Finding Everyday Inspiration: Woods

Finding Everyday Inspiration: Woods

Part of WordPress’s writing course Finding Everyday Inspiration.

Today’s prompt combines the textual and the visual. Four stock photos are set to choose from and use as a launchpad for telling a story. I’m not a great storyteller, that won’t do. I’m great at decision paralysis, which isn’t really great either because I devote more time to deciding than writing. After emerging from my paralysis like a phoenix with bird-flu, I picked the picture which I hated the least.

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The present-day Red Riding Hood is blue (in colour and mood)

Frost and Woods

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost

I quote Robert Frost in general and his “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” in particular every.single.day on this blog. I’m exaggerating, obviously. Frost (the poet, not the weather) is one of my favourites for a number of reasons, some of them wrong. (Yes, there are wrong reasons for liking poetry, including when you’re depressed and deliberately seek out relentlessly pessimistic poetry so you could feel even worse.)

Among the less contestable reasons why Frost is enduring for me are his deceptive simplicity, amazing universality and easy memorability. No kidding, I can be found wandering around my home reciting Frost’s poems for myself aloud. Some of his lines are so chilling that they never cease to creep me out. (Yes, I am easily scared.) Sometimes I may give a threatening stare to my reflection in the mirror and enunciate balefully, And that has made all the difference. (Are you terrified yet? Read on, it gets worse!)

Me and Woods

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Looking at the photo, I have several free associations. What I can see is a girl getting lost, never to be found, to be eaten by a wolf and becoming a werewolf (that’s how it works, right?). The modern Red Riding Hood is no more red but blue because red is too cheerful (and doesn’t contrast with blood that well) and also blue is perfect to reflect her blue mood.

The werewolf-to-be girl is apparently a misled Zennist (as of Zen, different from Zen Buddhist in that it removes Buddha to make it less complicated; also, you’ll never believe me, but I am one [not Buddha, Zennist {also, are you wondering how many parentheses within parentheses can I use? <many>}]). The blue girl wandered into the woods to hug trees but instead, she’ll be hugged by ticks and attacked by allergies (besides wolves). That’s how it goes. At least, that’s what happens always when I dare to enter woods.

What I Hated the Least Today 256/365: Bright New Things

What I Hated the Least Today 256/365: Bright New Things

What I’ve Been Up to Blogging-Wise

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The desert of my inspiration

After many dry months with an average post precipitation of one to three pieces per month, I’ve been surprised by a sudden boost in my blogging mood. (Such as the local road maintenance services are surprised by snow each year, though I live in a country where it snows each winter.) I’ve produced more posts in the last few days than I did in the last few months together. So what’s going on? I can’t say (I would if I knew), so instead, here’s a clueless song which asks the same question.

Coffee Break: Clueless Song

Continuation: Blogging Plans

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My new favourite halfie

Exactly forever ago I started my cheeky take on gratitude projects and called it What I Hated the Least Today. The idea was to run this on a daily basis but it went oops. Out of sheer stubbornness, I refuse to drop the project and instead drag it along, masquerading each my new post with this heading. I intend to continue to do so because I continue being stubborn.

I love exploring all new because discovering a new thing makes me feel less like I’m so old and like I’ve seen everything already. I’ve been looking for some bring new thing for my time-wasting through blogging and I got something. First, I’ve changed my avatar to my current favourite halfie. Second, I’ve changed my blog’s tagline. Remember how I hated on rainbows and sold the unicorn on eBay? Well, no more. The new tagline is in beta version. Please don’t tell me that it’s dumb unless you come up with a suggestion.

Third, I’m ambitious like it ever got me anywhere! As I was procrastinating researching WordPress’s Daily Post blog, I remembered how I hated the least their blogging challenges and courses. The courses used to be organised on particular days and tutored by WP editors. Well, no more. Now it’s on a self-served basis. I’ve however found something to my acquired taste. It’s called Finding Everyday Inspiration, which is what I very much subscribe to. Literally. I subscribed and will be likely seeing through this writing challenge at my own pace. If it sounds like something you fancy trying out too, do jump on the bandwagon—and (don’t) break a leg.

What I Hated the Least Today 255/365: Concierge

What I Hated the Least Today 255/365: Concierge

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I happened to be installed to the unenviable position of a make-shift concierge at my building. The concierge is a fancy name for the person who goes quietly about her own business only to get yelled at by antagonistic neighbours when something stops working. The concierge also serves as a rent collector, which is obviously a highly popular function.

I’m everyone’s favourite: I’ve already got my postbox vandalised twice and people probably pee at my door. Well, as long as it pleases them—and as long as they bring in the rent… I wish the building owner had manifested more common sense when selecting the concierge. As an anxious and asocial individual hardly capable of interacting with other representatives of the human species, I hardly make an adequate candidate. I totally suck at it too.

The other day I paid a visit to the upstairs family to kindly remind them of their overdue rent, or, alternately, to threaten to throw them out on the street unless they promptly pay. As soon as the tenants opened the door, I got in trouble. There was a kitten! When I see a cat, I totally lose it. So, without saying what I wanted or even asking if I could, I grabbed their kitten and proceeded to cuddle it. The errand didn’t go well. I was offered coffee, sat down with the tenants and the kitten and, by the way, do you guys know that you owe on rent? They did know.

Yesterday the scariest woman in the building, whom you wouldn’t want to meet after dark on an empty street, flew down the stairs pounding at my door and screaming that, quote, her fucking internet wasn’t fucking working and what I was going to do about it, fuck. I didn’t dare to inquire whether she tried switching her router off and on because I feared she might bite me and I’m not vaccinated against rabies. Ten minutes later, as I was in the process of screaming at the internet provider, she came back to apologise. Her husband apparently unplugged their router.

It’s the twentieth, which is rent day, so please excuse me, I’m going to wear my breastplate, grab a stick for self-defence and am off to collect rent.

What I Hated the Least Today 254/365: How I Met My Cat

What I Hated the Least Today 254/365: How I Met My Cat

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Ella

It’s been a while since I last reminded you of the fact that cats are the best. And since it’s Caturday, here’s the history of how I met my cat. It’s a lengthy, convoluted and boring story with several false starts. You have been warned.

I first found myself in a regular proximity with a cat when I moved in a house which came with a black panther. At least I thought it was a dwarf panther, but on closer examination, it turned out to be a huge black cat. On an even closer examination,  it turned out to be two cats which looked alike. Soon, one of the cats went to Tahiti. That’s a local saying meaning he disappeared for good. The other cat remained but resisted all my attempts to become friends.

Since the in-stock cat wouldn’t have me, I got myself a spare cat. It was a super cute multi-colour kitty. She was alright as long as she was young and dumb, but then, under the adversarial influence of the unfriendly panther cat, she became a feral wild thing. She would only let me hold her as long as I was feeding her ham. Before she managed to grow up, she got herself run over by a car. That much to me having a kitten.

A few years later, I got a replacement cat. I got to pick her from a new litter. There were only black-and-whites and tabbies. I didn’t particularly fancy any of those, but I half-heartedly selected a brownish tabby. I wasn’t too impressed. I called her Ella. Ella wasn’t too impressed either. She spent the first few weeks sitting at the doorstep and meowing plaintively. And then we somehow grew on each other.

Meanwhile, Ella has become five, has moved with me twice and has become my bestie. She’s a pretty average cat, but she has a bunch of redeeming features. She’s affectionate but not annoying, doesn’t mind it when I don’t mind her and can be left home alone for up to two nights. Though she’s always pissed off when I dare leave her for too long. Right now, she’s sleeping curled up on my yoga mat. It was third time the charm.

What I Hated the Least Today 253/365: Decision Paralysis

What I Hated the Least Today 253/365: Decision Paralysis

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The road not taken
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
—Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

Decision paralysis is officially a thing. Trust me. I read it on the internet.

Seriously, though, I read a lot of psychology books and articles these days, and I also conduct hands-on research on live human subjects. One subject, myself. I’ve always had decision paralysis but didn’t realise it was decision paralysis. I just thought I was a weirdo and that the nature of my weirdness was unique. Apparently, I am just as unique as everyone else—hence, not at all.

Decision paralysis is a crippling condition when you can’t decide. For me, it gets worse when my depression and/or anxiety get better—I mean, when they get the better of me, when they flourish and I therefore don’t. Deciding consumes a lot of mental energy. Also a lot of time. It’s usually pretty frustrating and doesn’t necessarily lead to a decision being made.

In a research experiment, it was found that the more choices you have, the less likely you are to choose something. Research subjects were offered two or three choices, and they picked one relatively easily. When they had a dozen or so choices, however, they more often ended up not choosing anything at all because the number of possibilities was too overwhelming. I so get it.

The other day I was with a friend and asked her to wait for me a minute while I get something at the chemist’s. I needed one thing, shampoo. When I located the shampoo shelf, I nearly fainted because there was an array of dozen variants from my preferred brand (the cheapest one). I clutched the shelf and slowly descended in a yogic squat to examine the options. It made my head spin. It took me forever to pick the blue one. My friend was exasperated. I objected that I wasn’t fucking horrible, as she suggested, but just had a case of decision paralysis. She wasn’t impressed.

One practical psychology book I read and was hugely impressed by proposes to limit decision paralysis with to-do-today lists. It’s a modified to-do list, except you only put on it what you have to do on a particular day. You should colour-code tasks which must be done, which may be done and which don’t have to be done. The tasks should be spread randomly all across the page. OK, now, WTF. I hate randomness, and I find it obvious that if it’s supposed to work, you have to write down your tasks in the order in which you want to do them.

I sometimes use the method, but not often, because I’m already super organised. I mean, I have a regular schedule for each day and I stick to it. When I can’t stick to it, I get extremely anxious. You can’t mess with your rituals when you’re OCD. I suspect I even unconsciously brush my teeth in a prescribed number of strokes in a given order.

Now that you know that decision paralysis is real, do you have it and if so, what do you do about it?

What I Hated the Least Today 252/365: Shit I Do While Asleep

What I Hated the Least Today 252/365: Shit I Do While Asleep

Suspicious Search History

Yesterday I took a sleeping pill and didn’t go to sleep. I don’t know what I was thinking. I probably wasn’t.

I was also acutely anxious and was OCDing, this time about my blog. I’ve been fiddling with the blog for hours on end in the last few days instead of doing something productive. If you’re looking around to see the changes I made, don’t, I haven’t made any substantial. As I say, I wasn’t being productive. I tried probably all the themes in the theme showcase from the last two years and also searched for a new avatar and header or background picture.

I’m totally obsessing about a new blog design these days. I suspect it’s because I’m escaping from a work project which I’m scared of. It’s highly inefficient and idiotic of me.

However, I took the sleeping pill and sat back down to the computer. I was doing something but I was asleep. Soon my vision became so blurred that I couldn’t read anything. I remembered I took the sleeping pill and wisely concluded I should just as well go to sleep. I had a huge trouble trying to switch the laptop off, since I couldn’t read anything on the screen. Then I was stumbling around like I was intoxicated, which I was, in a way, and I found it hilarious. Whatever they add in sleeping pills these days.

The next morning I thought I’d check out what the fuck I was even doing on the computer when sleeping. I was really hoping I didn’t delete my blog entirely or reset my laptop to factory settings. I went to search history and it appears I was trying and failing to search for designs. My queries included, literally, pattern for headepattern to j and pattern wallpaer. It’s curious that Google actually returned pretty much what I had in mind. I seriously should get my shit together.

What I Hated (the Least) Today 251/365: A Week Off Meds

What I Hated (the Least) Today 251/365: A Week Off Meds

Due to the unforeseen circumstance of my bloody psychiatrist going on a bloody holiday, it so happened that I ran out of the meds that keep my brain from imploding. It was a fun week. One more, and I probably would have ended up behind bars, whether of prison or of a mental asylum. I managed to replenish my pill supplies today and this very success is already making me feel saner.

While off meds, I had a number of epiphanies, altered consciousness experiences and curious meltdowns, some of which I don’t care to share even with a professional lest I should be institutionalised for life. Here are some of the more harmless ones.

Discovery #1: Lucid Dreaming

I thought I had weird dreams when on sleeping pills, but without them, trying to sleep got so weird that I no more knew what I dreamt and what I didn’t. If lucid dreaming is about you being aware that you dream and being able to direct your dream, then I had it. This one was an extremely entertaining case because in my dream, I was a hot guy and was configuring myself, adding an ab here and there, choosing my facial features, hair style… I can’t believe I picked a man bun, but on my defence, I immediately took it back and went for short bed hair.

On which I was a girl again and gave birth to twins, who looked exactly like hotdogs. The boy I named Richard, the girl I wanted to call Victoria, but the father, whose identity remained mysterious even to me, didn’t think so. The poor girl ended up being Unnamed. Funnily enough, these two names are the exact ones I actually picked in real life when I was young and thought I’d want kids. When I realised I didn’t want kids, I named Richard my car (when I had a car) and Victoria my tortoise (when I had a tortoise).

Discovery #2: OCD

My OCD is normally within the limits of cute quirks, but it went a bit wild when unchecked by pills. I had a legit breakdown over, quite ironically, my zen meditation schedule, which I printed out and pinned on my whiteboard, but couldn’t get the sheet align with the other papers that were already there. Besides spending time aligning shit all over the flat, I had a range of highly interesting compulsive impulses coming to me – that’s when your mind goes blank and you can only think of doing one particular thing, which is usually something pretty dumb.

On this note, I should stop watching TV series entirely because I watched an episode of Sense8, which was perfectly harmless, except for one unfortunate incident when a minor character slit her wrists. Now, that’s a huge trigger for me. Surprisingly, when people are shooting other people on TV, I have absolutely no urge to imitate them, but when someone slits their wrists on TV, I can’t help myself wanting to try it at home. I have however prepared for this pet peeve compulsive thought of mine in advance when I had both my wrists tattooed. I naturally don’t want to cut my designs.

Discovery #3: Am I Hallucinating or What?

No, I’m not hallucinating, but I seriously thought I was. It was when I went to the balcony to smoke and saw a small ape from the Planet of the Apes standing at the table at the common backyard and staring at me. Well, I decided I was just hallucinating, why not, after all, it’s an interesting new experience, right, so I calmly sat down and lit my cigarette. When I looked again, the ape was gone. When I looked yet again, there was a bunch of kids hiding behind the table. The ape-like kid should probably have a haircut soon. And the bloody kids should stop fucking with my mind. It’s not like it’s not fucked up enough already.

To conclude on the same cheery note, here’s a song that I currently can’t get out of my head (especially the very upbeat line “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had”).

What I Hated the Least Today 250/365: The Joys of JavaScript

What I Hated the Least Today 250/365: The Joys of JavaScript

A JS Troll Game

Remember how I reported a year and half ago that I was starting to learn <HTML>? Neither do I. But I found the post for you: it was a What-I-Hated-the-Least-Today number 44. Half a year after this, I decided that my immersion into coding was permanent and sealed the deal with a {CSS} tattoo. It was a Hate-the-Least number 203.

Currently I’m on JavaScript. High on it. It doesn’t need to be assumed that I have meanwhile mastered HTML and CSS, though I did my best. I also dipped into SASS, which is just a sassily named condensed version of CSS. I liked it to start with but then it got too abstract and logical. I know, right. How can I even attempt coding if I have trouble with abstract and logical? Well, *shrug*, I have no idea how come I’m so passionate about something at which I suck so much, but I just am.

Today I had a thrilling JavaScript (JS) revelation. Since I have no one to tell to, I  need to blog about it. So, have you ever wondered how to make a computer choose a random number, such as in lottery? Me neither. Despite me not wondering and you not really wanting to know, I discovered (as many have before me), that JS can be used to make the computer do this.

In JS, there’s this fascinating function, Math.random(). It doesn’t exactly do what it promises: it does produce a random number, but just between zero and one, and most likely not an integer on top of it. To fix the *not-integer* part, there’s the Math.floor() function to add to it. To fix the *between-zero-and-one* part, you can multiply the number by another number. So, e.g., Math.floor(Math.random() * 5). There must be an easier way to do such a simple thing. I’ll report back in several years when I discover it (as many have before me).

Also, don’t get me started about what you can do to random numbers. You can assign them options, for example. If there are two options, you’d use the if/else statement to do something; else you’d use switch, if there are more cases. You don’t need numbers to do if/else or switch, obviously. Today I was practising switching, but since if/elseing is shorter, here’s an if/else if/else. It does nothing in particular, and nothing at all on WordPress, where JS isn’t allowed. It’s just supposed to remind you that you should like code and cats, like I do, because code and cats.

var cat = prompt('Do you like cats? Type YES or NO.').toUpperCase();
if (cat === 'YES') {
console.log('Good!');
} else if (cat === 'NO') {
console.log('We can\'t be friends.');
} else {
console.log('You say what?');
}

And, finally, here’s my JS-themed recent tweet. Based on actual events.

What I Hated the Least Today 249/365: Mad Tetris Skills

What I Hated the Least Today 249/365: Mad Tetris Skills

The daily life tetris

My existence is so uneventful that even going out to get groceries is a big deal. I refuse to partake in this crusade more often than once a week, and even this with utmost disgust and only prompted by the threat of imminent starvation. Getting groceries is my weekly weight lifting workout. I will willingly suffer dragging a ten-kilo bag of shopping if it means I don’t have to leave the flat for the rest of the week. So, I engage my nonexistent abs, take deep and regular breaths, swing the bag over the shoulder and down the hill from Tesco I roll.

I take a great delight in my mad tetris skills. I don’t think there are many people in the world who could compete with my talent of bagging a week’s worth of items in a single bag, making sure that nothing gets squashed and that the side of the bag which will rest against my own side is perfectly flat and smooth, with no sharp edges poking my ribs. Bagging tetris-style is an art of which I’m a mistress. On a side note, no need to point out that there is such a thing as home delivery, it’s not available in my area. Also, a person gotta go out once in a while to confirm that the world still exists.

 

What I Hated (the Least) Today 248/365: Random Shit

What I Hated (the Least) Today 248/365: Random Shit

Stationery treats

I feel like blogging but nothing is happening. Everything and everyone seems to be dead in summer. I am dead too, but I feel dead anytime, so it doesn’t count. To enliven myself a little, I put together this post of completely random uneventful shit that has (not) been happening in the last few days.

Stationery

Just as this post lacks coherence and vision, so does my life and work. I’ve read some personal/professional growth books recently, however, I obviously don’t follow the advice. So yesterday I was thinking I’d start implementing some tools I’ve learned about and on impulse ventured out to buy a new notebook in which to sketch my vision, goals and other crap.

The notebook is pictured above. Sorry not sorry about the poor quality photo, my phone lens was filthy and my bloody but beloved cat wouldn’t stop headbutting me while I was trying to take the photo.

Do you think I did something and started to write in the notebook? Nope, obviously. Well, maybe later. At least I have a new notebook. I liked it in the shop but when I brought it home, I decided that it is super ugly and that I don’t know what I was thinking.

I also bought a set of colour fine liners. I’d like to use them but I wouldn’t like to use them unless for some proper, sensible and meaningful task. I’m a terrible case of decision paralysis.

The Cat

My cat is as ubiquitous as my decision paralysis. She appears to be at several places at once. She also stalks me when I move around the flat. Recently I noticed she only tends to sleep on the bed when I’m in the bed too. I was so touched for a while, thinking that she seeks out my company because she likes me. Then it occurred to me that the poor thing may like me or may just have a case of Stockholm syndrome. My own thoughts scare the shit out of me.

When you think of it, though, I keep the cat captive (let’s put aside that she’s the quintessential household cat and doesn’t go out to explore even when I leave the door open). I have no way to tell whether she hates life as much as I do or whether she’s alright or even generally content (let’s put aside that she appears content and relaxed). So, maybe she just got used to me and decided to like me instead of hating me because she’s clearly stuck with me for life.

My brain and blog are scary places.