#509: The Chipotle

close up photo of rice and tacos

Photo by Chitokan on Pexels.com

This is not about the brand Chipotle, the Subway-style restaurant that I haven’t visited in ages, not probably since when my ex-girlfriend and I visited it during one of our Hamden reunion tours, back when Hamden felt nostalgic and homey, after we had both managed to escape it and move forward. That was in the past, though, and times have changed since those days. I’m not the same person I was back then, and even though I wish things were different I cant’ change the past. I’m no Gatsby. (Even though he couldn’t turn back time either, but you get the reference hopefully.)

This blog post began with an idea of talking about My Brother, My Brother, and Me, an advice show for the modren era, and a podcast that I listen to regularly. In it, they recently discussed the triplelupa, an item being sold from Taco Bell that seems to explode in your mouth when you try to bite into it. One of the flavors being offered in the triplelupa is some kind of chipotle mix, which seems appetizing only if you’re the kind of person who regularly hits up Taco Bell. I used to be that type of person, so to me I can relate to finding that kind of food appetizing or at least somewhat appealing.

I guess what I wanted to talk about here was the Munch Squad that seemed really cool and full of info for me to riff on, when in reality talking about Chipotle at all kind of dragged down my spirits and brought back some memories of a different time in my life. It’s impossible to ignore the connections you’ve made with people over time, even the ones you want to shove away and put in a different box, away from view.

#504: The Puzzle, Part 1

brain color colorful cube

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

Back when I used to live at this house, we would sometimes pull out puzzles and try to complete them in one go. They’d never get finished that easily, usually because the puzzles we had were enormous and multifaceted and full of the most ridiculous spots. It’s more difficult than it looks, I promise you, to figure out how this blue spot connects to this other blue spot that looks remarkably similar except for an infinitesimally small sky-blue dot in the upper corner. It’s all about the little details when it comes to figuring out how these puzzles work. You have to have an attention to detail and picking out the finest points of things, and you have to be able to focus. That’s always a tough thing for me: focusing. Puzzles require concentration and dedication to completing it, obviously, but also to looking at those small details and not losing your mind in the process of working all that out in your head.

I give props to my mom and sister, who are much better at completing puzzles than I am. I learn by intuition; I feel things out and hope that they make sense in the process of me figuring it out on my own. I learn in a way that makes puzzles difficult, because they’re not exactly the most intuitive things around. Of course, there are some intuitive elements, like figuring out the outline of the puzzle before anything else, looking for pieces that match each other in pattern, and so on, but more than anything, puzzles are about concentration and a will to not completely give up after staring at the same spots over and over again.

I think I’m going to write about puzzles some more in the next blog post. Stay tuned for that.

#503: The Community

ground group growth hands

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s one thing to exist as yourself, to be a person who has a solid, single identity that’s unwavering and a part of themselves. It’s important to remember who you are outside of society, outside of the communities you enter and are momentarily a member of, because if you lose yourself, you risk losing the person that remains after the communities inevitably fade away. Lots of these small communities fall apart over time; they don’t last by virtue of the fact that people run into issues and drama if they have to live and be together for so long, and for such a lengthy period of time. Personalities will clash, attitudes will clash, it’s just the nature of the beast. Some people are better at managing those attitudes than others, and that leads to reconciliation and compromise over resentment. Other times, people think they’re good at managing those attitudes when in reality they only make matters worse for themselves as well as others.

Communities are fragile, and only propped up by the people that run them. If communities aren’t willing to resolve their differences amicably then they don’t deserve to exist in the first place. It’s all about amicable reconciliation, at the end of the day. If we’re not doing our absolute best to accommodate for each other, what are we even doing then? Especially our friends and so-called fellow community members? There’s no point in it.

I guess this will be the last post I make about this topic, about this drama that’s made matters worse for me on social media. I guess, above all, I just want closure with this, but it’ll never come. Not while I’m still around, at least. I don’t think it’s the kind of matter that will find closure. Not everything does these days.

#502: The Terminator

man in a purple suit running beside blue and white train

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

When no one listens to you anymore, when friends turn against you and everything seems to be moving into crisis mode in the world, that’s when it’s most important to terminate all connections, isolate yourself, and remind yourself who you are and what this world is all about. It’s not enough to just stand around and wait for things to happen to you; you have to take a stand, be proactive, and move forward regardless of the circumstances surrounding your personal crisis. I know that these words are difficult to hear considering the state of the world right now, what with the pandemic and economic recession and all that, but it’s always important to keep them in mind in spite of things.

Recently, I terminated my connections on Twitter over a bad, unnecessary fit of drama propagated by people who feed off of this stuff. It’s a shame how you’re unable to tell the types of people you’ll encounter in the world until you actually know them for months, even. It’s not something you can just gauge from a close encounter. And people, despite their appearances, deceive all the time; it’s almost as if it’s in their nature to be manipulative to others. I’m the one who terminated all connections and I don’t regret it one bit, but a part of me wants to go back at least for the people who don’t know any better.

Regardless, I’m only talking about this here as a way of getting it out of my system, venting to no one and nothing until the wind sweeps it away into the vast nothingness that is all these other blog posts no one ever reads but once. It’s a sad affair but nothing to do about it but write, write, and write some more, until the last drip of ink seeps from the pen.

#501: The Castle

white and green high rise building

Photo by Mark Neal on Pexels.com

The other day, my friend Alex came over and brought with him a big, four-parter box contraption that now sits in my room next to the Playstation and the bureau. Although it’s a bit small, it’s designed so that Jace can explore a space and move around freely, as if he had a little hideout to himself. The thought is that hopefully he’ll calm down a bit more if he has somewhere to go where he can relax and be away from people. The other thought is that, Jace clearly likes his little cat tower, so why not let Jace get a little castle for himself?

I’ve put a lot of thought into getting a more elaborate castle sometime in the future. I’d like to get one mostly because, although it will cost an arm and a leg to buy, it’ll keep Jace busy for sure and he’ll absolutely spend lots of time on it. The hope is that regardless of how long it takes him to acclimate, he will eventually love it so much that he refuses to get into other things in the room. That’s obviously a tough bargain, considering he loves to get all over the furniture and pretty much everything there is to get into in this room.

Another thing we’ve been struggling with when it comes to Jace is figuring out how to trim his nails. He’s not necessarily the most cooperative cat in the world, so that makes it difficult to get him to stay still for me to clip those tiny nails. Alex recommended maybe getting a nail filer instead, but I’m not sure that’s the best idea either. Regardless, it’s going to take time to figure out how to be the best cat dad around. I hope that I get better over time.

#500: The Milestone

gray rocks on seashore during sunset

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Well, I did it. I got to at least 500 blog posts without repeating a title. Everything else has been brand new, with no overlapping topics. I’ve kept this going for over a year now and I feel pretty good about the lasting impact of this whole process on my writing skills. I believe I’m a better writer now than I was when I started this whole thing, and it’s great to go back and look at myself, look at what I did back when this blog was in its nascent stages, and learn from it. Even today, while I was reading the blog back a bit, I saw a post saying “An Apology for Inactivity,” back in 2014. That was a whole six or seven years ago at this point, and yet I was apologizing for being inactive then. Now I’m active every single day, practically, and show no signs of letting up or stopping any time soon. That’s what blogging does to you; it makes you motivated to keep going, and you want to push yourself to achieve higher milestones. Even now, while looking at the title of this blog post, I think to myself: what will I name the blog I write when I get to #1000? Will that also be a milestone worth writing about? Maybe I should title this “Part 1,” so as to motivate myself to keep writing so that I know I have to get to “Part 2,” that being #1000? I’ve never written a two-parter so separate from each other before. It’s all so new and interesting to think about!

Nevertheless, I’ve made it this far. I genuinely thought about quitting this thing for good after my breakup, considering how much of the 100s, 200s, and 300s are about a person that’s no longer a part of my life. But I want to keep going. At this point, I really have to.

#499: The Virus

woman holding face mask

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

It should go without saying that the hottest topic in the news these days (at least, while I’m still writing this, although it doesn’t look like this is about to disappear any time soon) is the coronavirus. As such, I wanted to write about it a little bit, with hopes that I can explain some of my feelings about it before the 500th blog post. I would hate to commemorate 500 blogs with a notice about a virus; that would be hardly fitting after all the work I’ve done to get to this point.

So, without further ado, the virus began in China, but has since spread throughout the world, infecting over 70 countries at the time of me writing this. It’s become an increasingly difficult virus to contain, and it seems as if having a federal pandemic team on staff would be helpful during these times. Unfortunately, that team was fired two years ago, so now everyone is scrambling to figure out what to do. It’s become more and more stressful over time, figuring out how to deal with this public health crisis. For me at least, I was in the process of interviewing for a job that would’ve been perfect for me, and then the company instituted a hiring freeze because of the crisis. As such, it’ll be difficult for me to ever really get a job while this is all still going on. I don’t think I’ll be so lucky until it’s over, at least.

What that means is that for the interim, I have to continue quarantining myself, which I’ve basically been doing already. I haven’t done much to make myself socially active, aside from hanging out with a couple of friends every once in awhile. The friends I hang out with don’t show any symptoms though, so we’re good! At least for now.

#498: The Counter

person in black long sleeve shirt holding black card

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

So, I sometimes run a deck that has a lot of good counterspells in it. No one seems to know what to do when they face it one-on-one, because it’s just so obnoxious to deal with. It reminds us always of a friend who we used to play with constantly, who always ran counterspells and loved the colors blue, black, and red in Magic. Those colors generally run with annoying spells, so it’s sensible that people wouldn’t feel that great playing against it in games. It’s like playing against control decks in Hearthstone; you never really want to do it, because you know they’re just going to ruin your whole game plan for the duration of the game. It’s part of their strategy, and it’s basically how they plan on winning, by disrupting you so much that you no longer have the combo pieces required to win how you would expect to.

Today I’m writing about counters because, as it happens to be, yesterday I spent some time with my friends playing magic and we discussed what it’s like to play against the Bolas deck, as it’s called. It’s my grixis-colored commander deck, and it’s known for being especially obnoxious to play against, especially if you’re playing Dan’s selesnya-colored commander deck. He doesn’t run much blue hate in that deck, and it’s pretty much exclusively good at out-doing other fat decks that rely on big creatures. My Lord Windgrace deck gets countered pretty hard by Dan’s deck, but whenever I seem to play the Bolas one, it seems to come out on top in spite of it being less good, in my opinion. It doesn’t have the same options and I haven’t put as much money into it as I did the other decks. Sometimes simple is better, at least in this case.

#496: The Shower

photo of white tiled bathroom

Photo by La Miko on Pexels.com

I can’t believe it’s been four hundred and ninety six blog posts and I haven’t written about the joyful bliss that is taking a shower before. I mean I think I mentioned in one post about the spot I used to have in our old apartment in Stamford, how I used to lay down and relax there during a shower for peak comfort. I still have a spot like that here in Northford, at the old yet new place, but I don’t use it as much. When I take a shower here, I’m more likely to just get in, do my business, and leave. I don’t usually linger as much as I used to. I don’t know why that is; perhaps it’s because my mom told me before I moved in that they had to fix some of the walls because the water and heat from the shower was eroding things. Perhaps I’m making the right decision for everyone this time! It’d be nice to think of things that way, at least, but I’m not sure that’s the reason either.

Realistically, I enjoy taking a shower because it’s a moment to myself where I don’t need to worry about anything else going on. It’s an anxiety-free, stress-free experience, punctuated by the fact that I have to clean myself and all that stuff obviously, but none of that really bothers me or ruins the experience. In fact, it makes it more of a self-care experience more than anything else. It feels like when you need to take a breather and step outside for a bit, not that you need to do that for any other reason than to just be calm, be collected, and be yourself for a bit of time.

I like taking showers and I wish I never had to leave them, but that’s for another day.

#495: The Worthy

aerial view of green and flower field

Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

The new season in Destiny 2 is called “The Season of the Worthy,” and today I’ll be talking a little bit about it in an effort to explain it while I work on completing a few of the objectives for it at the same time. Pretty crazy how that works, but we’ll try it anyway.

Essentially, every new season, if you own the season pass, you get access to a leveling system that goes on top of the existing leveling system. It’s the “season rank,” and with it you can unlock great rewards like exotic engrams and zone currencies and ascendant shards and what have you. It’s a nice little system that they added, that rewards you for playing their game on top of the stuff they already reward you with for playing their game. Unfortunately, I had to purchase the season pass independently of everything else this time because I was given access to the last season for free by purchasing Shadowkeep around that time. Now that the season has changed, I had to get something new. It’s really that simple.

Right now, I’m running around the Tower hoping to reach Zavala before I reach the end of this sentence. Zavala is the commander of the Vanguard, basically the heroic organization of this game, and he’s in charge of how this operation goes down. When you talk with him he unlocks certain Strike-related bounties that are, of course, only available to be completed in Strikes, most of the time at least. Today, as I talk with Zavala, he tells me about the bunkers where Rasputin is housing ancient weapons that can help us take down the Cabal. It feels like how the initial Red War campaign went down, except this time it’s involving us being in the Tower instead of operating from the Farm.