Writing is Writing is Writing

The reason I have pushed myself to blog every day is to write. To build a habit. To get better at writing. To force myself to finish something every day. And to write. And write some more. (And write some more…)

So, yes, I skipped yesterday. I could tell you all the details that led to that. But it doesn’t really matter.

I did write, though, which is the more important element of blogging.

I answered two questions on Quora and doing so reminded me of how much I enjoy writing answers on the site.

I call myself a writer, and it’s not in name only. I write. You can look at this blog and see when and what I’ve written. You can look at my published work page and my portfolio to see more examples.

I write therefore I am a writer.

Why I’m Not a Christian

I’ve been thinking about writing this for months now. At first I thought it might go on Over the Invisible Wall, but I don’t think it fits. Mostly because of the mission statement we created. I’m finally writing this and telling everyone the truth. I’ve implied a lot about my beliefs through omission of my thoughts, so I’m here to clear up some of the basics and tell my story.

This is just my experience. Your experience can be different. That’s fine. You can believe as you will and so can I.

 

I used to be a Christian, or at least I tried to be.

 

When I was five, I went to vacation Bible school (VBS) at my family’s church. The leaders presented the gospel and I asked Jesus to “come into my heart” so after I died, I could go to heaven. I was terrified of hell. If it’s real, it is and should be terrifying. Eternal, never-ending torture with no relief? Who wouldn’t beg to be forgiven for whatever wrongdoing had sent them there?

 

The next few years I attended VBS, I again went forward to ask Jesus to “come into my heart” to save me. I feared that my previous requests were not genuine and I was still destined for hell. This fear was persistent and recurrent. I could not shake this the whole time I considered myself a Christian.

 

When I was nine, I told my parents and church leaders I wanted to be baptized. At the time, I had some understanding that baptism is a public declaration to the church that you’re a Christian too. I also knew it was something I was supposed to do, but I had never seen anyone get baptized or heard of people I knew getting baptized. I’m not exactly sure how I came to my decision, but I was baptized, along with other kids from my Sunday school class and a few others.

 

Around the age of thirteen, perhaps a bit before, I began to struggle with depression. I now have a hunch that it was likely in part due to the hormonal swing that accompanies the menstrual cycle. However, at the time, and for years, it was a near-constant state for me. I still experienced positive emotions such as happiness but a lot of times I felt hopeless. I recall a myriad of times that I begged God to end my life. I was in a dark place a lot of the time. Most of my poetry from that time is about all the negative thoughts and feelings I had.

I was taught my whole life that I am a horrible, sinful human being that deserves to go to hell, that it is entirely my fault if I end up there, that I will have chosen to go to hell. This intermingled with the other aspects of my depression. I felt very strongly that I deserved to die, that I shouldn’t be alive because I didn’t deserve to live. There were times that things felt too hard to handle, I felt like I couldn’t go on, I didn’t want to live. I frequently had suicidal thoughts. I will not disclose more detail about my thoughts in that vein as it is a dangerous thing to do.

I prayed and prayed. At first, I prayed for God to kill me or make the rapture happen now. Later, I started praying that I might be free of depression. I’m not entirely free of depression, but things are looking up. It took years, though, and I was at risk for a long time before I was able to combat the thoughts I was having.

 

Between the ages of thirteen and about sixteen I kept flip flopping from trying to pursue a relationship with God to giving up and back. When I was pursuing God and godliness I spent a lot of time praying, reading my Bible, and memorizing Bible verses. I asked for closeness, I sought after it. When I prayed, it felt like I was talking to myself. If ever a voice spoke to me when I asked a question, it was quite obviously from my own mind.

I would pray for strength to resist sin, and I would do well avoiding things considered sinful for a few days or a couple weeks. Then I would buckle and cave. I felt incredibly guilty over this. Many times I gave up pursuing God because I kept failing, beating myself up over my failure, asking for help, not getting it, and repeating. More than a few times I decided to quit trying.

 

In that same window of time, I found that I was attracted to girls and guys. I was taught that homosexuality was bad and sinful and against God’s plan. I didn’t choose to be attracted to people regardless of gender. If I chose who I’d find attractive, I would be straight not bisexual. I didn’t understand why something I didn’t choose was so sinful. A position I encountered was that homosexual desires themselves were not wrong but acting on them was. However, to be consistent, you have to acknowledge that based on Jesus’ equation of lust and adultery, homosexual desires are the same as acting upon those desires. It didn’t make sense to me why it was sinful.

 

For about the last year and a half, I started having more problems with aspects of Christianity not making sense. While I thought through some of the contentions, I stumbled into the atheist community on YouTube and started watching videos. A lot of what they were saying made a lot of sense to me. What I knew and understood of theology, philosophy, and logic was not sufficient to form counterarguments I found convincing. At that time, and for a while, I was at near-perfect agnosticism, uncertainty whether there is or is not a god. I have since drifted further from agnostic theism into agnostic atheism.

I have an article I wrote detailing a logical problem I have with a specific aspect of Christianity and God. It is too long to include here so I will be editing it and sharing it in the future.

 

I was once committed to theism and Christianity. My life centered around it. Everyone I knew well was a Christian. It was easy. Over time, faith wasn’t enough, the arguments weren’t convincing enough, and it fell apart for me. That is why I no longer consider myself a Christian.

If you have questions, please ask them in the comments. I don’t want a debate, but if you want more detail about certain parts of my story I will do my best to recall them.

Life Is What You Make It (2)

I frequently think about my life, what I want to accomplish, what I’ve done so far, and how long I have to do everything I dream of. This is a series featuring things I’ve written about such things, both poetry and prose.

 

Whether the earth is only a few thousand years old or several billion, we live for only a few fleeting moments in the grand scheme of things. What we choose to do with that time, those moments, is up to us. For some, it is directed by religion, for others it isn’t. In either case we are each in the driver’s seat of our own life, we are in control of where we go and what we do. We only have so long, so we should make the most of it and live the best life we can, whatever that is for us on an individual level. For some that means marriage, parenting, for others singleness, creative pursuits, generosity, showing love and kindness to those who are lacking in some way. There isn’t just one way to live a full life, to feel your life wasn’t wasted, to have as few regrets as possible before you die, if your life is not cut short by some tragic accident. Knowing we are in control of our lives, our direction, our purpose is both freeing and frightening. You can choose to live directed by religion or not as well as so many other things. Life is what you make it. You have one life. Make it count.

Adventures in Meldrick

I have found myself thinking about Adventures in Meldrick, the card game I am developing. As I mentioned last month, it is still in beta and I need to finish the card database.

Currently, all the cards are handwritten and on half of 3×5 lined index cards. I want to change this. A friend of mine has worked with me in the past, suggesting ideas for the card design and game mechanics. She would likely be willing to help again if I asked. Some aspects of the game can be worked out remotely, such as card design, but most of the problems are related to the game mechanics and the play time.

The game is still Monopoly. Not literally, of course, but due to the length of play time. I have played Adventures in Meldrick numerous times with my friends and family, but not even once did we finish. I’m working on changing the rules, mechanics, etc. to shorten it. Most people dislike long games simply because they are so time-consuming. I want to avoid that.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about making new, printed cards on cardstock. When the game is ready, I would like to make and sell it myself, though it is possible this will make it more expensive. It will be a while because I still need to fix some of the problems and edit the rules.

I plan on making posts about Adventures in Meldrick, and once it’s released, I will make a page on my website with purchasing information and links to FAQs, rules, instructions, etc. I want all the information about and for the game to be easily accessible. I might even make the rule card(s) or booklet optional since all of the information in it will be online.

As I work on this game, there will be more information. I won’t update this post, but I will make more posts in the future about it, detailing progress, specifics about the game, etc.

Mystical Warriors: My Novel-in-Progress

Disclaimer: This project is on a temporary haitus as I adjust to my workload with Praxis, running this blog, running Over the Invisible Wall, and working more hours at Walmart. I will be finishing it. I will come back to it.

I mentioned Mystical Warriors in a post last month. I shared how far I was into writing this to-be novel. Since then I have shared two backstory pieces, Thief!, and Befriending Vinny (parts one and two).

What I neglected to do, however, was share a bit about the novel and what the story even is. Today, I am going to fix that.

Mystical Warriors is the working title of the project and is the same name as a video game in the story world. One half of the setting is a fictional version of the real world. The other half is inside the video game.

Mara Williamson, James Richards, Drake Meltzin, and Vinny Kituma are four long time friends who live in the same neighborhood and go to the same school. It was a normal Friday afternoon comprised of homework and video games at Mara’s house after school. Until it wasn’t. Unexpectedly, the four friends find themselves inside the video game, Mystical Warriors. How will they return to the real world and their lives?

When I started this story, I knew it bore basic similarities to the manga and anime Sword Art Online. At the same time, I had the idea that led to this story long before I knew anything about anime.

About ten to twelve years ago, my aunt and uncle went on vacation to France. During that time, my two cousins stayed at my family’s house for the week. I invented a LARP-like game, as is common for children to do, with almost the same premise as Mystical Warriors. My cousins had to beat the video game to return to the real world, but they were brought into the video game to help out the people and various creatures solve some problem. For Mystical Warriors, being in the video game is the problem.

That is the gist of the project. If you have any questions, comment below and I’ll answer as best I can so long as it will not spoil the story to do so.

Panera Bread: Job Review

I started working at Panera Bread in May 2017 and will no longer work there after August 16th.

 

Based on my experience, Panera Bread is a good job for students who cannot work full time and are looking to make some money.

The training at corporate emphasizes that there is upward career movement possible within the cafe. Some of that is as simple as becoming a trainer. The line cook, bakery, or prep trainers make more per hour than the regular workers with minimal extra responsibility.

 

While at Panera, I learned more about teamwork and improved my ability to work with others.

I’m introverted and I was homeschooled. I never had group projects at school because I was the only student. I didn’t have experience working as a team before.

At Panera, it’s important to help coworkers, especially during a rush. If the person making salads is swamped and I don’t have sandwiches to make, I ask where they’re at and start making salads too, telling them what I’m making.

We communicate what we have done, how we’re helping, and shift back to our own job when necessary.

 

I learned to work under pressure.

During a rush, the time in which the order is supposed to be out remains the same. We have to work quickly and accurately to put the food together and consolidate it.

I make mistakes sometimes, and when that happens, I fix it. I’ve had times where a hot sandwich was finished, and I dropped it on the floor when I pulled it off the grill. Whatever else I was doing, I had to stop and remake that sandwich. It can be frustrating and stressful sometimes, but I ensure the food is correct and finished as quickly as possible.

 

Overall, Panera Bread was a good second job. It allowed me to learn skills that would help me in other jobs.

Broken Streak

I did not post yesterday. I had a daily streak from July 2nd to July 30th. Today is a new day, I’m starting over. This is day one.

Additionally, the last few days I didn’t write anything. At all. No daily poems either. That streak ran from July 18th to July 27th. Today will be day one. I haven’t written the poem yet, but I will write one.

Despite breaking my streaks, I still feel that building the habit was valuable. If I can blog 29 days straight on my first try, how many days can I go on my second? I’ve done it once, I can do it again. If I can write a poem every day for 10 days, how many more days can I write a poem every day for?

This is a renewal, a new beginning.