Well, my streak was bound to end sooner or later. Haven’t published a blog post since Thursday, only barely touched the socials, and I’ve done almost no work for, like, a week.
Mostly, I blame the weather.
Here in my corner of the world, we’re basically getting week-long streaks of mid-fifties temperatures, gray skies, and rain, broken up by maybe a day here and there of “partly sunny” sixties.
This isn’t exactly what you’d call “ideal” for a person whose mental state has somehow become incredibly dependent on the weather in recent years, and who’s just set walking and photography as the twin pillars of all his stress relief.
So, my last couple of weeks can basically be summed up by the following conditional…
If the weather forecast looks like crap, I will watch Netflix and maybe get half an hour or an hour of work done on something. Otherwise, I will grab my camera, go outside, and walk until my feet and legs beg me to stop.
What I really need at this point is a good four or five day stretch of solidly good weather so that a) I’m no long bogged down by whatever this environmental depression-esque mood thing is, and b) that I don’t feel like Mr. Sun is so rare I have to throw everything else aside to embrace it like it’s the last time we’ll ever see each other.
Not sure when that’s happening, though, so here, have a Buddha.
Shortly after writing my whole, “Bad at Fun” post, I decided to start setting aside some time to just chill and watch movies. I’ve been trying to do this every day–and mostly succeeding–but man…it’s hard to sit still for two hours. I keep having to stop my mind from wandering off, or getting all anxious about All The Things that I “should” be doing.
I’m getting past all that, though, mostly be turning the whole “movie watching” thing into a task, in and of itself.
See, the American Film Institute has this list on their site, of the “100 Greatest American Films of All Time,” and it turns out that I’ve watched a shamefully small number of them. At least, in recent memory.
When you last saw a movie 30 years ago, and can’t remember the first thing about it, does it really count as being watched?
So, I’ve started watching the movies on that list, more or less in order, whether or not I’ve seen them before.
And by treating it like a to-do list, I’ve managed to keep at it pretty steadily!
I’m pretty sure this isn’t the healthiest approach, and probably works against my long-term goal of learning to “just chill,” but it’s what I need now.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ve really gotta pare down my interests and learn to focus.
For the most part, I’ve been managing to stick to my guns and keep doing the things that need doing: the novel’s getting written, and it’s been a while since I’ve let a weekday go by without posting something here. I’d call that progress.
But oh man, the rest of my time has just been shot to hell by one distracting, tangential pursuit or another.
Photography? I don’t know if it’s fair to call that a distraction anymore. I’m enjoying it, seem to be a little good at it, and I’ve been sticking with it consistently enough to feel like I’m building up my skills. That said, I have no idea what I want photography to turn into.
Is it something I want to do for fun?
Is it something I think I can make money at?
Having gone forty years without even thinking about visual art of any sort, the idea of pursuing one seriously is so alien to me that I can’t wrap my head around it. So, I haven’t really bothered to try. I’m just doing it, and worrying about what it’s going to be later.
Then there’s poetry.
I’ve been meaning to write a proper post about this interest for a while, but it’s probably not happening anytime soon. Suffice it to say, I started digging into poetry a few months ago—its methods, its classics—and enjoyed the experience enough to try my hand at it. And while I can’t say I have much skill at versification, I can say that I like it.
Unfortunately, I’ve neither been reading nor writing poetry with nearly enough consistency to get much of anything out of it. I maybe spend an hour, broken up, every other week on it, which means it’s little more than a depressing distraction.
A distraction, because I’ll have nothing to show for the effort. And depressing because doing any makes me feel like I should be doing more.
Finally, there’s the newest distraction: film making.
Holy hell, where did this come from?
My DSLR camera actually takes decent video, and there are quite a few guides on how to go about doing just that. So, in the spirit of trying to learn the various features of my camera, I decided to shoot a few test videos in my house.
Just to know how, you see? Nothing more.
Two days and five hours of Adobe Premiere later, and I’m looking at a reasonably-creepy, 56-second scene and writing notes about a short film it inspired.
What’s wrong with me?
Whatever it is, it’s getting old. I have things I need and want to do, and while they’re getting done, fighting all the distractions is leaving me exhausted at the end of the day.
And not the good kind of exhausted, like you get after a great workout. It’s the bad kind, like you just spent twenty hours running from a horde of zombies and know you’ll have to do it again the next day.
I’ll just write this on the list of things to speak to my therapist about.
I should really play a video game one of these days. I’ve got, like, several dozen, but I never touch them.
Almost never, anyway. Shawn and I have a kind of sporadic, Europa Universalis IV campaign we’ve been doing for a few months, but we haven’t gotten back to it in a couple of weeks, and don’t know if we’ll be picking it up again.
Grand Theft Auto 5? Great game! Played about two hours of it a year ago.
Cities: Skylines? Played a lot of that, but the last time was months ago.
FarCry 3? Told it still holds up really well. I wouldn’t know, though, since I think I bailed ten minutes into the thing and that was that.
I tell myself that it’s my machine—that some of these games (GTAV most notably) are just a bit too clunky on my two-year-old rig, and that I’ll get back into them once I’ve replaced it.
“One day! One day, I’ll have a computer capable of running Cities: Sklines without choking to death trying to simulate a traffic system more complicated than two intersections and a bike path, and then I’ll be a gamer again!”
That’s what I tell myself. But in truth? I don’t believe it.
I think I’m just bad at having fun.
Bad at relaxing.
Bad at just chilling out and not worrying about what I have to do next. Even last week, when Alex had her vacation, and the two of us spent most of the time walking or just hanging out together—I couldn’t go more than a few hours without thinking about all the work I wanted to get done, but wasn’t.
Ultimately, I think I’m just bad at being healthy.
Some days, I feel like such shit that when I wake up I wonder how the hell I’m going to get anything done. So on the good days, when I can actually do things, I work. I get my ass in gear and take care of business, checking off tasks as fast as I can, because who knows how I’ll feel the next day.
I need to fix that.
Once in a while, I need to take a good day, and claim it as mine.
A day to just chill.
A day to play games, watch movies, or read something with a sleazy detective and a femme fatale who’ll probably wind up dead by the detective’s own hand.