The one where I do explain my pictures

So a few weeks ago I shot one black and white picture of my every day life each day for seven days. There were not supposed to be any explanations, but this is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want. :)

Day 1 – Publix

The first day, a Tuesday, just so happened to be the day I needed to do a number of groceries. Typically, when I need food stuff I will walk to the Publix that is basically down the street. It’s close enough to walk to and it makes living here without a car a whole lot easier.

Day 2 – Lake Calabay

On days where I don’t have a whole lot of anything to do, I will typically take walks. Right behind the apartment complex where I live, there is a lake smack-dab in the middle of other gates communities. Apart from the occasional car and the sprinkler system (when it’s on), it’s also really, really, really quiet. It helps me think and unplug, at least for a little while. It’s even better when the sky is clear, because then the stars are pretty decently visible.

Typically on these walks I will listen to music, which is really great at getting my thoughts focused.

Day 3 – The cop out

This is the day where things went to hell a little bit. I’ve ordered a bed frame from Ikea on October 28. They use third party shipping partners, who didn’t receive the frame in time to deliver it to me on time. The number they left for me to reschedule simply went to voicemail. I had to work through Ikea’s support to get my delivery rescheduled for this day. And then they came, and I found out that they had sent me the wrong size frame. Fingers crossed that they will deliver the correct item tomorrow, a month later.

I had intended on taking a picture of the comic book store we went to that same night, but forgot and ended up simply taking a picture of my bedroom ceiling fan.

Day 4 – Beer!

Friday! Trying to salvage my week, I ended up walking up to ABC and getting beer. Usually I will end up getting Duvel or Guinness or something of that nature, but this time around I had opted for something new. A triple dry-hopped beer from Belgium called “Piraat” (“Pirate”). It definitely made me significantly more open whilst texting that night, and I’m not sure if I should be glad or embarrassed about this. It doesn’t seem to have done any harm, however, for which I am definitely happy. :)

Day 5 – Solo “dinner and a movie” date

Sorry, diet. Sometimes I just need a filthily fat burger with a side of carbs. After this dinner I ended up at the theatre across the street to go and see “Murder on the Orient Express”. This movie was certainly entertaining, but I’m not very familiar with the 1974 version or how they compare. In any case, that moustache is definitely pretty epic.

I didn’t used to go to the theatre a lot, but now I’ve gotten used to it it’s kind of nice. If the movie isn’t quite living up to expectations it also allows me to just sit there and space out for a few hours.

Day 6 – Fantasy prep time

Lord of the Rings is a fantastic book, and the film is a lot of fun to watch. It does, however, not age very well in some of the effects. Specifically, anywhere there are apparitions (whether it’s Boromir appearing behind Faramir and their father or the Army of the Dead, it doesn’t matter) or where people are interacting with Gollum. This may have to do with that the HD and large screen make detail a lot more noticeable, I’m not sure.

I have seen this film more than enough over the course of this week to be okay not seeing it for a while. Ultimately it didn’t help a whole lot with the trivia night, but that’s okay. I definitely had a lot of fun with it and playing Mario Kart on the Wii. :)

Day 7 – Books, and video games

The final day, the final photo. It essentially represents the remaining parts of my life: reading books and playing video games. I enjoy both of these things a lot, but lately my PS4 is basically just a stream-machine, while my Kindle is getting all the attention.

 And there they are. My daily life in a nutshell.

On anxiety, and what it means to me

I am writing this to see if it helps my own issues and in hopes that this helps anyone else on this fine mental health awareness day as well (even though I’m a day late now, d’oh!). I am definitely _not_ interested in a pity party.

Now, get ready for some rambling. And inb4 “woa, really? I wouldn’t have thought…”. :)

For a good part of my life, anxiety has been a defining factor for how I feel on any given day. Now, I should really preface this by saying that I’ve never been officially diagnosed with any disorders. I only strongly suspect that they are there through descriptions of others that have been diagnosed.

Growing up, therapy was often not deemed necessary by the sober, Calvinist, Dutch. A mindset that persists, and is somewhat amplified by pop culture, today. And so I have been really very hesitant about finding help, in part too because I’m not sure where the line between normal and not lies. And so for the longest time I didn’t think anything of it and thought it was just part of life. However, I know I should look for help now that I’ve noticed that things have started to get worse over the past couple of years.

Anxiety, for me, really means a number of things. At a physical level, there’s a lot of uncomfortable shaking and heart racing and trouble sleeping. Triggers may be crowded areas, or simply having to talk to strangers or a crowd (in person, over the phone, even on text chat, it doesn’t matter). It means I probably won’t be able to go to the bathroom in public because of a shy bladder (best case scenario: I end up standing around for minutes before it finally goes, but lord help me if someone just happens to come in just before that). It means I will probably decline invitations to hang out. It means I will most likely try and find a way to email instead of phone so I can think carefully about what to say. This kind of backfires when either the site doesn’t work, or I get redirected to “just call us”. Usually that’s just the end of that for me when that happens.

On an emotional and mental level, it means I overthink and overanalyze _everything_ and becoming a bit of a perfectionist. Which leads to me rather just not trying something new. It means I am deeply terrified of making mistakes. It means I am deeply terrified to be judged badly for anything I say or do (and yes, that includes this post). It also paves the road for that freeloading dickhead “impostor syndrome”.

It means that I may get depressed over something someone says to me. And not because they mean it badly, but because my brain has decided that it could be and I was too afraid to speak up and get it clarified. Instead, I will have conversations in my head that will most likely never take place. It means I will regularly have bouts of (usually mild) depression, feelings of guilt, and mood swings. There are days where the only thing that’s getting me out of bed is my loyalty to the company I work for. If it’s the weekend, forget it.

Basically, I feel most comfortable when I can just be without too much attention directed at me. That way I won’t worry as much about being judged. Paradoxically, then, when my brain decides to turn that around on me and pulls out the “you’re being ignored, you might as well not exist” card. Fsck you brain. :)

I’ve found ways to help cope with some of this, but they’ve all been very temporary at best. Distraction through music or film works best, but is absolutely not fool proof. Running and meditation work for a moment until I get tired of stopping my mind from drifting. Even writing this post feels better, even though I probably won’t sleep for another hour wondering about it, what changes I can make to it (14 revisions and counting so far), and what the response may be.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, and you’re noticing that it is adversely affecting your ability to function, I can only suggest to look for help if you haven’t already. I know it’s easy to slip into this “it’s just normal” attitude, and definitely know it’s easy to downplay it with humour. But I also know I will seek out help (eventually, heh). Even if it’s just to confirm and make sure.

My 2014. There may be many like it, but this one’s mine.

This is going to be frank and open. Probably more so than most people are used to from me. I’m not one to openly share personal things, especially on the Internets, possibly out of fear of it being abused like a weakness or something silly. Perhaps that’s also why I feel a Wall is the best way to describe it. Time to break that shit down, brick by brick.

Personal 2014

2014 has been a year of ups and downs, like many other years. I’ve experienced more of fried America (motherfriggin’ cheese curds), and also experienced the broken America as a short emergency room trip and several other medical mishaps are still haunting our finances. And, related to this, how broken the health insurance system is around here. It was the first year I’ve had my health “covered” since moving here, which entailed a lot of searches for doctors within an arbitrary network of care providers and paying a lot of money for very little.

In regards to health, 2014 has also been the year where I’ve started to pay more attention to what I eat. Carbs, and sugar in particular, have been mostly cut. I did so mainly to support my wife, but at the same time it’ll help me as well. We still have cheat days though, can’t go completely cold turkey with that stuff.

It’s also another year that I’ve not been back home, something my current financial means don’t really allow for while maintaining an already humble-ish lifestyle. It’s my main regret of the past year.

On the upside, this has been a very good year for comic book related media. TV networks seems to be finally catching on to the potential of comic book related shows. And in film, Marvel is keeping its stride with this year’s successful portion of their Phase 2 (Captain America 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy) and DC releasing a number of excellent book to animation films (Justice League: War and Son of Batman) as well as celebrating Batman’s 75th anniversary (clearly more important to me than Marvel’s 75th, sorry guys :p).

It was also the year that I got to see Monty Python’s live show, and Video Games Live. Especially the latter was an excellent experience and highly recommended if you’ve any interest in video game music at all.

And finally, this year was also the first year we got to go out of state and go on a road trip to see friends in North Carolina. While the drive itself made me feel bad that I couldn’t help more by driving part of it myself, it is something I’d like to do more often and see more of this vastly diverse country.

Professional 2014

On a professional level, this year saw a promotion of sorts for me. I’m now a developer lead, which means I’ve just about lost my soul to a more managerial position.

In reality, though, this means that I now also get to guide and support a team of awesome dudes and have a bit more influence on the department as a whole.

I’ve also started to make a bit more of an effort to go out to meetups (WordPress Orlando in particular) to, at the very least, show my face in the community. This has also led to attending my first WordCamp, which has been a very interesting experience. A lot of this is really due to Adam Soucie, without whom I probably would not have done any of this and would still be comfortable in my driving license-less shell.

And lastly, this year has also been the year where I’ve started making contributions to WordPress and WordPress related projects. I’ve reported a bug and submitted a patch. The ticket itself is a bit dead in the water, but that’s okay. I’ll need to revisit it for 4.1 and at least make note of whether it’s still an issue or not. Something else I’ve come to enjoy is translating things to Dutch. I feel it’s particularly important, now that I use this language a lot less, to keep in touch with it. I will probably never fully forget how to write or speak Dutch, but I do catch myself forgetting words more and more or combining the Dutch and English words. Like, “nummber”.

Goals for 2015

A post like this isn’t complete without at least a goal or two to work on for the next year. It probably won’t come as a surprise that one or more of these will be related to what’s described above.

On the whole, I’d like to strive to make our financial situation better than what it is now one way or another. We get by as it is, but living paycheck to paycheck is just terribly, and needlessly, stressful. This, as well as keeping up with the diet and finding time for exercise, are probably the top priority for this year.

As a developer I would like to find time to give back to the community more. I have some massive anxiety demons to slay (think Balrog, or Tarrasque, size) before I’m ready to speak in front of an audience, but spending more time fixing bugs or contributing in a more “behind the scenes” fashion should definitely be possible.

But most importantly, stay committed to the wife. She is, ultimately, the reason why I’m here and who I’m doing all of this for. While I’m still getting used to all this married life stuff two years in, I’m trying my best to not let all the other stuff consume it. As such, if push comes to shove, things will change to fit around my life with her and not so much the other way around.