Life in December 2022

This month, I'm cultivating...
Bodily existence.

To counteract my usual dissociation, I would like to deliberately focus on the physical sensations I experience. All sensations are worthy of my attention, including pain.

Feelings with names.

Though at times they seem intangible, emotions are also physical sensations. I would like to regularly slow down and ask myself what I feel inside just as often as outside.

Discipline, or "shoulds."

Everyday I would like to do at least one thing that I "should" do. Examples include doing chores, keeping appointments, making phone calls, and other obligations. A loved one holds me accountable.

Monthly Wisdoms
"It might not be perfect, but it's mine."
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today."
CardPage of Swords (reversed)
TimeSomehow, afternoon evening
Music"Hydrangea" by LonePi

Sunday the 25th

Merry Christmas, I suppose. It was sunny but cold outside today. I know because I was cold inside— I didn't venture out at all but still felt the chill.

I started to write this entry earlier today when the sun was still up, but then I got distracted making music instead, and then we were exchanging gifts, and then I was cooking dinner, and then I somehow ended up reading thousands of mediocre OTP prompts on Tumblr. Yes, thousands— about five of which caught my interest. ... This is a rather sedate and off-colour entry, isn't it?? Let's shift perspectives.

My cat likes to sleep upside-down, and I like to lay next to him and press my face into his soft belly fur. Today I composed music with a friend for the first time ever, and the melodies we separately improvised ended up flowing together in perfect harmony. When I made dinner, I improvised the recipe and it came out just as good as usual. I'm fed, I'm clothed, I'm housed, hydrated, in my lane. It's been a good day.

Today's card is The Page of Swords, reversed, and its upright task is to admit to my strengths. Reversed, I assume that means admitting to my weaknesses. It's as relevant as tarot usually is (i.e. I create the relevancy myself, but that's neither here nor there... *badum tshh*). Looking at my monthly "cultivations", I can safely say the seeds are planted but not sprouting. They're certainly not bearing fruit. I am still almost always dissociated from myself, physically and emotionally. I find it incredibly difficult to recognise my feelings in the moment, and I still struggle to identify them even when I'm completely alone and undistracted. On those occasions when I can name them, I can't figure out what to do with them. It's a slow and often frustrating process.

Realising this earlier today, I felt disappointed. I thought, "I'm not working hard enough," and "my progress is too minimal to count." And I mean... yeah. That's true. I haven't been very focused, and as a result I have not made much progress. I can admit to this failure. In the end, all I can do is take it in stride, try to do better next time. Next time meaning next month, next week, tomorrow, twenty seconds from now. To be alive is to be gifted the opportunity to try again, and again, and again. To recognise error, divert course, and sail in a more promising direction, again and again, as many times as it takes. You just have to be brave enough to keep your hands on the wheel.

For that reason I've left my sedate and off-colour introduction in tact. Hopefully the more positive (yet still lethargic) follow-up paragraph illustrates the lesson above. "Lesson," I say, as if anyone is reading my diary for advice. In truth these journals are letters to my future self, the me who does not yet exist but with whom I occasionally empathise. She loves to know what I was thinking about on any given day. She's curious and caring, in the way. A bit self-obsessed, too, maybe. But I'm okay with that, at least for now. I can always change course.

Today's Fruitful Moments
Paused to snuggle with the cat because he looked so cute and relaxedAttended to my own matters before following after someone who wanted my attentionLaundry!!! Thank God!!!Healthy balance between talking to others/being by myself. I feel connected, but not drainedEnjoyed dancing for about 3 minutes before retiring to bed
CardKnight of Pentacles (reversed)
TimeCurtain diffused sunshine
MoodSleepy, lethargic
MediaChi's Sweet Home GBA
Music"Banks" by Saint Bernard

Sunday the 11th

Since installing indigo curtains, my bedroom is nice and dark on mornings like these. I have fun opening them up and letting all this bright, warm light spill into the room. It feels like a way to say to myself "it's official: I'm awake!" Right now they're still shut. I don't quite want to wake up yet.

As I write I'm laying in bed with my cat. He's monopolising the middle of the mattress, so I'm squeezed off to one side. I'm also sharing space with three pillows, but those I'm much more willing to squish up against than my poor, delicate, little kitty who must never be disturbed! What if he lost a minute on his 8 hour nap?! That I just cannot abide!

What else can I write about in the early morning? The day has not yet begun, therefore not yet passed, so I haven't done anything but roll over and scratch my back. I suppose that's what the present moment is for. It's always there, a goldmine of sensory experience just waiting to be excavated. These days I notice more and more how much trouble I have accessing any of it, as well as how easily I'll turn my back on the things that unearth themselves, clawing their way to the surface to get my attention.

For example, the other day when I was in town, I walked so much I lost circulation in my foot. I knew it would be best to stop and rest at least long enough to adjust my too-tight shoelaces. I knew that and I kept walking. By the end both my feet just about fell off, but I felt some sick satisfaction at the numbness and pain which were direct consequences of my own actions.

There is something incredibly perverse about self neglect— and I don't mean perverted. I mean I'm shocked by the human ability to turn off one's evolutionary self-preservation instincts and charge full speed ahead into misery and pain. It's always for a greater good; I know all about ends and means. It just fascinates me, and saddens me, and makes me wish we lived in a world where everyone took care of themselves.

Well. Be the change you want to see, right? I can't change the world nor do I aspire to, but over myself I have complete control. It was a conscious decision to walk until my legs were numb, just as I decide now to reflect upon that choice. I'm reminded of the Wayne Teasdale quote that forever haunts me: "we need not change our false self, only observe him." And observe I do. I now practice self neglect with a measure of awareness— sometimes it's even purposeful. I think "all signs point to this being an act of self harm" and ask myself why I do it anyway.

In the case of the Numb Foot Debacle of 2022: I was having fun, I wanted the exercise, and I thought it was easier to keep going than look for somewhere to sit. At that time, fun, exercise, and convenience were all more important to me than my physical well-being. Do I regret it? No. Do I think it was "wrong?" Such judgements hold little value here. What's more important is finding out where I've drawn the lines— the boundaries of what I am willing to do to myself, and to what end, and why in the world I would ignore my internal stop signs for fun, exercise, and convenience. When did that start? Who taught me to blow straight through the red light? I wonder, I wonder.

Today's Fruitful Moments (Post Entry)
Quite a few "shoulds" today. Basic chores, some things that have been nagging me. Stuff like that Laying in bed listening to angsty white boy post-punk rock and drumming on my belly to the beat Wrote my way through my feelings instead of trying to puzzle it over in my head— with fantastic results! Refused to give away my time when I couldn't afford it. This boundary is one of the most difficult for me to assert so I'm proud of myself
CardTen of Cups
MediaDisney's FastPass: A Complicated History
Music"Wolf Like Me" by TV on the Radio

Monday the 5th

I am unable to comment on today's weather as I did not experience it. I didn't step outside for even one second! But I know it must have been fairly cold because I cranked up my space heater. And I know it was sunny because I had a wonderful time opening up my curtains first thing in the morning. Maybe it was windy, as well, as it usually is. That much is just speculation. Definitely do not count on me for meteorological data.

December has been much, much kinder to me than November— or rather I'm kinder to myself this month. Not purposely, at least not in an overly cognizant "I want to do better" sense, but kind of like... well, weather. I can only describe it as coming out of a storm. And rain kind of just comes and goes without reason or warning, right? All you can do is pack an umbrella.

So the rain has lifted and I can, like, do things again. More often than not, I am sitting or standing upright! I've been cooking breakfasts, lunches, and dinners! And I get to have fun with my hobbies, too— hence Vivarism's soft reboot. Artwise, I got a bunch of new brushes in Clip Studio Paint and I've started using my screen tablet again. There was a time when I really regretted getting a Cintiq, and over the years I've tried to give it away to several different people. Now, I'm so glad to have it! Drawing is so fun!!!

I really am having a blast with my art. Talking with my artist friends has helped me approach drawing with a different perspective. In all things, I'm moving away from outcome-based satisfaction. Rather than worry about creating a "good" art piece, I just have fun with the physical act of drawing. There's something addictive about drawing lines and shapes and going crazy with my little bucket tool. I almost can't get enough of it! I definitely enjoy myself a lot more now.

As for the quality of my work, I don't mind if it comes out "bad"— i.e., not up to my expectations. I'm also embracing a model of continuous improvement where I work on the same drawing over multiple days. In the past, I never revisited a drawing after I first felt done with it. Now I leave little notes for my future self on things I might like to redraw later on. And instead of abandoning drawings that "don't work out," I think of them as projects I can return to at any time.

So all in all, I'm doing great on that front. The last hurdle to jump is my self-judgement over the subject matter of my artwork. Pretty much all I draw is Sans self-ship art. I have a blast doing it, but I'm mildly upset with myself when I consider that there are about 4 billion other things I "should" be drawing. For example, my 5+ original stories in need of character designs, story assets, and web graphics. But instead of working on or even contemplating working on those things, I draw Sans the Skeleton for the 300th time.

The problem word here is "should." I steadfastly surround it in quotation marks because it is not really true. As far as hobbyist artwork goes, no piece is more valuable than another. I'm not beholden to anyone; these expectations are my own. And forcing myself into creative work when I'm not feeling it never goes well, probably because I approach it with unkind thoughts like "shoulds." The only art that I "should" make is the art that makes me happy. Right now, that's self-indulgent Undertale schlock!!!

All that said, here are the fruits of my labour. As explained, it is a labour of love, and I know I just called it "schlock" but I honestly do feel this is some of my best work. At the very least, I've had tons of fun creating it! I hope I will continue to enjoy my hobbies in this unrestrained, carefree, self-indulgent manner.

Today's Fruitful Moments
Gave in to internal prompts to lay down and meditate; I discovered all sorts of minor aches and throbs I never would have noticed otherwise Thinking about texture words makes me want to expand my sensory vocabulary Corrected my head/neck/shoulder posture when I felt myself leaning forward Left a post-it note reminder to encourage some self-care habits
TimeReal nigga hours
MoodIrresponsibly energised
MediaThe Great British Baking Show
Music0% by Ichiko Aoba

Saturday the 3rd

(The following diary entry was hastily scribbled in a .txt file at 1 o'clock in the morning— technically Sunday, December 4th, but in my world the date doesn't roll over until 5 a.m.. So you can experience it in its most complete authenticity, it has not been proofread.)

i stayed up late working on my stickers. listening to ichiko aoba late at night is very dangerous. when I Am Pod comes on i can't help but sing along— once i realised, i snapped my mouth shut. i don'tt want to wake anybody up!

i know that i should sleep, but i don't want to. ive been able to get so much done and have so much fun doing it. it's fantastic to indulge in my hobbies like this.

the responsible thing to do is go to bed as soon as possible so i can wake up as soon as possible and continue this. but... argh...! there's so much i want to do....

(The .txt file concludes with three separate to-do lists concerning various web development projects.)