Blogoween Day 22 – Real Life Scary Things

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Today should be a Vacancy post, but there are too many things going on right now for me to dedicate the right amount of mental power to that. I’m really excited about the next episode, so I don’t want to cheese it. Unfortunately, Blogoween has become me hastily writing something late in the evening just for the sake of posting. There are pros and cons to this. Pro: I’m not breaking the habit, Con: It’s shit. I think the pros outweigh the cons, for me at least, so this will continue for now.

It’s really great being moved, but a new home always comes with problems. The internet got fixed today which is absolutely fabulous, but also frustrating because the issue was that Comcast had disconnected this house from the street pole, but did not have any kind of note in their own system that their own team did it, so throughout the whole process of me transferring the internet, calling to troubleshoot, traveling to their store on their request, and paying for a service call, the issue turned out to be something the company should have resolved on their own prior to my transfer. So now I have to return to an Xfinity store to give them back the extra equipment they gave me lest I be charged for it, and I have to get them to reimburse me for the service call since–by their own admission–this was not something I could have possibly fixed. I am unsurprised that America hates Comcast more than any other company.

I haven’t had any time to write lately, and that’s sort of bumming me out. Yes, I’m writing now, but it’s not the same. My brain is mush just like when I worked in what was essentially customer service–I’d expend all my mental energy at work and have nothing left to devote to words. I know this will pass, so I shouldn’t complain, but it perpetuates a cycle of feeling down and getting into a foul mood which often leads to eating poorly and then feeling like shit about my body and my willpower, so I guess I should just give up on everything and so forth and so it goes. It’s very first-world-problem of me to say that buying a home is making me depressed, but there it is. The list of things to do seems to grow by the day, towering over me, preparing to topple.

I’ve needed a good cry for a couple weeks now, I think. Stories ranging from terrorism to deaf dogs have all had me on the verge of tears, but I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with both a guilt about that desire, and judgement toward it for being utterly stupid. There’s no reason to cry, so just don’t, and also you’re not allowed to feel bad when there are other people who need emotional support.

On the plus side, fall is definitively in the air. We’re only eight hours north of where we used to live, but it’s decidedly cooler here, and the foliage visibly is marking the seasons. We were walking around our new neighborhood this evening, and I realized how stoked I’d be if I were a kid and new Halloween was around the corner living here. It’s the perfect neighborhood for trick or treating. I wish I could have gotten the yard all glammed up, but the spirit of the season will still be there. I’ve got candy and non-food treats ready to hand out, and we’ll have costumes, and I can’t ask for much more than that.

I’m also getting to physically be outside again which is a huge relief. I spent so long cooped up in that apartment. Of course, I could go out for a walk if I wanted, but the city seemed to get progressively more dangerous as we lived there, and it was far from peaceful. I found a number of awesome parks to walk to in the city, but getting there was often treacherous. I was accosted a lot, and there were a lot of reports of assaults in the area. The weather was also miserable this summer, but that’s just another reason to love fall.

I’m sorry this is such a bummer. If you made it this far, I’d like to commend you and leave you with something positive, buuuuuut I have no idea what that could be. I’m plum out of positivity. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy, I’m just…I guess I’m just tired. It’s funny how significantly different my mood can be if I just don’t sleep. So that’s what I’m going to do now. Recharge this brain, then tomorrow I’m going to exercise this body and I’m going to fuel it with healthy foods. I’ll unpack and focus on things that I love about this house and utilizing this space for creativity and growth. Tomorrow’s a new day and the possibilities are endless. Tonight is just what it is, and right now it needs to be sleep.

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Blogoween Day 9 – True Terror Tuesday: Sleep Paralysis

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Last night I experienced the minutest amount of weirdness as I was dozing off, and it brought back all the fear and horror that I experienced years ago when it seemed like almost every night I was having night terrors, false awakenings, and sleep paralysis.

So last night I posted Vacancy very late, like 11:48 late, but I had to get it out on Monday! I’m a terrible procrastinator, I know, but because of that I went to bed much later than normal. My sleep schedule has been a little fucky lately, but for the most part I go to bed pretty early, so I’m under no impression that that didn’t have something to do with what happened to me last night.

You know how sometimes when you have your eyes closed and something moves in front of your face you can still see its shadow? Since our eyelids aren’t blackout curtains, some light gets through. Well, this is what happened to me last night just as I was drifting off at around 12:15. A black shadow, blacker than the rest of the blackness, like vanta-mother-fucking-black passed through my eyes-closed vision. I immediately opened my eyes because my first thought was “Oh, no, the cat’s on the headboard and he’s trying to claw my nose off.” I wasn’t scared, just annoyed. But the cat wasn’t there, and then I got a little nervous: What was that then? I thought.

It got worse though when I realized that the light trick wasn’t even possible. I was struck with that realization in a heart-sinking way. It was just too dark in the room. My eyes had adjusted to make out the outline of things, the end of the bad, the doorway, the clothes basket, but when I closed my eyes again and waved my hand in front of my face, there was nothing.

I felt immediately very nervous. However sleepy I might have been moment earlier vanished, and I was on high alert. The shadows in the room started contorting in my mind, my breath got a little shorter, and my discomfort level was through the roof. I then told myself to chill: obviously I was just falling asleep, that was a shadow of a dream, it was ultimately nothing, and after who knows how long I eventually fell asleep.

And in comparison to 2014-15-ish, it was nothing. That would have been a night I would have considered a success.

I used to suffer from a whole host of horrifying sleep issues a few years ago. When I was in high school and even more so in college I had borderline insomnia. It didn’t help that I’ve always been afraid of the dark and used to sleep with the TV on, and I’m sure glimpses of whatever plays at 2am sneaked their way into my sleeping brain back then. I’d stay up freakishly late, pass out for a few hours, then get up at an ungodly hour when my mom would start rattling around in the bathroom about an hour or so before I really needed to get up myself. But the teen/early 20s body is a marvel and I survived.

A few years went by where I was mostly okay, and then I put on some weight (and I’m sure some kind of apnea came with the weight gain), spiraled into a little depression, and my sleep went to total shit. I was working at a job I hated, and I was tired a lot, and we all know sleep is this vicious cycle where you can never really catch up. I napped in my car at work on lunch, and I tried to go to bed early, but basically did nothing because of my hours, commute, and chores. Dinner was the only time I relaxed, so I overindulged, put on more weight, and my sleep just got worse. Lather, rinse, repeat. Oh, and because my diet was such a mess I was having leg cramps that also woke me up in the middle of the night. I was a mess.

I was sure during the time that I was experiencing paranormal activity of some sort. Now, I’m not positive, but at the time, in the thick of it, I was terrified. Every night I’d wake up at some point with my heart racing. Sometimes I’d sit straight up and start screaming–those were Husband’s favorites. Other times I’d wake up pretty peacefully but groggily, get out of bed, start getting ready for the morning, and just be ready to go out the door when I’d find myself back in bed with my alarm going off. Those mornings were particularly unnerving because I started distrusting when I was awake, and I’d be extra tired when I’d finally actually get out of bed because I’d already done all this and just wanted to sleep.

But the sleep paralysis was the worst. I didn’t know there was a name for it back then, but I knew I was experiencing something not normal. Most occurrences involved a black, shadow figure at the side or foot of the bed. I would be unable to move or scream, but I tried. Sometimes the figure, usually freakishly tall and hooded with no discernible features, would start in the corner of the room or the doorway then would move closer to the bed in flashes. It neither glided nor stepped, it was just in one place and then another until it was close enough to touch me.

I don’t recall ever being touched or hurt beyond psychologically, but I had the knowledge (as you do in dreams) that this entity wanted something from me. I couldn’t tell you if my mind was conjuring a ghost or a demon or something entirely different, but it felt very wrong. Not even like when you’re in a potentially dangerous situation in real life and you you know something’s off, but wrong in the sense that the world around you is broken somehow.

Possibly the worst thing about sleep paralysis, and similar to the false awakenings, is that the rest of what you can see is so real and correct. When I recall most dreams, I can remember how a house I was in wasn’t a real place I’ve ever been or how a person I was talking to was an amalgamation of two or three people I know in real life. But with sleep paralysis, you look around the room and everything is exactly as it should be, the lighting is correct, even the sounds are right, but then there’s that one element, and it’s such a distortion juxtaposed against everything else that you’re sure it’s real, the world is broken, and you’re gonna die.

This went on for a couple years on and off. I became used to it, in a way, and I think that’s when I accepted it as paranormal. I never wasn’t afraid during these events, but I wasn’t afraid in anticipation of them. I hoped I’d have a dreamless, normal night, but was resigned to the fact it wasn’t likely.

The cycle broke a couple years ago when my job and health improved. I got a hold of my life and got my sleep back on track. I ate well, worked out, forced myself to be happy, and everything sorted itself out. We also moved from one house to another, and my issues dropped off significantly after that move, so as much as I realize my issues were likely biological, I can’t help but think there was something else afoot during that time. I was clearly depressed, so I was open to negative energies and discordant forces, and maybe that house–which I knew came with a bit of a history of misery–had something to do with it.

I’ll never know for sure, but I’m very happy to be free of that nonsense now, shadows be damned.

Get Me Outta Funky Town

Funk is such a fun word, but put depressive before it and everything gets all fucky. Trying to get out of a depressive funk is rough. I’m not suggesting that I’m experiencing a real bout of depression that requires any sort of diagnosis or medication or therapy, but I’m definitely in the dumps. Motivation is hard to find, though I have had fits where I’m exceptionally productive as if all the productivity I should have during the day gets balled into an hour-long session where I run around the house cleaning EVERYTHING while simultaneously narrating an entire chapter to a project I haven’t touched in months. My body and my brain want to get back to normal, but they’re failing miserably.

But it’s probably not depression, or even just plain old sadness. What I’m dealing with is most likely grief, a term I’ve never given much thought to before now. Grief, specifically, as it’s the sadness that comes with death.

I find myself on the verge of and more easily persuaded into tears lately, and not at all wanting to engage with others for the same reason: the weirdest shit is triggering. I saw a cardinal on the way to the post office a couple days ago, and I was immediately blinded by a rush of tears. I really don’t want this to happen in front of someone, and, truthfully, I really don’t want this to happen AT ALL, so I think I’m sort of avoiding everything in order to just suppress it. And sometimes being alone feels really good.

As you may have noticed, Vacancy has taken a regoddamnediculously long and unexpected hiatus, and it’s hard to get back into the swing of things, but what makes it so much harder is that the next part has some death-related things going on in it. I can’t exactly skip those things, they’re integral to the plot, and when I just go work on something else, I feel guilty about not finishing this, so I am kind of languishing here. (And to add insult to injury, when I did decide to work on an older project, I picked up at a spot editing where I was just killing someone off and experimenting with my main character’s sorrow and reaction to that so FUCK ME RUNNING, HU?)

I had these plans of having a daily routine figured out by now, almost a month into our move, but that’s gone to hell. I literally have all the time in the world, but I feel the hours slip away like they’re nothing and the pressure of imaginary deadlines looming thick and fat over my head, but the joke of it all is there are no actual consequences? Which almost makes me feel worse because it highlights the crux of this feeling: nothing I’m doing matters because all the people I love will eventually die and someday I’ll be dead too, so what’s the point?? And maybe it never did matter??? But at least before it mattered to me.

But somewhere I know these things, the projects I want to work on, they really do matter to me, they just need to come out of me. (GET THE FUCK OUT, WORDS!) At least I hope they do. I mean, my fish aren’t dead yet, so no worries. I still feel something, so apathy hasn’t totally settled in.

I did find something very helpful to me, though. I’d like to share, but I want to stress that this is very helpful to me because it aligns with my personality and views on the world. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and I’d encourage everyone to find their own brew, but if you are dealing with the death of a loved one, grief, and pseudo-depression like I am right now, Caitlin Doughty’s Ask A Mortician series might be helpful.

I’ve always been intrigued by the physicality of death, and there was a short time when I thought I might want to actually become a mortician (but eventually realized I’m way too soft a person for this). I thought maybe my outlook was easy for me because I’d never really cared very deeply for anyone who’d died before, but I find that in my saddest moments now, these videos are incredibly comforting for me. She shows death for what it is: an inevitable end, but makes it a hell of a lot less scary and even a little less sad by dealing with the facts head on.

I don’t know what my thesis here is. I’m feeling particularly shitty, but I do think I’m getting better and doing so by seeking out resources that are tailored for me. I wish I had something better to offer you if you’re reading this and having the same issues, but maybe sometimes there really isn’t anything that can be said. Sometimes you just have to wallow in it for a little bit and then one day you won’t feel so shitty anymore and you’ll get on the treadmill and you’ll go to the grocery store like you’ve been meaning to and you’ll do the dishes and things will start to feel normal again.

Things I Just Don’t Fucking Understand: My Own Worst Enemy

I know I probably come off as a pretty angry person due to these posts, and you probably imagine me yelling at people a lot in real life, but, Dear Reader, I promise you, I’m actually pretty chill. Some might even call me nice. Too nice. Nice to the point where I let people walk all over me on occasion. And so nice I will walk all over myself.

Someone was on the phone while in the bathroom at work today. The public restroom. Talking. I really want to not care what people do, but I wish people wouldn’t try to hold phone conversations in echo chambers because I am such a spaz that I insist on being extra quiet so I don’t disturb them. How fucked up is that? The answer is: totally fucked.

And it’s no one’s problem but my own, I acknowledge that wholeheartedly, but this is the person that I am, and if bitching about it on the internet is my only reprieve then just let it be, okay?

So someone’s in the disabled stall on their phone having their conversation, and I’m being extra dainty in my stall, not that anything I’m doing would make that much noise, mind you, since I don’t shit at work. But I’m being delicate and quiet nonetheless.

It’s also the first day of my period, so I’ve got a tampon in my pocket. I pull it out extra quietly, and I open the wrapper even more quietly than I would normally because gods forbid the other women in the restroom know what you’re doing in the privacy of your own stall which happens to also be the only fucking place you could possibly change a tampon anyway.

So in taking extra care to be quiet, I inexplicable also am very soft-handed, barely gripping the plastic applicator. Don’t interrupt the woman speaking very loudly about her child to someone who is not doing a very good job watching them, I hiss at myself, disposing of the wrapper. And then, tragedy. A perfectly good tampon slips out of my hands and onto the disgusting public restroom floor.

I binned it, of course, and since it’s day one I had to create a makeshift toilet paper pad and waddle back to my desk where I decided to wait it out til I had to pee again which was inevitably less an hour later.

It ended up being totally fine because whatever, that’s life, right? But I’m really amazed at myself here. Amazed at the idiocy. Why did I let that happen? Why can my grip be so easily influenced by some stranger who I know, logically, would not care if they heard me fiddling with sanitary products and even if they did care THAT’S RIDICULOUS AND NOT MY PROBLEM? Why is this who I am?

I pondered this for way too long today. It even depressed me a little. But then, THEN, there was a tub of chocolates left out for our department and honestly, it mattered so very little after that. I almost stopped asking myself why I do this to myself.

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Insert Catchy Title Here

I used to be a moderately prolific blogger. Not only did I love doing it, but I think I was, at least kinda, good at it. Then something bad happened and that led to something else bad, and I just stopped. I let that blog die, and that’s one of my biggest regrets. And I made the dumb decision to follow a high school boyfriend to college, so that’s really saying something.

So then I got an email this week reminding me to reup my domain, and I realized I’m doing it all over again! I’m letting (already let?) this blog die too! This blog, my god damned namesake! I think my issue has been a quest for perfection. I know it can’t be reached, “perfection is an abstract thought” my high school marching band conductor once said (at least, that’s how I remember it, but no one else from that time does), but I still tried to make things too nice when I started this out. I imagined this blog from some make-believe reader’s visit a year in the future. They’d read one post, enjoy it, and see a whole year’s worth of similar posts, released in a timely fashion, and know they could rely on me for quality content. But that was fucking dumb.

The truth is, I am incredibly unreliable. (Damn, that feels good to admit!) It’s all just gone down hill my whole life. I started out rather good at getting shit done and always being on time and having my shit together. But that is probably the most thankless form of existence. Seriously, people, don’t waste your time being thoughtful. I mean, be kind to one another, but in the end, fuck ’em, because you become known for this thing and if you ever slip up, it’s the end of the goddamned world, and when you fulfill those duties no one really gives a crap. I’m not saying anyone deserves accolades for being a decent human being, it would have just been nice to be given a pass every now and again when you fuck up like everyone else seems to do on a constant basis.

But none of that really matters since I’m basically not that person anymore. No, current Ashley is a bit of a slacker, at least in my personal life, and this blog, along with my writing, is my personal life. I always imagined writing would become my professional life, but with every passing year, that future gets cloudier and cloudier. I also tell myself that when writing is my actual thing I’ll be better at it, but that’s ridiculous – it will never be your thing if you don’t first get good at it! That’s lesson one folks, and it took me 30 years to really grasp it (if I have at all yet).

So what’s the point? The point is not to be all depressing and negative and have you take away from this blog to always be late to everything and never think of anyone but yourself. The point is, I’m going to try and take this blog back from myself. In trying to emulate what I had before, on my old blog, I’m hoping to get the spark back, and maybe even make myself less of a sack of crap. Can it be done? Only with a hell of a lot of swearing, so gird your loins if you plan to stick around.

I’d still like to write about writing, and I’d still like to write pieces of fiction for posting here. Vacancy will have to go on hiatus (ha – like it’s not already!) as that’s an experiment I did not think through well enough, but the story has a special place in my heart, so it won’t ever really die. I used to just blog about stuff that pissed me off, so I’m probably going to do that again. It’s a great outlet to just word vomit into the abyss that is the internet, and once it’s out there, it just kind of goes away. I’ve also been toying with the idea of making videos, but that requires me to do something with my hair.

I don’t know if I should go into this with a plan. I never had a plan before, I just did it, and that’s how creativity works. Yes, you can manufacture it, and you can force yourself to churn out shit until it turns to gold, but every time I’ve tried that I burn out. So what’s the solution? I guess, just doing it.