Day 16: Journaling

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“If you knew you would undergo an endless cycle of Eternal Return, what changes in your attitudes and actions would you make to your life right now? If there are things in your life you wouldn’t want to repeat for eternity, why haven’t you changed them yet? Remember, the goal is not just to endure this life, but to love it — all of it. To amor fati.”

I swear I’ve written this one before, and there is nothing more frustrating for a “writer like me” to write something twice. What if I did it better the first time?

If I had to live my life over and over and over again, what would I change? I’d probably be a lot more easygoing, write more and then pray to some sort of thing to quit existing.

I like being relaxed. Writing is probably my true passion. But to do it over and over sounds like hell. So, I’d try to figure out a way to cease my existence.

Advertisements

Day 15: Journaling

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

List a few big events from your past that caused you suffering. Was there some growth — or even some good — that came from them? What growth? What good?

More challenging: can you do this with the situations that are currently causing you suffering?

Big Suffering Events: Breaking my neck, getting shot down by women, getting dumped, getting laid off, being unemployed, blowing out my knee and not winning at swimming.

All these things were awful at the time, but I certainly grew from all of them. I’d certainly like to have a fully functional neck and knee, but I learned from both experiences.

Neck: I realized in an extra special way that my friends and family actually care about me. I grew closer to so many pepole that I didn’t really have relationships with at all. People from all over my life contacted me and it felt good. My friends skipped their honeymoon to hang out with me while I gurgled my thanks. Guys wanted to road trip to see me. I was terrified of dying, but I pulled through it. On my deathbed I realized what I truly wanted to do: write. When I figured this was it, I told myself, “You should have written those damn books.” And, I healed up which everybody thought was impossible. Also, it was actually kind of fun to see the love pouring out of people and relearning everything.

Getting Rejected: Not every woman cares about how cool, rich, funny, handsome, charming or all that stuff — I’m not say I’m any of those things, just making a point. OK, maybe I am a few of those things. But these picky ladies may have boyfriends, are going through a tough time, feel uninterested or are just having a bad day. Women not liking you for various reasons is a great lesson because I figured out that it’s not the end of the world if I go home alone or don’t have a date for the weekend.

Getting Dumped: Cry all you want, this is incredibly important to experience. The first big time I learned that I was a shitty boyfriend. I’ve since changed my ways — depending on who you talk to, haha. It’s not all about me. I took the last big dumping in stride. She didn’t like me anymore, but that didn’t mean I needed to start hating myself. There are plenty of good fish in the sea.

Getting Laid Off: This happened after my neck accident. I’m still pissed off about this. Besides being a teacher and the current gig I work, this is the last “serious real job” I’ve had. But, I hated it. I sucked at it. I spent 40 hours a week doing something that wasn’t right for me. I wonder where I’d be if I’d stayed there. I’d probably be bald, fat and unhappy.

Being Unemployed: I still hate this. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are, it seems like there’s somebody else better. Applying for jobs every day and only receiving rejection letters is awful and defeating. Basically, it’s the reason why I took my current position — it was the first job that popped up. I’m certainly not happy here, but at least I can put something to fill the gaps on my resume.

Knee: Blowing that out sucked, but was probably the first time I realized I wasn’t invincible.

Swimming: I was never the best swimmer, even though I did my best to be the best. I wanted to shine more than all the other guys, but again, some of my teammates just were better. Plain and simple. A decade and a half later, nobody gives a shit how good of a swimmer I was, but I have a group of friends that will last forever and that matters to me.

The next question was: can I do this with what I’m going through now?

Epilepsy: Eh, I’d rather not find something positive in this. Epilepsy fudged a lot of my life up. It caused a vicious breakup, embarrassing situations and a ton of stress. I take more pills than my 96-year-old grandmother, parents and both of my brothers combined. I’m going to deal with this for the rest of my life, and that’s not a positive outlook. I’ve already had my bodily functions taken away from me after my neck. Now I’m supposed to give up my mind? Fuck that. I’d rather blow out another knee or re-break my neck.

Job Hunting: Ugh, this never fun. I hope I find a job that enables me to use my talents for something more than copy editing. However, working a boring job means I get to write and job search while on the clock. Woo hoo!

How about you guys? Any problems that turned out to be valuable learning experiences for you?

Day 14: Journaling

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“It’s not about giving up or using other people as crutches. It’s about being self-aware enough to know when you need a hand or where you could use an outside opinion.”

“How could you better use the help of those around you? Where and how is your ego holding you back from getting assistance?”

You know, my answer is in the first bit of this passage. I have a lot of friends in a lot of different places. I don’t want to use them, but I would like help and some direction in my life, career and dreams. Last week, I asked my old mentor for some advice and he filled me in on some things I could and should look for.

But…the best advice in the world doesn’t do jack squat if you don’t use it. I tell people about dating, exercising, working and writing. But, if they don’t listen they’ll never get better.

Now, I should shut up because I do the exact same thing. I don’t listen.

I think a lot of times we say, “Shucks, it’s just so hard to change. Maybe THIS time doing it MY way will change everything.” Then you fail and are back to, “OK, THIS time.” Shut up and let somebody else show you the way.

For me, I think I worry a lot when I ask for somebody’s advice. “Holy crap. What is this person going to think of me if I request some ideas, advice or answers??? Does that mean I’m a failure???”

How is my ego holding me back? Hmm. Again, I think to equate asking for help to failure is the biggest shock to one’s ego. At least to mine. But, again, shut up. I should ask for some help and then listen to what they have to say. You — or I — might be doing it wrong. All the self help books and YouTube channels aren’t going to fix anything if you don’t listen.

There you go! I’ll start listening more.

Day 13: Journaling (Lucky 13!)

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…
“Make a list of people you envy.”

“Would you trade places with them? Would you give up your whole life for their whole life? Would you switch spouses, health, history, mental health, etc. with them? What are the potential downsides to their position in life? What sacrifices might you have to make in order to get the piece of their life you want?”

Hmm. This is another tough cookie. I ended up feeling envious of some part of everybody I thought about. That’s not the point of today’s prompt. I am envious of my friend with great relationships with their family, friends and coworkers. I am jealous that this person has a cool job. There’s a guy published some great books and I want that more than anything.

Would I trade places with them? Likely, no. Unless I got to be Steve Martin or Charlize Theron’s husband, I don’t think that would work for me.

While I’m a huge Star Wars fan, one thing I don’t like about Empire and Last Jedi is that Jedi training is like a six-week boot camp. Is it really that easy? I’ve trained Jiu Jitsu for five years and am still an amateur.

My friend B has a wonderful life. He’s married with two kids, drives a sweet car and lives in a gigantic house. OK, I have a ton of friends like that. But, I don’t want to work 60 hours a week in finance. I like the idea of being married, but a spouse on the outside world can be a lot different inside the house. I’ve dated a few ladies that were really fun to go out with, but at home were rude, boring or annoying.

Quite a few of my friends went bonkers with their stressful workplaces and moved as far away as possible to surf, smoke weed or live in hippie communes.

I love writing, but I want to write the stuff that I want to write. I want to do my own thing. I’d rather be a pretty good fantasy and sci-fi novelist than the greatest author of young adult romantic fiction. It would be cool to be the best at something, but I want to be the best at something I like. Stupid writing (like I do now) is not what I spent ages practicing, stressing and researching.

What sacrifices do I need to make?
Well, get my ass to work. While 2018 has been a kick in the dick for me in some ways, I’ve written my ass off. I’m a few days from completing my best novel yet. I want friends to read it and then I’m going to send it off to publishers.
I also need the confidence to send that book out. I need to remember that everybody fails and blah blah blah. I certainly don’t want to fail. I’d like to get published ASAP, but I feel like I would understand if I didn’t.

Would I switch spouses? Nah. I don’t think falling in love is some magical thing. I think you’ve got to do that on your own and get really really lucky — or maybe that’s why I fail. Haha.

Health? I would switch health with some folks. I’d like to wake up without pain. Today my neck is itchy from phantom pain from my old surgery. But scratching it doesn’t do anything because I can’t feel it. I’d love not to have epilepsy or a busted knee. I’d like to be more coordinated. I’d like to do all of that, but there are so many things that go into being in shape or healthy. Would I trade my ability to do BJJ or swim to be a great CrossFitter or marathon runner? What would I do if I could magically trade my swimming, weightlifting or BJJ skills to be a great tennis player? I don’t know. I played about three minutes of tennis. I’d certainly be happy being good at it. That’s not all though. My swim team and BJJ buddies are some of the best friends I have. Would I get that with tennis?

History? I would like to have a better history. That’s what my newest book is about: changing how people see and judge you. I want people to see a different version of me than what people may expect. But that is all subjective to whoever is looking at me. Also, my history made me who I am. I could have been a long-haul trucker and made a ton of money, but that might mean I’d never write a novel, which is all I’ve always wanted to do.

Mental health? Yeah, I’d probably switch mental health with most folks. Epilepsy gets to be exhausting. I have my good days and bad days too.

Anywho, the answer is “probably no, I wouldn’t want to switch places with someone.” While I’m envious of some people, I know they likely busted their asses to get where they are. I need to bust my ass in ways to get me where I want to be.

Day 12: Journaling

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“Today, make a draft of your internal scorecard. Make a list of things that will help you know whether you’re on the right course — even if the world’s outer scorecard can’t see the wins.”

I cheated and looked this up. The first four are things from a website:

Subject: Putting my family first and spending time with them.
Grade: B
Next steps: I try my best. I send emails and talk with my parents and brothers. That’s all I really feel the need to do. This isn’t really that important to me. I’m doing above the bare minimum, but not putting much effort into it. This subject is like auto shop. It’s important for a ton of reasons, but I don’t give a shit.

Subject: Continuously learning something new.
Grade: C
Next steps: So far, this has been one of – if not the – most stressful years of my life, and we’re not even a third of the way finished. I am not doing Jiu Jitsu. I am not taking a language class, taking a class or doing anything to learn anything. I don’t have the time or energy. I feel bad with this one. This is like English or science, two things I like but am not doing anything about. It’s not like I’ve been playing video games instead of doing this, I’ve just had a ton of shit to do.

Subject: Using my skills as a force multiplier to help others succeed.
Grade: C
Next steps: I offer to help here and there. Last year I edited an entire nonfiction book for my old newspaper mentor. This year I haven’t had the chance. I’ve offered to help people move, learn how to lift weights or box and something else.

Subject: Spending part of my time and energy for social good.
Grade: C
Next steps: I post shit on Facebook. I voice my opinions and beliefs when necessary. I fight for the good. Am I going to march, donate or anything? Not just yet. Again, 2017 and 2018 have been rough years for me and the last thing I need to do is invite more problems into my life.

Here are some subjects I wrote for my own internal scorecard:

Subject: Putting my friend’s first and spending time with them.
Grade: B+
Next steps: I’m close with my friends, but I’ve got a huge pain in the ass right now. I live far away from most of them. I do my best to email, text, IM and all that as often as possible. Or as often as to not be annoying. Why didn’t I give myself and A+? Well, I live far away. Once I figure out where to move so I can be near my friends is when I’ll have an A+. This is an important subject for me.

Subject: Write and be happy with what you’re writing.
Grade: A-
Next steps: One thing about the last year and a half is that I’ve been writing a ton. I go home from work and the gym, cook some food and write. I spend my weekend days and/or nights writing. I wrote and edited a book in the past few months. Hopefully I finish the thing in a few days. Why don’t I have an A+? Well, I’m not finished and I know that I can do better.

Subject: Work and be happy with what you’re doing.
Grade: B
Next steps: I’ll give myself a solid B. I get a paycheck. I do my job very well. It does not take that much brainpower or effort. My gig is boring, but easy. I get a ton of personal writing finished while I’m at this job (I’m writing this right now on the clock.) I’m also giving myself better marks because I am actively searching for a better job.

Subject: Be happy.
Grade: TBD
Next steps: This is always at the top of my New Year’s Resolutions. Currently, I’m not happy. I hate my job, city, apartment, gym, day-to-day life and just about everything else that’s going on around me. I’m not doing the best at keeping positive or staying happy or even trying to do both of those things. But, I know there’s room for improvement and have been working on stuff. Also, I’ve been doing my best to do stuff that makes me happy.

Subject: Be healthy.
Grade: B
Next steps: I’m not in the best shape of my life, but the best shape of my life was pretty amazing. I can’t afford that nice of a gym right now, so I’m not going to the nicest gym. I still ride my bicycle to and from work every day and go to the gym about four times a week. I eat well — most of the time. I am doing my best to control the portions of what I eat down to a reasonable level.

Subject: Stay organized
Grade: A-
Next steps: Another topper of my New Year’s Resolutions list is use my day planner. I am crushing it so far this year. I skip the weekends usually, but I’ve made a good ritual out of it all.

Joy Division

Bret Easton Ellis wrote “American Psycho,” the first (and only book) to make me almost barf while reading it. The book’s a lot more graphic than the movie.

A few weeks ago I finished reading another one of his books called “The Rules of Attraction.” The characters kept mentioning Joy Division. I worked eighties night at the bar for about three years in a row, so I can live the rest of my life without Guns N Roses, Humpty Hump and Genesis.

I’m also not the kindest music critic.

But for whatever reason, I checked out the music Ellis referenced in this book. I wasn’t a fan of Talking Heads. I probably listened to a few others. Then I reached Joy Division, and for whatever reason I fell head over heels for them.

Then I did a little homework and saw that the lead singer — Ian Curtis — was an epileptic, sort of like me.

2014JoyDivision_Getty146009195_10300714

His epilepsy was a lot worse than mine. My type is a lot tamer than his. My seizures are “absence seizures” where I will completely blank out like I’m stoned or really drunk. Curtis’ were “grand mal” seizures which made him collapse and shake on the ground — those are the types of seizures you think about and what they show on TV. His were caused by just about whatever. I don’t have a clue what causes mine.

Even though I wouldn’t wish anybody to have epilepsy, it’s a relief to know there are others like me. Especially epileptics that have done something creative and/or productive.

Just the fact that now I can blog about my condition is a relief. For about two years I was so ashamed of my condition that only my closest friends and parents knew. Now I am much more forthcoming about it. I don’t really have a choice.

Anywho, Joy Division is awesome. I’m wearing one of their t-shirts right now. I’ll probably listen to Unknown Pleasures in a few hours.

Another great story about how art helps somebody out.

Day 11: Journaling

I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site.

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“Is your life a show you’re putting on for others? Do you use social media to connect with others or to erect a facade?

“How would you live differently if it wasn’t about the show but about creating the best life for you, your loved ones, and the other humans you share this planet with?”

Wow. Tough one today.

Is my life a show? Um, kind of. I have a few aspects of my personality that I try to keep from the outside world. I pretend to be interested in a lot of things I really don’t care about.

I use social media to connect. I have friends all over the world and I am genuinely interested in keeping up with them. Social media can be the best way.

How would I live differently if I wasn’t putting on a show but living my best life?

Suck it up. Quit my job. Move somewhere cheap and write my fingers off until I make it as a novelist.

Day 10: Journaling

I keep spelling this as “Journalism” when I type it out in the morning.

I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site.

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“What are your most controversial opinions? Why do you believe them? Even if they’re not worth talking about publicly, it’s worth exploring them yourself.”

Ugh, not getting into this one that much.

Lately, I’ve kind of just said, “Fuck recycling, reducing and reusing.” (((Is anybody going to judge me for saying fuck on a blog that nobody reads???)))

I’ve been told to “take care of the earth” for my entire life. I bike everywhere. I don’t leave the water running. I try not to buy cans and bottles that often, but when I do I recycle.

But, after seeing how little most people give a shit — in a city as liberal as Chicago — I am getting tired of it. What’s the point?

Seoul is a dirty place in the sense that people throw their garbage around, BUT in the morning they’ve got old ladies cleaning stuff up. However, here in Chicago, I ride my bike by the same piles of garbage every day. I’ve seen the same roadkill rat for the past two months. Maybe more.

When I went out and got a drink from a market, I used to carry bottles of water or cans around until I found a recycle bin. I used to save all my paper at home and take it to work to recycle. Now, fuck it. It’s kind of like watching YouTube videos at work. I know I shouldn’t do it, but everybody else is so what’s the point on not?

Why do I believe this? I guess I’m just tired of trying to make a difference when nobody else seems to care or follow my example.

Bloat

I did the Master Cleanse (also known as The Beyonce Diet or The Lemonade Diet) for a week. I’ve done it before. I didn’t think much of it, but my stomach started feeling not good.

Then I made a gigantic mistake: I came off the diet wrong. Then I came off of it even wronger.

I feel like somebody is constantly pumping my stomach with air. I’m going to try and do some fiber pills or something. I need some space and I’ll figure out what I should do with my bloat. Ugh. It’s so uncomfortable.

And yesterday I just gorged myself with junk (it’s been a rough week.) Now my gas is…well, we’ll skip that. It’s probably as gross as you can imagine.

Day 9: Journaling

I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site.

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“How do you approach your nonfiction reading (offline and online)? How do you treat different authors or personalities? Are you having a conversation with the articles and books you read? Are you marking disagreements you have with them? Are you making connections between them?”

I thoroughly enjoy nonfiction reading. I alternate reading nonfiction and fiction. I do read the news every day.

I am very interested in learning new stuff, which I do my best to achieve from reading nonfiction. I have nonfiction authors that I really like: Mary Roach, Bill Bryson, Chuck Klosterman and Neil Strauss.

Right now I’m reading a nonfiction book that’s basically an encyclopedia about drugs: an educational book — what does this do? When did this get discovered? Who uses this? Why would you do this?

I sometimes have a conversation with the authors. If I am listening to the book on take I’ll make a comment. Sometimes I’ll grunt while reading if I’m a little unsure. I will look things up if Google is nearby.

I do my best to make connections. I want to figure out how to use this knowledge in another way.