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2020-11-29 10:59:21 (UTC)

Goals Reflection: November 2020

[any identifying names and locations will be changed for protection and privacy.]

GOALS REFLECTION - November 2020

Nothing substantive has helped move this forward for months, if I'm being objective about this. I have a feeling I was building my hopes up regarding my subbatical, thinking I could gain some practical knowledge and experience, then bring it back home with my to plan my next move. When that was canceled I lost options, or at least didn't know what to do next. I assume I am telling this to myself now because I'm not convinced I'm any closer to this a year later (with the exception of more money in savings).

Interest remains high of course, and the urge to just GTFO of anywhere that's remotely "citified" is constant. But I must acknowledge that "feeling busy" about something is not the same as taking action on it. If the only activity on a subject taking place is in your brain, that's where it stays.

The best I can think of doing right now is to stay connected to the eco-compound's online meetings - now happening every Friday, weather permitting - and fortify my brain with useful information instead of just inspirational visions. I think my vision is fairly clear about what I would like: about two acres, with a living space carved out of a hillside, likely within a pair of 40' shipping containers. Off-grid power system available, water filtration available, rocket-mass heat available, and gardening with possible chickens.

It's easy to become distracted with all the options... To fill one's brain with the possibilities everyone else is coming up with and their success stories. I've also seen some failures (my old friends living on the side of the mountain in Vermont come readily to mind), and there is a great pressure to not end up in a ruinous situation. When one wants to do something, they want to do it right, so the anxiety of doing something completely new, that costs a lot of money, that radically changes one's life... That anxiety is palpable and sky-high. So it's possible the "blank slate" that this represents is paralyzing to me.

Perhaps researching intentional communities in the local area is worthwhile. Spending time with them is more accessible, provided the sabbatical can't happen again for some reason. At least it would be physical activity, and kinesthetic learning can take place. That's something that I can't attain without Being There, regardless of how much I read or watch.

Meanwhile, I am still dropping off coffee grounds and food scraps at the garden plot. It seems so different now, that all the gardeners have moved out and the land lies dormant. Dirt is napping through the winter, as the saying goes. Doesn't it?

It seems to me that if I want physical activity in this dimension, then going with the garden next year is a given.

I finished a digital adaptation of a tabletop game activity I developed a few years ago for the day job, and it looks nice and works great. It's certainly not the same feeling, but it still communicates the lessons I wanted to share. If there were a way for me to eventually develop online multiplayer games, then that would be ideal and move game development forward by leaps and bounds. My technical skills (and likely software) are limitations to this, so in the meantime I need to try new things.

A game jam event I did earlier this month assisted with that. Something as simple as pausing a game had eluded me for years. Someone provided feedback on this project, which was enough motivation for me to learn to implement it. So from now on, all games I make will include a pause feature the player can toggle on and off.

My brother's tamogotchi game was finished as well, though critically it went over like the proverbial fart in church. I think he just has a lot more things on his plate lately that makes game-playing a considerably low priority. However, the game data save feature works great, and I know how to do that for future game projects. If it has a number (or can be converted to numbers), then it can be recorded and stored, and then accessed at a later game session.

In lieu of hosting the "secret santa" video game event this year (I did it for five years, and that was a good-enough run), I instead entered one as a participant-only in another similar event. That game is due 20th December. The idea I have right now is that it's a spider-themed 8-direction shootemup. I hope to implement the technical features I've learned in the past few projects into this one, plus a bit more experimentation.

I developed two card game prototypes this month, and scratched together a third:
1. A one-versus-one card game about... foreplay and sex. Essentially, two types of cards exist - actions or body parts - and players go back and forth, combining these two types of cards together, hoping their partner climaxes before they do. It was kind of a throwaway idea (and maybe I had a bit of personal frustration that I felt needed to be unloaded), but now that I see it in physical form I can finally move on... Or eventually invite someone to playtest it along with me. That'll be an interesting evening.
2. A solo card-and-dice game that takes place in space. Players try to rescue a number of stranded spacefarers and defeat space pirates. Players have three attempts and after each attempt they can repair their ship and upgrade its equipment to make it more effective at rescuing and fighting. I like this idea a lot and think it's worth pursuing.
3. I ordered some custom dice that have woodland animals listed on the faces: raccoons, skunks, beavers, etc. I wanted to make a kind of set-collection game with these as soon as I'd seen them. I returned home from vacation today to see the box had arrived while I was out of town. Last night, after throwing them around a bit, I came up with an idea a little more complex than typical Yahtzee-style category game, and I hope it takes shape over the next few weeks.

Regarding the day job: Tomorrow is the beginning of the final training sessions of the calendar year. I'm the head instructor for both, and hosting several meetings, conducting and reviewing exams, and then making video feedback for clients will keep me busy for the first part of this month. I immediately go on vacation again at the close of this training, and I'm certain I'll be in need of some serious rest.

Another staff member left (she resigned to pursue her professional counseling career), and we had a new hire. This lady will be in charge of admin stuff, along with social media efforts and promotions. This segment of outreach has gained a -lot- more prominence this year in particular, so she'll be busy. If she's good at what she does, hopefully she's not scared off, and sticks around for a while.

Just about a year ago, I started using a daily affirmation: "I, [my name], will become a world-class instructor." I think this has helped me stay focused, productive, and useful at the day job. Am I legitimately "world class" after a year? Well, I'm certain I am closer. Spurred on by this success, I'm considering switching up my daily affirmation to other professional dimensions. Perhaps some of the other income-related aspects of my life, listed below.

Regarding laser-cut projects: The Canadian dude was very pleased with his end product, and ended up paying me $140 for the custom game, plus shipping. There are some issues he's encountered with one of the panels being warped, so I can either guide him through sorting that, or make him another panel. I mention it so blithely now, though weeks ago I was frenetically struggling with proper sizing of those panels...! Apparently, digital rulers and dimensions exist for a reason, and after perhaps 10 failed panels and another $100 order for replacement panels I had beautiful results. The game was painted and finished with a clear-coat as well, and I shipped it out the weekend before I left for vacation.

I have plenty of ideas for more projects, and now plenty of supplies and knowledge to manifest them. A graphic-designer friend and I hope to collaborate on future projects, particularly after I had shown her the machine and how it works. Today, I will update my website with more photos of this successful project. It turned out great, and there is a potential market for this stuff.

Regarding other projects: The soap turned out great, and my friend and I intend on making another batch in December. I invested in some legitimate soap molds, which arrived before I left for vacation, so that we won't be relegated to using aluminum baking trays for shaping. One bar, I've reserved for myself to use (and I love it) and I gave a few bars out to relatives and coworkers for feedback. This is another area that has financial potential, and has an end product that I personally enjoy and can be proud of.

Knowing that I was going to be out of town doing my own thing for Thanksgiving again this year, I visited the family once this month beforehand. It was good to hang with my mother and the dog, and I also learned the household is moving to a larger city further north in the same state where they now live. It's in response to my brother doing well at his day job and being transferred to a higher-up position. Their kids are initially heartbroken about leaving their friends or whatever, but will adjust.

My mother is ambivalent about the move. "Of course I'm going," she says. "Where else would I go? I don't want to go back to [our old home town]. I think I just need to be with the grandkids." During the visit, she also confided in me that she "expected more" out of life. I distinctly recall her saying, "You know, is this all there is?" It was the first time I recall ever seeing my mother reminiscent and a bit melancholy, at least face-to-face. I hope she and my stepdad find a way to spend their savings. Next time I see her I will remind her and ask her to consider the move to be a golden opportunity to do so.

Beyond this, I've written a bit to penpals and friends. I introduced a friend of mine to online chess, and we played a couple games while I was on vacation. I don't regret dropping off FB at all.

The vacation happened this month, and it was pleasant. I stayed in a different town than I have in the past couple years, and although it was an interesting experiment I don't think I'll consider the location next year. I have a feeling I would have been even happier had I used the same old location I did last time (well, the past two times). Three makes a charm, and I consider this vacation during the Thanksgiving holiday a personal tradition to maintain for the rest of my life. It's that good for me.

What's -not- good for me, however, is binge drinking. I bought two bottles of red wine on Tuesday, and opened up one of them as soon as I made it back to the condo. It was so good that I opened the second, and made it through perhaps a half or close to two-thirds of it, and then became stumbling drunk. I collapsed in bed and essentially wasted all of Wednesday recuperating.

That Wednesday was full of lost opportunities. I just felt like shit all day, and upon reflecting on the previous evening, I don't even think drinking that much was anywhere near worth it. There were things that occurred that I don't remember, I sent out foolish emails and text messages to friends, and it was a dreamless sleep. Not a very positive experience, and certainly not worthwhile.

Should I want to have any alcoholic beverages any time soon, I will buy -only one bottle at a time- so I don't waste another evening and following day with the feeling of cheese-graters pressed against my skull.

Somewhat in conjunction with this drunken experience, I've reflected on my loneliness. To sum this up quickly as I don't really feel up to dwelling on it: I'm anxious about seeming physically incapable. My personal boundaries seem pretty thick these days. I'm trying to navigate the idea of maintaining platonic and romantic relationships with women, without feeling pressure to be physically-intimate. I can stay home and masturbate on my own, for example. But conversations with myself can only run so deep, and don't foster the connection I want with a partner. This kind of connection will open the door to physical intimacy, and it's something I do miss.

Reflecting on the political landscape, either in the local or big-picture, is nauseating. I physically feel a churning weight in my stomach. And yet again, I must acknowledge that the state of things is not some nightmare from which we can awaken. It's not going to magically disappear on 20th January when some other 70 year old is "in charge." I mused with a friend that a move to Denmark is something I've investigated recently, and all he wanted to do was warn me about Sweden, its nationalists, and it's abysmal pandemic response.

Life is changing for me, in detectable ways. I feel like my personality is adjusting to different ways of being, particularly in terms of personal relationships. I'm fulfilled professionally, am still physically healthy, still mentally and psychically adjusting, and grateful for all of it. Things seem so shitty for others in comparison, that to channel all this into ways that make the world a better place - for clients, family, and friends - seems to be my focus right now. Turning my attention outward seems like the best course of action these days.