Nine Years On

Today i was reminded that I started this blog nine years ago. I suppose that means I’m due for some introspection. Fair warning: this post is going to ramble a lot.

I started this blog in 2013, which means I’d already been in the car accident that messed up my back and run my first marathon – the one that helped bring me out of the resulting depression.

I just ran my sixth marathon,
this one with my brother Charlie!

I remember being surprised that no one had bought the domain name “runninginmyhead” what with it being a common English phrase and all, and part of me still hopes that one day some company will offer me big bucks for the name. I’m not saying it would be an easy decision to sell, but for the right price . . . Let’s just say being debt-free would be worth losing the url.

It also means that I may or may not have heard of Terry Pratchett yet, or if I had I was just starting to read his works. And as I’ve said before, I cannot think of another author other than Dante Alighieri who has helped make me who I am today. At work I have one of his quotes up as my desktop:

Only those with their feet on rock can build castles in the air.

Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

And my own personal motto:

Sin is when you start treating people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.

Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

And despite the fact that these two quotes come from the same book, I’d have to say that the two or three books of his that have made the most influence on me on the whole are Hogfather, Monstrous Regiment, and Night Watch.

In the last nine years I’ve made friends and lost friends. I’ve been a regular on podcasts and started cosplaying and began playing D&D.

If you had told me nine years ago that I would no longer be teaching, I may have believed you, but I couldn’t tell you what I’d be doing instead. If you said I’d be the lead admissions specialist at our local community college, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you.

Hell, if you’d said I’d still be blogging in nine years I wouldn’t have believed you – this blog is either my second or third attempt. And despite the fact that I haven’t been as regular as I once was in the last year or so doesn’t mean I’ve given up on it.

When I stopped teaching I realized just how much I did to manage my stress: the running, the writing, the cooking, the cosplay were all things to throw myself into to distract myself from the overall toxicity of the environment I was in.

I remember telling my friends that I’d finally quit and instead of the “why did you do that?” I expected, instead I heard “I’m so glad. I was worried you’d have a heart attack or stroke.” I used to joke that I was a ball of anxiety and stress held together by caffeine. It turns out that wasn’t a joke .

But now that I’m not in that environment, I don’t find it as necessary to throw myself into those other activities. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, and some (like cooking) are necessary to live in the first place. But I no longer feel like I’m dead inside if I don’t do them.

The other day on Twitter I saw someone ask the question: “what do you love about yourself?” And as I thought about that I realized that, up until a few years ago, I would have said “nothing” because while I loved the things I did I didn’t love the person I was.

But whereas before I was in a place that said that struggling was a sign of doing things right (but that it was also wrong/weak to ask for help while struggling), I’m now in a place that I can be honest with myself and (mostly) with others. I say mostly because while I don’t lie to others by saying I’m fine when I’m really not (or things like that), I also don’t dump all my problems and issues and fears and anxiety on those that didn’t ask for it. That’s what therapy is for.

I love the fact that for close to seventeen years I have answered Camus’ not-always-rhetorical question “should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee” with “coffee”. I love that I have a tattoo reminding me of every day I’ve made that decision.

I love the friends I’ve made who’ve helped me discover who I am rather than being the facade others expected to see.

I love where I’m at mentally, even if my Spotify playlist might cause some concern. It’s perfectly natural to listen to My Chemical Romance, Taylor Swift, and The Chicks (formerly Dixie Chicks) on repeat. Just like it’s perfectly normal to watch Scooby-Doo and The Office on repeat.

I love the fact that I can count family and former teachers/mentors among the friends I’ve managed to keep since 2016. And with regards to family, it’s not that we were enemies or anything, but our age differences meant we really didn’t have that much in common, let alone contact with each other. But the internet is a wonderful thing, and with making trips to PA over the last couple years I was able to make better connections.

Also, spending nearly a month with my brother in South Carolina when Hurricane Florence came through in 2018 helped that as well.

I’m drinking less coffee, eating more vegetables, wearing the clothes I like, listening to the music I like, and generally feeling positive about myself.

This is a new feeling for me.

I love the fact that, little by little, I’m getting back to writing. Right now it’s only for me, but I wonder what could have been had I had more encouragement when I was younger.

I didn’t have the artistic encouragement to develop my writing, and I spent so long thinking I wasn’t any good. But as I’ve done a bit of writing for my TTRPG groups or just to get my feelings out and shared it with people I trust I’ve heard that my writing compares favorably with Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Tennyson, and even Terry Pratchett himself. I know this is niche, but I was even told one of my “songs” I wrote for the Cyberpunk game I’m in sounded (lyrically) like something Samurai would play.

Every once in a while I think about applying for an MFA but realize I have no creative writing background (at least in academia).

I love the fact that I can be open about where I stand on issues and politics. And just to be clear:

TRANS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS

The anti-trans, anti-healthcare, so-called “pro-family” and “pro-life” bills being passed by Republican-controlled states are unethical, immoral, and will result in even more death. As we approach spring primaries and mid-term elections I would argue that voting for any candidate who supports or is supported by Donald Trump is to vote against the best interests of America and reveals a gaping black void where decency and good character ought to be.

Pointing out the statistics substantiating what I wrote in the previous paragraph is what got me death threats from a church deacon. I no longer attend that church for obvious reasons.

If you realize all this but somehow can’t bring yourself to vote for someone who isn’t “republican” or “conservative”, well, I have thoughts about that, but how about just sitting this one out and not voting.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a distinct lack of Harry Potter cosplay and posts. That’s because as Rowling has revealed herself to be the awful person she is, I’m no longer supporting her or her work. Same as I no longer eat at Chick-Fil-A.

I know that there will be issues with nearly every business I spend money at, but I can make an effort to avoid those who go out of their way to be cruel.

I am trying to spend my money with small, independent businesses like this one:

This is a good business run by one of my friends.

Anyway, it’s raining and I have off work today, so I’m drinking coffee, eating toast, and doing a bit of writing while listening to the “moody music” playlist that Spotify has made for me, and I have to say it’s hitting all the spots for me today.

And because I’ve made it this far without mentioning it, I think I should say that yes, I still miss Smokey every single day. But the fact that he’s chosen to haunt the apartment is fine with us.

5 thoughts on “Nine Years On

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  1. I’m so glad you’re feeling strong, standing up for goodness, kindness and principles that matter, and writing to tell about it, Jay! Congratulations on your marathon–I scroll through Instagram, but comment little there. Congratulations on all the good that’s coming your way. I think you’ve worked hard to ensure that the good stuff coming to you is no accident.

    Liked by 2 people

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