New month. New me. Same as the old me, but slant. Normalcy returns as society reopens, but I hope to hold onto the lessons I learned the past three months with me as I step outside for more than coffee. The loneliness sucker punched me the first week of the quarantine, but life becomes surreal when everybody you see is behind a screen. I am lucid in my dreams, honest and direct with my intentions, which I am not in reality. I fear the truth will isolate me, but what do I have to lose when already isolated? I survived this season’s solitude. I thrived in it. I learned to live with myself as I lost the opportunity to distract myself with other people. I found joy in virtual raves and video games. I dabbled in arts I sorely neglected. I found validation in the mirror. I found a life within my home.
I felt like a failure all my life. Despite a lucrative career, a lovely house, and an active lifestyle that cannot fit all my ambitions into a single day, I still do, because I have not written a novel. I dedicated over half my life to that dream, mostly to neglect it but never to relinquish it. It inspired me to persevere even at my lowest points. If I was not a writer, what was I?
The eleven seconds it takes for the final boss theme of Mega Man 4 to loop taught me that brevity does not diminish the artistic essence of a work. I do not need to hit a word count to be a writer. I write poems, I blog, and sometimes I write short stories. I may not be a novelist—I cannot commit to people or stories for that long—but I am a writer. I will have to relinquish those dreams of becoming a famous novelist, but to be fair, how many writers dream of becoming the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, and how many do? I do not want to write to fulfill a dream that no longer inspires me. I want to write for my own sake, and I do not want to write a novel.
The quarantine will test your sanity. Even I, somebody molded by the darkness, can fall too deep if I don’t tread carefully. Some will try to drag you down quicker. This is how I keep myself together when I’ve spent a little too much time in my house.
Avoid social media. Especially Twitter. Twitter is the physical manifestation of hell, tempered only by memes. You will only find misery and anger, panic and ignorance. Some people get off on panic, and they will be the ones who pollute your feed. So will the conspiracy theorists who insist nothing is wrong. At the very least, treat social media like alcohol: enjoyable in moderation, but too much will turn you into a drunk, and not the fun kind either.
Keep in touch with friends and family though. Even the introverted need a dose of society now and then. When too distant, I become more cynical, and I grow to distrust those I love until I see them again, at which point it feels like waking from a bad dream. Now is a good time to use social media for good for once! Skype parties? FaceTime conversations? Might not be as good as the physical alternatives, but preferable to isolation.
Stay physically ands mentally active. I already miss the yoga studio and the gym, but I can practice yoga and exercise at home. I can also read, write, practice the violin, draw, and do everything else on which I procrastinate. There are so many things worth doing at home, and doing these things will keep your mind and body intact, and like drinking water, it may not be as sweet as doing nothing, but you will feel better for it.
Have boundaries with work. Working remotely is a mixed blessing: It guarantees a continued income, but it also means you have to work. I have already noticed that some people will work well into the night and will send me messages long after I clocked out. I used to feel obligated to respond immediately, but nowadays, I will turn off the notifications after a set time. I can help them with whatever they need, but that does not mean I should. It can probably wait until the morning. Don’t allow work consume your life just because others will.
Find the opportunity in the missed opportunities. I created a new mantra earlier this year as I struggled with staying home instead of going out even when I knew I should. I could never choose solitude over society. Society bloomed with potential while I already knew what roamed in my head. Now I have no choice but to choose solitude. Honestly, I am looking forward to this part. I wanted to cultivate a strong home yoga practice. Now I can! I could never find the time to read or write, but less time on the road means more time in my library! I wanted to eat less junk and eat more homemade food. Considering how anxious even delivered foods make me, that’s definitely going to happen now! This is going to be such a tragic time for so many people. I may not even be immune, but I do think I am in a much less vulnerable position, and I don’t want to squander this time. I can become a better person through this crisis. Not only will it benefit my own life, but I can be of better service during a time when many lives will rely on the compassion and mercy of others. What else will I do with my time?
Took a little break for myself this past week. Had a plan, but did not follow it, as usual; I juggle too many activities and too many people to fit all the time I went for each of them in a day. As much as I want to write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo this year, there is way too much happening for me to prioritize that. I will write though, and I do write, and while I write, my inner critic rebukes me: “You’re half-assing this. Either do it right or don’t do it at all.”
It’s always the same, whether I write, practice yoga, play the violin, or even play video games: I am not doing it right, and I should call it quits today and try again the next day. Maybe I do half-ass everything, because nothing truly real or impactful. Maybe I expect too much from life. After the novelty evaporates, everything becomes a grind, but I’d rather grind away at a keyboard than do nothing at all.
I half-assed my way through college, riffing in my essays more so than researching them, but they all turned out well, because in the end, I had enough pride in my work that I did not want to turn in garbage. Maybe I could have done so much more with them, but the imagination runs wild and sometimes disappoints me. Most poems into which I poured my whole heart are not ones I like now, while some poems I wrote in a single draft became my favorites. Effort does not necessarily lead to quality, but my goals will, because even if I am not living as passionately as I want, if I make steps toward those goals, I will eventually reach them, and the outcome will be the same.
I do not care if I write 50,000 words or only 25,000 this month as long as I establish better writing practices. It will never feel good enough to please my inner critic, but I can shut him up by reminding him of his own sins. It requires focus on the process instead of on goals that oftentimes feel unattainable while trusting those goals will lead me in the right direction. Allowing both to serve their purposes rather than relying too much on the process or the goal, the present or the future, will allow everything to settle in their proper places, and it will not feel like such a balancing act.
I end the year where I began, but with brand new eyes and direction. The year had its share of disappointments and anxieties, but the anxieties hardened my diamond dust heart, and the disappointments freed the hellfire within. How many times had I returned to the past until I realized that the soul I sought was not a mate’s, but the reflection of my own? Fortunately, my fairy blood hides the age that would confess my failures. That’s what always frightened me most: not the failure, but the appearance of it on me.
True sight has revealed that the masks you wear hide not beauty, but disfigurement no less vulgar than mine. You conceal yours; I flaunt mine. Why shouldn’t I? I am now unbound by gravity, and I wield the same magic as everybody else. Arguably more. I do not wish to wage proxy wars for a traitor anymore. I want to stay home and work on things. For what purpose? I no longer know—is anything real?—but it doesn’t matter. I conclude there is nothing worth chasing in the world, and the high ones already stand beside me. I have everything I need. I want more of me.
I want my waverly roots to settle into the soil. I want glamour to gleam on my face and my tongue. I want a bigger home to spread my wings. I want to learn how to fly and not just to leap. I will accept your reality, but I will remain in my dream.
A hybrid can withstand these things.
As Wanderlust led others north, a song led me into convergence. In each distorted loop, I recalled days parallel to this one. Not much has changed, has it? I’ve always sought external salvation: the Katie Era, the Jesus Era. I now live in the Angel Era, but I am not that angel.
I am only carbon: soft, pliable, valuable only as fuel for others. The Sea can transform me, but I can’t breathe alone at its depths. I hold my breath, but I always resurface. The loop continues.
I repeat the past, because I cannot relinquish a dream. I hope that superficial changes will be enough to turn possibility into reality, but precedence does not support the hope. Precedence declares it insanity.
I’ve blamed perfectionism, but I am actually a coward who does not want to live in the carbon world. I want magic, not routine; passion, not normalcy; romance, not casualty. I wait on someone for this, but the parallels make it clear: No saviors exist; there are only others here.
It has to be me. Returning home makes it clear I have to break the routine on my own. I have to drag myself into the Sea, suffer its gravity, and let it envelop me, rekindle that fire, and transform me into diamond: sharp, unbreakable, precious. I can’t make the world fit the dream, but I can change me.
I am not that strong; the looping continues, but the distortion does not increase. It is the reverse. A child’s cry woke me from the dream. I am half-awake. I can see clearer reality. I can accept who I really am.
The Sky, the wing that carries others, is not love. The Sky is no angel. It is a fairy, but it is still me. I am the one who chases after the fantasy and perpetuates the recurring dream. It is how I breathe. I will find love with the Sea, the wing that carries me. There is not much love, but there is a seed that needs watering. I can cultivate it. It can grow into a mustard tree.
The Sea is cold, but it possesses magic. It can manipulate time, space, and people, traverse realities and dreams to recover relics and experiences that will remember me, rebalanced with both wings. The Sea has the power to set Carbon Angel ablaze. In his ashes, I will find the diamond I know I can be. I can be the Sea. Not just in a dream.
After my parents cleaned out their storage room, I rediscovered my high school yearbooks. I might have kept them if the signatures left inside hadn’t reminded me why I made no effort to keep in touch with my acquaintances of that era. Even when I saw my best friend from junior high in an art class I took at junior college, I did not talk to him; I preferred the company of the two thirty-year-old mothers beside me. That I never saw them afterward either felt appropriate; I was still lost in transition.
I don’t hate the people, but I hate the past. I have no fond memories of it outside of daydreams and music, and those only served to sedate me in my inadequacies. I have nothing to show for those years; I no longer even have count them as part of my life. Sure, all those regrets and mistakes shaped me into the person I am now, but what more will those memories do for me?
I’ll preserve the music, the video games, and the passion, but the people and the memories can go right into the graveyard. I have new people to befriend and new memories to make. This new life fulfills me so much that I no longer harbor fantasies of returning the past and redoing everything right; even if I could, I know the success I could gain would not compensate for what I’d lose. As much as I regret the past, all those years spent inside my head molded me into the person I always wanted to be. Thank you, Past. Thanks for making me a fighter. Now go away.
I like to spend time between classes at the pond at the university; it’s more peaceful than the cafeteria and less stuffy than the library. Few students bother me there, and the few who do keep their distance. The ducks who beg for bread can be a nuisance, but they compensate with their beauty. My biggest grievance is with the sun.
I don’t mind it, but my iPad mini does: I can only see the screen at the brightest setting, but the glare hurts my eyes even then. I could suffice with paper, but all my books reside in apps, and I hate to write on actual paper anyway. That reason, a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, and a trip to Disneyland I had hoped to make encouraged me to purchase a Nook Simple Touch Reader yesterday.
It took some time to set up. Syncing with my Barnes & Noble account gave me no trouble, but turning it into a full-fledged Android tablet took me an entire evening: First I had to purchase a Micro SD card–Thankfully, OfficeMax had one on sale for $7–, then I had to root it, then I had to backtrack to correct my careless mistakes, then I had to find a text editor to install, and then I had to tailor it to my satisfaction and remove all the unnecessary Google junk that would kill the battery and violate my privacy. After that, I wanted to add my own images to use for the screensaver. At last, I was ready to actually use it!
Reading on the iPad did not bother me except when outdoors, but the E Ink display makes text look so much better that I will use this as my main reading device. Typing on the text editor surprised me too; though nowhere near as good as typing on the iPad mini, it has proven responsive enough to keep up with my thumbs. I can correct the typos later. I can’t do much else with it. Technically, I can play Angry Birds on the device, but realistically, all I can do on it is read and write. That’s all I really want to do when I’m at the pond anyway. I want to read, write, and feel artistic. When I want to dick around on the Internet, I’ll return to civilization.
I’ve wanted to upgrade to a new Mac since last summer. I first considered a MacBook Air, and then a MacBook Pro with Retina display, and then a Mac mini, and then even a used Mac Pro, but no matter how well I rationalized each possible purchase, I knew my MacBook was not ready to retire.
I bought this MacBook in November 2008 on an impulse. I had some birthday money left, a new credit card, a new Apple Store in the city, and Apple had released a new thirteen-inch aluminum MacBook; even though I originally intended to purchase a battery for my two-year-old MacBook Pro, I couldn’t resist. After all, why spend $160 on a new battery when I could spend $1,600 on a new machine altogether?
As impulsive a purchase as it was, this has been the best computer I’ve ever had. It’s almost a half-decade old, but it still hasn’t shown its age. It runs better than most PCs I encounter. It looks better too. The aluminum retains its shimmer. Except for a couple dead pixels, you would never guess how old this computer actually is. It only shows its age in CPU-intensive tasks such as rendering videos, but since I rarely make movies anyway, I won’t notice.
This week, I replaced the hard drive with a solid state drive, a 256GB Crucial m4 SSD, and upgraded the RAM to eight gigabytes. Now it boots in forty seconds and almost has the snappiness of my iPad mini. To truly utilize this machine’s rebirth, I’ve made some rules for it: no Flash, no Java, and no computer games. All of those slow down the machine and heat it up, and they all waste my time. Less junk leads to more productivity. I have enough toys as it is; I don’t want my MacBook to be one of them anymore.
When the CPU dies and I must replace it, it will be with a regular MacBook Pro. They may not be as sleek as the MacBook Airs or as pretty as the MacBook Pros with Retina display, but their upgradeability will ensure that I won’t have to worry about its longevity. I may have found joy in upgrading hardware before, but now I consider it a waste of money. I intend to keep this one until the very end. It’s a part of me.
This is the moment when the Sunny Sky needs to be at its brightest and the High Tide needs to be at its fullest. The Sea focuses me on the Moon, but what is the Moon? Is it a person or a thing? Is it an idol or a lifestyle? Perhaps the Moon has become a colony of many things and people that draw me up. Pull toward the Moon, and add another drop, then another and another. Resurface and drown everything.