Streed of Consciousness [Part 5 – Life/Tattoo Update]

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: And Now I’m Nothing by the Wonder Years)

Hi, everyone. Miss me?

If you didn’t notice, I haven’t really been posting much the past two weeks or so. I got on the “writing every day” train around the time I finished work in mid-April; then I kept that up for a month and a half or so until I took weekends off; and now I’m at a point where I barely get out a post a week.

The truth is, I’ve been stressed. Very stressed about many things. And I’ve not been as good as I could be about following my own rule – when you’re stressed, vent about it. So I’m going to go ahead and do that here.

If you don’t like long rants, feel free to pass this one up.

So, what’s bugging me? Well, let’s just make an easy list:

  1. The political situation in the United States. I told myself I wasn’t going to be political on this blog, and I will continue to try not to delve into these subjects here – although they are probably one of the factors I recognize the least as stressing me out, so really, I should be talking about it more.
  2. My girlfriend is at home. When the relationship is good, you’ll not get into more fights just because there’s a little distance; instead, when you have your regular everyday stress, the kind your significant other would help you deal with, that stress goes unnoticed and continues to weigh on you. It’s like a stress multiplier. And she’s going to be gone – with only a few visits across the summer – until September.
  3. Various acquaintances have illnesses. Mental or physical, family or friend, you name it – I’ve got a lot of people in my life right now who are struggling with some pretty heavy issues, and I’m trying my hardest to be there for all of them. I’m going to talk about this more below, but for right now suffice to say I’ve stretched myself thin trying to make sure everyone is doing all right, at no lack of stress to myself.
  4. Being alone over the summer. Yeah, this one actually really sucks. All of my apartment has jobs, and for much of the week – namely, Thursday through the weekend – at least someone is here. But on some occasions, on some Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays, I might go the entire day without seeing anyone. There are absolutely some weird psychological effects that come into play when a person is alone, and I’ve felt them.
  5. A new wardrobe. This is kind of a weird one, and I’m surprised how much it’s influencing me. Recently, I decided to become an adult (yay me!) and I bought myself an entirely new wardrobe – summer and winter clothing in what I deemed to be “adult” styles. I brought my girlfriend and my fashionista friend to the Citadel to purchase $600 worth of clothing (and if you don’t know me, I’ve never spent more than $30 on clothing at any point in time, besides suits). And since I know literally dick-all about fashion, I let them purchase the clothing while I gave final approval. It’s been a difficult adjustment – most of my clothing before this was band t-shirts and long, ragged shorts from high school, baggy jeans, and sweaters for UCLA. I took pride a little bit in rejecting the status quo, and now my wardrobe literally is the status quo. It feels like a bit of my identity has been taken, and I know I’ll get used to it soon, but I dreaded the moment when my brothers would first see – and be able to make fun of – my new clothing. It happened yesterday when they came over for D&D, and it was light teasing, but it still made me feel uncomfortable.
  6. I don’t want to end my current writing project. This close to the end, I’ve felt threatened in my ability to finish out a project in a way that satisfyingly wraps up character arcs and narrative, and so I’ve come to a grinding halt just 5 or 6 chapters from the end of Symphony of Legend. Since I stopped posting every day, I’ve also stopped writing every day, and that has definitely been detrimental on my mental health.
  7. I got in a huge fight with my dad. And now he’s being weird about it. I don’t know how to confront him about how I feel about the way he lives his life – he kind of reminds me of the dad from Big Fish, always expanding his life into a narrative without realizing that he’s losing track of what’s important – and when I tried to broach the subject the other night, I was slapped down. Now the cat is out of the bag, and it’s ugly. He can tell there’s something wrong so he keeps texting me trying to gauge if everything’s okay, and I don’t really know how to answer.
  8. People are ~still~ trying to make my decisions for me. This time it was my girlfriend’s parents telling me I need to go to graduate school, because “you need to strike while the iron is hot, and some doors will close for you if you don’t pursue them now”. WOW, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT. But seriously, if you aren’t just a rando reader and you’re someone in my life who cares about me, please read this on how to deal with me right now.
  9. That disillusionment with… everything. Living in California is kind of like living in this little miracle bubble where the temperature is always above 70, the people are always beautiful, and the problems of the world seem so far away. Now I’ve been exposed to the underside of the world, the dark sides of the people in it, and the sickening levels of [corruption/moral ambiguity/greed/disregard for our fellow human beings/disregard for the state of the world/racism/sexism/phobic speech/anger directed in the wrong direction] happening right now. It just seems so strange to me that life continues to move on, that we all – myself included – aren’t trying to protest the horrible direction this country and world are headed in.

There you have it. I even kind of broke my rule about politics at the end. And there’s always a part of me that thinks, you’re alive, without physical or mental ailment; you have access to clean water, good food, medicine and shelter; you live in one of the most privileged nations on earth and you should really quit your bitching. And usually that voice makes me feel guilty, but today it’s not on my list of stressors. Today I say, “Fuck you, voice; these are the things that matter most to me.”

So what am I gonna do about all this? Well, if I knew I’d tell you. Some solutions are easier than others. I should probably text my dad and try to call my girlfriend more when I’m stressed. But in reality, a lot of these things won’t just be going away anytime soon.

So, in traditional Reed fashion, I’m gonna get a tattoo.

Or, rather, I’m going to add onto one. This one, the one of the silhouetted buck on my leg. See, ever since I started Symphony I’ve been thinking about the word “preservation”, and how much it means to me. The rowan tree – my middle name is Rowan, in case you didn’t know – is a symbol of preservation, protection, and healing (at least by my Pottermore quiz, which suggested a rowan wand would be perfect for me). And right now, I think the world and the people in it are in need of some preservation.

But I also need some self-preservation. And, like I’ve said before, I’m kind of shitty at prioritizing myself when I need to instead of taking care of other people. So I’m going to ink onto my skin a reminder that it’s important to preserve myself, physically, mentally, and spiritually, before I go helping other people.

So I’m going to add onto the buck in a design my girlfriend has already drawn up for me. I’m going to have the antlers of the deer giving way to rising branches of a rowan tree, which will arc upward and brush each other at the top of the tattoo, creating a circle between the buck’s head and the top of the tattoo in which a blank patch of my skin will be enclosed. That will be my reminder to look after me before I look after everything and everyone else.

I’m sorry for the dark turn this blog has taken recently. Honestly, if you’d met me a year ago you might be flabbergasted by how different I’ve been feeling lately compared to what I might deem my “normal self”. But this has been an incredible outlet for me to express myself, and I am deeply grateful for anyone who reads these long-winded posts and commiserates with me for even a moment. I love all of you.


-R.R. Buck


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