I Love My Old Movies

I have a small VHS player/TV in my bedroom.

I have access to a pretty large amount of movies through streaming services on other, more modern devices.

But that doesn’t stop me from popping in an old VHS tape and watching something in my room every now and then.

The sound quality is quite terrible, and the volume button is broken (all the buttons are broken in some way). If you press it too much, it starts to rewind the tape, so the volume is stuck at 14 (unless you want to fiddle with it). The speakers are also tinny-sounding, like the movie characters are literally stuck inside the boxy TV screaming at you.

The screen is small, probably 10 inches by 10 inches, a puny square. It practically demands you watch your movies fullscreen instead of widescreen.

My bed is situated on the opposite wall from the TV, but the head of the bed is blocked from directly viewing the screen thanks to a large dresser. I have to lie down with my head at the foot of the bed to properly watch things.

Sometimes I’ll watch a movie while I fold clothes in my room. I’ll push a tape inside and the player will seem to accept it gladly. If I’m packing for a trip to see Alya, a movie will help speed the time it takes. Or if I’m doing some much-needed stretching, a brief story on this sad, square screen will occupy my mind while my body is just protesting.

Other times, I don’t want my mind to be occupied. I’ll lie on my bed and put on a movie just so I can ignore it. I’ll stare at the ceiling and zone out for a good hour and a half.

I have a collection of classic Disney animated films courtesy of my mother’s assiduousness when it came to keeping me and my sister entertained. I also have a pile of rom-coms that my mother was gifted (that she forgot about), a handful of random 90s movies (for some reason), and The Ten Commandments (the obvious jewel in my movie collection).

Recently, when Alya took me to a used bookstore that also sells VHS tapes, I bought The Matrix Reloaded and The Last Crusade. I bought them specifically so I could watch them on this cruddy little TV.

I’m terrified it will break down one day, and I will be unable to fix it.

But for now, it’s one of the best things I own.

My Top Ten Stresses

I am not the most anxious person in the world (I can actually hear my sister rolling her eyes when she reads this), but there are a couple things that stress me out to varying degrees.

I mean, I’m only human. Who hasn’t felt stress at some point in their lives?

Different problems will wreck my nerves more so than others, so for today’s post, I thought it would be fun (and de-stressing) to talk about some of the things that just get my stomach churning, my mind racing, and my palms sweating.

Here are the top ten issues that stress me out in order from least to most stressful.

10. Environmental Hazards

Yeah, okay, I’ll admit it. I’m very much a homebody. I stay in my house for both work and play because I’m a flabby, lazy couch potato who does not do well in the outdoors. I take walks around my neighborhood every evening, but that’s about it.

As a result, the few times I have gone hiking or visited a National Park have filled me with a bit of trepidation.

That’s not to say I’m terrified of the great outdoors. I mean, clearly this is my lowest-ranked stressor. But I have to admit I scan the ground nervously for snakes and spiders whenever I’m walking out and about away from civilization. And I’ve only recently learned what poison ivy looks like, so now I’ll be on the lookout for that too.

9. Family Disagreements

It is very rare that I get into a blow-out with members of my family. For one thing, I’m a fairly amiable person, if I do say so myself. I don’t like to make waves, and I adore my family, foibles and all.

But when we do butt heads…

Man, nothing stresses me out more than knowing that my family is mad at me.

8. Work Confrontations

I like to know I’ve done a good job at the end of every work day. Knowing that I have helped assist in keeping things running or that I got a coworker out of a tight spot are very gratifying aspects of my job.

But I can get uber anxious at the thought that I messed something up or that a higher-up believes I did a poor job. I live in a forever-terrified state that my boss will one day think, “Huh, she just sucks at her job. But it’d be too much of a hassle to replace her. She might as well stay.”

And being in a position where people work under me is just as stress-inducing. I always wonder if they respect me or if they think I’m too impersonal or if they think I’m a laughingstock.

7. Health Issues

Funnily enough, I’ve gotten better about stressing about my health. While the notion of falling ill and having to see a doctor or getting a shot or needing stitches is stressful, I’m way more chill about it than I used to be.

After years of WebMD telling me I have cancer when I looked up “itchy sore throat” or “stomach cramps,” I have become inured to the idea of getting a major disease.

Fun side fact: I’ve always kind of thought I would die from some health-related problem.

6. Social Relations

Damn, other people can be the cause of most of my anxiety. I really wish I didn’t spend half as much time thinking about what other people think.

COVID-19 has actually kind of helped in that regard, because now I’m so people starved, I don’t care if I look or sound like an idiot to them.

But almost nothing beats saying something stupid in front of a person I’d like to impress, and then standing in the shower with shampoo in my hair hours later wondering, “Why the fuck did I say that?”

5. Driving

Yeah, driving in traffic stresses me out. Sue me. (Don’t sue me.)

I also don’t like driving with another person in the car because both my mother and my sister, FOR SOME REASON, get hyper-freaked-out whenever I’m driving. They think I’m going to be some reckless driver or something, and I kind of want to look at them and be like, “You are getting on my case for being a bad driver?” They have forever damaged my confidence in my driving skills.

(Alya, mom, I love you very much. Please don’t be mad. Refer to Stressor #9.)

4. Performance Anxiety

If I’m doing anything and I know people are watching, my performance suffers. Like when I’m playing a video game, and I’m playing with people who are a) better than me, b) super competitive, or c) men, my skills just nose-dive.

It’s gotten so bad that I’ll start preemptively putting myself down first in order to lower expectations on how well I’ll play.

I think I tried trash-talking once, and I got blasted into tomorrow by everyone else. It’s like they went out of their way to put me down. Never again.

3. Money Issues

Yeah, anyone who needs to survive has felt this one.

I don’t make the best money, but thanks to recent promotions, I’m finally in a financially safe place.

However, nothing stresses me out more than having something go wrong with my finances, be it a missing check, a problem with my bank account, or an error with some online banking. If something like that happens, it will consume my every waking thought, and it will make falling asleep a nightmare.

2. Tech Woes

Oofsies.

So I make my living working from home. In order to do this, I need a functioning computer, phone, and Wi-Fi connection. If something amiss happens with any of these three things, my world is turned upside down. It turns into a cavalcade of stresses that leak into other anxiety-inducing areas.

I lose access to work, I lose my ability to earn money, I lose my ability to stay connected and in touch with people. It just sucks.

In addition to that, it can also affect my relaxation time if, let’s say, my Xbox or TV starts to crap out on me.

And the only ways to fix these problems…are usually expensive.

1. Pet Problems

Nothing churns my stomach more than when an issue regarding Froley arises. When he gets sickie or when his poops are not right or even when I have a nightmare that he flew out of the house and I couldn’t find him that shatters any equilibrium I could have had in a day.

Life Update #11: All Xbox, All the Time

Hey, everyone!

So while I’ve been writing, outlining, typing, and scheduling blog posts in advance, I realized today I completely forgot to let you guys know that the amazing, the impossible, the miraculous has happened.

I got myself an Xbox Series X.

For those of you not in the know, it has been abominably difficult to get your hands on the newest generation of game consoles this time around, be it a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X. These babies launched last year, and I just now got my hands on one. Scalpers are running rampant, and it’s actually a serious issue. But thanks to some amazing friends who ensure I stay in the know, I was able to jump on my local Best Buy’s latest shipment when they went on sale and nab one.

And I have been obsessed with playing with it.

Honestly, it’s nothing too too special. It’s an impressive piece of hardware, make no mistake. But it doesn’t offer me much that was different from my Xbox One S.

However, its newness has just enamored me. When I first got it, I shamefully ditched my D&D group twice just so I could spend long hours playing a game. I marvel at the almost nonexistent load times. I gasp at how well some of the games look (though my TV could probably use an upgrade as well).

And may I just say that Xbox Game Pass is an utter delight? I wasn’t sure how I would feel using a Netflix-like service for my video games, but not a day has gone by that I don’t make full use of it. I’m playing new games left and right. I’m dabbling in genres I might not have tried out otherwise. The power of the Series X coupled with the myriad of games thanks to my Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription has made my time indoors chock-full of adventure.

Plus, the mini-fridge look just suits my gaming shelf perfectly.

Stop Telling Me I Can Work Anywhere at Anytime

I work as a freelance writer and editor. I keep regular-ish hours and spend a lot of time in front of a computer.

It’s nothing glamorous, but I often find that people have a romanticized idea of what working as a freelancer is like. They think a freelancer frequents cafes, plugging in a laptop at a cozy little table with a cup of coffee nearby. Or they picture someone who travels a lot, working at various hours of the day as they go on worldly adventures.

Obviously, no two freelancers are alike, and there may very well be somebody living this idealized lifestyle I’ve just described.

But I doubt it.

A typical workday for me starts with a trip to the bathroom and a brushing of teeth. I usually work six days a week, about seven hours a day.

Once I start working, I do not stop until I’m done. I will do working meals (if I remember to eat), and remain fixated on work for the duration of my time in front of the computer. I do get up maybe every fifteen minutes to stretch my legs for a couple of seconds, but I am laser-focused on accomplishing tasks.

Seriously, I cannot stress enough the fact that I am genuinely working. I’m not just kerfuffling on the the internet like some people seem to think.

People also assume that my schedule is flexible, that I can work anytime and anywhere.

This always implies that I can’t get distracted like a normal person or that I perform equally well around the clock.

True, I get to choose my own hours, but being a freelancer means you have to build your own work ethic. No company or superior provides structure for your work hours. That responsibility falls on your shoulders.

And you also have to build your own work environment. I am most comfortable working at home, with some music of my choice playing in the background and an available bathroom that I don’t have to keep coughing up dough for endless cups of coffee in order to access.

I used to feel pretty morose about freelancing. I would kowtow to opinions that it “wasn’t a real job.”

But you know what?

It is.

It takes discipline and hard work to be a freelance writer.

So please stop telling me I can write anywhere at anytime.

Cutting in Line

The strangest, silliest, and most awkward thing happened to me and my mother.

We were staying at this fancy hotel in Tucson. We came over to visit my sister for her husband’s birthday, but since a friend of his was also planning to come over at the same time, we couldn’t stay at their place. I honestly didn’t mind that too much. Being able to relax in a spa-like environment was a consolation. 

After an early wake-up thanks to my mother’s internal alarm clock being set to three in the morning, the two of us went to go get coffee. We meandered past the hotel’s lobby, drinking in the do-nothing leisure of the morning. The resort’s coffee bar was located past this bridge/walkway connecting the lobby to a part of the building that housed conference rooms and ballrooms. On this bridge, you can look out on a gorgeous view of the Arizona desert. The sky was a silvery grey and the land was a muted red speckled with cacti. My mom and I paused a bit to admire the scenery.

Since it was so early, there weren’t many people out and about. Only one other person stood on the walkway, a bearded man in work-out clothes, earbuds plugged into his ears, his eyes glued to the phone in his hand instead of the horizon. He was leaning against the walkway’s railing, and he ignored my mom and me as we stepped past him.

The coffee bar was situated right by the entrance onto the walkway. So as soon as we entered the chill, air-conditioned space, we could see the line to order. Only two people were ahead of us, and we walked forward, chatting about my sister and her visit. Nonchalantly, the man from the walkway stepped past us and cut us in line. He did this almost unobtrusively, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. My mom even halted her progress forward in the queue because it seemed like the man knew his business. It seemed like he was going somewhere else, that’s how officious and I-know-what-I’m-doing his demeanor was.

I exclaimed once to my mother in dismay, but then we shrugged in acceptance. People being unfair or thoughtless is just part of life. We settled in behind this man and continued our conversation.

“Excuse me,” a homely, Southern drawl sounded behind us. My mother and I turned. A large bald man, with an American flag tattooed on his arm and emblazoned on his shirt,  was standing over us. “Did that man just cut you off in line?”

Surprised at having our shame addressed so openly and also amiably embarrassed about the whole thing, we nodded our heads and said, “Yeah, but it’s okay.”

The bald man shook his head in grim consternation. “Man, it really burns my asshole when folks do that. It’s rude, and they think they can just get away with it.”

His genuine outrage at what we considered a minor misfortune caught us off guard. “Sorry,” we mumbled apologetically.

Then, after speaking a few more words of dissatisfaction, he strode past us and just got up in the other man’s grill. This man, the bearded one with earbuds, was still plugged into his phone, so he flinched and his eyes widened in shock when the big bald man thrust a finger in his shoulder and started scolding him for his audacity. Our “defender” gesticulated angrily, imparting his disdain in direct fashion. He pointed at my mom and me a few times. His victim was nonplussed, flabbergasted, and his gaze flicked back and forth between the behemoth in front of him and us.

As soon as his anger was spent, the bald man picked up his coffee and left. The man with the earbuds stared after him, stunned, but then made a derisive snorting sound at the back of his throat. He spared one more glance toward us, then went back to his phone.

My mom and I looked at each other, her with social panic and me with amused hysteria. What were we supposed to do or say after that? The people at the coffee bar were all staring at us. The scene had been quite loud.

Afterwards, the whole thing made for a fun story to regale my sister with. She laughed at the awkwardness we had been placed in. But she also commented on how the situation was a prime example of how people’s perspectives differ. Exploring the different viewpoints of everyone there perfectly showcases how people can approach courtesy and right versus wrong. Justifying your actions can take different forms.

The man with the earbuds justified getting ahead of me and my mom because he was planning on just ordering a water. We found this out when I tried apologizing to him for the altercation. I don’t think he heard what I was saying. He never acknowledged my words. He just kept repeating, “I’m just getting a water.” He probably thought the bald man made a mountain into a mole hill. 

The bald man, on the other hand, felt justified in berating another person out of a sense of chivalry, perhaps. Or maybe he had had a real bad day and the sight of an unrelated injustice enraged him as a result.

As my friends know by now, since I’ve bored their ears off retelling this tale over and over again. I’m having a lot of fun analyzing the situation. It fascinates me. 

Can You Feel the Heat Tonight?

Hello, my Above Average readers!

Another summer, another incredible rise in temperatures.

It feels like every summer I have to make a post commenting about how hot it is where I live.

But such is the drama of my life.

Holy hell, it is hot outside right now. Baking temperatures. I feel like a piece of bread that has been placed in an oven to crisp. My evening walks, even if the sun is down, feel as hot as a midday stroll. In order to maintain my physical health (of which I’m doing a very poor job), I’ve had to do some exercises indoors. And when I do go for a walk outside, it’s an absolute must to bring a bottle of water with me. (And a pair of clothes that I don’t mind getting drenched in sweat.)

My sister lives in a desert that has an active monsoon season around this time of year. So while it is still warm weather, these summer storms laden with heavy, lightning-filled clouds will roll in, giving the land a much-needed moisture dump.

The heat almost matches the broiling summers in the desert where I live, but petrichor-smelling winds and cool droplets of rain make her desert a lot more enjoyable.

Of course, the summer isn’t without its perks. I get to hear news stations along the United States’ East Coast talking about how it is a “sweltering ninety degrees.” I’d like to see them melt alongside me in 120 degree heat.

Your mouth dries up with every breath, and there is a heaviness to your lungs that you can’t shake. All your body’s moisture migrates to your armpits, your brows, the small of your back, and behind your knees. If it’s really hot, your eyeballs sort of start to ache.

But sometimes I find the heat welcoming, like a really large, overbearing sweater. The air conditioning inside a building can feel harsh, chill, and artificial; summer heat can feel like a natural blanket of warmth that wants to smother you with affection.

I like it and dislike it.

So just as I wait for summer during winter, I am now waiting for winter during summer.

My love for summer is currently sweating itself away like an hourglass full of sand that trickles down.

Work Work Work

To put it mildly, work has largely taken over my life.

I work six days a week, from about 7:30 to 3:00, depending on the workload, and it’s gotten so I no longer use my computer for pleasure. It’s either work, blogging, or a video chat with someone.

This might sound like the beginning to a tirade about my overly lengthy work hours but I’ve got to be honest.

I freakin’ love it.

I feel pumped almost every time I hop online to work. I’m writing about video games, polishing up other people’s articles, collaborating with people who have the same passions that I do. It’s just all so fantastically unreal to me that I have reached this point in my life.

I never thought I would be the kind of person to be swept up by a “career,” but it’s accurate to say that (aside from family), my life now revolves around work.

This could all implode in my face one day.

I might find that my work-life balance is not being met, and that my downtime is just being wholly subsumed by my work.

Side note: I’ve actually had days where that has happened, where I’ve stayed in my computer chair till 7 at night and my eyeballs are dying and my back is aching and I am just fed up with words.

But for right now, I am reveling in it.

It feels so mentally active. I’m loving it.

And I just thought I would let you all know that.

Life Update #10: The Power of the Sippy Cup

Lately, I’ve faced a quandary.

I have been trying to increase my water intake, which means I always keep a cup of water by my side when I work.

However, my entire career is basically housed in this computer. If I were to accidentally spill water on this baby, I would be in big doo-doo. So keeping a mug of water on hand dances with danger.

I’ve dabbled with plastic water bottles. They come complete with cap, and I can take a quick swig without worrying about sloshing water all over the place. The downside is that you can only reuse them so many times before they start to stink, and they are rather wasteful when it comes to the environment.

So then I tried using a reusable metal water bottle. I could wash it and use it as many times as I wanted. Problem solved, right?

No!

See, in order to be able to properly wash these water containers so they don’t smell to high heavens, the neck and mouth of the bottle have to be wide enough to stick my scrubber brush down when I clean it. And if the neck of the bottle is too wide, I run into the same problem as when I was using glasses and mugs. I can’t recklessly swig down water without fearing for the dryness of my shirt and my keyboard.

What’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you what.

You get a sippy cup.

My tias (my aunts) gifted me a blue sippy cup, and it is the answer to my water-drinking prayers. It is a metal cup with a plastic lid that has a small opening. It can keep chilled drinks super cool, and it solves the issue of improper water output.

It has seriously changed my life, transformed the way I drink water.

I like it so much, and professed my liking so much, that my mom even gave me the one she got from my tias, which is why I have a blue and a pink sippy cup.

Honestly, this isn’t a very big life update to be called a Life Update. In fact, calling it a Life Update seems laughable in retrospect.

But I’m drinking a lot more water, which is an essential element to living life, so that counts for something. Right?

Vaccine Time

So I have officially gotten vaccinated, both doses.

After the first shot, my arm was just sore for about a day afterward. I couldn’t sleep on my favorite side, but that was the most inconvenienced I was.

After the second dose, I got some chills a few hours later. I went to bed and ended up waking up in the middle of the night with a heavy head and achy limbs. I struggled to go back to sleep and woke up the next morning feeling more or less the same way. I took a dose of children’s Tylenol (I’m a terrible pill-swallower), and my symptoms almost immediately cleared up and did not return.

Getting the vaccine has felt totally unreal. It’s been this talked-of thing for the longest time, and the rollout felt like it would take years. Never have I felt a vaccine was so important.

I mean, I’ve gotten the annual flu shot every once in a while, but this felt serious on an almost Contagion level of seriousness.

Side note: This is the perfect time to watch Contagion. Watching it back in March 2020 was a bit of a mistake for me. I was riddled with anxiety and horror for a few days after.

I feel safer after getting vaccinated, but my relief stems mostly from having my mom’s safety ensured. She got vaccinated, and I got vaccinated. My biggest fear has been passing something on to her, which is why I shut myself in most thoroughly last year.

It’s strange to live in such times, but I’m sure that is something everyone who has ever lived has thought at some point.

I’m Back and Thanks for Being Understanding!

Hello, my Above Average readers!

A few weeks ago, I took a break from posting here because of an upheaval in my life. I’m not going to elaborate on it, but what I do want to do is thank all of you for being so kind and understanding.

I’ve gotten a bunch of messages checking in on me, and I appreciate all of them. I am doing fine, and I’m glad to get back into the blogging groove once again.

Starting after this post, I’ll be back to my regular schedule. I have a bunch of things I want to write about from the past couple of weeks, and I look forward to just focusing on writing.

As always, I remain your Below Average blogger!