from a good foundation. I’ll bide my time, chipping away at my debt, putting money aside for savings, and still work on my writing all the while.

My thirties are nothing to be feared. I still have so much time ahead of me, and with exciting things planned; wonderful dreams that keep me going. I may not be a child in age or knowledge, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep my mind young and fresh. If anything, entering my thirties is an accomplishment. I’ve managed to survive this long, and I’ll use my thirties to get steadily stronger.