How To Start Your Day When You Just Feel Blegh

Even though quarantining, self-isolation, and sheltering at home have not largely altered my life, I’m not immune to the monotony of my new routines.

I mean, I’m a very comfortable introvert, but even I’m longing to just go to a movie with one of my buddies.

Or to pick up a smoothie.

Or to find some tasy goddamn dumplings.

Ugh. I’m craving dumplings.

Lately, I’ve found myself stagnating in a pool of ambivalence every time I wake up because my day will follow the same cookie-cutter schedule without any deviations.

I wake up, go to work, eat lunch, do some chores, go for a walk, watch a movie, play a game, go to sleep. Rinse, dry, repeat.

Anyway, as a continuation of my new “How To” series, I’ve decided to write up some tips about how to stave off this blanket of boredom and ennui I’ve been suffering from. If you feel the way I do, hopefully these steps help.

Sleep Till Your Belly Button Pops

I know this might seem counter-intuitive if you’re trying to make yourself more alert and ready for the day, but sleeping in is a must if you want to maintain a) your health and b) your energy level for the rest of the day.

Occasionally, there are times where sleeping in makes you feel more tired than before (which is weird, but it’s happened to me too), but overall, I’d say the benefits of only leaving your bed until you want to outweigh the negatives.

I mean, at least sleep will take up some time from the boredom, am I right?

Drink Your Daily Coffee

You don’t neccessarily have to imbibe caffeine every morning, but you should have a regular drink you sip to start your day, be it orange juice, tea, or milk.

I like to drink a cup of coffee in the morning, and by doing so, it’s one of the ways I let my body know it’s time to start the day.

Plus, yeah, caffeine helps.

Give Yourself a No-Work Lazy Day Once a Week

One of the reasons I’m being crippled by listlessness these days is that I work every day. I work from home, so this sheltering in place thing has seen my workload continue, if not triple. As such, I don’t have that rejuvenating break from work colloquially known as “the weekend.”

Something I’ve noticed that can help me out is if I finagle my work schedule so that for one entire day, I have no work. It’s just one day of me being able to do whatever the hell I want (while self-isolating). I can walk around the block one hundred times. I can go on a Star Wars movie spree. I can work on a puzzle while drinking supbar lemonade.

These breaks are bliss, and I should really schedule more of them for myself. Sadly, I’m a bit anal when it comes to working every day.

Play That Funky Music

I can’t understate the importance of listening to uplifting tunes in the morning. It’s one of the only things that keeps me sane.

Nothing gets you excited for the day like bopping along to some foot-tappers.

I highly recommend “Tragedy” by the Bee Gees, “Sunlight” by TheFatRat, or “Another Sunny Day” by Belle & Sebastian. (Those are just a minuscule fraction of the songs I listen to every day.)

Meme It Up in the Morning

I groggily reach for my phone every morning to see if anyone has texted me. The answer is usually no, but sometimes I have a few work emails waiting for me.

Yay.

One thing you can do to brighten up your day is to browse through social media feeds looking not for how awesome and stellar everyone else’s lives are but for those sweet, sweet memes.

Starting your day with a guffaw is helpful.

Take a Shower

I think I shower once every other day.

On the days when I do shower, there is a noticeable increase in my evergy levels. Something about getting clean and dressing myself just kind of wires me up to be more prepared to tackle my day.

Force Yourself To Go Outside at Least Once

I’m not a naturally athletic person, so I can empathize with people who just stay indoors all day.

Still, going for a walk around the block, a run in the park, or, hell, even just standing outside on the front lawn, can be refreshing.

Make Your Own Holidays

I did this for a bit, and it was quite fun for a while.

I made up imaginary holidays, like Hat Day, Feet Day, Romper Day, etc. Went on for a good two weeks. I posted daily on my Instagram stories and even got some of my friends to follow along.

In the end, I got tired of having to be so active on my Instagram (oops), so I stopped doing it, but it was definitely a diverting manner in which to break up my typical routine.

Schedule Treats for Yourself

I have an agenda that I use to make sure I keep up with my work schedule. Every time I finish a task, I check it off on my agenda.

In order to liven up my days, I also include fun things on my agenda. For example, for today, I wrote “Movie Night with Bubba,” because my friend and I are going to hop on Discord and watch a movie together while social distancing.

Even though it’s an inconsequential, fun activity, it feels so satisfying to check it off when I’ve done it.

Dunk Your Head in Water

Seriously.

Do it.

You might think this is something that only works in movies and TV shows, but it works.

This is the ultimate wake-up call, and I never feel so alert as after I’ve randomly soaked my head in water.

A D&D Story: The Skull Room

My group of Dungeons & Dragons adventurers is not comprised of the smartest characters. As players, my friends and I have a tendency to be silly, stupid, or bold just for the entertainment value of it all.

During this particular campaign, Sidney, Dalton, Mia, and I were at the table.

Dalton was the Dungeon Master (DM). He ran the whole show, planned out the entire area the rest of us were exploring. He’s methodical in his craftsmanship, but has a delightfully dark sense of humor when he sees his players making mistakes.

Sidney played our resident Warlock with persistent bad luck. He’s the most affable person I know, but damn, he is plagued with terrible rolls and poor, split-second decisions.

Mia was our level-headed ranger. Of all the characters in our party, she’s the one with logic and practicality on her side. We all would have died during our first mission if it hadn’t been for her.

And I was my all-time favorite Barbarian Half-Orc. Unbridled rage, loyalty to her “tribe,” and rash choices are my bread and butter.

In this mission, the three of us players were exploring this underground cavern. Rumors of a dark-magic forge built here kept us searching for hidden rooms and strange mechanisms. Eventually, we reached a massive space with wooden contraptions that told us we had found our forge.

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t have long to enjoy our discovery.

As soon as we entered, a giant, flaming skull suddenly appeared and started throwing fire our way. It also conjured up these minions from out of nowhere, all of them surrounding us in an instant.

As a Barbarian (and as a Half-Orc), I charged into the fray heedless of my safety. Mia’s Ranger and Sidney’s Warlock had no choice but to follow my example.

After the first two rounds of combat, it was clear our party was out of its depth. But Mia and her Ranger were the only ones to realize this and remark upon it.

Side note: Come on. I’m a Barbarian Half-Orc. Recklessness is in my blood.

In an effort to try and incorporate some strategy into our attacks, Sidney moved his Warlock out of the room. There were two entrances to the large space, and Sidney figured we’d be less of a target if we split our forces. His Warlock walked out into the hallway, all the way around to the other side of the room. From that spot, he was able to start Eldritch-Blasting the backside of our opponents.

Unfortunately, in the time it took him to walk there, my and Mia’s characters became overwhelmed. My Barbarian went down, and Mia’s Ranger needed to drag me the heck out of there.

Even though her Ranger is not a natural healer, she holds all of our Healing Kits in her pack. So, for the time being, she’s our go-to healer.

Her action was used up in dragging me away during that round. Mia assured me that when her next turn came around, she’d heal my Barbarian right up.

At that exact moment, Sidney’s Warlock took a huge barrage of punishment from the flaming skull. So much punishment, in fact, that he got knocked out too.

Mia paled and stammered that she’d get to him on the turn after she healed me.

True to her word, Mia healed my Barbarian right up. Then she began to make her way to Sidney’s downed Warlock.

Unlucky Sidney had moved so far though, that by the time Mia’s Ranger got to his body, he was gone.

As in dead.

Sidney laughed at Mia’s dismay, and his laughs increased when the first thing my Barbarian did upon waking up was to rush back into the fight.

I’ve never heard Mia curse so much.

The healing my Barbarian had received had only given me so many Hit Points (HP). In no time at all, I was downed again.

With a grimace of frustration, Mia got her Ranger back into that giant room, resigned to hauling my unconscious Barbarian carcass out of there once more.

The flaming skull and its minions had other plans.

They peppered projectiles at Mia’s Ranger like there was no tomorrow. And even though she managed to drag my Barbarian out of the room and into the hallway, the damage was done. She got knocked out too.

So in Dungeons & Dragons, there are these things called Death Saves and Death Fails. After losing all your HP, you have to roll Death Saving Throws. That means rolling your 20-sided die in order to determine if your character lives or dies. If you roll a 10 or higher, you’re in the clear. If you roll lower than that, you’re an inch closer to death. You have to make three successful rolls in order to be considered “hanging onto life.” If you roll three fails, your character is officially dead, and a new one needs to be made.

Sidney’s Warlock had failed all three of his Death Saving Throws before Mia’s character could heal him.

So with my Barbarian and Mia’s Ranger both down, we needed to make those throws.

Mia failed all of hers.

I made it.

Laughter ensued as I stared dumbfounded at my little Half-Orc, the only surviving member of our party. Dalton had his head in his hands. Sidney chortled about the near Total Party Kill (TPK) we just had. And Mia was laughing with pleasure at my guilt for getting her Ranger killed.

I seriously had no idea where to go from there.

Dalton ended up making the executive decision to retcon the entire encounter.

We pretended the whole thing never happened, and when we picked up our game next week, we avoided the shit out of that skull room.

Of Pandemic Proportions

Hey, guys.

So as you might have noticed, there’s a bit of a global pandemic going on. COVID-19 is running rampant, and societies across the globe are doing their best to try and halt its progress.

Quite frankly, it’s a little overwhelming.

Numbers are being thrown in my face every day by news outlets. Not an hour goes by that my phone doesn’t receive some kind of alert, be it from social media, a news app, or my email, regarding the coronavirus. Some of my more…anxious…family members are not handling the situation well at all.

And even though my lifestyle is more than well-suited to being in quarantine, the word itself inspires discomfort and a tiny degree of terror.

That said, I’m doing okay.

I’m looking on the bright side, and this whole social distancing thing isn’t all that bad.

I’m spending way more time with my beloved bird, Froley. My writing output has never been higher. My walks feel more special because they are the only times I leave the house now. In order to mark this self-imposed isolation, I’ve taken to doing puzzles, and the practice is quite relaxing. (Except for that one time when I knocked the table I was working on with my knee, and I lost a good chunk of the puzzle. That was traumatizing.) Playing video games feels like I’m performing a civic duty now that going out to socialize is frowned upon.

All in all, it could be worse.

And I know that for some families, with loved ones suffering from the illness, it is worse.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the whole thing, you’ve come to the right place. I’m here if you just want to talk (about anything) or vent (about mostly anything).

I’m a Below Average writer, gamer, person, you name it, I suck at it.

But I do want you to know that I’m a slightly above average listener.

And if you feel alone, I’m here for you.

Remotely.

But you know what I mean.

Soda Can Therapy

My sister, Alya, is one of the most beautiful persons I know. When I was younger, I seriously thought she was so gorgeous, she could be an actress if she wanted.

To this day, I’ll look at her, and it’ll blow my mind how pretty she is. Like, I know looks aren’t everything, but hot damn, my sister is breathtaking!

She has thick, wavy hair with a natural color of burnished gold. Her eyes can switch from a sea blue to a pale green to a steely grey depending on what angle you’re looking at her from (and on what color shirt she’s wearing). She exercises a lot, so she also has a fit physique, complete with trim calves and defined forearms.

Her personality is magnetizing, too.

She’s sprightly and vivacious. She boasts often because she seems to have a wellspring of confidence within her that never runs dry, but it’s always meant in good fun. One of the first dates she went on with her future husband is now a hilarious story, because she insisted she could play tennis extremely well, and when that wasn’t the case, good-natured humor ensued. Her attitude and active mind boost her good looks to the millionth degree.

But it wasn’t always this way.

My sister went through a bit of a “blossoming” phase when she was in high school. That’s when she became the person she is today.

In middle school, she was bullied terribly.

To this day, I don’t know why she was bullied. She was thin, wore glasses, and sported an unfortunate haircut, true. But she was genuinely a great kid. Smart, good-humored. But she was missing the self-confidence which she has now, and I guess that made her a target.

I’m sorry to say I wasn’t aware of her troubles then. I was making the transition to middle school as well, so I was more or less absorbed with what was going on with me. As far as I was concerned, Alya was just my knowledgeable big sister who I hung out with after school.

Alya later told me that she purposefully hid her trials from me. She didn’t want me to know that she was getting bullied. But she did admit there were times she cried before going to bed, dreading school the next day. She developed a habit of grinding her teeth in her sleep, as if she were clenching her entire body before having to dive back into the toxic atmosphere waiting for her.

There was only one time when Alya actually broke down about a situation going on at school. She and I were hanging out with our childhood friend, Mia. The three of us were each other’s closest friends, and nothing was more enjoyable than just kicking back at Mia’s grandparents house, giggling about books we had read and planning our next adventure pretending we were on Middle-Earth.

That day, we were just chugging a bunch of those mini root beers and having a burping contest.

Side note: Yes, we would have burping contests. No, we were not ashamed.

After the contest, Alya told Mia and I about this boy who had bothered her at school. I can’t for the life of me remember what the boy did. All I know was that it upset Alya almost to the point of tears. Not tears of sadness, but tears of frustration and anger.

For a while now, I had been eyeing this sledgehammer that Mia’s grandparents kept in a toolshed, and at that point I had the perfect idea. I suggested we all let off a little steam by using that sledgehammer to pound away our problems. The plentiful amount of root beer cans around us could serve as symbolic stand-ins for the objects of our ire.

Alya, Mia, and I then solemnly proceeded to heft the sledgehammer over our shoulders and then slam it down upon those teeny cans, crushing them flat. It’s a testament to how much soda we guzzled that we were able to do this more than a few times. We decided to give Alya the majority of cans to smash, but there was still enough to go around.

These days, I kind of question whether or not that was healthy for us to do. I mean, we were not shy about naming the situations or people that we were venting our pent-up rage against. Those cans were getting destroyed.

But we felt better afterwards. And that’s all there really is to it.

This soda can therapy in no way fixed Alya’s bullying problem. I can only hope that at least for that afternoon, this one moment helped her feel an ounce more in control of her situation.

Side note: I won the burping contest, I’m 90% sure. Mia and I were always the big contenders in these things. For the life of her, when Alya was young, she just could not burp. She would try, but nothing would come out.

The Story of My Parents

My mother came to the United States from Mexico. She and her family became naturalized citizens, and they settled in a small town nestled right next to the border. My mom’s father, my tata, worked in the fields for a living. The town is a farming community, and that was the work that was available. My mother was the first of five sisters to go to college.

My father was raised in a broken household in New Jersey. He spent some days with his mother, some with his father. Hunger was a frequent companion of his life. He wasn’t particularly close to his brother and his sister when he was young, but that is something he tries to rectify now. A tad directionless after high school, he joined the Navy.

After graduating from college, my mother became a kindergarten teacher at a local school. She has not left the place since she started, remaining a respected member of the faculty.

My father went through many experiences while in the Navy, most of which make for awesome stories, but he still jokes about how the Navy stands for “Never Again Volunteer Yourself.” After finishing his service, he decided to become a teacher. He learned Spanish, knowing that a bilingual teacher would be more desirable for schools to hire.

He got a job at my mother’s school.

When they first met, my mother thought my father was too proud. She offered to help him set up his classroom, an old-hand reaching out to a newbie, but he refused. My mother’s first impression of him was soured.

My father was completely oblivious of my mother’s dislike. He asked her out on a date.

They dated quietly for a while, until my father asked her to marry him. He also took that extra step to ask my tata for my mother’s hand. My father’s Spanish-speaking skills were perfect. He asked respectfully and quietly.

My father might not have realized this, but he was technically asking for my nana’s, my grandmother’s, permission instead of my tata’s. She ruled the household from behind the scenes. She sat next to my tata when my father asked, and she slapped his arm repeatedly, hissing, “Dile que sí!”

My parents got married.

My mother came from a large family, where family reunions included hundreds of people who all seem to know each other’s names. Everyone knows everyone’s business.

My father barely spoke to his own family.

My mother made it clear to my father as soon as they were married that she wanted children. A year after they were married, my older sister was born.

I came after, about a year-and-a-half later. Early on, my parents made it clear to the two of us that we were to be the most important person in the other’s life.

Of all the gifts my parents gave to me, this establishment of love between my sister and me is the greatest.

Not a day goes by where I do not hear an “I love you” from my parents. Despite wildly different upbringings, my parents came together with the understanding that they would create a nuclear family based on acceptance and love.

Committing To Awkward: My Theater Bathroom Encounter

Not often, but sometimes, I’ll share embarrassing shit that I’ve done on this blog.

Today is going to be one of those days.

So recently, I went to go see Underwater with my Dungeons & Dragons buddies. We’ve gotten into the habit of seeing movies together, and it’s quite the enjoyable experience. As a matter of fact, they’re the ones who I went to go see Cats with. (For more on that, be sure to check out my rant on the film.)

Part of our joy in watching movies is from raucously yelling at the screen. We like expressing our disdain, enjoyment, or disbelief out loud. Rest assured, we do this when no one else is in the theater.

That was partially why I wanted a late showing for Underwater. The later we went, I assumed, the less likely other people would be at the theater with us.

Side note: Underwater is actually an okay movie. It’s got the usual horror movie tropes, but if you’re looking for an underwater horror experience, that’s exactly what you get. It’s decent. Plus, there’s a delightful surprise for any classic horror fans at the end.

So when we all entered our particular theater, I was thrilled that the six of us were there alone. We could be loud to our hearts’ content. When we went to see Cats, there had been two people who were at our showing as well. We still snorted with laughter and all, but I felt guilty about it afterward.

Now, anybody who knows me knows that I like to pee right before a movie starts. It’s all a part of my theater experience. There’s nothing I hate more than getting the urge to take a leak right at the good part. So in order to prevent that from happening, I often jog over to the bathroom right before the film actually starts. I like to think I’m completely emptying my bladder so that it can then be adequately refilled during the course of the movie with my water/soda/etc.

Thus, after we took our seats, I promptly stood back up and popped off to the john.

The layout of our local movie theater is fairly straighforward. There’s a main concession area, then two hallways that lead to different theaters. One of these hallways is shorter and only branches off into two theaters. The other is longer, and it has more theaters connected to it.

Here, I’ve made a stupid diagram of it.

The red splotches are doors. I didn’t draw out the theaters.

The showing of Underwater that my friends and I were going to see was in one of the two theaters leading into the shorter hallway. So it was a short walk to the bathroom nearby.

Just as I entered the bathroom, I saw a man leaving the concession area and heading toward the hallway. He looked to be in his forties, had a bag of popcorn in his hands, and was presumably going to watch a movie that night.

I stopped in the middle of the bathroom after entering, looking back over my shoulder out the door. The door to this bathroom is notoriously slow, so it was inching closed like molasses, allowing me a good long look at this man.

‘Dammit,’ I thought to myself. ‘What if he’s heading to see Underwater? We won’t have the theater to ourselves.’

So great was my desire to have the theater to myself and my friends, I decided to ascertain right then and there whether or not this man would be watching it with us. The bathroom door was still ponderously closing, so I stepped right next to the door jamb, staring at the man’s now-retreating figure. If he made a right into the longer hallway, I would know he was seeing something else. If he continued straight, we were doomed to polite silence.

As fate or fucking chance would have it, the man seemed to sense eyes on him, so he turned around and looked right at me.

At that moment, I had a choice.

I could either hurriedly duck away from view and pretend that I hadn’t been eyeballing his movements this whole time.

Or I could commit to what I was doing.

Side note: In stressful situations, a moment of nonplussed inaction is my usual recourse.

So I fucking committed to this stare, and the last thing I saw as the bathroom door finally closed shut was the quizzical stare of this 40-something man as he looked into the girls bathroom and saw a freak with glasses and a beanie unabashedly gazing at him with a deer-in-headlights face.

And that was probably the most embarrassing thing I’ve done this year.

So far.

I still have eleven more months to go.

Obligatory Holiday Greetings!

Froley loves the Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years’ to you all! It’s right about the time that people are preparing for the holiday, so I thought I’d wish everyone a happy season’s greetings and all that jazz.

I really want to thank everyone who takes the time to read these things and say that I really appreciate the blogging community as a whole. You guys have been nothing but supportive, and always heckin’ awesome to read.

This year is ending on a fairly tumultuous note for me. This past October/November really sucked eggs for me, so I’m hoping things turn up in the new year. I know that things changing on a dime just because the calendar year is beginning anew is a fool’s dream, but it’d be freakin’ sweet if that were real. I mean, who doesn’t want better things on the horizon just because a number changed, from 2019 to 2020?

Anyways, just wanted to wish you all a happy time in these coming weeks! It’s an obligatory holiday post!

Plus, I’d also like to leave you with some Christmas recommendations. You know, little activities you can do to make the holidays just a tad more bearable.

1 – Watch The Muppet Christmas Carol

It is by far the best iteration of A Christmas Carol you could ever hope to watch.

2 – Eat a Mouthful of Cookie Dough

Look, I know all the labels tell you not to, that it’s bad for you, that you’re doing damage to yourself. But, I swear, that single mouthful just tastes so darned delicious. It’s what I imagine Play-Doh tastes like.

(Disclaimer: I am in no way a licensed medical professional. Eat raw cookie dough at your own risk.)

3 – Wear Fuzzy Socks

You can wear fuzzy socks on any ole day of the year, but there’s something particularly comforting about wearing them in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Especially if you’ve got a pair of Christmas-themed fuzzy socks you got as a gift last year that you haven’t worn until this very moment.

4 – Go to the Beach

No one spends a lot of time at the beach when it isn’t summer, which means that there’s a lot of space to lay down your blanket! Sure, the water is freezing this time of year, but it is also gloriously devoid of summer beach tourists. Plan yourself a trip and experience a wintry beach time. I’m 80% sure you won’t regret it.

5 – Play a Video Game

If you already play video games, you know how relaxing a video game can be when holiday plans are piling up on you. If you don’t play video games, you are missing out on one of the most stress-relieving hobbies you can have. And even though they’re a time for love and caring, holidays can be hella stressful.