Of Protests and Pandemics

Fractures persist in the criminal justice system.
So we choose to resist.
Meanwhile
An infection spreads,
Using worldwide connections to extend its reach.
The divide has never been wider
(Or Whiter)
Between the haves and have-nots.
This year is clearly
Determined to sear
Itself onto our collective memories.
But perhaps this time of unrest is for the best.
Granted, this trial by virus
Feels like the strike of a viper
Disinclined to let go
Until the flow of venom is spent.
But protests and calls for reform
Bring more than fury and woe.
They bring change.
And changing to better treat the people we meet
Is never a bad thing.

The Social Distancing Limerick

My day-to-day life hasn’t changed
Since quarantine was arranged.
I just work in my house
With no time to grouse
Since life on this Earth turned strange.

And as time goes on in this way
With no friends to hear what I say
Even though I’m not sick
The distance hurts quick
Since we’ve all learned to self-isolate.

But we must stand strong and take heart
To give doctors and nurses a start
We can flatten the curve
If we just have the nerve
To stay home and do our damn part.

Happy Anniversary to Me

I was planning to log on to the blog and write up a review of the Tomb Raider series. That was my plan.

But then WordPress went out of its way to let me know that today is the two-year anniversary of the day I got my account.

You hear that, guys?

I’ve been at this for two years.

I’ve noticed the older I get, the more time seems to fly by. When I was younger, it felt like the days would drag. Now, it’s like the opposite happens. That “time flies” phrase makes a whole lot of sense now. Two years have gone by quickly.

I don’t know if this blog has changed me massively or if it has made no difference in those two years.

What I do know is that I love it. It’s like the ultimate diary. Only this time, it’s not as whiny as my diaries used to be.

So to celebrate my two-year anniversary, I thought I’d let you guys, my above average readers, know how grateful I am to you. I honestly thought it would be me by myself shouting my words out into an echoing blogosphere that didn’t care one whit for what I had to say. But I’ve made some blogging acquaintances along the way, people who read my words and whose words I read. And they/you have helped me feel a lot more comfortable in my writing skin.

Hell, I’ve even gotten a little more comfortable typing the word “blog.”

Remember how I used to be?

So here’s to another year with you guys.

Side note: That Tomb Raider post will be typed up soon. I promise.

In the Eyes of a Dog (a poem)

Purpose in life
Is hard to find,
Yet a need we have to know
What we’re supposed
To do.

Too often I feel
Like a face without a heel;
No one to want
My likes or my thoughts
Or my time.

But this fluffy animal
That sniffs piss and offal
Apparently craves my self all day,
Without hesitation or delay,
Always.

She yearns for my affection,
Attention a delightful confection.
If I am not near,
It’s almost as if she fears
I’ll forget her.

And it’s at moments like these
When in the eyes of a dog I see
There’s at least one reason
For a person like me
To be.

Ode to Oatmeal

What is there to really say about oatmeal?
I suppose I owe it thanks for all
The good it does my cholesterol.

But still, that does not encompass how I feel
While munching that mess in my mouth,
Its fiber sending my stomach’s contents south.

It takes very little to prepare
Beyond small oats and water, plus hot air.
Its texture is what seems unique;
Chewing mush takes some technique.
But though oatmeal my doctor recommends,
To Hell it will my taste buds send.

Life Update #8: Plans for the Blog Going Forward and Damn News

It’s been one heck of a month for me, guys. Not that you would know it because I’ve been characteristically closemouthed about it. But that’s not the reason for this update.

Well, it’s not the entire reason for this update.

I have a few ideas of what I want to do with the blog, and the main one is introducing a new type of post.

I’m thinking about doing some how-tos, not many and mostly humorous in nature.

How original, right?

I got the idea of doing it not too long ago, but haven’t implemented it into my schedule yet because of the chaos that consumed my life about three weeks ago. (More on that in a bit.)

As things stand with my Below Average Blog now, I have four types of posts that I write regularly. There are these Life Updates, where I toss around what’s been new with me. There are “reviews” that I do for movies, shows, games, and books, and those are hardly professional. (In fact, they’re Below Average content. Get it?) There are top-numbered lists, where I write about my favorite things from different categories, and then there are the posts where I just shoot the shit.

So why not add some how-tos in there?

I also want to start consistently adding an image per post. Even if that image is reused. It makes the whole thing look prettier, doesn’t it?

Posting once every 5 days has really worked out for me, by the way. That was the last big change I made to the blog, and I’m glad I did. My work schedule was getting a bit overwhelming.

I mean, work’s still relentless, and I’m still falling a bit behind on the post scheduling, but I’m enjoying this level of activity more than the panic-fest from before.

So I’m happy to report that that change was a success.

Now all I need to do is devote more time to reading my fellow bloggers’ work than I do now.

For those of you who’ve stuck around this far, well, I guess you might want to know what the “chaos” thing I was referring to earlier was all about. I’ve been having some medical issues, nothing too serious, but jarring for me nonetheless. I’m planning to go full-on rant about it in a later post in the future. But rest assured, my health is more or less okay (average, you might say), and the issue lay mostly in my troubles with my health provider and his prescriptions than with the ailment I’m dealing with. I am fine. I’m just more…irked…with doctors than I used to be.

It took up my time and my mind like you wouldn’t believe, and now that I’ve got it behind me (somewhat), I’m ready to focus my attention on my writing wholeheartedly once again.

Back to the blog.

If you guys have any ideas or wishes or comments on what to include for future how-to posts, feel free to let me know down below! (In the comments.) I’m all ears. I’m mostly knowledgeable in writing, proofreading, navigating social situations poorly, reading, bad movies, and being a plebeian gamer.

Collaborating with Another Person When Writing

For me, writing is typically a solo affair. I’m a fairly selfish person when it comes to crafting a story, and the idea of having to share it or change it based on another person’s whims does not appeal to me. My writing is all about me getting my ideas down with my pen on my paper.

That sounds kind of petulant, like a little kid, but come on, you guys feel the same, right? When blogging, it’s about getting your own thoughts out there. Right? (Unless it’s not and I’ve somehow been doing this thing wrong this whole time.)

When I was forced to write with others during my school years, it felt like such a chore. Scratch that, it felt like a crime. Like I was messing with the way things were supposed to work.

Which, now that I type that down, sounds like I have a very high opinion of my writing.

I don’t.

I just have the writing spirit of a crotchety old person.

Anyways, I hate collaborating with people on writing. It’s the worst.

Well, that is, unless I’m doing it with the right people.

My sister is my number one person when it comes to writing cooperatively. She’s my number one person for a lot of things, but the fact that I can collaborate with her on writing projects should still be impressive.

The two of us have always been very creative people. We relied on our imagination a lot when it came to playing with each other since we didn’t have TV growing up, and it translates well to our writing skills.

The only thing that hinders us is my sister’s moods. She has to be in the perfect mood to get into the writing spirit. Otherwise, other things will capture her attention. I do have a little trick to solve this though. I call it the Bakuman Effect. Basically, there’s this manga series we both like called Bakuman, and it’s about a pair of teenagers who decide they want to become manga artists together. The whole series is about them getting their own manga series (which is kind of meta), and it’s a real feel-good, you-can-do-it, Rocky-Karate-Kid-esque kind of story.

If my sister reads even a single issue of this series, she’ll get in a writing groove. It just inspires her faster than a bolt of lightning can flash in the sky.

She and I both like to structure our work before tackling it, but when we do, we function like dolphins herding a flock of fish.

Side note: It’s a school of fish, isn’t it? Ah well, “flock of fish” has that nifty alliteration thing going for it.

Together, my sister and I can take on any writing project that comes our way with enthusiasm and determination.

Right now, we’re on-and-off working on a fantasy thing, which is great, because the concept phase has been going on phenomenally. We’re literally creating a world and populating it with people, creatures, religions, and customs, and it’s just fan-freaking-tastic.

My friend Mia is also another person I can collaborate with.

We’ve known each other since we were little, so that kind of comfort you need in order to share ideas that might seem a little silly with another person is totally there. Hanging out with Mia is uber comforting. Being with her is almost exactly like being by yourself on a semi-cold morning with nothing pressing to do except drink your coffee before it loses its warmth.

Plus, we’re both classics fanatics when it comes to our reading preferences, so when we write together, we get to indulge that side of ourselves. We take inspiration from poetry and hefty works of literature, molding them into something of our own.

Our best work together actually happened in college, in this terrible creative writing class we took. (Yeah, it was ironically funny.)

When Mia and I write together, we just lose ourselves.

The final person I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with is my friend Andreya. The two of us working together is just an exercise in crazy. We are wild hilarity in human form. We can spend hours together, just bouncing around every idea under the sun. Nothing is too insane to at least talk about.

Admittedly, I do most of the writing in this pairing, but I kind of prefer it that way. Andreya is like a springy diving board, and our work is the pool I eventually plunge into after our time partnering.

The greatest thing about Andreya is her ability to entertain any notion, spin it, and turn it into something new. She’s like an endless font of inspiration, an inventor with a mind that keeps churning out ideas.

So remember how I was a sour-puss about collaborating with people when I write?

I don’t hate it when it’s with these three people specifically.

It’s kind of an acquired taste.

I Can’t Keep Up with My Writing!

I recently got a new job (in addition to other jobs I have), and it’s really cut into the time I have available on any given day. That means it has become quite a hassle trying to keep up with the blogging schedule I set for myself when I first started.

Even with my ability to schedule posts ahead of time, it’s been pretty stressful. I feel anxious about the blog if I don’t have at least three posts in the queue.

Because of that, I’ve been tossing the idea of changing up my blogging schedule. Currently, I publish a post once every four days. That might not seem like a lot, but with my own personal writing and the slew of writing jobs I have, it’s really piling up.

So I’ve been thinking of changing my schedule to publishing once a week.

There’s a large part of me that doesn’t want to do this. It feels like giving up. Or at the very least giving in. And while I might be a plushy pushover in every other aspect of my life, my dedication to writing has been the one part that I’ve been steadfastly dedicated to. Changing my schedule feels like I’m bowing down under pressure. It’s…personally irksome.

However, there’s another part of me that really wants to just ease the load that is currently on my figurative shoulders.

And, as anyone who knows me should know, I’m incredibly indecisive. It’s one of my major character flaws. (And, according to The Good Place, being this indecisive could potentially send me to the Bad Place. So yikes.) I can’t make this decision easily or quickly. I’m puzzling over it, pulling my hair out wondering what to do.

One way to solve this issue would be to pose the question to complete strangers. Right?

So what do you say? Should I put the pedal to the metal and stick to the original schedule I set for myself? Or should I rein in my blogging and publish a post once a week instead?

How To Get Away with Loathing Your Own Writing

Is it just me, or does anyone else absolutely hate the way they write?

It’s kind of like hearing your own voice for the first time. When you speak and you hear your voice coming out of your mouth, you start thinking that it sounds a certain way. It’s all a lie though. When you hear your voice in a recording, it sounds completely different.

Side note: I hate the sound of my voice. I think it sounds murky and dumb. I sound like I have marbles stuck in my cheeks 24/7.

The same concept applies to writing. When you first spill your words onto a page, it feels fantastic. The fast, free-flowing quality of writing contributes to this sensation. As your words fall into place, why shouldn’t you think that they make perfect sense?

Then comes the time when you reread what you’ve written, and gasp, it’s a nightmare! It’s like cringing yourself to death. Your sentences sound stupid, your word choice is lame, and your voice sounds whiny and immature.

I can’t even begin to tell you how often I’ve felt this way. (Well, actually, I can begin to tell you, technically speaking. That’s what this post is about. Telling you guys how much I hate my writing.)

I’m a fairly neurotic proofreader, so I reread everything I write in order to catch my mistakes. Catch these mistakes I do, and I also catch sight of my godawful, crappy writing.

And the truly sucky thing is that no matter how many times I revise a piece, I am never satisfied with the end result. I can only ever be marginally okay with what I get.

My sister is the one person who bolsters my spirits when it comes to my writing. She is my self-confidence.

Side note: She was pissed when she found out I named my blog The Below Average Blog. I thought that was a neat and unassuming name for something as potentially pretentious as a blog. She thought I was being down on myself for no reason.

But I have come to accept the fact that disliking my writing is a bit of a boon to me. I’ve said it countless times (to myself, in my head, and maybe on this blog a few times). Hating my writing pushes me to try and improve it (key word being “try”).

So if you, too, hate the way you write, just remember two things:

1) Your writing probably isn’t as bad as you think it is. Your self-loathing and self-deprecatory nature just makes anything that comes out of you look terrible. Odds are, given how many people exist on our planet, someone could read your writing and like it.

2) Hating your writing should only make it better. Unless you start spiraling into a depression. Though I have learned from books and TV shows that writers being depressed and alcoholics is a common enough thing, so at least you won’t be alone.

Then again, I’m a nobody writer with zero credentials to my name and therefore absolutely no credibility when it comes to giving writing advice, so maybe you shouldn’t listen to me.