Candy Crush and other forms of escapism

selective focus photography of jelly beans on jar

Photo by Graham Walker on Pexels.com

I am admitting to a few faults that stop my writing progress. One of them is the game “Candy Crush.” Yep, the one that is advertised on those streaming services.

I don’t even remember if it is a TV commercial too. I see it so often that I roll my eyes, but I still play the silly game.

I don’t know why it is so addictive.

My world is divided by before and after illness. Before my illness I escaped mainly through books. I read a lot of Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, and other fantasy and sci-fi authors. My parents received some first and second editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs, which is why I know he wrote at least one Western. It was really good and sometimes I wish I had stolen that book from my parents library before they sold everything.

After my illness, I had a period of time where I couldn’t read. I would read a sentence and seconds later I couldn’t remember what I read. I would sit on the word “the” for hours. It was then that my late-hubby, Otto Tune, introduced me to games like “Bejeweled.” That first year I would sit in front of the computer, looking at the jewels and losing every game.

Even though a normal person would think these games were time-wasters, I found that every day I got better and every day my mind started to make connections. While I was on some serious chemotherapy, my brain had lost several connections. It was amazing that I could speak. As I got better with “Bejeweled,” “Candy Crush,” and other games like them, by brain started recognizing patterns again.

I learned a very important concept. Reading is pattern recognition.

It took over a year before I could read again. It took another year before I could write anything that was comprehensible. It has been over fifteen years since I lost my life. I have built a new life because of the wisdom of my late-hubby.

When I rebuilt the connections to my brain, I found that the memories that were so vivid had lost the emotions connected to them. A lot of the emotional pain except for the deepest scars were gone. I wondered if I had lost the ability to feel.

Sadly I found out that I hadn’t. When my late-hubby died four years ago, I felt the greatest emotional pain that also hurt my physical form. When the pain became too great to bear, I turned to my little Foxy and to the games.

I’ve been told that escapism is bad. I actually don’t believe that. I think that when the emotions are too powerful, it is a blessing when we have something to distract us if only for a little while.

Escapism becomes bad when we lose ourselves and don’t come back.

In a few days I will celebrate the life of my late-hubby. On the 19th it will have been four years since his death. I can think of him now without wanting to escape the emotions. I think that is a win.

 

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Repost October 3, 2016: Knitting and Storytelling

dogsweater111815I tried the sweater on Foxy before I did the finishing touches (i.e. tuck the ends into the sweater. I should have sewn the sweater to the neck, but I was more worried that it would fit too snugly.

I was wrong. It fits just right except she can wiggle out of it and turn it into an off-shoulder sweater.

But for some reason she wants a sweater. I have an old one that I bought at PetSmart. Unfortunately it hasn’t lasted that long. I have knitted sweaters for myself and others that have lasted years. The one I bought is falling apart after one winter of use.

Since the world is falling apart right now, I find that knitting is relaxing. I have a dog that sits on my lap as I knit and watch “Closer” or some other TV episode on Amazon or Netflix. I am still unhappy that most of my favorite shows “Constantine” and others have been canceled. NETFLIX for the love of the fans– Please get those shows and make new episodes. I would watch.

If Netflix won’t listen to me, then AMAZON I don’t want to see a middle-aged (almost late aged) transgender. I want to see more Marvel with superheroes and great story lines. Heck, I’d even watch some of Neil Gaiman’s old graphic story lines on TV.

One of the reasons (I have a lot of reasons for writing including that if I don’t write, I’ll act out in my dreams), is that I am tired of the story lines on national TV. The mystery detective shows that I have enjoyed for a long time have been co-opted with message fiction. It seems that global warming, gamergate, or bad corporations mixed with evil returning soldiers has taken over the entertainment. Seriously I am tired of messages… since I was in the Navy from 1988-1994, I am tired of messages that denigrate our returnees, whether combat soldiers or support personnel.

It became fashionable to spit on our returnees after Vietnam. A completely alienated generation is bad for us all.

But back to what I want to see in entertainment. I want to see stories. Something that will help me escape. Something that will make me laugh and cry. Something that will make my life a little more hopeful and a little more worthwhile.

Don’t tell me I am a bad person. I know that I am the hero in my own story. And you are the hero in yours.

One of the reasons I have a problem with dystopia is because many of these stories are– it was bad, it was your fault, and now you’ll die. Huh?

So this is why I like Marvel– as bad as it gets, the hero wins. Not always big… and not always apparent. I can relate. I have small wins every day. I take a pill and my disease is pushed back another day. I walk and my muscles move another day. These small wins have added up from 2003 to the present day. I am still living.

I want to write this way, too.

 

Sipping coffee on a Monday

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From Pixabay

The squares in the screened window reveal deep blue sky that only the day before was dusted with the smoke from distant fires. The weatherman has been talking about high winds and possible clouds this afternoon.

Little Foxy is lying on a soft blue bed under the craft table. She leans her head over the cushiony side, watching my every move. She’s probably hoping that I’ll get up and we’ll take a walk in the sunshine that beckons from the window.

I didn’t drink enough water yesterday. I was too busy talking to friends and comparing notes of Panama and Japan. My brother brought a friend to our lunch. Her father had been in the military. Where I had been in Misawa, he had been in Okinawa. While I had be been in the Colon side of Panama, he had been in the Panama City side.

In color, the five of us are very diverse. In tribe we are of the same tribe. One of our member was very good at calculating velocity in the middle of the conversation about head injuries. I had to laugh. This was the same type of tribe that I follow on the internet.

I had been afraid that I would have to celebrate this birthday alone. I have done that before I was married. I have done it since. So it was a happy surprise when my brother invited me to lunch.

The best birthday present I received yesterday was to spend several hours eating and talking.

Even introverts need clan and kin. Yes, indeed.

 

Monday, Monday

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Free from Pixabay

I haven’t dared to turn on the TV this morning because I finally have a clear brain and don’t want it cluttered with angry political rhetoric. So instead of listening to the weather attached to “news,” I am listening to my writing music as my little dog, Foxy, sits at my feet.

In my last post I talked about having low blood pressure and as I changed my meds, my brain started to come back online.  At this point I am trying to break a few of my obsessive habits that formed when my mind wasn’t clear. One of those things is to sit in my over-stuffed rocking chair, and play games on my Kindle Fire. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was a break after my writing routines. But, after my walk in the morning, I try to catch my breath. My brain is still foggy so I just reach for the Kindle and then turn on the TV. Then that is the end of my day.

So today and maybe the next month, I am breaking the habit of turning on the TV first thing in the morning.

Until I was sick the first time, I saw myself as three separate parts– body, mind, and spirit. I thought of myself as my mind. Then the first time, I was on a serious chemo drug I found that when my body wasn’t well, then my mind wasn’t well. Logically I knew this, but in my heart– I was my mind. It took me many months after I was taken off that chemo and put on a gentler drug to recuperate. It was hard for me to admit that I would never be the same.

The meds that I take to keep my immune system and kidneys under control feel like a huge bear paw that holds my mind down. When low blood pressure is in the mix, I’m amazed that I remember to walk, talk and eat.

My conclusion is that there is no separation of mind, body, and spirit. If any of these components are sick, then the whole becomes sick.

The scary thing is– if I could see when my body was sick enough to affect my mind, then I could stop it. But being the one in the middle of it, I cannot. I knew something was wrong because I couldn’t remember words. They slipped away from me into the void. I started to become disconnected.

It was so subtle.

I am grateful for a doctor that saw something not quite right. My kidneys cannot operate well if my blood pressure is too low. In my experience, if my kidneys are not working properly, then I lose my ability to reason and think.

I am grateful that she brought it to my attention so that I could fix it.

Spring season and walkabouts

hummingbird-2139279_1920 I haven’t been too interested in the news lately. I’ve spent a lot of my time preparing for doctor’s visits, which means sitting in a tiny room, drinking a lot of water so that the phlembotomist can take blood out of my veins. And in the the TMI vein, so that they could take a urinalysis.

So I was mainly oblivious to the national walkout that was supposed to be spontaneous outrage from students who were really getting a free day out in the sunshine. If it were spontaneous then the school administrators and teachers wouldn’t have pulled fire alarms and walked with the students to “pre-assigned” plazas for “protests” and “speeches.”

I grew up in the Cold War where we were taught to climb under our desks and hide during a nuclear event. In one elementary school during a “nuclear” emergency alarm we were marched out of class and we sat along the walls of the hall until the alarm was over. Basically if we were really hit then we wouldn’t have survived.

During the Cold War, we would see images of the staged May Day marches of the Soviet Union. During those days we were proud that if such a power would land on our soil that we would fight and shoot our enemies.

It is like I have walked into a surreal landscape where a group of teenagers who would have been considered able to make adult choices (like defend their country when I was their age) are asking to be disarmed. These same students are asking that someone else take care of them because they are too delicate to make their own choices.  I am astounded that an 18 or 19 year old is now considered too young and irresponsible to handle their own defense and their own life.

I do know that I am only seeing one side on the news. I know of several young men and young women who are making their own lives. Some of them are going into the military and some of them are traveling. Others are starting businesses. We don’t see them in the news. If I didn’t know of these enterprising young ones, I would have believed that our nation was already on the skids.

I am a veteran. I served. So my view is probably different from yours.

When I turned on the TV and watched the “walkout” this week, I saw history being repeated. I turned the TV off.

I’m in the writing chair

8a5d8-chickadee-2 After a little Facebooking, I am now squarely in my writing chair. I have a cup of coffee setting in front of me. The dog is asleep in her bed next to my feet.

Thank you Doris for reminding me that I need to write. Since the surgery, I now know that I need a thyroid hormone to keep stable. I’ve learned that I am anemic. So the last week I have been eating mushrooms, liverwurst, and Vit. C. I’ve noticed an increase in my energy. It’s not as much as I would like, but I am not falling asleep as soon as I sit down.

As an early birthday and Christmas present rolled into one, I bought myself a Kindle Oasis on Prime Day. At first I wasn’t sure if this little square thing would be comfortable in my hands. It was lightweight, but sometimes lightweight means badly engineered. I am happy to say that it is more comfortable to use than any of the prior Amazon Kindles, including the fire tablets. I can read inside, outside, and upside down. I can read sitting up or lying down.

Since I got it I have been bingeing. So that is my other excuse– I needed to fill the well. With all of the sickness and the thyroid business, my creative energy has been on the low side.

I hoped that music would help. Let’s just say I jumped into another person’s monkeys and circus. It ended badly for me. I am now staying away from circuses that I don’t initiate. I have to keep learning that lesson.

One thing that I noticed is that when I go towards anything other than writing, I head for another disaster. Since music was what led me to the last one, I now know that I need to keep that side of me satisfied. I have decided to start back with the community choir at the end of August. It will keep me pretty busy and I will have that performing need itched as well. This choir does performances twice a year.

Plus I will write. I am back to business again today. Time for me to make goals again… and to structure my day. I work better when I have some structure.

I noticed this with poetry when I was working in that medium. When I worked in structure, the poems would shine. It took a lot more work to shine outside a structure. So if I structure my time, it will allows my mind the freedom to soar.

Also, I will have to cut my social some. I am really enjoying being around certain people here. But, the more I socialize, the less I write. I wish I knew how to balance better.

Anyway– since I am finished with my “true confessions,” I am going to work on “She Called It, Wolf,” and very soon I will send it off to my reader.

Is it a choice?

I have a depressive turn of mind. I am willing to admit this finally because of another writer, Sarah A. Hoyt,  who admits the same. Yesterday I was looking out at the courtyard, and wondering why the sun was shining and the birds were singing.

I know why I am turning downward. It has a lot to do with the stress in my life. I used to think if two out of three areas of my life were going good than I was doing well. I broke these parts of my life into money, social, and health. I’ve had times in my life that only one of these areas was working properly, usually health. I would chalk it up to life isn’t perfect and be optimistic that nothing stays the same.

To be honest life was glorious because I left home to become something entirely new. I won’t get into the circumstances of my childhood. A lot of it rolls into one long memory of pain and sadness. I used reading as an escape. One of my favorite writers during that time was Andre Norton and particularly her Witch World series. Her heroes, who escaped terrible circumstances, gave me hope that I could escape too. I did.

I’ve wondered if I inherited the glass half-empty attitude. When I look back, I really think my dad was depressed most of the time. I even remember when he went through a “nervous” breakdown and stayed in bed for several weeks.

So lately, I am dealing with problems in those three areas. The stress has been building and it has zapped much of my energy. I’ve been pushing on my writing again and yesterday, life went gray.

I sat on the recliner in my small living room, looked out the door and watched the clouds float across the sky. I was still watching the sky when the winds whipped around the trees.   My little dog warmed my lap and we watched together.

One question kept floating up? Why am I here again?

Normally I have enough energy to rage and to change. I didn’t even have enough energy for that reaction.

I know continued stress is the trigger for me. I haven’t had a break from it since September of last year. When I think one thing is over, I am wrong and another problem which is as bad as the first shows up. So then I am dealing with two problems that need to be resolved … now.

While I was sitting there and not-thinking, feeling empty, I remembered something my late-husband used to say. “Find that one memory that makes you happy. Look at it. Be grateful for it.”

So my good memories are all about him. We used to walk on Pensacola beach, barefoot, hand in hand. We would walk into the water. He was my safety net as we got into deep water. You see– I can’t swim, but with him I went to places that I couldn’t go alone.

I am so grateful for this one memory. If I hadn’t had him in my life, I wouldn’t have known that feeling of safety even in the depths of the ocean.

I don’t think that a depressive turn of mind is a choice. I do know I have a choice of gratitude. So I am grateful for my friends, for my readers, and for my family. I am grateful for Foxy. I choose to be grateful and hope it is enough.