My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A (School) Year to Remember. (Personal Update)

There is about to be mischief. 
I've written so little in the past few months—the past couple of years, really.  

I'd like to hope that the period of low productivity is coming to a conclusion, but I know better than to state definitively that "I'm back." This way lie chaos and despair. I may as well start an activity with a rousing, "What could possibly go wrong?" or look at the cloudy sky and say, "At least it isn't raining." 

Such words tempt fate.

No…at this point saying "I'm back" isn't actually just TEMPTING fate. It's more like waving your dangly bits in front of fate and sneering, "I TRIPLE DOG DARE you to do something about it." It's finding fate, and giving it a wet willy and saying "What? Stop me if you're so fucking powerful!" The minute the typing fingers press the keys of that ending "K," a Tesseract would open up and me from the future would come out and say, "I know you think you're back, but trust me that you need to leave your house through the back door if you don't want them to find you!"

"Who?" I'll ask.

"There's no time! We have to go now." Future Me will say.

"You just showed up from the future. Why didn't you show up…like, you know….thirty or forty seconds earlier so you…I….we could answer this critical question. Or better yet, like a couple of hours. That way we could have lunch and a conversation, I could ask a few follow-up questions. Maybe quiz you to make sure you're really me. It's not as dramatic, but it would really help me get through this situation which I'm guessing you REMEMBER as being super confusing."

"I did jump in forty seconds early. You just wasted it deconstructing the trope." F.M. will say.  

"Shouldn't you have remembered that you…I….WE…(fuck, what is the right pronoun?)…spent the first forty seconds—"

"Holy fuckwaffles was I ever this annoying?"

Never do figure eights around collapsing black holes, okay? It's just not worth your chill. 


I'll just say this: I have a schedule with built-in time to write in a writing conducive environment—a thing that hasn't happened in a couple of years.

No. Wait. That's not dramatic enough.

Enter Ian McKellen in Gandalf robes. Looking out over the forest of my works in progress. "A thing is about to happen that has not happened in an age."

Gandalf: "It is not despair, for despair is only for those who—"
Aragorn: "Why do you TALK like that?"
Gandalf: (pauses) "This is going to be lit, bro.
Do you have any idea how long things have been FUBARed around here?
Shit's about to be legen—
wait for it…and I hope you're not lactose intolerant because this next part is
Credit: New Line Cinema

I now have the drive and will and motivation to get back to writing. Not like this mere mortal daily writing stuff of habit building, practice, discipline and regimen, but really digging into content and deadlines again. Drive and will and motivation have happened with increasing frequency in the last year but not when I had time. 

Time has happened, but usually only when I was stressed and depressed and overwhelmed and needed a break in the worst way. 

I haven't had BOTH those things at the same time in…well it might have been early 2021. And…(~glances nervously around and whispers~) nothing absolutely terrible has happened in a couple of months. I have a career pivot path forward that includes writing but also some really exciting other work I want to do in service to my community and in the name of The Morrigan

So let me tell you a couple of stories. One about the past, and one about a possible non-"I'm back" future that may involve some tiny modicum of back-ness that I only dare whisper. Because anything more than a whisper and it might disappear, it is so fragile. 

Or it might grow tentacles and tear up the foundation of what I'm building. So yeah…let's whisper.

The Tale of What WAS

Last spring (2023) was full-throttle grief on the Rhapsody front. I've written about what happened, but haven't really had the bandwidth to put more in-depth thoughts into article form yet. (They ARE coming.) I don't want to retread that ground from square one because even though it's been months since I wrote it out, from this blog's perspective it was like three articles ago. Suffice to say that the mourning had only just begun and the tears were fresh and bitter.

It was a difficult time. And when I say that, I need you to understand that it's like saying the cultural zeitgeist of the '80s involved a "little bit" cocaine. You know…like just a line or two. Rhapsody and I haven't really caught a break in three years. We almost don't even know what we look like outside of a crisis. Before the new relationship energy had even worn off, we were dealing with a miscarriage, health issues….that turned out to be cancer, surgery, and recovery. She went through a major breakup. And as both of us felt the clouds parting a little bit and life giving us some space to breathe, the death hit.

For months, I didn't even try to be anything more than her support. That can be harder for me in a lot of ways than going through the thing myself. Cancer was hard, but supporting someone in grief turned out to be harder.

Spring started to warm up into summer and we both started to feel the winds of change. She knew she wasn't going to keep being a baker. I knew that I didn't just want to go back to 60 hours a week of Writing About Writing*. Both of us hatched intricate schemes for the next phase of our lives, and we both knew we were going to be going to need some formal education, and some non-formal certificates and training for the work we wanted to do. 

[*If you're just joining us, or haven't been paying attention, Writing About Writing isn't going anywhere. I like blogging. It's just going to be joined by some other kinds of writing and play co-career path to some other stuff I plan on doing. I still have every intention of doling out my F-bomb-heavy writing on all who will suffer it. We might need to adjust to a 3-day-a-week posting schedule, but we will still be here.]

We both signed up for classes in the fall, and summer turned into "hurry up and wait." To say nothing of the tribulation of trying to keep Treble and Clef entertained. Grief was still a frequent visitor and overarching specter, and there were sometimes days and weeks of solid hardcore support that kept me from doing much else at the time, but at least the difficult spots were starting to be punctuated by fleeting moments when Rhapsody remembered to breathe. Moments turned into the occasional day. Days turned into the periodic good week. The anniversaries were hard again, but the trending line has been that the torment and maelstrom of emotions have been relaxing their grip. 

And then it was fall. Time to hit the ground running. 

For me, my angle of study was to become a priest of The Morrigan. Priesthood isn't for the faint of heart, especially with a deity like this one. I've written about the beginning of my journey in other places (including my struggles with my own disbelief), and those posts will continue. The fall semester was bananas. I was taking a six-month intensive class ON The Morrigan (which will be starting again soon if you're interested)out of Ireland from a native Irish Draoí in addition to 10.5 units of kinesiology coursework so that I could get a certificate in personal training. That's in addition to the regularly scheduled life stuff and the more-than-occasional support mode. 

I had hopes of starting to write in fall, but if anything I was always desperately behind. I was always turning things in at the last minute and/or with effort more mediocre than I'd have liked. I would start to catch up and then fall apart again.

And then, of course, I was hospitalized. Another thing I've already written about, so I won't rehash it here. I wanted to write in the hospital since all I was doing was sitting in bed, but it's not quite like a day off. Actually, it's nothing like relaxation. You're tired. You're in pain. You're worried. And in my case, you're trying so so hard to keep down the panic attacks from the medical trauma from two years prior. 

And that fucking beeping machine keeps you up all night.

I've recovered from that, by the way. I didn't need a long recovery like with abdominal surgery for cancer. I was in the hospital for longer, but I recovered faster. Still, it took a few weeks (and I got a bad respiratory infection right as I was getting better). I'll need upper endoscopies (in addition to colonoscopies—isn't getting older GREAT!) on the regular to see if any varices have worked their way into my stomach, but now that we know what to look for, I'm okay. I don't drink. I don't have hepatitis. And though they don't know why my liver has cirrhosis (true of like 1/3 of cases), it's not getting any WORSE, so with some preventative care I may never even need a transplant or anything. Liver transplant priority is measured on something called a MELD score, and mine is currently low enough that not only am I not on any kind of list, but if I literally walked into a transplant facility holding a liver, they wouldn't do the procedure. They would probably ask where I got it though, and then I would have to come up with something pretty quick.

"It followed me home?" I'd say.

"And its owner?" they'd ask, furrowing their eyebrows.

"I must away to my ravens," I'd say, throwing a smoke pellet to disappear.

Anyway, I have to pick up about half a dozen more points to be a candidate and dozens more points to be prioritized. Which is all to say that even though I almost died, right now, things are pretty okay. 

Unfortunately when I got back, I was behind on everything and finals were looming in the distance, so there was no time to do something ridiculous like starting a publishing routine.

I finished up my finals (all As!) and with the vacation, instead of vast oceans of time to dig into writing, I got caught in the drift of that untethered time between end-of-the-year holidays where even knowing what day it is often a shock*. And then a trip to Boston. Suddenly it was spring semester again.

[*At one point I was having a conversation about "Tuesday," and I swore it was like four days away, and she said, "I'll see you tomorrow then." And I was one, three, five, seven, and nine because I literally could not even.]

It's Monday, bruh.

Then school started, and before I could even figure out what traffic would be like getting onto campus at 9:30 and where all my classes were, we hit the anniversaries. Those moments of loss that Rhapsody experienced—the attack, the moment brain activity stopped, the honor walk. Each their own dirge of pain and reliving. 

Right when I was feeling like, "Okay, I've given Rhapsody my best. Now it's MY turn to be supported," I got Covid. I had to go into isolation for a week. Covid led to brain fog, and let me tell you that shit is no fucking joke when you're in school. I couldn't think. I had no executive function. I sat and watched deadline after deadline fly by, wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Thinking was like swimming in oatmeal. My entire program was starting to unravel and I couldn't make it stop. 

I walked into my mentor's office during her office hours one day and told her I might need to drop several classes if I was going to salvage the ones that were left.

"You're going to be a great trainer, Chris. I watch you with your internship clients and you are amazing. I really want you to succeed. What would it take to keep you in?"

"More time?" I offered.

So she gave me a fistful of extensions. Some of these assignments were WEEKS overdue before I even walked into the office. She told me to get them in by the end of spring break. And so I just started knocking them out—one by one—and pulling forward. It ate up my spring break, which I had hoped to use to get some writing done, but I caught up.

This next part is boring. Let's do it as a montage with the Rocky theme song playing in the background. Here I am studying. Here I am studying in a different position. Here I am turning in my late shit. Here's another one of me studying. Here I am in my internship doing personal training. Here I am coaching a group personal fitness session of Tabata. Here I am studying some more, but this time with a National Association of Sports Medicine book in my hand and wearing glasses.

Here, let me help with the visual. 
This montage is going to break the fourth wall, apparently.

And then it was finals. So like…more studying. Cue another montage. And here we are. I have the official NASM test soon (not for a class, but the actual professional test), so I'm spending my days reviewing the earlier chapters and taking practice tests. I'll be trying to find clients and book out sessions—hopefully at least a couple a day. But my goals required a massive surge of front-loaded effort. I had to complete 20 units in one academic year or I was going to take another 8 months to finish (summer and ANOTHER semester). A 10-unit semester isn't much for a full-time student, but I was doing a lot more.

Adding thirty hours a week to adult responsibilities…no wonder returning students have their own little kiosk help desk. 

The Tale of What IS

There's something a little different happening now. 

Time AND energy. 


Like the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of writing. Two great opportunities that go great together. Not that I've ever been shy about saying that a writer has to CREATE both of those things if they ever want to pay the bills with their wordsmithing (and I have the PLUMMETING writing income to prove that the opposite is also true), but sometimes life is throwing cancer and death at you, instead of personal scheduling conflicts, World of Warcraft raid guild demands, and "too many" people who want you to show them just exactly how your tongue ring works. 

I don't ignore my own advice. I never stopped writing. But I did stop blogging and working to get articles up and worrying about my "productivity." And now I'm….well, I'm not going to say it. But let's just say that I have both ingredients I need, and I'm not in the middle of my world exploding for the first time in too fucking long.

I'm not going to say it though.

So if we could go ahead and NOT have a miscarriage,
life threatening illness,
cancer, surgery, a long recovery with trauma, a major breakup,
death, liver failure, long covid, brain fog, 
or try to change careers completely in the next few months….
Thanks a bunch, life.

The Tale of What MIGHT BE

There is a lot more I plan to do, including learning to be a death doula, mediation training, and even some fun stuff like learning Tarot and martial arts to start up side gigs. Writing has been wonderful and rewarding beyond compare, and I'm absolutely not stopping either my blogging or my fiction writing, but financially, it is a completely unforgiving career. 

I loved paying the bills with writing. I was so proud of that. The fact that I pulled that off was literally a childhood dream come true. It was asynchronous income (which is why I'm still making SOME money), and that has saved my life in a maybe-not-entirely-hyperbolic way these last couple of years. (Seriously. Thank you all who stuck it out so so much. I would not have made it without you.) But it took twelve- and fourteen- and sometimes sixteen-hour days that I don't have anymore. And the bills that it paid were bare bones. 

So I'm hoping to create something more like ten side gigs in a trenchcoat moving forward. A few fitness-training clients. A few tarot reads over zoom. Writing. Maybe in a couple of years, I'm running a small business out of a local storefront that does fitness and martial arts classes on a sliding scale or free to the community. I have to survive capitalism, but I think I can also create something that will give back. I'm called to do other work (in a way I write about elsewhere), but also shoring up my income with something as different as possible from being in front of a computer for hours. I found that fitness not only helped me get out of the chair and feel better, but it helps me focus and make more of the time when I AM writing. I don't actually NEED fourteen hours when I'm fresh off a workout, rejuvenated, feeling good, it's 10 A.M. and have to be done by six for another client. 

I do still plan to make writing the core of my career work. I just want other things too.

But first and foremost, I want to start posting again here on WAW. There's fiction and projects and some compilations and a book and…and so much I just dropped when my world imploded, but I've got to start banging out articles again. I need my audience back and my income back and that foundation for everything else I'm about to attempt.

And then there is a tremendous amount of "digging out" to do. The blog basically needs spring cleaning. While I've been barely treading water, I have articles that are half done. Entire series that are unfinished. Links that go nowhere. A whole overhaul worth of work that needs to be done.

And during this, I will be taking the NASM, trying to find clients, and launching a small side gig while continuing my education and learning the rest of the suite of skill sets that I'm going to need. It's exciting. It's a lot. It's a lifetime of effort. 

It's a calling.

So here we go. I'm bac—

**power goes out and a Tesseract opens**
**in the distance, sirens**


  1. Hey Chris!

    I've been your reader for some time now. Ok kinda...

    I started reading your blog some years ago, it could be 2016 but maybe even earlier. Always loved to write and had a love ffor blogs, but neverr had the energy for doing so, so I started reading people who had the energy.

    I think I never, or almost never, commented on your posts. Back then I was still mastering my English skills (not my primary language) so I thought it wouldn' be a good Idea to write comments, but I was always reading something from your blog. TIme passed and I stopped rading blogs for a time, tried out another paths in my life, but now as a Literature teacher this world has oppened up to me again. I found your blog on my reading list and I will have some years of lost posts to read, which is something really exciting for me.

    After therapy I found out that reading and specially writing, are two things really important in my life. They are part of me and part of my self-discovery path. Started bloggin and this has improved my life a lot.

    I'd like to thank you because I think you are part of my journey somehow.

    I wish you all the best and I will be around reading you whenever you post something.

    Be well, brother!

  2. Yes! I'm so looking forward to more of your writing!