A Mental Health Day for Henry

This morning, for the first time in a long time, I paid attention to how I was feeling and decided that what I really needed to do was take a mental health day. I haven’t written anything for my creative projects today, and I’ve decided to be okay with that. That’s mostly working. I took time to socialize with a friend I haven’t hung out with for too long, and that was great. This isn’t to say that I haven’t written anything; I had a course evaluation that I was supposed to fill out last month which I finally took care of (to the tune of 1822 words, no less). And I’m writing this, here. But I’m taking a break from trying to outline interactive fiction (which is a frustrating pain in the ass), and focusing instead on giving myself a break of sorts. And that’s been pretty good.

I’ve thought, for some time, that I must have struggled with depression at some scale for a good portion of my adult life. I’ve never discussed this at length with a professional, so I’m not sure how to judge it. I think college is the first time that I can recognize what I now believe were depressive episodes. I haven’t previously given myself space to call it depression because I always figured that other people must have it worse; claiming that I suffered from depression (to any extent) seemed like it was presumptuous, claiming attention for myself that I didn’t deserve and taking it from people who *obviously* deserved it more, people who weren’t poseurs like me. After all, I was basically managing to cope, and other people seemed like they had it worse.

But that is dumb. I still don’t think I suffer as much from this as others (including a number of my friends) do, and I still don’t want to be a distraction. But I’ve abandoned my implicit assumption that this has to be a zero-sum game. Admitting that I have trouble sometimes doesn’t mean that other people who are dealing with depression (or other mental health issues) can’t get what they need. And, providing I’m not a greedy loud jerk about it, talking about it might help other people rather than suck the oxygen out of the room.

I am fortunate to have friends who talk about their own experiences with depression, and the feelings and experiences they associate with their own depressive episodes. Without them, I would not have learned to recognize my own experiences as something that merited my attention, nor would I have recognized that I could do things to head off my feelings of depression and avoid making my life worse. Listening to them talk about the ways they deal with their own feelings has helped me. It’s proof that mental health doesn’t have to be a competition (which I suppose should be obvious, despite past-Henry’s unconscious assumption).

I’m especially fortunate to have these friends because, when I recognized those twinges this morning, the habitual narrative that I’ve learned so well, I finally had the thought that maybe I should take care of myself. I’ve had a much better day because of it.

I hope I remember this for the future. I hope I can share this with others in a way that helps them too.

Advertisements

Cider Lentils with Friends and Root Vegetables

This is not a story, game, or story game. I suppose that means it’s a little off topic for this blog. But I’ve been busy and anxious and etc., so today I took some time to make a meal with some of my friends and I feel much better for it. In case you want to make that recipe yourselves, I’ve thrown it together here for you. It was largely improvised, so my recipe is a little informal. Also judgey about people who don’t like real cider.

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb green lentils
  • 1 double handful red lentils
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 4-ish cloves garlic
  • 1 gallon cider
  • salt
  • sage
  • thyme
  • cayenne
  • olive oil
Notes:
This goes well with grilled garlic & herb sausage (I used turkey, but w/e).
My friend also made a real tasty dijon-shallot-honey-olive oil salad dressing for a mixed greens & endive salad which went well with this.
You should occasionally pull out bits and taste them during the cooking process. My preferred lentil end state is pre-disintegration (not mushy), with some body and firmness still noticeable. Not crispy & crunchy like dry lentils, but you should know that there are individual tiny lentils in your mouth while eating. If that isn’t how you like lentils, you do you. I’m sure you can cook this until it matches your desired consistency. Or actually measure how much liquid you put in or something.
Oh, and I’m a Vermonter. I like cider. If for some reason you don’t like cider (northeastern unfiltered good brown stuff, not mislabeled apple juice)… I can’t help you. But if you’re unfortunate enough to not appreciate the goodness of real cider, you can probably substitute inferior replacements and be satisfied.
Directions:
  • drink some cider, there’s a whole gallon for a reason
  • wash lentils
  • dice onion into square chunks
  • mince garlic into moderately fine bits
  • coin carrots & parsnips (carrots needed first) into roughly even thin slices
  • heat some olive oil in a pan
  • add diced onion and begin sauteeing
  • you probably need more cider in your cup now
  • add garlic soon after, once onion has that early glassy look
  • add carrot coins (some may need to be halved as well, if they’re thickish)
  • cook these for a few minutes until the carrots have warmed up, possibly adding more oil if you like
  • add parsnips and cook until warmed up, again adding more oil if you like
  • pour in cider to cover, this is also an excellent time to drink more cider
  • add lentils and more cider to cover again, more or less generous depending on how soupy you want the end result to be
  • simmer that delicious soup! stir gently, and check occasionally for lentil/parsnip/carrot consistency
  • once the cider has heated but before you’ve let it cook much, spice to taste:
  • add some sage
  • add a good deal more thyme
  • add a dash of cayenne (a tiny bit goes a long way)
  • who doesn’t love salt: be generous, mix, and taste test… then repeat
  • once your desired lentil/carrot/parsnip consistency has been reached, turn off the heat, let sit for a minute or so, and serve!
  • maybe have some more cider at multiple steps along the way

Reunions!

Fun fact. I graduated from college five years after I graduated from high school. This means that all those big 5, 10, etc year reunion things fall on the same calendar year for me. This is a bit awkward, as you might imagine, when it comes to planning.

When I’m also recovering from mono during the same stretch of time that all of those reunions are happening… well. My apologies for continuing to be slow with my posts, but I’m seeing folks I haven’t seen in years and having a very good time doing so. And when I’m not doing that, I’m sleeping.

Do not fret, I’m still here. I’m simply busy. I’ll be back with you soon.

You’re Listening to Fever 103, WFVR

The go to spot for all your disassociated ramblings, muscle aches, and profound desires to just get the hell back into bed if only you hadn’t sweated through all your sheets.

Yes, that was my temp this morning. I’ve cooled considerably since then, but I expect it will continue to be an adventure. I’ll resume the regular schedule some time soon, I swear.

You know, something about this made up radio station tickles my fancy. Maybe I’ll play around with it.

Going back to Lloyd Alexander

I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three and the rest of the Prydain series when I was younger.  I think I also missed a lot of the gendered subtexts (many of which are pretty overt) when I was reading Alexander’s work the first time through.  Or rather, I didn’t pay much attention to them even though they were right up in my face.  Rereading Lloyd Alexander has been a bit strange.

I’m afraid I don’t have anything more deep for you.  I have to go back to work, reading more Lloyd Alexander and Colonial and Post-Colonial theory, and writing about both of them (though not at the same time).

Though actually, on that note, there’s an excellent quote for you from Chidi Okonkwo’s piece “Casualties of Freedom” that sums up 20th century foreign policy pretty well:

“The role of the West in Third World poverty and instability has been that of pirates who, having plundered and sunk a merchant ship take up positions along the shore and shoot any survivors trying to swim to safety.”

Slushpiles and Rejection Letters

My day today has been rather full.  After reading homework in the library, I had the privilege of spending three hours going through a slushpile for someone I know (for the uninformed, a “slushpile” is what you call the vertiginous heaps of unsolicited submissions received by agents and publishing houses).

It was enlightening, and somehow encouraging and discouraging at the same time.  It puts me in mind of the internal rejection notes from Houghton Mifflin Company that I read while doing research last spring; I found reading committee notes on why HMCo shouldn’t print Poul Anderson, Philip K Dick, or even George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square.  That’s two iconic mid-1900s sci-fi authors and the 1961 Newbery Honor recipient, all rejected with pithy and sometimes caustic internal notes exchanged between the various submissions readers.

It was enlightening because I found myself rejecting anything that didn’t closely match the guidelines I’d been given, even things that I thought might have been perfectly decent books.  There were no hard feelings, the submission simply wasn’t *exactly* what I was looking for.  It was encouraging, because a number of them weren’t very good and I’d like to think that I could do a better job than that.  And it was discouraging, because in order to submit something and get an editor you need a finished manuscript, and finishing a manuscript that would be accepted is much easier with an editor.

Basically, you could do it if they’d let you, but they won’t let you until you do it.

It’s a mess.

So, it’s time for me to figure out how to finish my work.  Again.

And if your work has been rejected by people, don’t give up.  Submit again and again and again.  Everywhere you can.  Maybe you should tweak things, but do keep trying.

Whoops!

Sorry folks.  Today I combined taking a break from schoolwork with doing schoolwork… by which I mean I read Code Name Verity for several hours.  It’s really quite good so far, but I don’t have anything else to share with you today.  And now it is very definitely bed time.  I’ll try to have that horror piece for you next Friday.

Whoops!

I’m not trying to foster excitement by withholding posts from you (unless you prefer that narrative, in which case I am).  I’ve been busy with school and life and both of those things happening at the same time for the past week or so, and so I’m afraid I missed yesterday’s post.  I might miss tomorrow’s as well, but perhaps I can salvage that.

On the plus side, I ran a good game of D&D 5e last night for my campaign group that had been waiting 3 months for a session, and I should have a 1st draft outline of a longer Barium Deep piece up here sometime soon.  But until then, I’m afraid you’ll have to bear with me and wait.  Hasta luego.

The Middle Grade Character Intro I Actually Used

Remember how I mentioned being dissatisfied with my work on Wednesday?  As you might gather from the title, I wrote another 500 word piece rather than use either of those two.  I am, as ever, somewhat dissatisfied, but I still like this one.  It’s… fun.  And somewhat painfully reminiscent of my childhood.  Enjoy.

Continue reading

Flash Non-Fiction: Why I Write

This week’s challenge from Chuck Wendig isn’t about fiction at all!  This week, he asked people to write 1000 words about why they write.  I took about that many words to think it through.  Some of my answer feels final, some of it doesn’t, and I’m sure there’s more to be said.  But my response begins below…

***

Why do I write?

That question makes me uneasy.  I don’t feel like I have a good answer to it, or maybe it’s that the answer I do have isn’t “good.” Part of the answer is very simple:

Continue reading