It’s been a little while but I think it’s a fine time to dive right back into the book 3000 Questions about Me and my continuing series of answering each and every question contained within. Today takes us to page five and another fifteen questions, none of which I have seen before, and all of which I am answering off-the-cuff. With all that out of the way, here we go!
How have you changed over the last five years? (0061)
Starting off with a serious one! Over the past five years I feel I have changed significantly; in that time I’ve made the concerted effort to address and control my depression, I’ve tried to become more aware of who I am and how my actions affect others, I begrudgingly call myself an author, and I have a much clearer idea of what I want out of a job and career. I feel I’ve grown less affectionate, owing to the fear that my actions or intentions may be misunderstood or aren’t as respectful to others as they deserve, and that’s something I’m still coming to terms with. I acknowledge that I’ve grown more cynical when it comes to America’s societal and political divide, and I have to actively try to keep that cynicism from slipping into fatalistic acceptance.
I find it entertaining—in my own sarcastic way—that so many people at once admit that they have changed from who they were five years ago, and yet refuse to believe that they will similarly change in the next five years. An old friend and mentor of mine used to often say “growth is uncomfortable; be uncomfortable,” and I think that’s a philosophy that so many would benefit from taking to heart.
Have you ever painted a house? (0062)
When my wife and I moved into our current home, it was very important to her that we not only paint the living room’s accent wall a new color—we went from tan to a slate blue—but also to repaint the rest of the house’s interior as well. We ended up painting every room the same colors they already were, but adding a fresh coat of paint to all of the walls and ceilings helped her feel that the house was ours, a real home wholly unlike any of the rentals we shared previously. While I don’t believe I’ve painted the whole of a house’s exterior, I did do a great deal of touching up on this house with my parents after we did some intensive power-washing.
Have you ever had a surprise party (that was an actual surprise)? (0063)
I actually have! Shortly after I started college in 2000 my new friends threw a party for my birthday and I was wholly surprised; I hadn’t realized they both remembered my birthday and thought it was worth celebrating. It was a low-key affair, but still a good evening of music and socializing. It was very endearing and laid the foundation for several friendships which continued for many years thereafter.
What makes you feel miserable? (0064)
Anxiety and depression are often comorbid, in that they often go hand-in-hand. When one side, often the more visible malady, gets treated, the other amps up almost in its place. I wish I could remember where I heard it, but I was once told that depression is fear of the past while anxiety is fear of the future—definitions that I find all too true. In my case most anxiety is focused around work and the impact I have; I want to make meaningful change and improve things, not merely hit sales quotas and be a cheerleader for new products and services. When my depression really rears its head I find myself focusing on perceived failures of the past and an endless series of “what ifs” concerning how things could have been done differently/”better.” When either feeling hits a high note, that’s when I’m miserable, either worried about possible futures or fretting about different ways the past could have turned out.
What’s the best costume you’ve ever worn? (0065)
I don’t even have to think about this one—ages and ages ago, my mom sewed a wonderful Ninja Turtles costume for me while I was in elementary school. I wore a green long-sleeved shirt over which she made a full-body shell, green sweats, and three-fingered gloves. A purple eyemask and green facepaint completed the outfit. I still look back on that Halloween costume and smile, both for the effort that my parents put into making it and the feeling I had about how cool I looked.
What’s been the hardest loss you’ve had to take? (0066)
I’m a person who prefers definitive ends to things rather than a slow, fading decline, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the former are easier than the latter. In November of 2016 I made an abrupt departure from the theatre group with which I had played and lead for fifteen years, in what is probably the clearest example of the “sudden break” style of loss. Even now, four full years later, I don’t know if I’m fully over the loss of almost my entire social circle, and in that time I haven’t felt confident in trying to find a new one to fill that void. That was a really rough time, and largely coincides when my depression was at its worst; I had only started getting help with it some months prior and we were still trying to find the right medications to help me balance everything out.
Conversely around the same time I had an incredibly important relationship that didn’t so much come to an end but rather faded away until there was just a painful absence in my life. As much as I can intellectually rationalize that people’s feelings change and that it doesn’t necessarily reflect on my value as a person, it still absolutely feels like a kick to the gut when I’m in the midst of it. I still absolutely miss what we once had, and lament how it ended, but at least it doesn’t hurt like it did anymore. There are still pangs of envy now and again, but nothing like the real pain hearing about her subsequent relationships used to bring about.
Which one is “worse?” I honestly can’t say.
Do you like sunny days or rainy days more? (0067)
Another I don’t have to give even passing thought to—give me the darkest, most rain-soaked afternoon any day of the week. Whether it’s listening to the rain batter against the roof, the smell of petrichor in the air, or the feeling that everything is getting refreshed, I 100% appreciate the rain more than sunshine.
What does your typical Friday night look like? (0068)
For a few years now I’ve been a real homebody, and the current shelter-in-place order brought on by COVID-19 sure hasn’t changed that aspect of my social life. Most Friday nights consist of eating dinner on the couch with my wife, watching silly YouTube videos or trying to find a movie to watch. Usually some sort of dessert is involved, as well as a very late bedtime; Saturdays are my “me” days, and it’s hard for me to think of much I’d rather do than have a long, relaxing sleep to start off my real weekend.
Who is your favorite movie director and what’s your favorite movie from them? (0069)
Looking over the shortlist of my favorite films, I think my answer for favored director has to be David Mamet. A prolific and exacting stage writer, his big-screen endeavors largely hold a great deal of meaning for me, from Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) and Wag the Dog (1997) to Ronin (1998) and Oleanna (1994), he has a consistent track record of getting the most from his actors, the cinematographers, and the editors involved in his projects. Of all his projects Ronin is my hands-down favorite, for reasons too innumerable to list here. If you ever want to see perhaps the most specific example of everything I want to see in a film, look no further.
What is the furthest you’ve ever got a paper airplane to fly? (0070)
If you’ll let me indulge my inner pedant for a moment, though largely the terms are synonymous, “furthest” normally refers to a metaphorical distance while “farthest” describes a physical one. That said, I can’t say I remember. There are a few designs from my youth that I still hold on to, but folding paper airplanes hasn’t ever been a large part of my life, let alone tracking their distance.
Do you like the person you’re becoming? (0071)
How poignant that this question follows my answer to #0061, where I talk about changing. I honestly don’t know if I like the person I’m growing into, and I think a lot of that has to do with my lack of sociability. I haven’t actively made an effort to try new things or meet new people in a long while, and to a large degree I don’t want that to become my default for the rest of my life; whether that desire is enough to overcome the inertia of my current stasis remains to be seen.
What’s the highest you’ve ever jumped into the water from? (0072)
Nothing too crazy here, just the 3-meter board at various swimming pools, both for my own entertainment and competitively while on the swim team. That translates to just shy of 10 feet (plus height gained from the springboard), which means I hit the water around 10 miles per hour, negating whatever rotational velocity I may have picked up on the way.
What inspires your ideas? (0073)
As I open up about my writing to more and more people, I get asked this question a lot. There’s a quote by Neil Gaiman which I think about often, and I feel it serves as a very good answer here:
You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.
When it comes to the science fiction/cyberpunk work I produce, often I look at situations or scenarios present in today’s society and frame them in a different perspective or into a new setting; fiction and fantasy authors have been agents of social commentary since the very genres were created, and in doing so it’s my small way of talking about important social issues that I may not have a direct connection to myself.
Have you ever assembled furniture by yourself? (0074)
I’ve assembled various desks, beds, and bookshelves myself, but I largely try to get furniture that will last, that I won’t have to replace or rebuild time and time again. I’ve been fortunate that all of my moves within the past twenty years were in a 15-mile radius, but I like to think about moving farther afield and largely starting over when it comes to my possessions; I think I’ve accumulated a large amount of “stuff” that doesn’t have sentimental or material value any more, and the best way to simplify would be to realize the real cost of hauling all those things to a new place.
Have you ever bolstered your resume to get a job you really wanted? (0075)
Other than making my titles reflect the work I actually did, rather than perhaps what was on my pay stub, I haven’t really needed to inflate or pad my resume. I find, both as an occasional job-seeker and occasional person in charge of hiring, that the role of a resume is to get someone invited to the dance—the piece of paper just determines whether or not someone will get called back for an interview, where the real determination is made. I help friends with resumes all the time, and often my advice comes down to “simplify, simplify, simplify,” and to replace endless lists of job duties with discrete, succinct, measurable improvements they contributed toward. Those are the things that grab my attention when I’m looking at resumes, and tells me the person has made not only an impact at their previous places of employment but also cares about how they are presented on paper.
Whew, another 15 questions asked and answered! As I get back into the swing of writing I hope to answer more questions with an increased frequency, and I look forward to what else 3000 Questions about Me has in store. If you’re interested in learning more or diving deeper into a topic, please by all means feel free to email me—I love getting feedback!
Header image taken by PIRO4D and shared on Pixabay, a wonderful source for royalty-free stock images