Big changes, rich memories and a beautiful state. All footage is from Florida and captured on an iPhone or a Mavic Mini. Edited in Premiere as if commissioned to make a music video for the song.
(Tuesday, a few weeks ago)
I had planned to get up around 8:30am but was about two hours late. My watch was tapping my wrist nonstop, but I was dreaming about having a nervous twitch that wouldn’t go away. I texted Rob from bed: “I can’t think of anywhere to go.” I eventually got up, cleaned up my office from where I left it the previous night, ate half a protein bar and snagged a quick shower. I put on a button-down, which usually helps, and eventually left at 11:30am with my iPad and two plush friends.
Daytona could be nice, I thought. About 15 minutes later I hopped on our daily call. I half-listened and un-muted for long enough to say “nothing for me.” I ended up at Wendy’s: a tiny hamburger, four nuggets, and a diet soda while listening to a podcast. I drove out to the beach to a Starbucks I remembered had outdoor seating and beach view but their lot was closed. I parked a half-mile down A1A and walked back to find the lobby closed as well. Ah well, I need some mileage today. Sun feels pretty good, I thought as I walked back, my backpack sealed to my back with sweat. The wind was heavy and smells were everywhere: seafood, salt, smoke, exhaust, seasoning. I texted Rob: “Why am I out here?” Things weren’t bad…they just felt pointless.
In mid 2019, our friend Erik was nearing the end of his lease in downtown Orlando and was scoping out houses closer to work north of the city. Meanwhile, we were sitting on a house we were kind of bored with, seeing that it had appreciated 40% in value while staring down an upcoming roof replacement. We hatched an idea: what if Erik bought a house big enough for the three of us? Then we could sell our house and use the opportunity to shake off the boredom and prepare to move permanently out of Florida. Sounds exciting!
This is a visual story of how we found that house, fought through the upgrades and moves, and made it something workable to ride out the pandemic in. And mostly because I just love a good before-and-after gallery. 🙂
Why am I an internet raccoon? It’s both a simple answer and the story of my entire development as a person.
I have always had a wild imagination and been fascinated with expressive fantasy. Secret magic, fantastic worlds, cartoon melodrama, unlimited possibilities. Emphasis on cartoons—I loved cartoons. It started as early as I can remember. I remember being absolutely enthralled with an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—the one where Mikey turns into a human—in daycare at age 4. I was also obsessed with Disney’s Pinocchio in preschool, even winning a costume contest as the puppet in my mom’s labor-of-love makeshift outfit.
I received an NES for Christmas around age 5 and took to it like a duck to water. My kindergarten journals are stuffed with drawings and references to Mario and Mega Man. In early elementary school I wrote Mega Man fan fiction on the classroom’s Apple 2. I remember poring over laminated pages of old Nintendo Power issues for whole library periods. Games back then held tantalizing secrets that were only traded on the playground and I would often daydream about all the possibilities. I wanted to be a robot like Mega Man or (eventually) a badass like Sonic so badly.
I’m walking down a local bike path just trying to breathe as the storm rolls in. I have reasons to hope and plenty to worry. We’re going to have a great dinner, focus on Mario multiplayer, and let whatever happens happen—it’s all we can do.
Four years ago I was complacent. I weighed too much, didn’t exercise at all, ate and drank whatever I wanted, and didn’t care about myself all that much. Progress was alright and politics could be put out of mind. Everything would work out in the end.
I remember shaking all election night, from 8pm until I tried to go to bed and beyond. I remember having trouble breathing. The next days, weeks and months were harrowing.
I suppose I got over it eventually. Humans are able to acclimate to even the most negative changes. But an important thing came out of the last four years: a sense of weight to life. To quote Jia Tolentino, “…the way we live is not inevitable at all.”
Since Trump got elected, I’ve: lost 90 pounds; helped my partner learn how to ride a bike and biked hundreds of miles together; fought for multiple salary increases; visited every state park in Florida; experienced therapy and learned a ton of techniques to battle negativity and anxiety; acquired multiple certifications; and for the first time in my life, really started to respect myself—tracking goals, budgeting seriously with my partner, dressing up, and really believing I could do the hard things. And it took Trump’s election to enable all these things by making me realize what I was taking for granted.
During this pandemic I started triaging my belongings in an effort to donate as much as I could. I literally made an inventory in Airtable and marked every item as “keep”, “donate”, or “use and donate.” In the months that followed, I read more books, played more video games, and enjoyed more of my belongings than I ever had in any period prior. It’s all gone and I don’t miss any of it. I enjoyed the things I ditched more than I probably would have if I’d never thought to ditch them in the first place. When I planned to lose something it mattered a lot more to me.
Whatever happens tonight (or this week), let’s not forget what we stand to lose. There is no narrative arc to your life, this country or this world. Our time is limited, and there will never be a better time than now to tackle the things we’re all putting off. It is up to us to treat our lives as finite and valuable no matter how great or terrible things are outside. And if you need any help, drop me a line. 🐾
Another year, another birthday blog! This year I decided to ask those that wished me a happy birthday to contribute a writing prompt they’d like me to answer. Special thanks to Alex, Balt, Brian, Camus, Chance, Copper, Dakota, Doobie, Drakon, John, Kyne, Landis, Leeroy, Lokai, Milo, Mitri, Ray, Rosco, Sarge, Sepf, Simia, Soli, Tailsy, Toya, Tugs, and Vic for questions.
Despite going to the Boone / Blowing Rock area every year for the past few years, we were pretty hesitant this year. With face masks and caution, we ventured up for ~12 days and braved the crowds. With significant rain in the forecast starting at Day 4, we decided to liven it up by shooting a lot of video and trying to document what a weird year of hiking it was. Enjoy!
I started this year dealing with the loss of my grandmother after a wonderful week-long speed-running convention, thinking about how my year was going to shape up. Seven months later and every convention has been canceled, my cousin‘s sudden passing was nothing more than a family text, and I don’t really even remember what it’s like to have office space.
The transition was so sudden. Both my and my partner’s workplaces shut down overnight, and it doesn’t look like there’s any chance we’ll be back at the office in 2020. Our living situation was intended to be temporary, and as such we don’t have one dedicated space for working, much less two. It’s been a challenge transitioning from being very mobile individuals that fed off of the opportunity that mobility provided to being stuck in a small two-story rental with no natural division between work and home.
Emotionally, the pandemic has dialed up the amplitude on an already-jagged rollercoaster of a year: higher peaks, lower lows, and an even larger gulf between how grateful I should be vs. the emotional state I find myself in.
Despite the fear and anxiety of death and sickness, this crisis lit in me a fire of opportunity and possibility. I didn’t expect the situation to last long, so I figured I’d better make the most of it. That fire is now a pile of embers—still hot, but without much fuel, and limited by a difficult struggle with disgust, restlessness, frustration and helplessness. It has been a strange period of golden opportunity and crushing loneliness. Let’s talk about it.
What happens when you mix the star-struck owl from 2020’s chillest anti-viral videogame with the hottest celestial meme of 2017? Animal Crossing: New Horizons Shooting Stars!
This pandemic has taken my mind to a lot of places and other temporary pursuits, so I figured it was time to come back to the trusty ol’ blog and write something about writing to get me back in the groove.
I write because: I cherish the opportunity to be understood. I love sitting down to focus, losing myself in my own head, blocking out the world and recording my thoughts. Writing allows others in, into the details that make me a tangible person when they otherwise can’t, due to distance or time.
I write because: I want to live in other worlds, real and imaginary, through a medium that naturally obscures every other bad thing in my mind with the simplest tools.
I write because: I miss LiveJournal. It was a fascinating look into my friends’ (and potential friends’) lives and was always so rich and full of special, individual details. These days, social media has become a performance medium, and writing trades the public badges of success and performance metrics of faves, likes, and retweets for personal follow-ups with friends.