Pain Brain

I’ve had a terrible time concentrating on writing this past week. In fact, this is the first thing I’ve written in days because I feel I have to. I’ve done no editing, outlining, or even writing about why I haven’t been writing. It’s not that I don’t know what to do next. I have a plan, I just haven’t started doing it yet. So what’s holding me back? Well, I’ve been in pain all bloody week, so it’s probably that.

Last week I got a new computer chair, because my old one is so big I can’t sit properly in it. It’s been killing my back and shoulders for years. The new computer chair actually supports my lower back and forces me to sit upright. I’ve been watching my posture all week. I’ve been stretching and exercising every single day, no flaking out on that. So what’s the problem? I’m not used to sitting properly! It hurts. I ache so much, so constantly right now, that I can hardly think.

And it’s been affecting everything. Today I hastily introduced my nose to a can of tuna by accidentally dropping it on my face. I’m not usually that clumsy. I’ve also been forgetting plans, letting my phone die, forgetting to phone, text, or email people. I’ve been a mess all week, and I finally realized it’s all because my neck and shoulders are killing me. I wake up with burning stiffness all the way from my clavicle to my acromion process – I almost typed “acrimonious” process because boy is it ever. Anyway, I have to stretch every morning just to breathe.

To top it off, I’ve been particularly stupid because my default activity when I feel like crap is to distract myself with computer games. So here I am self-medicating with regular dopamine hits from blingy crap on a screen, where I continually sit at the computer making my shoulder worse, because the stupid monkey in my head keeps saying, “Don’t worry about the pain, the answer is to keep clicking on these shiny pixels. That’ll make you feel better. Woo!”

So, that’s what I’m not up to. Ugh.

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Sometimes You Have to Say Screw It

I’ve decided to have another go at getting a proper blog post done today even though, due to sickbrain, I don’t have the focus to edit the post I’d drafted for this week ages ago. So this will be short. As well, I’ve deleted a more ranty replacement post because it was absolutely useless to anyone. With a cooler head, if not clearer one, I just have this to say: saying screw it is sometimes ok.

You can draft and outline, plan everything in advance, and otherwise prepare yourself for failure, but sometimes you crash anyway. Sometimes you miss a deadline, and even under the pressure to get it in anyway, can’t manage because (for example) you’re legitimately ill and there’s not enough energy to get the job done. Sometimes you have to take a sick day, or sick week, or whatever. Sit back and read a book or watch a movie instead. And save that energy to say tomorrow, or next week, or whatever will be better.

So I’m going to check this couple paragraphs off as another blog post done, because short can be useful as long as the words have a point. Also, I’ve almost reached my 20k word count on the novel this month, so I figure I’ve done enough of my writerly duty to not beat myself up about this little thing.

 

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How to Sit Yourself Down When Your Brain Goes Bugfuck

I’ve been bouncing off the walls all week, perhaps longer. I’ve managed to get a lot done lately, but the panic sets in the moment I wonder if I’ve been taking off in the right directions. It’s hard to gauge, especially when the money’s not coming in, seeing as it’s modernity’s primary indication of worth – and even though it’s 100% shit, we’re stuck wading in it. Anyway…

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Boy, The Latest Entry in my Journal is a Doozy

Since I started writing seriously I’ve been keeping a journal of interesting physical sensations and unusual experiences. It’s usually things like freezing my face off in -40° weather and what it feels like to defrost afterwards, or the incredibly specific pain of a pinched nerve. However, the other day I recorded one hell of an experience: a full on hypnopompic hallucination.

It started when terrible sound filled my dream, a voice yelling “PAT PAT PAT PAT…” It was Dalek-like, like a man yelling into a voice modulator. The sound confused me more than anything, until I saw an old-fashioned hunting party ride through my backyard carrying bazookas on their shoulders. The image was silly enough to make me realize it was a dream and wake myself up. But the sound didn’t stop.

I pinned the sound on my boyfriend. He wasn’t so much snoring as making little puffs of air, but my brain converted it into the reverberating shout:

({(PAT)}) ({(PAT)}) ({(PAT)}) ({(PAT)}) ({(PAT)}) ({(PAT)}) ({(PAT)}) ({(PAT)})

It was creepy and terrifying, more-so because it accompanied visual hallucinations.

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How a Life Lived Entirely Online Can Turn You Into a Bitter Sadsack

In the wake of the growing phenomena of online mobs dragging people to the pillory, often for the most ridiculously minor offenses, I’ve been thinking about what we can all do to be better than this, and the answer is we all need to go the fuck outside. This is not an original observation, of course. Viktor Frenkl made it a century ago in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Therefore, I’m going to let the man who survived Auschwitz do some of the explaining:

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Reasons Why You’re an Idiot: Gettin’ Mad on the Internet

Anger is an addiction. Righteous indignation is a disease. This is how I came to see my own online behavior as I got into comment slapfights and fell for endless streams of rage-inciting clickbait. Rage is a poison in the brain, an infectious one that poisons the air around you, like smoking. Isn’t it about time we all quit?

Imagine a dude bashing himself in the head with a laptop. You ask him why he’s doing that, and he says, “Because people on the other end are idiots!”

You point out, “But you’re the one smacking yourself in the head. If you keep doing that, you’re going to turn yourself into a jibbering idiot.”

He replies, “But I need to smack myself in the head. I keep trying to get information, and other people keep being wrong, so I need to smack myself to get their wrongness out of my head. There’s no other way, so I’m going to keep beating myself until other people stop being wrong.” And he turns his brain to jelly.

Do you see how ridiculous this is? Maybe you do, but you still don’t stop. Fine, we all get like that sometimes. Every one of us has to make a concerted effort to not keep poking at our sores. It’s there. It’s being sore. It’s maddening. And you don’t like it, so you keep poking it, but the only thing you’re accomplishing is making yourself more sore. You rub yourself so raw that even the tiniest grain of sand feels like a hot knife in the wound.

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How I Stopped Smoking: The Slow Habit Shuffle

I’m an impulsive, all-or-nothing type person. What’s moderation? What’s discipline? How the hell did I quit smoking? Especially since I loved smoking. Well, here’s the story, along with some motivational bullshittery because it’s New Years, the time of year where people vow to quit smoking and get in shape – and I’ve had some success so far.

First Some Background

I first attempted to quit smoking about 12 years ago, when the taste of cigarettes had become utterly foul to me. I managed to get all the way down to one cigarette a day, but just couldn’t give that one up. So I gave up. I said, “Screw it. If I’m going keep smoking, I’m going to damned well enjoy it.” And I bought myself a pipe and 25 grams of some shitty vanilla tobacco.

I smoked that damned thing for 10 years, until all I could stand was the finest Virginia tobaccos. I loved it. Other people loved it. The same people who used to do that “hack hack, cough cough” routine as they passed by would take a deep breath, fill their lungs with the stuff, and say, “Mmm, that smells so good!” It was like burning incense, with nicotine, and I still get a twinge of nostalgia thinking about it – but I don’t get the craving.

The thing is, I haven’t touched a cigarette since. I’d completely transferred my habit to the less addictive, less additive-infected pipe tobacco. The cravings were different. They didn’t come with the same pain and urgency. It’s probably the same reason vaping helped my SO stop smoking around the same time.

Vaping didn’t help me quit the pipe though. I was definitely addicted, smoking on average about 50 grams of tobacco a week. I had a pipe in my mouth the whole time I wrote my first novel. I didn’t want to quit, but I had to. The reasons were piling up: my teeth are trashed, my SO developed an allergy to my favorite tobacco, taxes raised the price to $1.50 a gram and I’d lost my day job due to chronic migraines.

So how did I finally quit? I’ll break it down into a nice little listicle, because everyone loves listicles!

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