3.12.2020

The Magic of Imposter Crab Chips

Greetings my friends. As I do so often on these posts where I have been the absentee author, I will start off with an apology. I know that you have many options out there when you are looking for something to fill the 73 seconds at the end of your Outlander binge-fest before Netflix asks you if you are still watching and then silently judges you based on how long it takes you to dust off the cheesy-poof dust before grabbing the remote to answer YES. And you chose my little corner of the web. Thanks for that. I don't know how many of you regularly still read this, but if you do, thanks. I know I don't say it often enough, but I do appreciate you.

If you know me, you know that I packed a whole lot into that seemingly innocuous title up there. Hopefully we'll be able to unpack it all here before I get annoyed that there are actually people now in the lunchroom and try to wrap it up as quickly as possible.

No. I wouldn't do that. OK. I mean, I totally would do that, but since it's been something like 3 years since I've posted anything, I'm going to try to get through some of what's been rattling around in my head.

And man...the shit rattling around in my head...Wow. The past couple months have felt like that weird Fisher-Price toy. You know the one. It's like a ball...on a stick. And there are wheels. And kids push it around...and inside the ball are other tinier balls. And as the toddler toddles, the balls just pop around in like a bloop blop bork bonk bip boop kind of thing as the little agitator causes the balls to plop around.

OK. I am going to be testing my urges to keep writing while someone is listening to TikTok videos on their phone loud enough for the rest of the room.

It's weird. I can be in a coffee shop and there's enough other people there that the people noise becomes like its own ambient sound. But when there are only a few other people in a room that was previously silent...well...yeah.

Anyway...shit floating around in my brain. Theres a lot of it. I'm not really going to unpack much of any of that right now, because, to be honest I don't know that I'm really ready to process any of it right now.

I've been playing Magic the Gathering (sorry for the abrupt segue, but if you've read any of my posts you really should be prepared for the utter randomness that is me at this point). If you don't know what Magic the Gathering is, I won't bore you with the geeky details. Google it. It's a collectible card game. You build decks and "battle" other people who have also built decks. It's just fun. I've really gotten into it. The collecting...the building of the deck. My brain just falls into a happy place when I'm opening packs and looking through cards.


So...yeah...it's fun. There's a new set coming out this week. The new set is called the Mystery Booster. It's going to have cards from 15 different Magic the Gathering sets. I'm really looking forward to drafting. Drafting is where you open a deck...pick a card...pass the rest.. This is done until the contents of 3 packs have been reviewed and passed. And you have something like 45 cards that you have to build a deck from and then...woot!! Time to Battle. I don't really ever win (unless I get the bye, which I totally count as a win, by the way). But it's fun. It's a hobby. And it sort of gets me out of the house. And it's social (demented and sad, but social none the less. Thanks, Bender).

So that's kind of the ongoing fun event that is a slow little current of activity and one of the things I look forward to in my life. 

Hey Todd, how come it's been so long since you've written anything on the bloggy blog or you know, talked about one of the three different books you've promised us by now?

I'm glad you asked. Let me clarify. I'm glad you thought of it enough to remind me about it. But, I'm sorry about the not having written anything in at least three fortnights. We've covered the magic part of the title. And thanks to your question, we're now into the imposter portion of the program. 

If you have friends who are authors or artists of some point,  you will have no doubt heard of them talking about Imposter Syndrome. Whatever your take on it is, I can tell you, it's real. It may not be an official mental illness with a full-blown entry in the DSM-5, but it's every bit as crippling. 

It's not a cry for attention, though it might seem that way from the outside. It is, at its core,


(We pause now, while your intrepid author moved from the TikTok'ing for Everyone Lunch Room and moved into another room that was, for now, empty)

the manifestation of a combination of self-doubt, sometimes low self-worth, and the belief that nobody in the world would possibly give two shits about what I write.  Add that to the fact that one of the only times I truly feel alive is when I'm writing. The other times are not necessarily PG or Family Friendly, and are the topic of an erotic blog I have yet to really fully do much with at this point. So. Yeah. 

You can see where it gets messed up with the shit ping-ponging around in my brain right? Like, I have to write...but at the same time, I feel like I'm complete shit as a writer. Thanks brain. And then any number of external factors or situations can pile on. 

I don't talk about depression much. I've been diagnosed with it in the past. I say in the past because when I was diagnosed with it, I was on anti-depressants. In addition to keeping me at an even keel (so even that at the end it feel like I was a Zombie), the meds also sapped whatever joy I took from writing. So...when I got to the point where I thought my life (and by proxy, me) was stable enough to come off of them, I worked with my Doctor and did just that. The downside was, my wife at the time had never known me off of the meds. So, as I was getting back to what I (and anyone who knew me before I was on the meds) thought was the 'real Todd,' my wife (at the time) was seeing this person manifest in her life that she had never met. As I was getting more in touch with the Todd I had lost, she was getting a stranger. I know that's not the only reason that the marriage ended. But the part of me that wants to take blame for every bad thing that happens to me or people around me, wants to believe that it was a major factor in the divorce. 

So...it's safe to say that when Imposter Syndrome is at its most fierce, I can say with a high degree of certainty that there is also some depression going on as well. It's a lovely little cocktail that has me wondering who the fuck I am and why I am even bothering. I have a good support system though. And I lean on them. Sometimes. Because...being me. I know, surmise, or can see, that they are going through their own shit. I mean. We all have it. We all go through it. It hits some of us harder than others. But when I'm going through it and I know a majority of my support system is too, I just keep it to myself. Or write shitty poems. Because to me, I don't want to bug anyone. Nobody really has time for my shit on top of theirs. Whether or not that's the reality or not, that's the facts that my brain comes up with. 

And then there's the writer brain throwing imposter syndrome into the mix. I was happy and sad to learn that some of my favorite authors also suffer from the imposter syndrome. Happy because it's good to know that I'm not alone (there's a whole series I could pen on alone vs. lonely, but that's for another time). So,  yeah. Happy to not be alone. Sad because this author (many of them) has achieved level of success I aspire to and they still got Imposter Syndrome.

What the actual fuck? I guess being a world famous best-selling author won't  solve all my problems. It's a sobering thought. But, if you don't mind, I'm still going to keep that on the dream list and let you know how it turns out, mmmkay? 

Cool. So. Yeah. 

Good news is...I have a few very close writer friends who helped me talk through what was causing this latest bout of Imposter Syndrome. And I have a plan. I have a goal. I have a mission. And as you can see I am writing again. 

And, in 9 days I will be at a writers' intensive workshop. Where 10 other people are going to critique a piece I submitted. 

I'm terrified. 

BUT.  And I like big buts...

I'm also exhilarated. Not only do I get to go on a road trip with my best friend in the whole world, but I get to work with writers who are going to give me valuable insight into how to make my story and my writing better. 

I hope.

My pits are still a bit sweaty and my palms feel like the outside of a cold can of pop on a hot summer day, but it's going to be good.

And with the imposter syndrome quelled a bit, I can focus a little on what's contributing to the depression and general malaise. lt's cool, though, I don't really need a list of supplements or essential oils or stretches to do. I mean, I probably do, but I'm not in a place where I can receive them constructively without feeling like you are trying to fix me. Because if you are trying to fix me, then I must be something you see as broken. 


See--this is why I can't have nice things. 

But I'm not going to end this on a down note. And this is a moment of growth for me. There was time in my life where I would have finished that sentence with some bit of deprecation along the lines of 'you didn't come here to see me mope about.' And that belittles one of the things this blog does for me. For me, this blog is an outlet. It's a way for me to work shit out. Some of this might help you. Some of it might not. Some of may just be a train wreck and you come with a fresh batch of popcorn to see what love I'm going to lament about this month. All of that is cool. It's honestly none of my business why you come here. 

Here's the happy note I'm going to end one. It's actually 2 pictures. The first is what I consider to be the best potato chip ever. OR at least I did. Until a friend (the same friend who turned me on to the chips in the first pic) sent me the snack in the second pic. 

It's a tough call. Really it's too close to call. 





In any event, I need to get back to work.

I'm so glad you stopped by. I really have missed talking to you. 


-AT 

2.10.2020

Painfully Cathartic



Self-discovery is a painful process. Or at least it can be. Sometimes. Look, all I'm saying is, what you're about to read is me trying to reason some shit out in my head. Some shit that's been rattling around for a while. Weeks. Months. Honestly? Decades. This is some 'A-ha--THAT'S WHY I'M SO FUCKED UP' shit that goes back to my formative years.

It's going to probably be boring to you. Or maybe helpful. Fuck. At this point, anything is possible.

If it helps you get a sense of where this might be going, the original title of this piece was going to be "Why You Should Never Date Me, And Other Lies I Tell Myself"

Yeah. It's that kind of night. Before I dive too deep into this, I will reassure some of you that might ask, yes, I am remembering to take my meds. Thanks for checking.

I have known something about myself for a while now. I just recently admitted it to a couple of people, one of whom I'm very good friends with, you might say best friends with, and one a friend I just recently met. Now, let's be clear about one thing here. As you read this, there will likely be many revelations that have you saying, "Uh...no shit, Todd. We could have told you that."  To which I say--Why the fuck didn't you?!?  Seriously. I could have used this wake-up call about 25 years ago.   Alright, seat-belts fastened? Tray tables and seat backs up and in their full upright positions? Good. Here we go.

I don't know if you know this about me, but I like to have sex. Yeah. I'm a bit of a freak. Don't worry, that's about as detailed as I'm going to get on this fairly open forum. Anyway, I am twice divorced. And I'm not currently dating anyone (we'll unpackage that nugget in a little bit). Couple those two things with that first little gem I left you with and you have an explanation into my recent foray into Tinder.

But Todd...why would you want to use the interwebs to hook up with random strangers when you could just as easily go to a bar and try to pick up someone in person? Good question. Have you met me? For reals? Do I look like the kind of dude who could pick someone up in a bar? Yeah, no. Which leads me to the first big jewel that has my anxiety kicking in as I'm typing.

I'm insecure. Not all the time. Rather, it's probably better to say, sometimes I get flooded with some very lasered beams of insecurity. Not about all things. But in the area of dating/girlfriends/wives, I am. There is something wired in my brain where I don't think I deserve that kind of storybook happy ending (not that kind of happy ending). As much as I can see myself in the When Harry Met Sally kind of role--you know, where the plucky, funny friend is always there and the other friend is like 'omg--he's totally amazing and he loves me and I can't believe I didn't see it before' and it works out in the perfect way it always does in Hollywood, but almost never does in real life. Yeah, sure. It looks good on paper.

But something about how my brain is wired up there in the olde brain bucket tends to lead me to believe that no matter what situation I find myself in, there is the underlying doubt river merrily raging between the two shores of You are totally punching above your class and there's no way she's not going to get sick of you at some point and You don't really believe that you truly deserve this kind of happiness, do you?

So, invariably, I find ways to make sure that I don't ever really truly open up to someone I'm dating. What I'm saying is, dating me is something that I wouldn't wish on anyone at this point. Oh, don't get me wrong, you may not actually see me express either of those two thoughts aloud to you, but they will be there. And somewhere along the way I will make a noble gesture. Something along the lines of saying that it's not really fair of me to hold you back. You could have so much more. There is someone out there that is way better for you than I could ever be. In short, dating me really sucks. And I don't do well with dating someone. I tend to go down the rabbit hole much more if there is a label on whatever the thing is. Let's be clear. It's not a noble gesture. It's bullshit. It's me being chicken shit and disbelieving you when you say there's nobody else you'd rather be with.

And here's the bitch of it..I will say that, and push you away even if, at that point in my life, you are the best thing in my life. Yeah. Fucked up, I know. But I have a lifetime of history to draw these conclusions from. It's a thing. It happens EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME. Somewhere in the dating process the doubt creeps in. I start to wonder why the person is with me. What could I possibly hope to offer them?

This doesn't just happen as I'm dating someone. There are times when this keeps me from actually starting to date, or even approaching the subject of dating. Because...my brain steps in and says, "Dude, that's cool and all, but you know it's only going to be a matter of time before you fuck it up or they wake up and wonder what they ever saw in you in the first place.

Look, I told you this was going down a dark path, shouldn't be a surprise. What's that? I didn't tell you that? Oh...shit. My bad. Yeah, my dude, this path is all covered in shadows-n-shit. Sorry about that.

Combine all the aforementioned doubt and sometimes mythic levels of self-sabotage with the fact that, after two tries at being someone's happily ever after (and the subsequent legal fees that ensued when the party ended), there is no way I really want to get married. Ever again. And not wanting to get married tends to put a damper on things at my age because many of the women in my particular end of the dating pool are looking for their last first kiss (no, that's actually a thing. You can make a drinking game out of it. Add in 'LTR' and you'll be blitzed by the 7th swipe). They want the knight in shining armor to be their soulmate-storybook ending. A lot of people my age or near my age are wanting those long term relationships, or LTR as the kids say, that will eventually lead to marriage.

And that's just not me. I don't really see myself as anyone's knight. My armor is tarnished and banged up, and to be perfectly honest hasn't really fit right since that last big dragon fight. So...there's that.

THOSE things are what led me to Tinder. Because...as I'm sure you all know from your vast interwebs experiences, Tinder is pretty much a place where consenting adults can post a work-friendly pic. If someone else likes your work-friendly pic and the words that may or may not be accompanying it, they swipe a certain direction and then you can match and eventually hookup (in pretty much all senses of that word). So...cool. I like sex. I suck at dating. I'm not looking for a wife or a long-term role as a boyfriend or whatever....so hookups it is. Seemed like a perfect solution.

Only, get this shit. Tinder somehow isn't a hookup site anymore. Somewhere along the way, it grew up. The number of 'not looking for a hookup' or 'if you're only interested in sex swipe left' comments in the profiles has led me to wonder if I'm missing something. In any event, suffice to say, there have been no Tinder hookups since I put my work-friendly pics up on there. Maybe it's because I'm honest from the get go. I figure that's kind of the point. There's a lot of 'don't want drama' and 'don't have time for games' things peppered in there, too, on the profiles I'm reading. Which--cool, me too brah. I don't want drama (see the aforementioned note of having 2 ex-wives). And I don't play those kinds of relationship games anyway. So, I'm upfront. I'm honest.

Because of that, I'm still sleeping with the laundry in my bed because when I roll over it feels like I'm sharing the bed with someone and not the big desert of solitude that it feels like when the clothes are put away. What? Don't judge me. Are you honestly telling me that you haven't left the clean laundry on half of the bed in such a way that it feels like you're asleep in the bed with someone? Oh. No? Just me? Fine, I'll be the weird one. I'm used to wearing that name tag-it's one of the few that fits me really well.

A friend I recently had brunch with asked me, "Why don't you just get one of those full length body pillows?" The answer was simple. Plausible Deniability. Dig this--if I leave my clean laundry on half of the bed, to the world, it just looks like I'm a bit of a slob and don't put my clean clothes away. But if I bought one of those pillows, I would be admitting that I needed that feeling every now and again of waking up next to someone. This hit home. It was one of the reasons, I think, that I rushed into my second marriage AND dragged my feet in ending that same marriage. So, trust when I say, that it's a thing that crossed my mind. But a pillow that broadcasts that to the world? Meh. Also I would have to actually put the clothes away. And we just can't really have either of those things, can we?

Didn't think so.

Oh--not to mention, those things are kind of expensive. So, there'e that added to the stack as well.

All of this is leading me to the place where I am really trying to take things at face value. I'm trying to be more communicative up front about things, and trusting that the other persons in my life will tell me if they have beef with me about anything. Or, I guess, conversely, if they have something good to say, that will come up too.  I'm trying to step around the doubt-bombs as I walk through this minefield...or rather mindfield, riddled with doubt a just enough self-loathing to spice things up a bit.

To recap. Am I alone? No, I know I'm not alone. My friends are amazing. Starting with the one who will readily tell you that she has a dork that lives across the hall all the way to my friends that I only see every 6 months. I know I have an amazing network of friends and I'm very blessed in that way.  But that doesn't mean that I sometimes don't feel lonely. There's a shortage of people in my life with whom I can start the convo with "hey...you like sex. I like sex. Wanna go do the sex?" Or the cuddling on the couch. Or the whatever kind of human touch and interaction releases those funky 'hey you're a human and life is totally OK right now' hormones throughout your system.

Also, while this may seem like the manifesto of someone in the midst of drowning in depression, I can assure you that it is not. I mean, think about it. A manifesto is WAY  more work than I'm willing to put into it right now. Also, I'm not entirely depressed. Sure, there are things I'm trying to work through to get me to where I think I'm supposed to be at this point in my life, but shit man, that's just life in general.

Thirdly, yes. I am currently taking my anti-anxiety meds. Trust me, if I wasn't taking them, there's no way I'd be able to put any of these words on the page without at least a full day of falling down at least a dozen rabbit holes. But no...I am. We're good there. It's the reason I can be so open. Well, that, and I know that only about 5 people are going to probably read this post anyway--so, it's all good.

The lesson I'm trying to live, and believe, and take to heart through all of this is, for fuck's sake, I need to get out of my own way. Getting cock-blocked is one thing, but doing it to myself just flies to a whole new level of ridiculous.

Look, I'm going to level with you here. There's definitely some more shit I need to work through on this, but it's stuff that's going to go in the paper journal. You can check out that journal from your local library in about 75 years. What? Are you telling me that I'm the only one that plans to have lived such an interesting life that my journals will be something that the public clamors for? Really? Fine. I mean...why else am I writing them?

Also, I mean it is almost 2 AM, and after the last two nights of not really sleeping, I need to try to get a few hours in. I've been missing time in Dreamland. Lately, there's be recurring visitors there. It's been giving me more fodder for the timetravel piece I'm still working on.

If you have made it this far, wow, thank you. I'm not sure why you kept reading, but it bodes well for when I publish things that are more intentional and not the ramblings of a lonely-dude with moderate to slightly severe anxiety disorder.

Alright my friends, I'm off to bed.

Peace Out
-AT

1.14.2020

A General Malaise

This post will likely be rushed. I’d apologize, but at this point, the quirkiness is more than likely something you have come to expect from me. 

It’s rushed for a couple of reasons. The first being that I have 28 minutes left of my lunch and feel like at 14 days into the new year and several months since my last post (it seems), this is long overdue.

The second reason it’s rushed is that I’m going to likely just do this in one sitting, no editing, no revising, no gut-checking any emotions or lack thereof that might find their way to this post. Again, I feel like it’s my MO at this point. 

Also, I’m lazy. Let’s be honest. Too many times this past year when push has come to shove and I’ve tried to impose deadlines on projects that I wanted to get done, something shiny has caught my eye and I dove into another, less productive time-suck. 

And that’s why I’m probably swimming in it now. That whole general malaise thing that’s going on. As is the case with just about any malaise (and specifically with a general malaise), I don’t have a good reason for the feelings. They are just kind of there. Like that sweater that was too itchy at first, to be avoided at all cost, it has been worn to the point where it seems comfortable, and I can’t really picture putting it back in the closet in favor for something that actually is comfortable and good for me.

Part of it is the writing. I know that. I know that when I don’t write every day, I hurt. Even these little blips on the blog help block the pain receptors and guide me back to that place where I feel like I’m doing something good with my life. 

And it’s been how long since I’ve put one of these out? Over two months. Sure, you’re right—I’ve guest blogged a few times since then, but in general, my lunchtime bloggy-blog has collected a fine layer of dust. And is giving me the side eye because I don’t take it out on the town and tell it how pretty it is anymore. 

It’s okay baby, I still love you as much as I ever did, and you are fucking gorgeous. 

That’s part of it, sure. I have to say though, I know that’s not all of it. Some of the other contributing factors are probably bordering on the edge of TMI, so I don’t care to dive too deeply into them. Suffice to say it has to do with the mounds of laundry I’ve kept on my bed these past few months. Because you know, there’s that little micro-infinity when you first start to come back from dreamland where you feel a presence in the bed, and it’s the person you were dreaming of and for that split second, the fact that you’re waking up alone feels like the dream, and not the reality. Again, I know some of that’s on me. I don’t do marriage all that well. Hell, to be honest, I’m pretty crap at dating, too. But I am a beast when it comes to snuggling, hanging out on the couch, watching movies, getting silly, and generally just hanging out.  Soooo, yeah. That was a little more of a reveal than I meant to give. Spoiler alert-I’m human. So, there’s that. 

On the plus side...I’m moving away from being on the plus side. Weight has dropped down around the 270’s.  It’s like a Freeway thing going on here. You see in Central Ohio, we have a highway called 315, and then our outer belt is called 270. I was on 315 for the longest time, and now I’m closer to being on 270. I’m not going to try to fool myself into thinking that I’ll ever be on 161 again (because that would make me look worse that Matthew McConaughey in that movie where he literally starved himself before shooting started. But yeah...I’m eating better. The bestie and I did meal prep for the week which has the trifecta of advantages: Controls spending; controls portions; and combats the lazy tendency when trying to decide what to eat to think that somehow spending money on Taco Bell is better than cooking something from the groceries we already spent money on. It’s Win-Win-Win. Plus...the soon to be routine of Sunday Meal Prep with my bestie is fun (takes care of some of that ‘feeling isolated’ thing).

I’m fighting the urge to cuss out the year. After all, it’s barely warmed up. And also,I feel like getting upset with an arbitrary construct just doesn’t do anyone any good and deflects some of the onus for me to own my shit. Although, I’m a little saddened by the passing of Neal Peart. And I’m also salty that people I love and care about seem to be getting mounds of shit dumped on their plate when all they were trying to do was finish the damn chocolate pudding that was 2019. 

And sure, work is busy. The fourth quarter of the year is our company’s busiest. I knew that going into it, but I still have the feeling on some days that I didn’t quite know how insane it was going to be. Still, even with all of that, this job is so much more of a better fit for me than probably any other job I’ve had in my life. Except for that time in High School when I was a DJ in training at a club geared for teens (Anyone remember Flamingo Isle, in Westerville?). Or the time I was a rock star for 6 days in 2008.

I’m not sure it’s going to be a better fit once I add New York Times Bestselling Author to the CV, but that’s not really going to be a problem anytime soon. I mean, in order for that to happen, I need to actually finish the books I’ve started. 

I’m working on that, too. I have a plan. I have a calendar. And I have star stickers. Each 500 words I write gets a star. If I get 50,000 words written in a month, I will celebrate with an evening of hookers and blow. And by hookers and blow, I mean a nice meal at a fancy restaurant.  Based on how I’ve started, January is safe. I might hit enough words to earn a meal at White Castle, but probably won’t earn a suit and tie meal at The Refectory. Maybe February.. We’ll see. At least I have a plan. And this little post that you’re still reading (dear god, are you still reading this?? I’m so sorry. You must be sick of baby Yoda memes if you’re still here) counts. 

I guess that’s one of the lessons that I’ve missed. Well...it’s one of the lessons that took me about thirty-seven or thirty eight years to figure out. And then I’m good for a few months. And then I forget it again for about a year or so. And then I figure it out again. It’s a vicious circle. I’d say cycle, but that implies that it can be broken at some point, and I’m beginning to realize that it can’t. Nor should it. You see, it’s usually when I get to this point of malaise that I figure enough is enough. Oh, I mean, sure, if you want to get picky about it, that point is usually when I run out of Moose Tracks and Coke Zero, but why be so hurtful?  Point is, here’s the lesson. 

Every. Word. Counts.

Yes. Some of the words are garbage. But you cannot edit a blank page. 
Besides, some of the words are not garbage. Some of the words give your best friend, who is easily one of your favorite authors on the planet, word-envy. OK, most don’t, but I’m hanging on to the compliments and motivations where I find them, you do what you need to do.

Oh—yeah. That. The thing about words. For me it’s words. Your mileage may vary. For you it might be every loop and knot in that macrame hanging flower pot you’re making. Or every measure you record on that kicking bass track in your basement. Whatever your thing is, it counts. Every single one of them counts. It is enough just to be doing the thing. 

You are enough.

Hey—Future Todd, when you read this, remember—You Are Enough. 

Have an awesomesauce day my friends!

The Magic of Imposter Crab Chips

Greetings my friends. As I do so often on these posts where I have been the absentee author, I will start off with an apology. I know that y...