It’s All Up Here (But I Just Can’t Reach It)

My brains are scrambled eggs.

I’ve been saying this for months now. It’s like my grey matter has gone all tilt-a-whirl. I cannot grasp a thought.

Oh, they’re in there. I know. I can have them. But I can’t hold them. I can’t grasp them and focus on them and turn them into something practical and real. And this is frustrating because if memory serves, I used to be able to do this on a daily basis without too much trouble.

I thought this concentration/focus issue was part of the fatigue and exhaustion that went with the anemia. I thought once the anemia was under control, my brain would revert to its natural state, the chaotic hellscape that I’m used to. Then I thought maybe it was the stress of the day job, but that’s gone now, too. And the elusive ether of my mind remains.

Okay, it’s still overly-poetic, but maybe not as bad as it was. It’s still very frustrating, though. It’s like I can’t see anything up there. I feel like I need to empty my head out on a table so I can sort through all of the junk in that storage bin and organize it. I know that it would be in my best interest to take a minute (or 60) and do just that. Write down all of the ideas in my head, all of the projects, all of the blog posts, all of the free-floating To Do List items that never seem to make it farther from a notion so I really can see it all.

But I keep putting it off in favor of…something else. Anything else. My procrastination game lately has been the best of my life, for sure.

What I really need is a break. A week of isolation so I can straighten myself out. Get my mind right, find my center, stop distracting myself, diffuse this brain static I seem to be suffering from.

What I really have is no opportunity for that. Instead, I’m going to have to fix this mess on the fly.

Live dangerously.

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Rerun Junkie–Reboots of Reruns

Reboots of TV shows aren’t new. The New Monkees, The New Adam-12, The New Odd Couple, The New Gidget, The New Perry Mason, which aired while the old Perry Mason, Raymond Burr, was starring in Ironside, which would later be rebooted in 2013. Oh, and there’s reportedly another Perry Mason reboot in the works. From Dragnet to Kojak, Love Boat to Fantasy Island, Dark Shadows to Mission: Impossible, reboots have always been a thing.

I’ve changed my stance on reboots somewhat. As much as I would love for the people in charge to stop dipping into the pop culture well of yesterday and instead invest in fresh ideas written and performed by those not necessarily straight, white, cis, and mostly male, I’m no longer screaming about the originals that are being rebooted as being untouchable and sacrosanct.

Why?

The reboots are not for me.

If the reboots were for me, they’d just put the reruns on. I mean I love shows that went off the air before I was born. But. Why can’t they be redone, updated, and polished for a new audience? It worked for Battlestar Galactica. The original ran only one season, written off as a hokey Star Wars rip-off, though it was followed by the single-season sequel Galactica 1980. The reboot ran four season, garnered quite a bit of attention and acclaim, and created quite an enthusiastic fanbase. I never got into it as I prefer my Cylons shiny and the bad guy to have a purple light bulb for a head and wear a disco cloak, but even I know that we were all blessed having Richard Hatch back on our TVs on a somewhat regular basis.

I cried foul when it was announced that Hawaii Five-O was being rebooted. But it’s in its ninth season now. The only episodes of it I’ve watched pertain directly to the original (the remake of “Hookman”, Ed Asner’s character from “Wooden Model of a Rat” coming back, their take on “Cocoon” for the season 9 opener) and while I appreciated those episodes and the fact that show goes out of its way to pay such homage and respect to the original, I’ve never felt compelled to watch it on the reg. It’s not for me. But other people enjoy it plenty.

To me, it’s actually a good example of a reboot. The love for the original is plainly visible. The important elements are intact. The stories and cast have been updated, the characters tweaked, but at their core, they’re very familiar.

The reboot of Magnum PI appears to be going in this direction, which makes sense since the guy who developed it also developed the Hawaii Five-0 and MacGyver reboots. I watched the first few episodes, and I think the respect is very much there. No, Magnum doesn’t have a mustache (though there was a mustache reference in the second episode), but he’s still a handsome and charming war vet turned private investigator and all-around do-gooder and at his core, that’s who Magnum is. There is an unfortunate lack of short-shorts, though. We’re being denied man thighs.

But that’s a personal complaint.

Also greater than the mustache is that this Magnum is Latino. That’s one nice aspect that reboots can provide. Diversity. Yes, there’s always squawking when a male character is recast as a woman (Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica, Kono on Hawaii Five-0, Higgins on Magnum PI), which tells more about the squawkers than it does about the shows. But let’s be real, kids. Television, particularly action and sci-fi shows, are largely sausage fests. There’s nothing wrong with women cast as known characters provided that the characters reflect the change.

Getting non-white actors in those classic roles, too, opens up a world of storytelling provided the change is reflected. There are now new dimensions added because the characters aren’t working what’s considered the default. The reboot of One Day at a Time features a Cuban-American family. Back in the ’80s, The New Odd Couple (not to be confused with the 2015 reboot of The Odd Couple) featured a Black duo played by Ron Glass and Demond Wilson. Reboots also offer the opportunity to create new characters that could be played by non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-cis actors.

Reboots aren’t going away. So long as they can be viewed as a pop culture lure to draw in old fans while creating new, something with a vague scent of money to it, they’re going to keep getting the green light. And some of them are going to be positively horrid bombs that spit all over their source material and they should be rightfully shunned.

But others won’t be. Others will end up being pretty okay. And if we can’t enjoy them, then we should leave them to those that do because we still have the originals.

And if they ever need a consultant, I’m available.

October Writing Projects

It is that time of year again.

Ah, yes.

Time to prep for NaNoWriMo.

And prep I will. But first, I have to finish the revisions on season 3 of Murderville.

Yes, I know. I’ve been working on this forever. Believe me, I feel it, too. Probably more than you. I’d love to be done with it. But it’s a two-fold issue. Number one, the rough draft has required a lot more rewriting than the previous two seasons. Like, I’m redoing a whole section of plot. Yeah. I’m also not thrilled with this and I’m not exactly sure what the hell I was thinking when I both outlined this and wrote the first draft.

On the plus side, I got a nice little side thing that happened in the first draft that I didn’t anticipate and it’s been nice to sort of bring that out and shine it up a little.

The second issue I’ve been having is with my mental health lately. My brains are scrambled eggs. While a lot of my energy issues resolved themselves when I started the iron pills for my anemia, my concentration is still shit in a lot of ways. I’m thinking it’s the usual culprits anxiety and/or depression. Leaning towards the former.

Anyway. It’s been a struggle to get through some days let alone a couple of pages of revisions. I’m going to attempt to step things up and try to push myself back to what I was doing before I was derailed about this time last year when the anemia started to worsen and I thought it was just me being lazy. I used to be able to revise entire “episodes” in one day. I need to get back to that.

Especially with NaNoWriMo looming.

2,000 words a day just doesn’t happen.

But what did happen? We hit another goal over on the Murderville Patreon. All patrons have been enjoying their reward and later this month, $2 patrons will be enjoying a bonus in the form of a cryptic poem dropping hints about season 3. Become a patron and get in on the goodies.

All Aboard the Hot Mess Express

If you follow me on Twitter or read the September projects post, then you’ll know that the day job is no more.

It didn’t work out for various reasons. To be honest, the whole deal was a hot mess from the beginning.

The same day I got the job I was diagnosed with anemia, which I didn’t tell anybody about because, hey, it was just continuing to function with the extreme fatigue I’d been dealing with for months while I waited for the iron pills to do their thing, no big deal. My second shift I was offered a promotion because the store had been operating with only three people and they desperately needed anyone with experience to step up. I took it because even though it wasn’t what I really wanted for a day job, I wanted to help out and the responsibility didn’t sound too bad.

I was given maybe a week of training and then given my own shifts, call us if you need us, which probably would have worked out better if they answered their phones more often. Anyway, after about a week of being on my own and getting the hang of things, the tiniest Wal-Mart in the world, the one in my town, announced it was closing. Oh goodie. Now the small, two-register store I worked at was inundated with their business and complaints. The computer system was too old to keep up with the increase so it crashed at least once a shift, sometimes just needing the pinpad for the card readers reset and sometimes needing the entire register rebooted.

We were also still operating understaffed and the people we did have were new. I’d been there less than a month and was considered a vet. I was training the new cashiers. So, we had all of this new business and under-trained employees. When we had employees at all. I ended up working several of my shifts alone because nobody showed up or somebody called in. I also got called in early or on my days off pretty regularly.

There was also an increase in freight. Quite simply we were drowning in it. We couldn’t keep up with it because we didn’t have enough people to put it up and/or were too busy to put it up because of all the customers.

Meanwhile, I’m barely writing because I’m wiped out. The whole point of the day job was to supply me with a steady income because I wasn’t making enough by writing alone. This was supposed to take some pressure off of me. Instead, I was stressed and my anxiety was so bad I was having trouble sleeping.

There was a stretch when things were improving. First of all, my anemia got better so I wasn’t totally exhausted all of the time. We started getting two trucks a week, which made the freight easier to handle. The people we hired were getting better and showing up and sticking around. Business slowed some after the Wal-Mart finally closed in July because people stopped panicking about having to go out of town to get toilet paper. Someone that had hired in at the same time I did finally decided to become a key like me.

But then I found out that I was going to be training. From her. The night I was supposed to start training her. And I was given less than a week to do it. She called me on her first solo shifts because she couldn’t get a hold of either of the managers. One day included four phone calls, one text message, and two trips to the store to help her out.

And finally, we got a new district manager who wanted pretty much everyone, including yours truly, fired because we weren’t doing our jobs well enough.

That was all she wrote for me. I called it quits.

The thing is that I didn’t feel at all relieved about quitting. I felt like (and still feel like) a failure. If I had been better, I would have been able to make it work. I would have been able to handle that job and write. I wouldn’t have been tired and stressed and anxious all of the time. I let everyone down because I couldn’t hack it. I couldn’t do what everyone else does: go to work, do their job, go home and function there. I couldn’t fucking do it.

I expressed these sentiments on Twitter after I turned in my keys and made it official and everyone was very kind (because I follow some awesome folks there) and assured me that I wasn’t a failure, but if that were true…I wouldn’t have quit, would I?

Yeah.

Since my last day, I’ve been struggling to right my emotional ship as well as everything else. I finally got my sleep schedule adjusted closer to where I’d like it to be and I’m actually sleeping most of the night instead of fighting sleep for hours because I keep dreaming I’m at work and not really sleeping until dawn. I’m working on getting off the retail diet, too. And, of course, my writing is happening more like normal again. Yet, I’m still frustrated that I’m not doing all of this faster and better.

Because the feeling of failure lingers.

I can’t quit it. It won’t take my notice.

September Writing Projects

Some good news on the Murderville front. Season 2 has come to a successful close and I hope all of my patrons enjoyed it. I also finished writing the first draft of Murderville Season 3. It’s a damn mess and it’s going to need a lot of work and that’s what I’m going to focus on this month.

Last month I also revised and polished the Season 3 preview story. Normally, I’d put that out next month, but until I get a good handle on where I’m at with Season 3, I can’t commit to that. Unless I’m sure that I can have Season 3 ready to roll on time, I don’t want to get ahead of myself with the previews and such.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that the day job is no more. Due to various reasons (some of which I may detail in another post), it didn’t work out, so I’m back to where I was at the beginning of May. In theory, I should be able to play catch up this month and put everything Murderville-related back on schedule. But again, I don’t want to commit to anything considering I’ve basically been disappointing if not everyone, then at least myself all summer with my ability to live up to my commitments. It’s been a very frustrating season for me.

But, it’s not frustrating for my patrons because the ebook of Murderville: The End Of comes out this month. Become a patron now and get in on this sweet deal.

The Retail Diet

When I worked at Wal-Mart for the last time, some ten years ago now, my diet was pretty terrible. I believe I once compared it to eating like a racoon raiding a dumpster. I drank a lot of soda, ate a lot of fast food, Hot Pockets and microwavable beef stew being the extent of my cooking. By the time I quit that gig, I had cut down on the soda drinking, but that was about it.

After I quit, I made some dietary improvements, mainly by actually cooking meals instead of microwaving whatever I could find and making soda and fast food a rarity. And I managed to continue with this for the next ten years or so, despite the different day jobs, even while holding three day jobs at once, and even while technically working in retail.

But doing floorset isn’t the same as working retail. I wasn’t dealing with customers on top of resetting an entire store; I was just doing a lot of folding, rearranging, and swearing. Working retail means dealing with customers while trying to put up freight, answer the phone, and keep the store in order. It means walking two to six miles during any given shift and never leaving the store. It means having registers crash during busy times, people calling in and leaving you to work a Saturday shift alone for several hours, listening to customers say the same things over and over again thinking they’re the first to be so clever. It means answering the same questions over and over again, listening to the same complaints over and over again, and holding your tongue during both.

In short, retail can be (and currently is for me) a high-stress, low-wage job.

And it kills my eating habits.

In the past few months of my new retail day job, I’ve drunk more soda and eaten more junk food than I have in years. I’ve craved soda and junk food more in the past few months than I have in the past ten years. Working retail triggers in me the need for a garbage diet that I might be able to get away with in my twenties, but not when I’m pushing forty. Yet, here I am, despite all wisdom, going right back to it.

I’m guessing the combination of stress and anxiety is the trigger for me here. I can’t say that I’m much of an emotional eater. However, I think that the stress/anxiety combo wears me out to the point that my willpower is gone and I’m too tired to care about what I’m ingesting. That’s definitely how it feels. It’s not a particularly healthy mindset, but it’s hard to maintain one when all of my energy is focused on getting through another shift. It leaves little energy for the effort of making good choices.

Right now I’m struggling with it. I can only hope that the stress recedes soon (the anxiety, I don’t think, ever will) and gives me a break that doesn’t come in the form of a Kit Kat Bar.