Winter

A poem.

Winter is never really Winter at all
When it’s still seventy degrees outside
And a friend is never really a friend
If in them you are unable to confide
I’d embrace the cold
if it would ever rear its dark, wet, melancholic head
Instead I’m fighting with myself
to take a shower and get out of bed
I’d take the wind chill
if it only meant that I’d finally be rid of you
But in Texas we don’t get Winter
And I still don’t know what to do.

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I Met You in a Dream

A poem.

I met you in a dream
I couldn’t see your face
Beneath your body glow
But I was sure it was something beautiful
Someone I’d love to know
And I met you in a dream
Yet you didn’t speak a word to me
While I ranted and spoke in some otherworldly cacophony
And I met you in a dream
You were close and I was so far away
I’m pretty sure I loved you
But you told me that it was meant for other days
And just like that –
I was awake
What was given to me was still yours to take
And in those waking moments I still had such love
That I didn’t quite know how to release
I met you in a dream
And though I remember such melancholy
You snored and rolled over
And that’s when it came to me
It wasn’t some lost soul taunting me
With love that would never be
It was always you
Sleeping in our bed
Snoring lightly next to me
I smiled and was content as I gently kissed your forehead
Last night, in a dream, I saw you –
And the very next day my dream came true!

The Raging of the Storm

For Celena.

Too many words can be spent
On what’s better off unsaid
The same repetition of anxieties
The same hurricane raging in my head
Years flash by, leaving me uneasy –
Still looking at the path winding beside me
And fearing how unforgiving it can be to believe

But like ocean crashing over centuries
Washing the earth away in its tide
You fell over me
And made quiet my mind
The skipping of songs and the why and why-nots
You’ve calmed the worries that rage like storms
And you’ve remained in my thoughts

An anchor in the bay
Your love at the shore
A haze of days
I want you still just a bit more
Far too long I’ve focused
On those roads left unlit, unmarked on the map
Praying that someone else would take the first lap

Never did I think
I even had one more choice
Easy to scream
But not in my own voice
You’ve washed over me
Made quiet the storm
Years of fears and curled-up pain
I hardly even know what for
I looked to the horizon
I stood on the quiet shore
And there you stand with me –
The storm raging no more.

Are you happy? – 2019

I used to find some kind of solace by writing on this blog. I don’t see a therapist and I don’t like talking about how I feel to people I’m close to, so this offered some kind of therapeutic release for my depression and anxiety. Gave me a way to talk about it, think about it, reflect on it, and not worry about being judged or misdiagnosed or offered some kind of trivial advice that only someone who has never suffered through a mental illness could offer and think that it was worthwhile, like, “Have you ever tried, like, just not being depressed?”

Then I started writing in a physical journal. Entries were few and far between but it felt like a way to get out thoughts that I had only kept inside of my head for so long and it was such a relief to put them somewhere that was only ever meant for me.
But I lost that journal. Trying to find it – but it’s so not worth it to try and start another one and leave everything that was contained within the first one behind.

This is the third year that I’ve written a post like this. Basically, it’s my “State of the Brandon” address. And every year, I feel like I’m beating a dead horse. Every year, I feel like it stays the same.

Seasons change, but people don’t.

I’ll be twenty-two this year. It’s crazy – every year, my birthday seems so far off – and every year, it hits me so fast I nearly get whiplash.
I’ll be married by the end of the year. Getting married to the same girl that I started dating over two years ago that caused such a wave of change to my life.
I’m in yet another job that I want to enjoy but ends up taking a huge toll on my mental health – (or maybe it’s my mental health that’s making it seem so bad, who knows?) – and I’m doing my best to hold on for the future so maybe things will get better, but it just gets so hard sometimes. I feel like I try to smash through the ailments that impede my progress but it just stacks up and stacks up and I’ll move through one issue to get another one shoved in my face and it’s a never-ending maze of anxiety and strife that just seems to get worse day after day, month after month, year after year.

I try to sometimes sit back and realize that things aren’t bad. Every individual aspect of my life isn’t that bad at all – it’s actually pretty great, all things considered. Like I said in the years previous, if I sat down with my teenage self and discussed my problems, he’d probably laugh at me for thinking I have it bad. Teenage me was also kind of a dick, but teenage me would be right.

I try to change myself every so often. I went into this year with hope for my recovery – I stopped taking my medication because I felt like it wasn’t helping, but I took the first steps to try and get help through a counselor and with different medication – because my anxiety is kicking my ass hardcore – and had the typical renewal of hope that comes with a new year that it would once again be a new year, new me.

But it isn’t. I can change my attitude for a day or cut my hair or change my music or the way I talk and no matter what, it doesn’t change a thing about what’s killing me on the inside. I constantly think back to ‘when I was happy’, but then I’ll look at something I posted on here way back when and I realize that I wasn’t ever happy. I’ve had blips of happiness in a constant wave of depression – but I’ve never just been happy.
And I think it hurts to realize that. The better times weren’t much better. The good times were usually a lot worse.

But I digress.

Here’s 2019. I’m walking into it pretty broken. I’m tired of worrying about death and overthinking every ache and pain and constantly thinking that everyone is talking bad about me and plotting my demise.
I’m trying. I’m taking baby steps. There is a lot to look forward to this year – my wedding, my honeymoon, tattoos and opportunities, new family and new friends, progressing through my life and developing the life of my own little family.

I don’t know where I’ll be this time next year. I have goals and resolutions and hopes for the future, and I’m working on trying to achieve it all – or at least a little bit.
I never know how things are going to work out, but I’ll maintain just a kernel of hope that after all this time, things will get better. Things will change.

And that’s all you can do.

– Brandon, 12:43 PM

Letter to Audrey

Dear Audrey,

I don’t know if you’ll ever see this. I pray that you don’t. By the time you reach the point to where you could possibly find this, this blog might be dead, the Internet might be dead, for all I know the entire country will be dead. Who knows, right? I just hope the world ahead is bright and welcoming to you and fills you with nothing but love and acceptance.

These days, I’m not doing very well. I keep these things in and let them build up because I have no other way to force them out. I can’t talk about it, I can’t fix it, I can’t try and build something good right in its place – so it just stays inside me until I feel like I’m nothing, outside of the world, and ready to give up. Depression is a hellish, horrible thing and it’s so difficult to get out of its grasp – and I pray to every deity available that it doesn’t come to you. If there is just one thing that I hope for in this world, it’s that it doesn’t come and affect you.

You’re not here yet. I’m not quite sure when you will be. There has been a couple of variations throughout the past couple of years, but at this point, I’m about a year away from marrying the person who looks to be your mother. Despite that, though, you’ve been with me for years now, and have kept me going throughout everything that’s gone on.

Audrey, you won’t be born for another couple years now – I’m personally holding out for 2021, 2022 – but still, the idea of you has been such an instrumental force in my life that when I’ve been at my worst, the thought of being able to hold you and see your little face and raise you to be good person and see everything you’ll be able to do makes me want to fight through everything. It makes me want to stay. It keeps me holding on so I’ll be able to see you come into this world and have the best possible life your mother and I can give you.

The past few months to a year has been rough, for sure. I don’t know how the next year and beyond will take form and how it will treat myself and life as a whole – but just know that we love you. Years before you’re on your way, we love you more than we thought we knew how to love. You already mean so much to us, and we eagerly wait for the day you’re here and have you with us.

From your Father, on August 18th, 2018 – we’ll see you soon.

 

Dad.

 

Anxious Anxiety

I haven’t written for a bit. I feel like my head is keeping in my thoughts and I’m unable to actually sit down and put down how I’m feeling. This blog has always been journal first and everything else second – the lack of structure and planning was here from the beginning – but I still try to adhere to a schedule of sorts, if only for myself. It’s good to sit down and rummage through your thoughts and put them down someplace neat and tidy.

My anxiety is getting worse. Whether it’s me thinking about how I’m going to eventually die and wondering if I’ve already done something to lead to the event – or it’s me looking back on things I have no control over and trying much too hard to forget about them. I always have my memories – people can change and hate me in the present, but the memories don’t change and stay with me. For better or worse.

My girlfriend has brought some friends over to the house and I sit around and make jokes every so often or make a comment when I have an opportunity, but they’re her friends, not mine, and it reminds me that I literally don’t have a single actual friend. My friends tend to be women, and usually they’re women that I’ve been in a relationship with – as in I used to either date them, or had some sort of fling with. Obviously you can’t keep those friends in an actual, proper relationship.
And not being in school hinders that too. I had a couple of male friends that I spent time with, but after graduating those friendships faded off, as they tend too.

Now I work in a job I hate, with people I don’t like and I suspect don’t like me very much, and I’m either there or at home, and I don’t keep up with anyone or spend time with anyone other than my significant other or my brother and sometimes that gets to me – even though I love both of their company, I yearn to spend time with someone that I feel isn’t required to spend time with me. A friend who is with me simply because they want my company, nothing more.

I yearn for a sense of stability – not in the sense that it usually means, I suppose. But in the sense that my life doesn’t constantly feel in flux. One day, I’m concerned about money. The next, we find ourselves well off. One day, I hate my job to the point of picking up bad habits and picking out silver hairs, the next I can tolerate it for what it is. I’m tired of being concerned about going back to school, or friendships, or my weight – I’m sick of my anxieties having anxieties to be anxious about.

I know who I want to be, and I’m making strides to get there. There’s just a riptide that pulls me back in whenever I find myself making my way out – and already, two months into the year, I find myself getting worse again.

I don’t write as much as I used to. Poetry, fiction, and on here. This is my first post of February, and likely my last. I don’t want to drag out my problems, and I don’t want to beat a dead horse. If I’m depressed, I am, and if I’m anxious, I am, and my mental illnesses aren’t going to go away no matter how many times I rant to a webpage that nobody reads just for the sake of catharsis. So, if I don’t find myself moving forward, I’m just simply not going to write. I won’t write the same blog posts over and over and over again – because I don’t want to think about it over and over again. Perhaps writing is cathartic but also, maybe it’s a little unhealthy too? Focusing in on these issues that I know I’m not helping yet I keep talking just to hear the sound of my own voice?

I don’t know.
I’ll write when I feel I have something to say, whether it’s personal or not. But I’m done moving in circles – tired of my circular anxiety.

To whoever reads this, I hope your month has gone swell. Talk to you next time.

– Brandon.

Smoke

I hate cigarettes.

I’ve known too many people who fall into their trap and let it over take them for the worse. Most of the time these people regret it – but it’s just so hard to quit. Understandably so.

I smoke from time to time, and I hate it. I can’t smoke without thinking about the nicotine flooding into my bloodstream. The tar filling my lungs and turning them black. My heart slowing its pumps until my blood flow ceases and I die a death of oxygen deprivation or lung cancer or something. I can’t not focus on every little pain that I feel in my chest as I take a draw from the filter. I have a family history of heart issues anyways, and any little heartburn or chest pain I have I worry about it to no end as it is, but when I smoke… I worry that I’m cutting off years with every sip of the smoke.

I have a pack in my glove compartment that I bought yesterday. I was feeling stressed beyond belief and that’s usually around the time I succumb and search for one. It’s bad. I’m currently trying to bring up the will power to throw them all away and forget about the one I smoked yesterday. But it’s hard – what if today is stressful? What if I really need one? What if I throw them away and a month later I but another pack just for one? I should keep it. If not for now than for later. Just in case.

Though I shouldn’t. I should power through it. I shouldn’t let it over take me because I know the minute I light up another I’ll feel the same pains and feel the same sort of regret that comes with the realization that I’m killing myself even quicker than I am already and as someone who is terrified of death, that isn’t very productive.

I’m trying. I really am – things get difficult and life gets stressful and my head gets to me – and I only ever do this a few times a year, if that. And I do usually end up throwing away the pack, or just bumming a cigarette to begin with. But I’m working on not needing it at all – because there’s nothing I want more than to not let the smoke get to me.

Moving Forward

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-9-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve
Dusk over Adam Hats’ Lofts – I took this while waiting in line for a concert in the venue right across from here.

I don’t write this blog for people – I don’t expect many people to come across it. I write this blog to help me with my racing thoughts and put down things that I want to say in a tangible manner to get it out of my head. I keep a journal, as well – but it doesn’t get updated as much and when I do it’s far more personal. When I write on here, it feels like I’m speaking to someone – maybe one person, maybe ten. Maybe none. But anyone can come onto here and see what I’m saying and see my opinions – and that’s what matters and makes it work a bit for me, I think. But the point is – I write this for me.

I’m working on myself. It’s really hard to do – first, you have to admit you need to work on yourself, and I always thought that by doing so it would be admitting weakness. I’ve learned that it’s anything but. Second, you have to take steps forward to fix what’s wrong – I swallowed my pride and started my medication again. I try to be conscious of when my anxiety and depression and racing thoughts take control and try to separate myself from them. I talk to my girlfriend and communicate, and try not to push people away as much as I once did.

I’m not perfect, and I have a long way to go before I’d even classify myself as okay. I used to think that I was healthy as it gets, but mental illness stews until you’re old. I just pray it doesn’t evolve into something worse. I am trying, though. Trying to fix myself, trying to accept help, trying to reconnect with the world and start being me again. I feel like I’ve been disassociating for so long that I’ve kinda forgotten how to be me.

But I’m stopping that as best as I can. I’m moving forward onto what was and now, what is.
You can’t change the past. I have many, many regrets and it still pains me despite the time that’s gone by. But the universe tends to unfold the way it should – and for better or worse, I’ll move on and go forward with everything I’ve done behind me.
I was one person last year, and I’m another this year. That may sound worse than it really is, but it’s a step towards accepting my life and being happy with the decent life I live. I’m really quite lucky – and I take that for granted.

I’m moving on, and moving forward. Into a new era of my life where I finally gain the courage to take back some control. To work on myself, and to love who I am despite my faults – and to love others, despite theirs. My entire mission this year is to be a better person – and it starts with me.

We all move forward. Some by force, some by choice, some with resignation.
But I’m looking at what’s here in front of me, taking it by the hand, and walking with it, together, as one.

This is moving forward. This is a new era. This is me.

Hello, I’m Brandon.
Pleased to meet you.

Fall Out Boy ‘MANIA’ Review

Fall Out Boy arrives in 2018 with a return to form, bringing back some the old sounds pre-hiatus, while offering some new experimental sounds that hit all the right notes, no pun intended.

In short: The album is excellent – it offers something for everyone, and even the songs I didn’t expect to enjoy I ended up liking quite a bit. This album would not feel out-of-place if it were  a successor to Folie a Deux, and indeed feels like a spiritual successor with the confident and experimental sounds and vocals, and songs like ‘Church’ would fit right in with Folie with songs like ‘What a Catch, Donnie’ or even Infinity on High, with ‘Golden’.

I feel like for each song, you could find a pre-hiatus counterpart to a certain extent. The album seems to cut back and forth between songs that sound like Fall Out Boy, and songs that do something entirely different. The first half of the album is superb, but the second half is just a treat. Songs like ‘Church’ and ‘Heaven’s Gate’ are particular standouts, songs that fit like a glove for Patrick’s soulful vocals.

I enjoyed the entire album – even though I seem to be one of the few people who actually enjoyed ‘Young and Menace’, a song that to me, felt like an evolution to what we heard in songs like ‘Tiffany Blews’ and ‘w.a.m.s’ from Folie a Deux. Lots of this album feels like a call back to that era of Fall Out Boy, even spilling over to the ‘Infinity on High’ era. If the hiatus never happened and this album was the next one after Folie, I would totally believe it. I’ve grown to really enjoy Save Rock and Roll, and grown to find American Beauty/American Psycho rather dull and generic – but this album is absolutely my favorite of post-hiatus Fall Out Boy and feels like a new era of their music, separating them from their 2013-2016 music and leading the way towards the future.

Favorites of this album – The Last of the Real Ones, Hold Me Tight or Don’t, Wilson, Church, Heaven’s Gate

Least Favorite – Champion. Though not a terrible song at all, it is the least inspired of the bunch. Definitely middle of the road.

This album has my love for the band soaring to new heights. They’ve been my favorite band for years, but this is the first album that has truly gotten me excited since their comeback. Go give it a listen and support physical media and pick up a copy. It truly is a delight.

– Brandon

The Breaking of Resolutions

Last December, I had made a couple of resolutions for myself that I wanted to lead into the new year with. Some of them were attainable, and already I’ve set myself into place with going through with them – I wanted to start using reusable shopping bags, and with that, be a little more environmentally conscious. I’ve done that – I’ve used the reusable shopping bags, or at least, I’ve done so the past few times I went shopping. I’ve also started using Walmart Pay, which allows me to scan my phone and get an eReceipt instead of getting a long piece of paper. We also drink an ungodly amount of soda, so I’m saving our cans to recycle at a local center. Small, doable things that make me feel better and do a little bit of good in the world.

One main resolution I had for this year was one that had carried over from last year, and the year prior to that, and the year before that… I wanted to stop biting my nails.

I’ve suffered from biting my nails for as long as I can remember. I don’t recall a period in my life where I haven’t seen my nails getting ever so longer and I don’t get the overwhelming urge to bite and chew them off.
It’s partially a symptom of my anxiety, I’m sure. Partially because I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m sure it’s comforting.
But I absolutely hate it. It hurts my fingers and makes me feel gross and makes my fingers look gross and I hate stubby nails with a passion. It’s so bad that my ex-girlfriend used to smack my hand away from my mouth whenever I tried to bite – something that I didn’t appreciate enough at the time.

I’ve tried clear nail polish. Jalapeno juice. Vinegar. Disgusting nail polish made specifically to help with biting nails. None of it lasted more than a few days – and I stopped caring and my nails I kept biting.

But this year – oh, man. This year I felt strong. This year I felt I had it.
For the first couple weeks, I bit my nails at a rate much smaller than I had in a long time. My nails started growing white over my fingertips, something I rarely experienced. My thumbs had nails. I could scratch my arm and feel satisfied.

This was finally it!

But then… I noticed my thumb nails. My teeth chattered. I started picking at the nail, and within a second it was in my mouth. I thought to myself, “I’ll just bite on the nail a bit, not rip it off. That’ll be okay.”
Little did I realize that by doing that, I was weakening the nail. Easier for it to be torn off with my hand later on.

And both nails came off.
And that snowballed into most of my left hand – just taking a little off. Just trimming a bit – until I was back to where I started.
I have a little bit of nail left, but I still felt ashamed. I had come so far only to let myself down again. How could I? How could I take that away from myself? I’ve been biting my nails for twenty years and I can’t summon enough willpower to just stop?
How weak am I?

New Year’s Resolutions are fickle things. They are spur of the moment and come because you get washed away in the feeling of renewal and starting over.
Time doesn’t exist – and the Julian calendar we use only means something to us. The concept of a new year only exists to us – but in reality, days just keep passing. The New Year is just a way of keeping track.

So the question is, why wait for a new year to start making yourself better? If you know you’re going to have certain resolutions, why not start the second you think of them? It’s for the same reason that the laundry can wait until tomorrow. The diet can wait until Monday. You’ll start your new, tighter budget next month. You’ll stop biting your nails next year.

It’s validation that we’ll eventually do the right thing, and gives us a way to keep putting it off. There’s always another tomorrow, another Monday, another year.
Until there isn’t.

And that’s the difficult part.

 

So while I may not have succeeded just yet in my lifelong quest to stop biting my nails, I’m not going to let it get me down yet. I won’t wait until next year. I’ll keep trying until I do it again and then I’ll just start over again – because while keeping track of time is so inherently human, something else that is inherently human is the drive to persevere and to keep moving forward, no matter what happens.
So with that in mind, I’ll keep working towards my resolution. I’ll keep trying.

And I’ll let you know if I ever succeed.

To whoever might be reading this, I hope you’re succeeding in all you’re trying to do – daily, weekly, monthly or for the New Year – I’m sure you’re doing great, and if you don’t feel like you are, there’s always a chance to get back up and try again.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon. 8:15 PM.