I just got a new digital scale which says my starting weight is 262, which is up 20 pounds from last years low, and was probably put on in the last 3 months over the holidays. Though it was not the holidays that crashed my health efforts. It was the enormous amount of stress I had to get through with my folks being totally clueless about the stress they're putting on me, as well as how harmful it is to put things on the shopping list that shouldn't even be in the house.
Basically the holidays are one non-stop ball of stress for me. What with having to clean up the house for guests, extra shopping in bad weather, and then having to put on my totally fake real world identity act for the relatives and friends.
For decades now I've been rather successful at hiding my true state from the family, but now it becomes pretty obvious almost instantly that I'm a nervous wreck, I don't stand so good because my knees are all messed up with gout and arthritis, and no, I am not comfortable with watching sports all day and being asked “How about those Ravens?”
I endure it for the sake of others, like I endure the racist jokes of one friend and the ridiculous politics of another. One likes to refer to Cat Stevens as “That Towel Head” and the other thinks teachers should be armed. And I just have to sit there and pretend my sensitivities haven't been offended.
Really, I don't handle having a social life in the real world well at all. But especially at holiday time when everybody is supposed to be happy and nice, but all I hear about is how the Christians and Atheists are at it again, and invariably I get sucked into the debate.
But that's on the internet, of course. And on the internet I don't have to fake anything. I can tell both sides of that argument to their cyber faces that they're wrong, and two wrongs don't make a right.
But, to be as brutally honest with myself as I am with them, I don't need to be involved in internet controversy. I go looking for it in a subconscious attempt to avoid the thing that really drives me up a wall. And that would be my writing – my chosen vocation, so to speak.
I think it was Piers Anthony or some other famous writer who said a writer will look for any excuse to avoid writing. And my penchant for seeking out internet drama is evidence of this. I hate being involved in drama or pointless debates with idiotic fanatics. But apparently I hate writing more.
That may seem hard to believe, considering how good some folks say I am at it. But of course I don't feel that way about myself. I have no education, and no confidence. What I do have is a tremendous anxiety about letting people down. Therefore, any effort I make will not be half-assed. I literally have to put my whole self into it. I need to be there, in that world I'm writing about, in the heads of all the characters in the scene.
This, as you might imagine, requires a tremendous effort of will to force myself into that state of mind. And every time I sit down to do it, the first thing I think is, “I'd better check my E-mail first.” And after I've checked my E-mail and off-line messages and spent hours playing with any controversy I've found there, before I can get on with the writing I start thinking snacks. Maybe I should have snacks handy to munch while writing. Or maybe I should have lunch first. Though I don't get lunch on my diet.
What I get on my diet is popcorn. All the plain popcorn I can eat in a day. It's like a placebo for my mouth and digestive system. Fools them into thinking they're over eating. Thus I continue to burn fat. But when the stress is on, plain popcorn is avoided, because my mind isn't looking for a placebo. It's apparently suicidal and trying to kill itself. It wants calories. All it can get me to take in.
My sub-conscious mind seems to think calories relieve stress. I know they don't, of course. But my conscious and sub-conscious minds have been estranged from day one. Thus my compulsive and intellectual natures are constantly at war with one another, with my bunny self caught in the middle, usually in tears of helplessness.
How amusing to meet those idiot trolls on the net who insist that life is always straight forward, there is only one reality, and it all has to do with what you look like. The truth is that the human mind is separated into numerous compartments, all connected by a tangle of disorganized wires. People who really do have only one self must suffer from atrophied brain damage.
Maybe that's the curse of having been a fantasist for as long as I've been living. Since day one I've been exercising parts of my brain some people never use. But nobody ever thought to supply a manual with the human brain to tell anyone how to keep all your different selves in balance.
Probably due to this weight I've put on recently, I'm feeling pretty ill these days. My knees are in constant pain, which I'm just learning to live with. Headaches, sluggishness, strange dreams about not being able to breathe – probably because I'm not breathing in my sleep. My common sense doesn't need any doctor to tell it I'm killing myself. But my compulsive side just doesn't give a flip.
Of course, if I was to really get into my writing, that could occupy my entire mind for at least 6 hours a day. So I think my compulsive side must really hate my creative side. It must be jealous of the time I spend writing, which my compulsive side thinks would be better spent eating.
Lately the compulsive side won't give the creative side a break. It will get the bunny running everywhere except to the world I'm supposed to be writing about. And it's favorite place to get the bunny to is Second Life, because it knows once I get on there the day is shot for fantasy writing.
I don't fully understand what it is, particularly since there is not much at all going on in Second Life in the day time. My avatar can just be parked in a seat doing nothing. I can even minimize the screen and not look at it. But my perception remains stuck in Second Life. It can't go to the Spectral Shadows universe.
This, of course, is no biggie, if I set the rule and stick to it that I get up early, get my writing done in the morning, do stuff for the folks in RL in the afternoon, and do Second Life in the evening. There's absolutely no logical reason why there shouldn't be enough hours in the day to do it all. The whole trick to this health and productivity business is insisting that the logic center of my brain be in charge.
Well, that's easy enough to say. But you know, my compulsion center is a big bully, while my logic center is rather passive. It's a losing proposition to just let those two go at it. I need to bring in other centers of the brain to tip the balance of power.
The anxiety center is normally a staunch supporter of the compulsive center. How to sway it's loyalty? Well, the anxiety center is the part of my brain that can't stand to see others disappointed. That's why it's important to make it important to somebody else how much weight I lose.
Now, I know the folks would ask, “Isn't staying healthy because you have to take care of us enough?” No, it isn't – especially when the folks are always putting bad foods on the shopping list, baking cakes and what not. The folks are the enemy of the diet, not an ally.
This would all be a heck of a lot easier if everyone in the house was working towards the same goals. But I know from bitter experience it's no good even to ask. The bunny will only end up in tears when they get indignant for my even asking.
But, hopefully, by tying my efforts to the efforts of others online, there will be a feeling of not being alone in this effort, and the anxiety center will change parties and start supporting the logic center.
Of course, the logic center and anxiety center are not much help to each other when it comes to writing. It's the anxiety center that constantly says, “You can't do this. You know you can't.” The bunny's only hope for a successful writing year is that the anxiety center will be so scared of disappointing the folks at Rainbow Ark that it will shut up about what it thinks the bunny can or can't do in the way of writing.
The logic center knows that if the anxiety and compulsive centers lay off, there will be no problem at all writing a weekly serial. The story is already there. I just have to swing the doors to my fantasy universe wide, observe the action and dialogue and write it down. Should be a piece of cake to do 8 pages a week, if those other centers of the mind will just stop closing the door.
I have everything set up to make writing a comfort, rather than a drudgery. I have a new 32 inch monitor and a wireless keyboard, which means I can write comfortably from the sofa, rather than an uncomfortable swivel chair. If I need to take a nap while writing, I can do that now. Then I can start writing again when I wake up.
Writing does that to me. The concentration is so deep it tends to put me to sleep within an hour – particularly if the scene is not coming easy. It's like I have my antenna out in the air, searching for signals from my muse. Things are really groovy when the signal is strong, but lately it's seemed like my muse has been broadcasting from New Jersey on an AM frequency that only comes in intermittently.
Heh, the young folks reading probably don't get that last analogy at all. These days a person in Baltimore can just tune in a New Jersey station on the internet. But muses don't use the internet. Writers still need to be able to pull this stuff out of the air.
Let's see, what else do I need to do? Oh yes, time for my yearly swearing off of various distractions. One thing I've decided to give up is collecting Furry art. Not that I like it any less. But after what must be close to 10 years of collecting, I think I've got enough.
You wouldn't think collecting Furry art would be that much of a distraction. And it wouldn't be, if I'd be content to just go over my FA watches and dump the keepers into a file. But, as with anything I collect, I'm always trying to organize it. And you just can't successfully organize 95,506 files and have time left in your life for other things. Not with at least 100 new pics a week coming in.
Another thing to give up – record shows. Same deal. Albums are so cheap at record shows I end up bringing home 100 LP's a month. I'm running out of space, I worry about the accumulated weight on the structure of the house, and how many albums can you play in a year, anyway? Like with the Furry art, there just gets to be a point where you throw up your hands and admit you've got enough.
Another thing to give up – ripping vinyl. Besides being time consuming, it's pretty much a waste, since I don't listen to music on my computer. I'd still rather play the records. I only need to rip what I need for DJing on SL, and that's mostly done.
One thing I don't think I'll give up is organizing the records. That's one of my few sources of exercise.
I think I will also try to save some money this year. The folks have pretty much exhausted their savings and are needing to borrow from me of late. Plus I like to be able to pay for my glasses and dental work in cash, rather than being subject to the whims of some HMO as to what I can and can't have.
I expect to be working the Furry clubs on SL in the evenings. I not only intend to reopen my own club, but there's been a serious shortage of DJ's in SL lately. I suddenly find myself the main cover DJ for most of the clubs in The Furry Club Alliance. No idea where all the others went. But at this point I could work every night if I wanted to.
Oh yeah, one last resolution. I will stop worrying about The Furry Club Alliance so much. It is what it is, and it ain't what it ain't. It's not my job to change that. They made me the secretary the other day. So my job is just to do what I can to keep what it is organized efficiently.
Gotta stop thinking of it as a business. Nobody's there to make money, just to have fun. Must think more about maximizing the fun, rather than the profits.
There is a curious psychological balance to SL as well. One must never fall into the trap of applying real world logic to virtual people. It is, after all, a second life. I'm sure there must be some folks there who have no other life, but they're the exceptions. To most folks in SL its just a game, a fun pastime, or a way of keeping in touch with long distance friends.
But it's easy to forget that, because you don't see much of their first lives. It's easy for me to forget that others there probably didn't come to prove or achieve anything, and thus they have nothing to lose by success or failure, other than continuation of the game.
I'm kind of that way myself now. Initially I had much to prove and achieve in SL. But I did all that long ago. Now it's pretty much just a matter of I made these friends there, and I stay just to be near them. So I don't have to get all anxious over whether my club will be successful or not. Nor do I need to keep pouring tons of money into it. It's just a place where folks can come to hang out with the bunny, dig on her music and have a good time.
This, I think will be the motif of the new year. Age 50 came and went. The time for seeing what all I could get into my life is over. What I've accumulated is enough, and it's time to just ease back and enjoy it. Give the anxiety center a well earned rest.