Reflective Summary Froze Me in a Frame.

I always write an entry at the end of each year where I look back and ask myself the same question that I asked myself one year earlier. “Am I better off than I was one year ago?” I can look back at 2022 and say that, for the most part, I am definitely better off than I was one year ago. 2022 was not perfect. It had its ups and downs, but as long as whatever remaining time in 2022 doesn’t throw me a major curve ball, I can say that 2022 was really a good year for me.

One of the very first things that I talked about in my 2021 recap was how I had managed to still avoid having COVID-19 at all. That streak didn’t last long into 2022. By the end of January, I ended up getting sick with it. It wasn’t bad for me at all. And due to the fact that I (most likely) had a sinus infection at the same time, I think it’s very possible that I wouldn’t have even known that I had COVID-19 if it wasn’t for that sinus infection. But, as I attempt to look at the bright side of things, not only was my experience with the illness not bad, but I got 10 days off from work. And they were seriously some of the most relaxing days that I’ve had in years.

With the world returning to somewhat “normal” behaviors in 2022, I was able to compete in one 5k race. I knew going into it that having one of my best times was not likely to happen. It had been 3 years since my previous race, I was a bit heavier, and just out of practice. Nothing that I said in the previous sentence was meant to be an excuse, the statements were just facts. I probably could have put more effort in, but I didn’t. And I ended up finishing with my slowest time ever. However, the important part isn’t the “slowest time ever” part, it’s the “finishing” part. I finished the race and I’m thrilled to have competed in it.

So, I just said that I was a bit heavier than I had been. That was then, this is now. I’m currently the lightest that I’ve been in a long time. That doesn’t mean that I’m close to the lightest that I’ve been. I’m just lighter than I’ve been for a while. I still have a lot of work to do there.

And building from that is my workout routine. I don’t have one at the moment. I’ve barely done any type of workout since the 5k race a few months ago. I fully intend to recommit myself to that in the new year. My goal is to compete in as many of the local 5k races as I can, and in order to get the most of them that I possibly can, I need to be in shape for them. That will require me putting in a lot of work and if I stick to a plan, I should be able to do it. But, since I mention this ever year, DDPY (formerly called DDP Yoga) is the plan that I’ll be returning to. And unlike in 2021, when I was able to pull it off one time, I did not successfully complete a Black Crow pose.

Every single year that I’ve enrolled in a book reading challenge, I’ve failed to meet my goal. I’ve been doing this for a few years. My goal has always been to read 12 books in the year. It’s always seemed simple enough for me. One book per month. But, I’ve never been able to do it. And in 2022, I did not read 12 books. I read 13. I’m very happy with that. I COULD easily point out that many of the books that I completed were pretty short, but I did not make any rules about the length of the books. It was just how many that I could read from beginning to end within the calendar year. I’m going to keep the same goal for 2023 and I hope to match or surpass it.

Nothing stresses me out more easily or frequently than my financial situation. And for various reasons, my bank account isn’t nearly as high as I would like it to be. But, for the first time in a very long time, there looks to be potential for something to change there. A few things need to fall into place, and that includes me making some things happen, but if all goes as I’m hoping, when I do my 2023 recap, I should have good stuff to say here.

My social life was pretty good in 2022. If I gauge it only on if I have more friends than I started the year off with, then it was definitely a success. As is the case with basically all aspects of life, my social life had some ups and downs. But, when looking back, I really have no regrets. There’s nothing that I would change about my socializing during the year.

One of the things that I’ve said many times during 2022 (and even a bit before) is how surreal some aspects of my life had become. I’m not going to name names, but those that know the names know the names. There’s a few bands that I’ve seen multiple times. I’ve gone from being a fan of their music and their shows, to knowing people that know them, to knowing them personally. That has morphed into being called up on stage to do backing vocals a few times (including at the legendary Stone Pony) to being invited to do backing vocals on an upcoming album. I also got to appear in a music video for another band. A friend once told me that this surrealness would wear off and I told him that don’t ever want it to, because it helps me appreciate just how amazing the entire thing is. And while having some drinks with one of the members of a band a few months ago, I was talking about how surreal all of this is for me, he said “you made this happen. You talk to people and you made this happen.” After hearing something similar from another friend a little while ealier, it was that moment when it finally clicked for me. While I’m not still a bit of an introvert, I’m also out there doing things. It’s sort of a contradiction, but it’s worked out for me in ways that I would never have imagined and’s pretty awesome.

And that brings to me something that another friend recently said to me. I told him what I’ve said recently about my life and how “there’s never been a better time to be me.” He looked at me and said “there’s where you’re wrong. There’s never been a bad time to be you.” That was a “WOW” moment for me. The only bad thing about my friend’s statement is that I really like my own phrase and want to keep using it, even if I think it’s lessened by his great affirmation.

My New Year’s Resolution is ALWAYS the same. It’s always “I want to make it better.” I want my 2023 to be better than my 2022. It’s simple, it’s to the point, it’s achievable. But, I think it’ll require a bit more effort than I put forth in 2022. I think the biggest motivation for me to put forth all of the necessary effort is that I’m pretty sure that I’m at the point (or beyond it, depending on your perspective of “norm”) where I have no choice. I need do to more to achieve more. When I look back one year from now, I hope to have good things to say about that.

So, to summarize this entry which has taken me way too long to write, “am I better off than I was one year ago?” I think the answer is defintely yes. I have my anxieties, frustrations, and other issues, but I really do feel like I’m in a good place. And like I just said, I hope that I’ll have similar things, if not better things to say at the end of next year.





2022 Album of the Year

1 – Zeal & Ardor – Zeal & Ardor
2 – Absent in Body – Plague God
3 – Porcupine Tree – Closure/Continuation
4 – Lacuna Coil – Comalies XX
5 – Bloodbath – Survival of the Sickest
6 – Strigoi – Viscera
7 – League of Distortion – League of Distortion
8 – Chat Pile – God’s Country
9 – Muse – Will of the People
10 – Clutch – Sunrise on Slaughter Beach

2022 produced A LOT of good albums. In the 19 years that I’ve been coming up with these lists, this was possibly the most difficult one that I’ve done. But, for someone that enjoys new music as much as I do, that’s a good problem to have.

I had never heard of Zeal & Ardor until this year. They’ve been around for just under 10 years and they were recommended to me by a friend due to their unique blending of genres. Their Wikipedia profiles describes them as “avant-garde, black metal, and neo-soul.” That alone was enough to get me interested. Then I started looking on YouTube for videos and I could not stop listening. I got a copy of their latest album and again, I could not stop listening. They have such a unique sound that (as I’ve said) combines so many genres into one cohesive musical vision. Being that I like more some more extreme metal, blues, and soul music, this is the band that I never knew that I needed to hear. I also had the pleasure of seeing them live in Brooklyn a few months ago and it was an incredible experience.

Some of the songs that got me hooked on this album and band include “Run,” “Death to the Holy,” “Golden Liar,” “Feed the Machine,” “Church Burns,” and “Götterdämmerung.”

If it wasn’t for Zeal & Ardor, Absent in Body’s debut album, Plague God, would easily be my number one album this year. I know that sounds like an almost silly thing to say, but it’s true. This album is THAT good. And just like last year’s Album of the Year, Amenra’s De Doorn, I became aware of Absent in Body because of All Elite Wrestling’s Malakai Black. He uses a song from De Doorn as his entrance theme for this singles matches and he uses a “Rise from Ruins” from Plague God for one of the teams he’s in. Absent in Body is actually sort of a “sludge metal” supergroup that has members of Amerna, Sepultura, and Neurosis. I would list what tracks stand out more than others, but there’s only five songs on the album, and they’re all pretty good.

Porcupine Tree broke up in 2011. Their 2007 album, Fear of a Blank Planet, was my Album of the Year. They had others ranked high in my lists. Their last album before their split, 2009’s The Incident, was not good. In the time since their split, their front man/main song writer, Steven Wilson went on to do some really good stuff with his solo band and some others. I was not sure what to expect from the Porcupine Tree reunion, but Closure/Continuation, was excellent. I was able to see all of the songs on the album and a lot more of my favorite songs from them at Radio City Music Hall in September and it was such a great show. Not only did I get to hear some of their “classics,” but hearing the new songs live really made me like them more. If you were a fan of Porcupine Tree from their original run and didn’t listen to Closure/Continuation, I highly recommend that you give it a listen.

“Harridan,” “Of the New Day,” and “Herd Cullling” are the songs that I consider to be my favorites on this album.

I put a lot of thought into whether or not Lacuna Coil’s Comalies XX was even eligible to be considered for this list. For many years, I’ve had an established set of rules that include “the album must be new material (for the band or artist).” Comalies XX is Lacuna Coil paying tribute to the 20th anniversary of their 2002 album, Comalies. They didn’t just re-master it or re-mix it, they re-imagined it. While the melodies are very close to the original and the lyrics are the same, that’s where the similarities end. They re-wrote every song and played them in a style that more accurately reflects their current sound. And after hearing a few songs from Comalies XX, I joked that some of them were the versions of the songs that I’ve always wanted to hear. But, even after that, I still wasn’t sure about if I could include it in my list. I was lucky enough to see Lacuna Coil a few times in September and was able to discuss the album with members of the band and they told me about the effort that they put into making this version of Comalies different from the original. They succeeded.

The track listing is the same as the original so it starts off with “Swamped.” The new version of the song is (in my opinion) the most similar to the original than any of the others, which is probably a good way to ease the transition for any skeptical fan. The next song, “Heaven’s a Lie” goes in directions that I wouldn’t have expected, but I’m glad it did. Hearing Andrea Ferro do the growling vocals that he’s enjoyed doing over the last few years really added to that for me. I’m not going to go song by song on this, as it would take up so much time, but in addition to the ones I’ve already listed, the other new versions that really stood out to me include “Daylight Dancer,” “The Ghost Woman and the Hunter,” and especially “Unspoken” (where Ferro growls vocals orginally done cleanly by Cristina Scabbia, who sounds great on this album too).

Bloodbath makes another appearance in my Top 10 Albums of the Year list with Survival of the Sickest. I believe this album is easily the best one that the Death Metal Supergroup has done with Paradise Lost’s “Old Nick” Holmes as their vocalist and the best one from the band since 2004’s Nightmares Made Flesh. It’s just a good Death Metal album. And if you’re a fan of Paradise Lost, Katatonia, and/or Opeth, you should be aware of Bloodbath.

The opening track of “Zombie Inferno” is one of the better songs on the album, and the video for it is perfect for the song. I also recommend checking out “Malignant Maggot Therapy,” “Affliction of Extinction,” and my personal favorite song from the album “No God Before Me.”

Continuing with albums that feature members of Paradise Lost, the 6th Best Album of 2022 is Strigoi’s Viscera. Strigoi was founded in 2018 by Paradise Lost’s Gregor Mackintosh. Instead of just playing guitar, like he does on Paradise Lost albums, Mackintosh is the vocalist for Strigoi, and like Bloodbath, this album is just a good Death Metal album. And like I said about Bloodbath, if you’re a fan of the bands I mentioned earlier, you should check this one out.

Some of my favorites from Viscera include “King of All Terror,” “A Begotten Son,” and “Byzantine Terror.”

Like Zeal & Ardor, Absent in Body, and Strigoi, League of Distortion are also making their first appearance on my list with their debut self-titled album. YouTube suggested to them to me and YouTube did well. Not only did YouTube introduce me to League of Distortion, but it also made me aware of it’s lead singer Anna Brunner’s other work, which I hope will make this list at some point. But in the meantime, League of Distortion’s sound reminds me a bit of Butcher Babies, Snake River Conspiracy, and Drain STH.

“Wolf of Lamb,” “It Hurts so Good,” and “I’m a Bitch” are my favorite songs from this album.

The final band making their first appearance in my Top 10 is Chat Pile. They’ve been around for a few years, have released a few things, but their first full-length album, God’s Country, is my 8th Best Album of 2022. I was not aware of Chat Pile until a just before I finalized my list. They were recommended to me and I listened to some songs and I was immediately in need of more from them. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this album reminds me of early Clutch, some IDLES, with late 1980s era Mike Patton style vocals. I listened to the entire album and knew it was one of the best of the year. I’m looking forward to hearing more from them in the years to come.

The opening track “Slaughterhouse,” “Why?,” “Wicked Puppet Dance,” and “I Don’t Care if I Burn” stand out a lot.

Muse is the most well known band on my list. I’ve enjoyed all of their releases, and this one is no exception. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Muse a few times. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to on this tour. I would have liked to have heard some of the new songs in person.

The title track, “Compliance,” “You Make Me Feel Like it’s Halloween,” and the last track on the album with the “f word” used a few times in the title stand out as some of the better ones.

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While Clutch’s Sunrise on Slaughter Beach is obviously good enough to be ranked as the 10th Best Album of 2022, it still wasn’t close to their best work. I don’t want to really make it seem like I’m disappointed by it, but it didn’t draw me in as much other other releases of theirs. If you’re a fan of Clutch, as I certainly am, this album is worth listening to, and at only 33 minutes and 10 seconds, it’s a very quick listen. Maybe I just expected more.

Regardless of what I just said, the songs “Slaughter Beach,” “Nosferatu Madre,” and “Mercy Brown” do stand out a lot.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, there were a lot of good albums in 2022. Here is a listing of other albums that came out during the year (in alphabetical order by artist):

– Amorphis – Halo – This album really didn’t do much for me. I’m hoping that after the last few really good albums from them, that this is just a mis-step.
– Dead Cross – II – This is a good album that barely missed the Top 10.
– Downset – Maintain – This is easily the best thing that Downset has done since 1996 and could have made the list if the Top 10 wasn’t so stacked.
– Florence & the Machine – Dance Fever – Another album from a band that I like that didn’t really do anything for me.
– IV and the Strange Band – Southern Circus – IV is the 4th Generation of Hank Williamses to be in the music industry. This was a solid debut and I look forward to hearing more from him.
– The Gathering – Beautiful Distortion – I wanted to like this, but I’ve never been able to get into the Gathering since Anneke Van Giersbergen left in 2007.
– Ghost – Impera – This was a good album that also could have made my Top 10. It has the least progression of any Ghost album from the previous, but that’s probably intentional since they didn’t change the character of the singer this time.
– The Halo Effect – Days of the Lost – It took a bunch of ex-In Flames members to reunite and do a good In Flames record.
– Patriarchs in Black – Patriarchs in Black – This was a solid “stoner rock” album.
– The Pineapple Thief – Give it Back – Their 2020 album Versions of the Truth was ranked as the 4th Best Album of the Year. This one didn’t come close to being as good as that.
– Slipknot – The End, So Far – It just didn’t do anything for me.
– Tedeschi Trucks Band – I am the Moon (volumes I – IV) – The Tedeschi Trucks Band released four albums in the year, and while they’re good, I think they may have been better off releasing just one with maybe two of them combined. And then maybe do it again next year. There was just too much in 2022 and not much stood out as a result.
– Those Poor Bastards – God Awful – I REALLY want this group to have an Album of the Year. God Awful, while A LOT better than the name would allude to, wasn’t their best work. It does have some good songs though.

I know 2023 will have a new album from Katatonia. Will they receive their 3rd Album of the Year from me? I also know of the debut album from Host, which is Nick and Gregor from Paradise Lost returning to the sound of their underappreciated album of the same. Other than that, I don’t know what else 2023 will bring as far as new music goes. But, I do know that I’ll enjoy listening to some stuff along the way.

A note about eligibility for my 2022 Album of the Year:
– the album must have had a United States release date in 2022.
– the album must be new material (for the band or artist).
– live albums are only eligible if they’re new material.


The Healing Through Years. So Obscured By the Tears and the Strain.

I’m doing well. I’m doing well. I’m doing well.

The reason that I repeated that just now is that I’ve found myself needing to remind myself lately. There’s just so much good going on with me. I’ve been a part of so many amazing moments over the past year. I’ve increased my social circle a bit over the past few months. I’ve had a lot of fun doing a lot of things. I’ve started taking steps to be healthier (physically and emotionally). There’s just so much good happening.

And yet, there’s also that lingering doubt in my mind. The doubt that creeps in when things are going well. The doubt that tells me that the good stuff isn’t going to last. The doubt that tells me that I don’t deserve to enjoy myself. The doubt that continues to make sure that I can’t fully enjoy any moment. It’s always there, even in small doses, but it’s always there.

There’s a lot of how I’ve been programmed to think, feel, and behave in various situations that I’m trying to work on. I need to re-program a lot of the wiring in my head. The reason that I have any hope at all at being successful with that is that some of the praise that’s been heaped on me by various friends has made me think more about what they’re saying instead of my usual instinctual dismissal of it.

So often, I’ve found myself justifying my relationships with the very people that I was hanging out with. I’ve often wondered “why am I here?” I’ve thought that I’m unworthy of being associated with some people. My mind has told me that I’m in over my head. But, a few times recently, that thought process was challenged by something that said to me or a situation where I felt completely welcome. That type of feeling isn’t something that I’m particularly used to, but I kind of like it.

I’ve always known that my interests aren’t usually the most popular things. And, for the most part, that’s never bothered me. I like what I like. It hasn’t always been easy to find other people who have similar likes and interests. I think that’s why I’m someone that has really thrived on social media. I’ve always managed to find groups of people to discuss stuff with. And this isn’t new for me either, I was doing it on America Online in the mid 90s. And from doing that then, there’s people that have been friends of mine ever since.

My obscure interests also have a downside. They’re definitely part of the reason that I’ve always been a bit of an outcast. I’ve been shunned a lot. But, to be honest, there’s LOTS of reasons for the shunning and the outcast thing that aren’t related to my interests. A LOT of it has to do with the amount of times that I wasn’t allowed to do anything based on parental restrictions. And this is where I start to clam up and become unwilling/unable to get into details. If/when I’m able to say more there, I will.

One of the things that I’ve told people lately is that “there’s never been a better time to be me.” And while I really do mean that when I say it, the doubting voice in my head has had me thinking about it. I’ll start to think “Really? What’s so great about now?” “How is now any different?” “You still haven’t changed anything.”
Those thoughts are there. I don’t know if I have a definitive answer, but I just know that something is different. Earlier in this entry, I said that I believe the praise of friends instead of immediately rejecting it. That alone is a HUGE difference for me.

Another word that I’ve used a lot to describe my life is “surreal.” Sometimes I can’t wrap my head around how great certain experiences have been. For a while, one of my friends has pretty much insisted that I should have a podcast or write a book at some of my experiences. I really don’t know if my stories of celebrity encounters have enough details for either of those mediums, but I’ve also recently found a forum where I can drop an anecdote about some encounter I’ve had and get a pretty good response. But, I digress…

The point about the “surrealness” of my life is that while I’m thoroughly enjoying so much of it, I’m also fully expecting it to come crashing down at any moment. I think that because I’m programmed to think it. I’m programmed to think it because of reasons that I’m not even sure of. Is it the influence of my parents and their lack of encouragement? Is it because kids in school were downright cruel to me? Do I doubt that I belong in social settings because I was shunned? Do I prefer to be by myself because it’s a defense mechanism that I built up due to being left out or do I just prefer it?

I don’t know the answers to the questions that I’ve asked. The more I think about those answers, the more my anxiety builds up. If my anxiety builds up, the doubts in my head are magnified. It’s a vicious cycle. I may know the answers one day. I’ve seen some gradual changes. The answers will come to me, just probably when I stop looking.

Shrouded in Autumn’s Graven Ascension.

Bad days happen. Everybody has them. And recently, I had a few. There wasn’t anything big that bothered me, but a various things were getting to me over the course of a few days. It set me down a path of withdrawal from people, and some of them noticed it.

I’ve often said lately that I’m “in a good place.” And I really still am. My social life is good. My job is good. I’m healthy (as far as I know). I’ve told people that “there’s never been a better time to be me.” And yet, without warning, I was going down a mental health spiral. And that’s the thing about depression. It’s not a phase. It’s not being sad. It’s always there and can flare up at any time.

I’m not completely sure about what started my downturn. As I said, it was various things. I’ve had a lot on my mind. Some were good, some were not so good. My default way to process things is to focus on the not so good. Maybe I was doing that. I’m not always aware of it. Focusing on good stuff does take effort from me.

In a recent entry, I posted about being feeling alone even when in crowds. I was pretty sure that I would feel that way again over this past weekend. There were a few events that I was going to be at and quite frankly, I didn’t really feel like doing them. I didn’t think they would be good for me. But, they ended up being the exact opposite. I could chalk it up to lowered expectations, but I’ve had the “I don’t want to be here” feeling many times before and didn’t walk away glad that I was there.

I’m currently in a form of a weight loss program. Although, that’s a simplification of it. It’s more of program designed to coach my eating. I’ve only been doing it for a few weeks, and I’m very enthusiastic about the lessons that I’ve already learned from it. And the reason that I’m mentioning in this particular entry is that it’s been teaching me to modify how I do things. It’s about re-training my thinking. And I’ve been trying to do that in various aspects of my life.

I’ve said that my default is set to miserable. How did it get there? That’s a loaded question that I don’t know if I can easily answer. But, can I reset my default? Can I train myself to not automatically default to miserable? I’ve been very carefree over the past few years. I’ve been much more mentally healthy, or so I think. But, I’ve always wondered if it was real of if I was faking it. You see, that’s my default. I doubt my happiness. I doubt whether I deserve happiness. I question why people are happy. I don’t trust happiness.

I am aware that no situation is perfect. I know that I cannot control every aspect of my day. But, can I control how I think about things? Can I control how I process things? Can I control how I react? That’s something that I’m working on. It takes effort. Change is good. Progress is good. Change and progress are also scary. They can also cause me anxiety. Was my recent setback caused by anxiety over a change in eating habits? I’m going to try to not think about that too much right now, since going through that thought process may result in a spike in anxiety. Yes, that’s how it works for me.

Here’s what I do now about me right now. I am going through the process of changing things in my life. And it’s deliberate. It’s not just a concept. I’m trying to make improvements. Even with my little setback last week, I still feel that I’m in a good place. I never fully went to a dark mental place last week. I was very far from it. I was just slightly distant and slightly irritable. It took a few people to say a few things to me and I snapped out of it. I’m always afraid that I’ll snap right back into it, hence my discussion of default. But, my awareness of things may be what stops it from happening.

I always end the year with a recap entry about how my year went. There’s two months left in this year. I’m still on a good path. I know that I can do more to (attempt to) make sure that I stay on that path. I’m working on it. And I’m as optimistic as my miserable default lets me be.

Inside My Head, Smokescreen’s Gone.

Emotions are a weird thing. It’s simultaneously possible to be fully enjoying yourself and dreading the situation that you’re in. I’ve written about this before, but it happened to me again recently. I was surrounded by people that I know. But, while fully enjoying that, I was also isolated. I’ve been thinking about that since it happened.

As weird as it may sound to some people, very often I’m at my most comfortable when I’m by myself. I’ve been very careful to not say that I’m “alone.” I very rarely feel alone or lonely. Being by myself and being alone are two completely different things, at least as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve found a lot of outlets over the years. I’ve explained this in my entries. For over 25 years, I’ve been on social media sites and have been connecting with people that have similar interests. Those interests range from Professional Wrestling, old TV/movie references, music, and more. I have “real life” friends that I can go to discuss some of my interests, but if I don’t know which of them I can talk to, I have online forums where I can go. Social media can be destructive for some people. But, it’s really been an outlet for me. I really do believe that people that I interact with on those sites are what keep me from being “alone.”

I’m sure that if I gave it a lot of thought, I could pinpoint various situations from my childhood that helped create these feelings. But, I don’t know if I have the ability to do that right now. Detail like that would need a lot of time and effort.

The thing that I need to stress the most to anyone that reads this, and especially to any friend that has seen me recently, it’s very possible that you’ve been with me while I’ve been in one of these moods. I assure you that if I told you that it was good to see you that I meant it. I also assure you that if I said that I was having a good time, I really was. But, I also couldn’t wait to leave. That is more about me than it is about anything or anybody else.

I’ve been telling people lately that “there’s never been a better time to be me.” There isn’t sarcasm in that statement. It’s 100% true. But, it doesn’t mean that anything that anything else in this entry is invalid. It just means that I believe that I have a a pretty good concept of perspective of my current situation. I know where I am and I know where I’ve been. Where I am now is a lot better than where I’ve been.

I don’t know if I would be able to be in such a good place if I didn’t have my means of escape. My escapes are all of what I mentioned earlier, podcasts, movies, tv, concerts, and other events. And yet, sometimes while I’m attending those events, I want them to end so I can leave. And I may be fully enjoying myself while I’m there. I know there’s some mental/emotional contradictions there, but it seems so very normal to me.

If you read this and you start thinking that something’s wrong or that I’m not in a good place, don’t worry. I really am in a good place. But sometimes, I just don’t feel comfortable where I am, even if the most comforting of settings. It doesn’t mean that anything is wrong, it just means that sometimes I’m very much in my own head. And maybe that’s the best place for me.

As I’m Walking I’m Breathless, I’d Welcome Clarity.

“We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s OK, that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.” – the Doctor

Why did I start off this entry with a quote from an (allegedly) fictional character? That’s really simple, because when I was thinking about this entry, that quote came to me. I interpret that quote from the Doctor as a way of saying that you need to change. You need to grow. You need to evolve. Specifically, you need your views on life to evolve.

Way too often I see people criticizing modern kids for spending too much time playing videos games, looking at their phones, and not doing more “manly” things such as sports. What I think people fail to realize is that they’re doing things that are right for them. They’re also doing things that some of us didn’t have the capability of doing. While I did have video games to play at my house when I was a teenager, I didn’t have the capability of playing with people all over the world. I was THRILLED when more than two people could play when multi-player games were available.
We didn’t have cell phones when I was a kid. And when cell phones were first available to me, there were barely any features. Heck, the first one that I had didn’t even have a clock on it.

People my age and older that would go outside and do play in their yards did that stuff because we didn’t have as many ways to entertain ourselves as kids do now. Our grandparents didn’t sit aorund and watch television when they were kids, because that wasn’t even a concept yet.

I remember back in the late 1990s when Pokemon cards first became really popular. I did not understand what the big deal about them was. And to be honest, I still don’t. But, to some people, they mean a lot. Their value isn’t necessarily monetary, it’s personal.

I don’t care about cars, football, or motorcycles. That doesn’t diminish me in any way. It just means that I have different interests. Just like the kids that collected Pokemon cards. Their interests were different.

I started this off with a quote and I’m going to use another one that I like, this one is from the late, great Bill Hicks. He said “All your beliefs, they’re just that. They’re nothing. They’re how you were taught and raised. That doesn’t make ’em real.”
I think that quote shows the point that your ideas can and should evolve.

When we were children, there were a lot of fairy tales that we were told. We were told about the existence of various fictional characters. We were told some of those characters would bring us gifts, give us money, or deliver candy in the middle of the night. Ignoring the fact that some of those things seem pretty creepy when you think about it, but there’s also a time when we stop believing the existence of those characters.

My point about brining up the belief of those characters and things that we’re told is to emphasize part of what Bill Hicks about beliefs not necessarily being based on reality. WE need to evolve how we think about things, people, and society. WE need to realize that just because someone is riding an electric scooter instead of a motor cycle that the person on the scooter is not failing to live up to a standard of manhood. Again, it’s just something different that wasn’t an option before.

I’ve done my best to change how I look at life. By evolving how I think about life, I’ve become a lot less jaded and angry than I was in younger days. I don’t look at things that I don’t understand and belittle them. In fact, If I don’t understand something, I may use my phone (which has all of the technology that I didn’t have as a kid) and do some quick research on what I don’t understand. And maybe, just maybe, by doing that, my way of thinking about something will evolve.

I Opened My Mind to All the Love Forsaken.

Your perspective on things can really change how you feel. I know that’s a simple and somewhat generic statement, but it’s very true. My own perspective about a lot of things has changed lately, and I think it’s for the better. I’m doing quite emotionally and mentally well and I’m still enjoying myself. I’m going to use this entry to get into that.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I have a few friends that have spoken to me about how awesome my life seems to be. While I don’t agree with the level of excitement that they’ve described my life to have, I have finally started to accept that I’ve done some things that some people see as pretty cool. And over the course of the last 2 or 3 years, I’ve really started to appreciate these things on my own. And while I do think not being to do much for a while due the Pandemic played a part of my appreciation, I know that I was speaking about it before that as well.

Just a few days ago, I had a conversation with someone that I knew from high school. This was the first time that she and I had seen in each other since we graduated. She was in my office to discuss some stuff related to my job and we just started catching up. She was someone that I never had problems with in school. In fact, she was always nice to me. The conversation was probably just about 30 minutes long, but it furthered this whole “perspective” thing that I’ve been talking about.

For various reasons, I don’t really have much contact with many people from high school or elementary school. I really did not have a great experience while I was there. I was bullied by classmates, teachers were not supportive, and the counsellors that were supposed to help me would belittle and insult me. I understand that it was a different time and that things would probably play out differently if I was in school now, but that doesn’t help the damage that was done to me.

Getting back to that conversations from a few days ago, we talked about some of the things that I just mentioned, about my own experiences there. And we also talked about what we know now about the kids that bullied me. We now know that the majority of the kids that were the bullies in school had difficult lives at home. They were taking out the home life frustrations on someone like me, who they perceived to be an easy target. I was different. I was the sci-fi geek. I watched Professional Wrestling. I read comic books. I liked hard rock. And I fit the mold of the bullied kid. But, while I do have an understanding of the situations that the bullies had, and I do have sympathy for them, it doesn’t make my experience better.

How does what I just said about the bullies tie into perspective? Well, I have enough perspective now to not have as much resentment towards them. By no means does his mean that I’m going to start hanging out with the people that caused me harm, but I’m able to understand them better. This also comes into play since I’ve recently been told that someone that caused a slew of problems for me is now working at a place that I often shop at. I’ve seen him there. But, I don’t think I’ll be starting any conversations at any point soon. Even if, he falls into the category of all that I’ve just said. I learned a lot about his childhood and his upbringing recently, and it wasn’t good stuff.

Just sitting here thinking about the person mentioned in the last paragraph gets my anxiety up a little bit.

I don’t think there’s a hypocrisy in being able to somewhat get past the issues that people caused you and still wanting to avoid those people. I see it as being mentally and emotionally safe. They have a different perspective of things than I do. It could, in theory, have a perfectly “normal” conversation with them and have them say something like “Hey, remember that time when we did (fill in whatever)” and while they may see it as a happy-go-lucky time, it may trigger a completely different feeling from me.

That reminds me of something that I mentioned in the conversation from a few days ago. I was telling her that another friend was telling me about a mini-reunion that some people went to at a local bar a few years ago. And when he was telling me who was in attendance, one by one I told him about things that they had either done or said to me in school, and why I was glad that I didn’t go to that event.

How did I start off by talking about great things are and then get sucked into a discussion about awful things used to be? Well, first of all, I didn’t write any outline for this entry. I’m just winging it. Secondly, I think it ties in pretty well. It’s all about perspective. I spent so much of life consumed by all that was wrong. I used to tell people that anger was the only thing that kept me awake, like it was my source of energy. As it turns out, that was a lie. The source of my energy is coffee, but I digress.

When I heard friends talking about how good things are for me, I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. My mind wasn’t programmed to believe it. My default was set to miserable. I didn’t believe praise. I didn’t believe that there was any hope. I stressed about everything. I had good days, but overall, it wasn’t fun to be me.

Now, bad days happen. Bad things happen. Setbacks happen. It’s part of life. But, my perspective is different. I’ve escaped into a part of my mind where things are good. I enjoy my routines. I enjoy doing things. I have fewer toxic people around me. The support system that I always hoped for is actually there. And my perspective now lets me know that they’ve probably been there for a while, I just couldn’t see it.

The Truth is That Our Youth Was a Carpet Laid in Stones.

As I always state in my late June entries, my birthday is in early July. Because of that, I really do see my calendar years as distinct halves. And I will always start to look back at what’s happened over the past six months and, in this year’s case, look at the 45 years of my life that I’ve completed.

I really enjoyed this past year. I think that’s been pretty obvious by my entries here. By no means has it been perfect, but it’s been very good for me. My mental health has (for the most part) been good. It was a very fun year.

2020 and 2021 basically blend together in my mind. They’re just one long chunk of time when not much happened and I didn’t get to do much, but that goes for just about everyone. I ended 2019 really doing well. I was enjoying myself quite a bit and did a few things that I thought were “surreal.” When the Pandemic started, all of that stopped. But, my mood never changed. Things continued to go well for me, just differently.

When things started to open up in 2021, I was able to somewhat pick up where I left off in that surreal life. And due to conversations that I’ve had with some friends (two in particular), I’ve realized that when you look at my life from the outside, it looks like it’s a lot of fun and just really good. I’m very much aware that what you see on the outside doesn’t always match what’s happening on the inside. But, I think those conversations have helped me feel as good as others think I do, if that makes sense.
And, it’s not lost on me that one of those conversations was with someone that’s a big part of the surrealness.

So while my inward happiness and my outward happiness appear to be in sync right now, that voice in the back of my head that was dormant for a while has started to remind me that this could all be temporary, especially as I’ve looked at my bank account recently. Not much triggers my anxiety more easily than my finances. And while I’m still doing so much better than I was a few years ago, I’m not doing nearly as well as I was just a few months ago.

This is not going to turn into anything to do with politics when I talk about my financial situation. I’m way too informed and aware to know that the world’s economy isn’t great right now and it’s not there’s way too many factors involved for me to place blame, although I can, and even though I said I won’t get political, I’ll just say that a lot of us wouldn’t be in the situations we’re in if there was ever a “Trickle.”
But, I digress…

Anyway…

My bank account is a lot lower than it was a year ago. Yes, things are more expensive than they were a year ago, but I also made a major investment last year. Just about 13 months ago, I had LASIK surgery. And even though I had four years to pay it off, I’m almost done with payments on that. I also bought myself a new laptop computer, which I’ve also paid for in full. While some people may think that fully paying for a laptop and being 80% with the payments for my LASIK in one year is HUGE for me. A few years ago, I was at the point where I was telling people that I couldn’t hang out because I didn’t have enough money for gas and tolls.

Which brings me to my next point:
Gas and tolls. The price of both is so high right now and that has played a factor in my bank account being lower than I would like it to be. I know that I need to adjust my mindset and start thinking more like I used to about doing things.
I do want to make it very clear that while these thoughts about money are in the back of my mind, they’re still just in the back of my mind. They haven’t manifested into full anxiety or panic yet. And before I start going down this path and depressing you, as well as myself, let me quickly get to the end of this entry.

It’s my hope that when I look back at this entry one year from now that I can say that I’m, at the very least, still doing as well as I was when I wrote it. I really am in a good place right now. The good is outweighing the bad. I haven’t always been able to say that. I know that I have a lot of work to do on various things over the next few weeks and months. If I’m able to get that stuff done, I think it’s very possible that this good ride that I’m on will keep on going for a while.

Tears For a Hopeless Case.

When I first started thinking about what I was going to write about in this entry, I thought about some of the conversations that I’ve had over the last few weeks. I was going to talk about the incredibly kind things that have been said about me or done for me recently. I was going to talk about a conversation with someone that I knew from high school and how I thought she was one the “popular kids” but she described herself as “very depressed” during that time. I was going to talk about how many of friends are doing so many good things and how happy that makes me, but as I sit here trying to figure out what to say in this entry, it’s very difficult to look around at the world and not feel sad. While I am personally (still) doing very well (mentally), there are just so many reminders of things that are wrong and how the “powers that be” don’t seem to want to attempt to fix anything.

As of the time that I’m writing this, the Uvalde, Texas mass-shooting is the most recent mass-shooting of note to happen in the United States. By the time that you read this, it could be pretty far down the list of recent ones. There is no humor in my last sentence and I take no pleasure in typing that sentence, since it’s probably going to be accurate.

Every single time a mass-shooting happens in this country, ther same conversations start. One side says it’s time for action to prevent more of these events. The other side says “now is not the time to politicize it.” And as they argue those two things back and forth, the conversation gets lost in the shuffle until another mass-shooting happens. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Another constant discussion when any sort of gun violence happens is how we should address mental health concerns and not worry about the guns. Well, yes, we should address mental health concerns. We should always address that. But, the fact that mental health issues are worldwide and mass-shootings are not also gets lost in the shuffle. A society that has access to the abundance of weapons of mass destruction (guns) will have significantly more mass destruction than a society without them. It’s a pretty simple fact.

Usually, the blog entries that I have the most difficulty writing are the ones about my own personal stories. In particular, the stories that are hidden deep in the back of my mind. The ones that I say that I’m starting to “scratch the surface” of and that I’ll “re-visit at a later time.” But, I’m really struggling writing with this entry. I was going to say that I’m not sure why, since gun related deaths have not impacted my close friends or family, but I think part of what has me so emotional about this topic is how easily this could impact the people that I care about. Not just my friends and family have kids or are teachers. But, anyone, since the American epidemic of mass shootings is not relegated to just schools.

Accidents happen all of the time. Some accidents have tragic results. We may be powerless to prevent those tragedies. Mass murders are tragic, but they’re not accidents. They can be prevented. In order to prevent them, action must be taken. Laws and regulations need to be passed and changed. We’re in the 21st Century and it’s time for society to evolve past the senselessness that doesn’t help anyone.

I don’t want there to be any more stories about Americans being shot to death in malls, places of worship, movie theaters, concerts, schools, or wherever. I didn’t specify “Americans” just now to proclaim any sense of patriotism for America, I did it because as the facts show, over and over again, America is the only place where this happens, over and over again.

Our indifference to human beings getting killed for no reason whatsoever is, quite honestly pathetic. Change has to happen. For the sake of humanity.

Lights Around are Flashing and in Meat a Razorblade.

The reason that I started this blog is to “unpack my baggage.” I wanted to use it as an outlet to express my thoughts and opinions on things. I really wanted to do it for the sake of my mental health. I also started posting on this particular site because MySpace was no longer a viable place for me to write blogs. But, regardless of where I post these entries, I’ve done them pretty consistently for a while. According to the “dashboard” on my site, this is my 119th post.

The two biggest problems that I’ve encountered while writing entries have been not having anything to say or realizing that there are things that I just can’t talk about. “Not having anything to say” is usually a good thing for me, since the majority of my entries have been dealing with depression, anxiety, and whatnot. If I have nothing to say, that probably means that I’m doing well, which I have been lately.

Often, I’ll “scratch the surface” of an issue that I think that I’m comfortable talking about, but then as I start the writing process, my anxiety will start to spike and I’ll have to stop. Whatever the topic usually never gets published. It’s something that I’m either just not able to discuss or not willing to publicly share. There does seem to be a common thread of topics/areas that fall into those categories, but for reasons already discussed, I’m not going to get into them now.

Whether I can or cannot discuss certain topics doesn’t diminish the value that I’ve found in writing the blog. It really is a healthy outlet for me. It’s a (public) journal of my story. Sometimes I’ll go back and read older entries to get an idea of how I was feeling at a certain time or about a certain topic. I usually walk away from those re-visits with the feeling of “I’m so much better off now.”

Some of my entries have been a lot more deliberate and planned out than others. For example, I may have had a thought about being bullied and over the course of a week or so, I’ll write notes to myself of things that I may include in an entry. There’s been times when I’ve had two or three entries at a time in my mind. There’s also some entries that I go into without a single concept for and struggle to find anything to say…

This is one of them, sort of.

There is a topic that I want to discuss now, but I want to make sure that I put the necessary effort into that entry. By no means is it about a deeply hidden dark emotion story from my life, but it’s just something that needs to be done correctly. That means that I need to put thought into it and there needs to be the right amount of references to other entries. There will be research for this one.
It could very well end up being next month’s entry, or it could be a few months away. That may depend on how the next few months go.

I’m still riding the highs that I’ve been on over the last few months. I’ve had a lot of good times lately. I’m still enjoying what I consider to be a pretty surreal ride and I’m still just doing well. The downside to me doing well is that I really have nothing to discuss right now. And, to be honest, that doesn’t bother me at all.