Life update (08/01/2022)

I’m not sure if anyone besides me cares about it, but I haven’t posted a chapter of my ongoing novel for two weeks. Although I’ve already forgotten the details of that first week, the week that just ended was hellish due to work: I spent the first half of every morning on phone duty (and by far, the worst part of my job as an IT guy at a big hospital complex is dealing with human beings), and the remaining half rushing to solve weird issues. Last Wednesday I got so stressed that if extreme anxiety was an immediate trigger for my heart issues (atrial fibrillation), by mid-morning I would have had to endure a new episode. It didn’t happen, though, which saved me from another trip to the ER.

Three of those workdays, after I got home and ate, I was forced to take a nap so I wouldn’t waste the rest of the afternoon fighting sleepiness. It’s a good thing that I lack a social life; back when I had to maintain a romantic relationship and a job at the same time, not only I passed out twice at my then girlfriend’s place, but I also came to resent how exhausted her need to meet nearly every day made me. I can only consider this job tolerable because I leave the office at three in the afternoon (but I work some Saturdays, including this week), and because I’m not forced to interact with other human beings in my spare time.

Regarding my then girlfriend, the relationship was already doomed at that point. I think I only ever dated because I thought I was supposed to; I’ve never gotten enough out of intimate relationship as I assume normal people do, and sex didn’t feel that great, maybe because I wasn’t particularly attracted to the ones I could get. Thank the heavens for virtual reality and my right hand. I’m guessing most men are driven to pursue women because their balls are full. Once that’s taken care of, I just want peace and quiet.

Anyway, even after I woke up from the naps last week, I barely managed to write a few sentences. I figured that once the weekend came I would be able to push out the current chapter, which at that point felt cursed. However, when I woke up at nine in the morning on this Saturday, I realized that I simply didn’t feel like writing. My subconscious hadn’t produced any new notes for a while, which means that the core of my being was currently disengaged from the material.

I have always had a terrible time trying to focus on anything I honestly couldn’t care about; back in high school I did terribly not only because I was surrounded by savages, but because the material felt pointless to my goal of either programming or writing for a living. During my first few jobs, the tasks they assigned to me felt so boring and pointless that I knew I was wasting my life there. The whole time I was aching to sneak in as much writing time as I could to assuage my despair (which is in part how the whole deal of my current protagonist, Leire, came to be; I’m quite sure that there’s a Japanese verb that means both “to write” and “to jerk off”, which psychologically for me serves a similar purpose).

The way my brain works, I have to take advantage of what little free time I have to write as much as possible, because soon enough I’ll find myself in a blizzard in which I will feel unable to move or see anything beyond a few feet in front of me. During such periods I can do nothing but wait until the weather clears up. The circuits in my brain that produce meaning are faulty and unreliable, and of course this universe is meaningless beyond what the brains of living beings assign to certain stuff. During this last week and a half or so, it wasn’t only the act of writing that felt pointless; as I tried to fill my free time with board games, books, mangas or other interests that have satisfied me in the past, nothing felt worth the effort, so I spent most of last week at home in a catatonic state while my brain felt filled with lead. I still haven’t recovered fully; it’s taking me a lot to put my thoughts down, and I doubt I’m doing it coherently enough.

A bottomless hunger in me drives me to write every day, or else I’ll have to deal with a growing despair that may eventually kill me. This strange, somewhat demonic creative force gets bored or distracted from time to time, sometimes for a few days, weeks or even months, and abandons an obsession to sink its claws into something else. It did it again during these past two weeks: I suddenly felt an urge to get back into the COIN series of games, order the Tru’ng bot for the “Fire in the Lake” game and play it for four or five hours-long sessions on the Vassal engine.

I also got interested in Android Netrunner again, one of the most intriguing Living Card Games I have come across, but that I couldn’t play because it’s a player-versus-player game that uses hidden information and bluffing as some of its most notorious mechanics, so the game can’t be played solo. It had also been discontinued by its company despite having a loyal audience, but I was stunned to find out that a group of fans had rebranded the game, produced whole new series of cards and improved past ones while learning from the mistakes that the original company made. This rebranded version is called Nisei (this is its official page), it’s supported in the netrunnerdb page for reliable deckbuilding, and the cards can be printed for relatively cheap at a couple of partnered companies. More importantly, some hero has programmed a browser app that allows anyone to play the game against an AI opponent using the main sets of new cards: here’s the site.

I could feel my hunger wanting to sink its claws into this new subject to turn it into an obsession. How about I get back into programming and implement bots for one of my favorite games, maybe one of the COIN ones, which should be video games in the first place? Or surely I could design my own deckbuilding card game and implement it digitally. I wouldn’t even need to commission the artwork now that I can exploit an AI to produce the images, and the license states that you are free to use the generated images for commercial purposes.

However, I stopped myself. I know what awaits me further down that path: programming has never fulfilled me enough, not remotely to the extent that writing does. I’d start a new programming project only to abandon it halfway through as if I had never bothered to start it. So instead I forced myself to focus on progressing through the draft of the current chapter. Thankfully, I finished it; the chapter is now at that state in which I would consider it good enough for publication, but as usual I’ll subject it to another creative pass line by line, which will take a couple of days. The events and interactions depicted in this chapter aren’t particularly hard to handle (nor that compelling, to be honest). I fear that my difficulties with it stem from the fact that I may be sliding down into another depression, even though the previous one ended three or so weeks ago.

Unexpectedly, last Thursday I received the best news in a good while. When they hired me for my current contract, I was told that it would last until October, and possibly until November if they could work something out. However, the big boss of my department called me in and told me that they had failed to mention that my current contract actually ends this Sunday (I work on Saturday), because they guy I’m covering for, who has been relieved of his tasks for an special project, has three weeks of holiday, so I can’t legally cover his schedule in the meantime. That means that I have three weeks of (unpaid) holiday as well.

That will be the first time in my adult life in which during a period of unemployment I won’t be either trying to get hired or waiting for my place of employment to call me and offer a new contract. However, I’m not guaranteed to be offered the next contract that will last until October or November; they will use the public rankings for that, which change from time to time. Some kid who just got his degree but knows how to speak Basque may rank higher than me; the regional government grants 18 points to people who can speak Basque, while I have only accrued about 3 points due to professional experience after the three or so years I’ve spent working here. We don’t even need to speak Basque at work, it’s a political matter.

The next day, my direct boss called me into his office. He told me that he wasn’t aware that I wouldn’t be working here for those three weeks in August, that he was counting on me, and asked for my permission to figure out how to secure a contract that would keep me here for those weeks. Fuck no. Emotional manipulation doesn’t work on me; these people don’t even know me, they have only interacted with the mask I’m forced to wear to survive in society. If they knew my true self, most of them would be horrified. It’s almost insulting to expect me to be grateful that I would have been “rescued” from three weeks of holiday because I would be paid in return, when my coworkers have spent the past two months counting the days until they could finally escape from this office.

I may take a trip somewhere for a few days. Apart from that, I intend to spend a whole day or two in Donostia (I live thirty kilometers away, and I also go there 5 to 6 days a week for work) to research specific locations where Leire and Jacqueline will hang out soon. Both of the novels that I have written in English (one ongoing) are set in cities or general areas that I’ve known personally; I think the farthest that my characters went was Asturias during a bittersweet sequence in my beloved previous novel (self-promotion!). Although I’ll have to study for an upcoming public examination during my holidays, I hope to cram as much writing time as possible. At this rate it will take me a whole year to write this cursed novel; I started it back in October of 2021.

Yesterday I got together with my family to celebrate my father’s birthday. He’s in his seventies. I wish I dared to avoid these reunions entirely, but I think some of my family members would go out of their way to annoy me even more in that case. I don’t have anything in common with my family beyond the genetic links. I barely got along with them before, but ever since my nephew was born five or six years ago, the experience has worsened. I can’t relate to that kid at all. I will never have children and I don’t want to deal with other people’s kids either. I can tell that the person I have to call my sister-in-law, with whom I’ve never talked more than a minute at time, resents that I refuse to accept the role of uncle. She’s also the passive-aggressive type; if I had ended up dating someone like her, let alone being married to one, I would have wanted to cut my balls off.

Anyway, we went to the Hondarribia marina for lunch (the restaurant visible to the right at this point of the linked video). Whenever I visit such places, I feel like a prisoner on a prison furlough (if that’s how they are called). The heated air of a sunny day, the smell of brine and sunscreen, the beautiful views that included attractive tourists in summer dresses… Such sensations nearly made me teary-eyed.

However, the older I get the worse my sensory issues become (mine, autism-related, have to do with noises), and as usual, human beings were the worst part of that experience. As if I didn’t find the conversation of my family members intolerable enough, other people decided to bring their screaming babies to the restaurant. I suppose they are entitled to. By the time I got back home, I was drained, crabby and sad. Fortunately I managed to finish the first draft of my current chapter by nine; by ten I need to go to bed, or else I won’t get the potential eight hours of sleep that I desperately need to avoid feeling like a zombie on Mondays.

Anyway, this whole load of pointlessness ended up longer than the chapter I’ve yet to post. I suppose that I needed to get my thoughts in order. I don’t know why you (yes, the nosy stranger who’s reading this) went through the trouble of taking time out of your day to get through this text, but I hope I didn’t waste your time as much as I’ve wasted my own this past couple of weeks.

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