Life — It’s the Heat’s Fault.

Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve actually managed to completely forget writing the next day’s post. I’ve come close a few times. Lying in bed, thinking about what I got done that day, I’ll remember the fact that I had meant to write something but never got around to it. In those circumstances I’d get up and write. Even at two in the morning when I’d have to wake up early.

But last night that didn’t happen. I didn’t get home until past midnight, and I wanted to relax a bit before going to bed. In bed, I realized I had forgotten to do homework for my 8:30am class. But even then, I was too tired. I resolved to get up earlier to do it. Having assumed everything was settled, I went to sleep (though it took a while because it was so hot out). So, while I did forget to prepare a post ahead of time, I won’t let myself skip a day (again) with no valid excuse. So here it is, even if it is a bit late.

I actually feel perfectly justified blaming all of this on the heat. It’s hard for me to even think straight when it gets too hot, and even with air conditioning and fans, lately it hasn’t solved the problem. (I don’t even have a computer in my room to be generating heat!)

I don’t “like” writing. But it gives me fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment, so I do it. It’s never easy, but when it’s hot, all I can think about doing is try to stop being hot. For me, this means below 75 Farenheit. With the state of the weather lately, that means I have to be out in public where the air conditioning is overkill, and that means I can’t comfortably write or sleep, so there’s no winning.

I feel like June through August is just a state of “getting by” for me. It’s always a struggle simply because of where I am, who I am, and what my life is centered around. It’s the point where I have to swallow the net loss and accept that when everything cools down, both literally and figuratively, I can produce more, and have an all around more enjoyable existence.

This is pretty much why I hate California. I shouldn’t hate 25% of every year simply because of things I have no control over. I’m not going to get into that today, though. I’ve talked about it before, and there’s no use in whining over being a victim of circumstance.

Really, though, I think I could be happy if it weren’t for the heat. Despite my apprehensions about my current writing system in general, I do like where Spear Gate stands, and my semester is bearable. I’m super tired every day, but I can shrug it off.

I don’t like being trapped inside because cracking a window open means the house might melt. So, I’m just sitting here. Biding my time. Twiddling my thumbs. Waiting for October to come when it starts, finally, getting cooler.

Life — Technical Difficulties

Electronics has never been my strong suit. I know enough about them to be able to tell the difference between software and hardware, and can probably handle one better than somebody who saw the rise of technology in their adulthood, but as far as “Here is a problem what do you do?” goes, I’m pretty useless.

I have three devices I use daily. My desktop, my laptop, and my phone. All of them have had their problems, but rarely has it been as bad as this. I call right now my “technological dark age” (as I think is appropriate), because all of my devices are crapping out on me.

My desktop is officially dead. On it’s final day, it blue screened twice, and best I can tell, it’s motherboard is finished. I couldn’t tell you what a motherboard does, but suffice to say that the next desktop I have sole ownership of will have to be a new one. There’s no salvaging Frank. (Yes, my family has owned enough computers to name them.)

But it’s okay, though. I don’t need a desktop. All of my writing is stored on the Cloud, so the only thing I’m losing by throwing the old computer out is a few downloaded pictures. It does suck, because my wallpaper folder had over four hundred pieces of quality art, but it’s no big deal.

So lately, I’ve been deferring all of my internet use to my laptop. I don’t have to worry about maintaining the blog, but it has other setbacks. Use of my laptop has lead me to discover that it is also barely functional. You see, It has less than 30GB of storage space, virtually (ha) all of which is taken up by the operating system. This means that whenever I open a third tab on my browser, or when I open a Google Doc of any substantial size, my browser will crash because it doesn’t have the RAM to handle it. It’s a little frustrating because when I’m DMing a game of Dungeons & Dragons I sort of need to have three or four tabs open of all sorts of information I may or may not need.

It leaves me at a loss, especially since I’m under the impression that there’s nothing I can do to my laptop that will solve that problem. I just have to get a new laptop. Not really though, because it’s not nearly enough of an issue to constitute putting money away for it, especially when I get my new desktop.

As far as my phone goes, it’s simply up to its old antics. It will take several seconds to respond to input, and sometimes apps will crash while I’m using them. Again, not a big deal, but it is annoying, and these are all minor sources of frustration that can pile up throughout the day.

But in the meantime, it’s also sort of liberating. I haven’t been able to access a vast majority of the video games I usually play, and I’m not really upset about it at all, to be honest. Less internet is never really a bad thing, unless you’re procrastinating, so it’s nice. I’ve been reading more, and I’ve also been sleeping in much later than I normally do. The latter isn’t really a cause of my computer troubles, though. It’s just super hot and since I can’t be comfortable in bed, I don’t fall asleep until past 4am, like last night. If I were to change any one thing about my current circumstance, it would actually be my ability to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.

Had I the world’s knowledge to diagnose all the problems I have, I’m sure I could solve all of them within days, but I suppose that probably applies to a majority of people’s situations. All-in-all, I still think I’m doing pretty well. A little frustrated, perhaps, but not stressed or over-taxed. I know what that’s like, and I’m thankful I’m nowhere near that point at the moment.

Review — My Biggest Problem (400)

Instead of doing a conventional Review post, I thought I would make the Daily Dose’s 400th post special by talking about me and where I’m at. “Isn’t that a Me/Life post?” you ask. “And shouldn’t you talk about this next Monday where the May Update should be?” These are both fair questions, but I’ll actually be reviewing myself today. My personality. Looking at my life, and especially where I can improve. It’s good to reflect every once in a while.

First things first, I’ve gone through a lot of personal growth since I started this blog in February. And it’s all amounted to me being confident enough for me to introduce myself to people as a writer and not feel like I’m just pretending. It’s only a matter of time before I publish now, and that is really important. But I’ve talked about my growth there before.

Six years ago, I was an introverted elitist. I didn’t talk to anyone because I assumed strangers were beneath me. In fact, everyone was beneath me to a certain extent. Talking to them would just be a waste of time. But then improv came along and I came out of my shell. I’m still introverted, still a little narcissistic, (but I try to express that part in simple confidence these days). I teach high school kids. Being in public and socializing with people I don’t know well takes energy, but I can do it.

But I’ve pretty much spent my entire adult life lonely. I’ve spoken about this vaguely and briefly before, but when I’m talking to my few friends about this, I often describe it as the one source of failure and frustration in my life. Safety is a privilege I’ve always had, success is (in my eyes) inevitable, and the only thing I’m truly lacking is a feeling of attachment. If anything, I should be thankful that it’s the only real problem in my life, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s prohibiting me from being truly happy with where I am right now. It’s a bit difficult to describe, really. I’ve boiled it down to this: I want to feel like people are personally invested in my life. I know friends and family care about me, but I don’t really feel as though anybody is genuinely interested in anything I’ve done or tried, and this feeling isn’t exclusive to my writing.

Yes, you could just say I’m looking for a significant other. That’s bound to curb the loneliness away, but really, I just don’t have any close friends at all. I have friends I’ve known for a long time, and friends I know I can talk about anything with, but none I really spend quality time with to make a true bond. I don’t feel as though I would have lost anything if I packed my things and moved across the country without telling anyone. I doubt many people would even notice, to be honest.

This is the part of me that needs the most work. I’ve talked to a therapist about this, and the conclusion we’ve come to is simply to talk to strangers even when I don’t want to. In fact, I’ve gotten all sorts of advice on “how to make friends”, but knowing what to do and taking action are two different things. I’m afraid of becoming friends with somebody I don’t actually like and forming social obligations, really. I have gone out and done social activities I wouldn’t normally do in order to fix this problem, but it still feels fake.

And unfortunately, I think all of this is starting to affect my writing. The number of times I have gone to bed at a reasonable hour in the last two weeks is zero, mostly because I’ve stayed up late doing writing that should have already been done (this post included). The worst part is, even the writing I do get done is meaningless. I simply don’t have anything to say these days. I have nothing to teach with the Learning! Posts, and nothing to new to talk about in the Review posts. The only thing I can talk about is me, and all it amounts to is whatever this sounds like, which I assume is pointless whining.

So, I imagine this means I need a break. It’ll be the first one since November. Two weeks every six months isn’t bad, and it will also give me time to breathe as I focus on schoolwork as well as some (much needed) free time. My constant fear of failure is driving me to make irrational decisions, putting production and writing over personal health, and it’s time I recognize that and put a stop to it.

All that said, this is the last post for a while. Two weeks, I imagine, but it could be longer, so I make no promises. But exciting news is on the way. Until next time.

Story — Know My Name

A weary sigh. A balled fist over heavy eyes. White, blank light pouring into my eyes as I stare at the screen. The screen that needs to be more than it is.

As I sit in the chair, wondering why I’m actively avoiding sleep as the sun threatens to lay its routine siege on the cold night sky, I can’t help but laugh. This is the fifth night this week that my sleep deprivation is only getting worse.

After a relaxing night playing online with brothers and friends, midnight comes and goes. “Alright, time for bed,” I lie. They all voice their agreement. After all, we’re responsible adults. We don’t have fun fooling around through the unholy hours in the morning. But neither do I sleep.

It would be so simple to write blog posts and fiction during the day. It must be. But my schedule is so crammed, it would take conscious effort to squeeze in that writing time. Time I’ve been spending frantically, and often without success, to curb back my weariness with a power nap. A vicious cycle, for the only free time I truly have is the only part of the day I could really enjoy myself, and my personal responsibilities dictate that realistically, I should be spending that time more wisely.

And yet here I am. I’ve done this every night the past few days. I successfully trudged through that day. What’s the harm in doing it again?

I’ve been spending these last few weeks anticipating a move. A desperate change of pace. Finishing the semester and having time to truly dedicate to writing. My inner conscious says “I’ll force a daily two thousand word minimum over the summer!” But I don’t really know where my life will be then. What if it gets even harder to write?

I’m at an impasse, it seems. I need a good night’s rest, but there isn’t enough time in a day to accomplish that and all the things I’ve laid out for myself. This brief, two week hiatus on my next novelette is soon to hit it’s fifth week.

“Do I need a break?” I argue. Perhaps that’s the answer. The only other time I took a break on this blog, it did me wonders. I felt invigorated. That break lasted ten days, and it started in grievance, when I had not the presence of mind to write. How could I personally justify taking another one?

“Nobody reads your crap anyway,” an internal voice replies. “Taking a break isn’t going to affect a single person beyond yourself. Just let yourself breathe.” A pretty harsh way to argue this to myself, but it is logic I can’t refuse.

A moment of silence as I move my hands from the keyboard to my face once again, reading over the last paragraphs. This isn’t even a story. Not really. This is a rant; berating myself for falling into this cycle of perpetual weariness seasoned with a lack of inspiration.

But, there is hope. Being able to force myself to write past two in the morning even when I’m immensely tired is a relatively recent development. Days like these are encouraging. If I can write in this state–even this sorry excuse for a fiction piece–then I can forge a career out of it. Right now, this is a hobby.

But one day I’ll be out of school for good. And the world shall know my name. Sooner or later.

Life — Sleep

So I’ve made a few personal discoveries lately about how I sleep and whatnot, and I think learning more about the process of sleeping can probably help the general populace understand their own sleep cycle a little better. It’s pretty basic stuff, but I think even being aware of it can improve the quality of sleep for some people.

First things first, most people probably know that we sleep in cycles. We go from what is called “Stage 1” and “Stage 2”, all the way to “Stage 4” and back up through the stages and into “REM sleep”, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement. This is the deepest sleep and all sorts of weird things happen during REM, but I won’t get into that. After REM, you go back down the stages until you’re back to “Stage 4”, where it goes back up soon afterwards. I imagine it a lot like mammals swimming at various ocean depths until they come back up for air. A cycle that starts and ends at Stage 1 on average lasts about ninety minutes (up to two hours) in adults. A “full” night’s sleep would be about five to six cycles, which translates to seven and a half hours for the average person.

But here’s where the important stuff comes in. I used to think (along with a lot of people, I would guess) that your body wakes up around the same time every day simply because you have a schedule that you stick to (like waking up for school). Now, I’m not so sure. I think it’s actually because of a few criteria being met. Your eyes naturally wake up more with the sun, so if the suns up you’re more likely to wake up. If you’ve gotten enough sleep (say, at least five cycles) that’s another check. Lastly, is that cycle ending? Very rarely will you ever wake up autonomously during REM sleep (which is how sleep paralysis happens), because that’s the “deepest” sleep. During Stage 1, you’re practically awake, so if you have enough sleep and the sun’s up, your body’s going to let you know that.

Lastly, we all fall asleep at different rates. It’s important to know how long it takes you to fall asleep under certain conditions in order to calculate a better sleep. It takes the average person about fifteen minutes, but if you’re super tired it can be shorter, or if there’s outside stimulus (or if you were pouring artificial light into your eyes immediately before trying to sleep) it could be harder to shut down.

So in order to calculate when you should be going to bed, all you have to do is count backwards. When you know you have to be at work by nine tomorrow and it takes you an hour to get ready and leave on time, you know you’ll need to wake up at around eight. Giving yourself a full night’s sleep of six cycles, that means you want to fall asleep at around 12:30 am. If it takes you longer than most people to fall asleep, say, half an hour, go to bed at midnight and you should naturally wake up when you want to (though of course alarms are a good backup).

I find that I personally fall into all the averages here. It takes me fifteen minutes to fall asleep and my sleep cycles are about ninety minutes long. If I didn’t get five cycles that night, I’ll be really tired and probably at least want to take a power nap for an hour and a half (to scoot that fifth cycle in that day).

I’m not saying that all these numbers will fit perfectly for you. But if you set an alarm every day and go to bed at a time that doesn’t line up with that ninety-ish minute cycle, then you’re going to wake up exhausted. Don’t do that to yourself. At least take the time to humor me and go to bed earlier (heck, even later) one night. It’s better to get less sleep and wake up at the end of a cycle than get an extra forty minutes and wake up during one.
Also, if you don’t know how numbers work, there’s this awesome Sleep Calculator (there’s also a phone app) that simply tells you “When should I go to bed if I want to wake up at ___?” or “When should I wake up if I go to bed now?” and a few other options. It’s pretty nifty. Go check it out.