Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Dec 09

I Don’t Write Year-Ends Letters

I do not write year-end letters. Yes, I receive them. I read them and smile. I send off a quick email to let the sender know that I’ve seen and appreciated their words. But I am never the sender.

If I were to write a year-end letter, I suppose I would have a lot to say about this year. I might comment on all the big plans that were brewing in my mind and how it took me months to finally bite the bullet and act on them. I would start with a mention of my trip to California, which included my first American train ride (and three more to boot), a journey across the country and days spent connecting with family members and touring a state I had never before visited.

But I do not write year-end letters.

Still, I cannot help but think that if I did, if I did, I would mention the many smaller trips within the state and without. The overnights to see concerts and movies, share laughter with friends and family and visit museums, cemeteries, and zoos. I might comment on lamentations over dessert and on walks with friends and family members who shared my same frustration at the current political climate.

Remember, I am not the type of person to write a year-end letter.

Though were I to consider such a feat, I would be remiss to mention another trip: one to view the full eclipse, a trip for which I was so excited but woefully unprepared. Yet, somehow, it still happened, and while I spent my time with viewing the solar eclipse with different company than I imagined, I was still fraught with excitement and managed to shed a tear.

You will recall that I will never write a year-end letter, of course.

Perhaps, had I such an inclination to write a letter, I might mention the joy that I experienced walking many miles, playing various games, listening to multiple podcasts, researching myriad topics, and reading more books than in any single of the previous 31 years of my life. I could recount the countless meals partaken or discuss new friends made, memories shared, and weddings participated in.

This is not a year-end letter, you will notice, but those are the types of things I would write in one.

If I sat down to type a year-end letter to mail to my loved ones, I would undoubtedly find myself struggling not to mention the difficulties that the year had lobbed in my direction, namely the passing of a dear friend and an injury that plagued me for much of the year in an attempt to further keep me down. Both succeeded, for a short while. I might pontificate on the ensuing struggles, you know, if I was doing that sort of thing.

A year-end letter from me would also have to include mention of the story that I had published at the Radvocate as I ramped up efforts to write more and publish. I might also have mentioned how I toiled (okay, perhaps not toiled) on my novel, wrote other stories (one of which took me most of a year to title), brainstormed a graphic novel, and began to plan a more serious future as a writer.

The type of writer who doesn’t pen end-of-year letters, you see.

This isn’t a year-end letter, no matter what you might think. I don’t know what the hell it is. But it’s certainly not the type of letter you write at the end of the year to recap the previous twelve months.

I wouldn’t do that.

Nov 20

Communication Breakdown

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I communicate with people. Those interactions have left something to be desired, for all parties, I’m sure.

I find myself being short with people. I haven’t had the energy to pretend that I am okay with someone consistently cutting me off or failing to even inquire how I am. I think I have desire to speak to people but am struggling, and it’s even worse when they don’t give me the opportunity. Perhaps I want my conversations to slow down a bit.

One thing that makes this difficult is that I don’t go to work or school and see a bunch of people on a daily basis. If I have a conversation with someone, it might be the first – or only – conversation I have with a person that day. I may have a lot to say, so I throw it all at them because I just happen to see them. Perhaps I am inundating people with things that they don’t care about, even if I do. There are things I enjoy and discover on my own that I want to bring into my interactions with others.

Yet, I feel like my roles in these conversations in passive. And I much prefer being engaged in conversation, Rapt attention to a deep conversation is more my stride, which is why I am only further disappointed by conversations that only seem to scratch the surface. Where’s the real stuff, bro?

Because of this, I find myself so disappointed, mostly with friends. And I feel bad, not because I am guilty over judging them but because there’s disappointment everywhere I turn. It’s so frustrating. I would prefer to be happy.

Of course, every conversation is a two-way street. I am not without fault here. I think that while giving myself permission not to pretend that I’m not slighted in conversation sounds like it will use less effort, but it only leaves me focused on what others are doing wrong. It’s a lose-lose.

I should probably just cut people slack for being imperfect. We all are. People have their own lives. Some people are especially busy. Plus, we live in a world where we interrupt one another on a frequent basis, and not every conversation will be thrilling or even pleasant.

Maybe I should discuss these things with people so they know where I’m coming from. Although, that might only open me up to more frustrating if nothing changes. And I seem to be struggling with suggesting change in a constructive manner, unsurprisingly. I may be lacking thoughtfulness just like others. And I’m sure I assume I am better in these situations than others are. It’s what we humans do, after all.

And now this human, having come to no useful conclusions, is signing off.

Oct 19

You Live, You Learn (And Why Wouldn’t You Want To?)

I have been meaning to write this blog post for some time.  It’s probably good that I didn’t get to it before now, but I won’t be able to explain why until after i get right into it.

One of the crucial elements of who I am is that I like to learn. I rediscovered this a little over a year ago when I dove head-first back into reading. My focus was on science, and I loved nearly every word of every page.

I have since then devoured books by Nye, Sagan, Feynman, Hawking and more. I’ve dying to read more books by Mary Roach, and my eBook wait/hold list contains far more nonfiction titles than fiction.

But it’s not just books. I like podcasts that teach me new things. Blogs. TED talks. I go to events hosted by the historical society. It’s downright nerdy.

You might call me an epistemophiliac or epistemophile:

one who excessively strives for knowledge, or has a preoccupation with it

I want to know, and I want to know more.

In fact, I have said more than a time or two that I have little time for fiction because what’s happening around us in the real world is already so fascinating. I mean, teach me how and why something works — even if  I don’t necessarily care about the subject — and I will find it mildly interesting. Who knew I had an interest in astronomy or economics, for instance, before I delved into them? Now, I listen to podcasts (like these) on them on a weekly basis.

While not every subject will be riveting, I could certainly appreciate an engaging conversation about the science or history of most topics. Say, a sport. Teach me something, and I will try to take something away from it.

On the other end, I will often excitedly go on about something I recently learned and cannot keep to myself. I can only hope I’m a fraction as endearing as Carl Sagan with his childlike wonder.

It comes easily to me, to be honest. I may have forgotten how much I liked learning and may not have been super proactive about it, but I still liked it. That leads me to my main thought of this post:

I do not understand people who don’t enjoy learning, who aren’t curious about the world, who don’t want to add to their knowledge.

It’s not just that it’s a simple pleasure. It’s practical, pragmatic. Seeking knowledge helps you do more, save money, hold better conversations and feel more self-assured to name just a few benefits.

It might lead you to skills that are sellable and better jobs or more prestige. Although, those things are less of a concern for me. I may spend too much time learning things that are of no immediate use.

Because learning is fun. And it’s easier than ever, thanks to the Internet.

Maybe I can’t understand the way people don’t care for or actively dislike learning; although, I certainly don’t mind not allowing myself to understand this shortcoming of others. Forgive me that pretense. I am sure you can understand.

As a general rule, I don’t find people who don’t enjoy learning new things — and occasionally learning them from me — to be particularly interesting. I want to learn about the world and have discussions about ideas and things that are greater than gossip, your 9-to-5 job, or the weather. Sorrynotsorry.

Don’t get me wrong. I have surrounded by myself with people who enjoy learning or who, at the very least, appreciate my love of learning. It still just boggles my mind that anything doesn’t.

Now, the reason why waiting was a good idea? After my friend died, I enjoyed a lot of mindless/easy media. I consumed more comics than books on science. I pretty much stopped listening to podcasts because, when I did, I found myself tuning out. 30 minutes to an hour would pass, and I had no idea what I just listened to. I couldn’t make myself care.

I wouldn’t write this post passionately while I was in that stage. I hope I’ve done it justice this morning.

With that, I’ve got more Sagan to read.

Oct 04

Things Are Improving.. Finally?

As I type this, I am feeling pretty good. I am listening to music and connecting to it in a way that I haven’t been able to do in a while. Unlike my previous posts, in which I discussed some of the difficulties life decided to throw at me this summer, this post will be more upbeat.

I am especially happy because I’ve been able to achieve my daily step goals these last two days for the first time in weeks? Months? I thought I had twisted or perhaps sprained my ankle and tried to take it easy, but it didn’t really get better. Ther another day I happened upon a description of Plantar Fasciitis and realized it sounds exactly like my issue (shooting pain and stiffness when waking up or after sitting down). I decided that trying some of those stretches won’t hurt even if that’s not my issue. It’s been only two days, but I already feel better. Not perfect but much better.

Since this pain started around the time I got some new shoes, I decided to buy a different style than I usually buy (it’s new shoe buying time, anyway). Hopefully, I’ll be at minimal pain and maximum mobility in no times. Which is good because I’m not digging this weight gain or my inability to play Ingress like a boss. Ha! The endorphins are also much needed after such a trying summer.

I no longer find myself crying (read: sobbing) all the time over my friend who passed. I will miss him forever and occasionally tear up, but I don’t feel the need to stay inside a blanket fort and avoid my life. He would appreciate me getting on with it, anyway. Part of this is because I have a house guest, and it’s a bit of a distraction.

My friend’s death really cast a pallor on all my other summer activities. Sure, I saw the eclipse, heard Adam Lambert + Queen in concert, enjoyed John Mulaney’s standup in person, had a story published in a zine that I have yet to open, visited a plethora of museums and traveled to or through nearly a dozen states.. but it all just paled in comparison. It was so difficult for me to enjoy the fact that I had done any of that.

It didn’t help that it all involved being in so many cars, trains or buses! While I will likely take at least three more road trips before the year wraps up, I had to slow down my pace so I wasn’t so exhausted and depressed.

Once I finish Halloween decor this week (boy, am I behind!), things in my life will begin to look more normal. I am going to pass up hosting my own party to save money and effort, but I am excited about my costume no matter where I wear it!

I’m even managing to catch up on writing reviews, entering giveaways, and email communications (including pitches to companies, which I haven’t done at all this year!).

But, first, I must hack some portals!

Sep 05

Sometimes You Just Need to Build a Blanket Fort

I am 31 years old. According to many, I am strong. I have my shit together compared to many that I know, and I’ve managed to make a way for myself that confuses and, perhaps, intimidates most people.

But this has been a trying summer. It started out fine if not busy. It quickly went downhill as my friend Collin’s health declined. His death was hard. I knew it would be. But it was harder than I imagined.

When people ask, I’ll tell them that, but I’m not sure they realize what it means. It means that there are days when I find myself crying a dozen times. Of course, there are days when I don’t cry at all. And there are no days when I don’t also laugh or bring a smile to someone else’s days. But there’s never a day that I forget, and I don’t think there’s been a day since his passing when I felt entirely myself.

I am not alone in this. Although, sometimes I feel more alone than I would like. I’ve also felt a little less safe than I would like to, you know, emotionally. Now, I am not one to decry that those who need safe spaces are weaker than. But it’s never something I thought I would need myself. As it turns out, it might be.

So I made myself a blanket fort. At first it was a silly idea, perhaps encouraged by the silliness of a new friend. I considered it and even joked about it my mother, who encouraged me to build a blanket fort.

To be honest, I can’t ever remember doing it as a child, so I began to plan it out (like kids do that! lol). It became a distraction as I dragged kitchen chairs into my living room. And I built a thing.

Blanket fort 1.0 wasn’t the best. I could sit in it, but it was small. I decided to renovate. Soon enough, I had a larger space I could lie in, and my cats could explore. It wasn’t entirely comfortable because I was on the floor.

After a couple hours in my newly-expanded blanket fort (and one roof caving in CATastrophe), I wondered if I could fit my air mattress in it. The fort was slightly more narrow than my mattress, but I squeezed it in there successfully.

It was starting to feel plush. And comfortable. Safe. Phantom crawled in next to my frequently. Goliath took longer to warm up to the idea. He was nearby, but he didn’t join me until after I fell asleep last night and the temperature had dropped quite a bit.

Yes, the whole thing was silly and childish. But it was more than that. It was a needed break from my routine, both my daily and mental routine. It was carefree and silly. And while I can’t say I didn’t shed a tear while in my blanket fort, I can also say that it felt good to be in.

Now, I wouldn’t want to need a security blank or a security blanket fort to get through life, and I don’t. I spent a day being silly, reading and playing games from within the comfort and confines of a malleable, semi-permanent living structure (as I coined it in a Facebook life even update). I slept there.

Then, I woke up and took down the “walls” and returned to my normal life feeling a little bit better and a lot more like myself.

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