You may have noticed that the last post I made was in September. Then October happened. October always happens. October is my curse. It is a black hole in which I disappear and eventually surface, scathed but surviving. My Octobers often remind me of the Neil Gaiman story “October in the Chair” from Fragile Things. I’m not sure how I feel about that. “October in the Chair” sets up a story about months sharing stories, culminating with October’s. October’s deals with a kid running away, meeting a ghost and then… we don’t know. Gaiman ends the story right before the climax. It builds and builds, interrupts but never finishes.
This is how my October feels. Looking back at past Octobers, I feel like it has been for a long while. Last year was probably my most lenient, but I was gearing up for starting my college application process, as well as working on a paper that was supposed to be my admissions essay (it never happened, I revised another instead). The October before that, I was in the sloughs of my last semester as an undergrad, working on stories and games (the games never happened, but the stories did). The previous year I was working on Neighbors, which ate up more time than it should have. Before that I could regale you with tales of Japanese, and in the years before, there was my duties as president of a community college creative writing club (with the usual October carnival, which I spent more time than anyone would be sane to do so).
So, sanity. Yeah. That’s an odd concept these days. Regardless of what I’ve done in years past, this has been my hardest October. I wrote my first literature review this October. I had 41 sources. I had to stop myself from going too far. Most of those sources were gathered in October, read in October, and disseminated in October. Granted, about 10-15 of them I didn’t take much from (cross references to psychological models and games that other sources talked about). In addition to that, I started work on my game for the semester, a platformer prototype that examines how story can be used as a mechanic (a resource or currency, if you will). I rekindled ideas for three other game projects, which will get done eventually. I agreed to run a Dungeons and Dragons one-shot adventure for my Games in Culture class (which will be live streamed, apparently). I work 30 hours a week. Additionally, I still play Dungeons and Dragons on Tuesdays when it happens.
So sanity? Yeah that’s out the window. It’s a good thing that I never really had a good grip on sanity. I mean, I don’t care about whether I am “sane” or not. It’s me, it’s who I am. I have a bad habit of making more projects when I have projects to do. That’s just me.
A professor of mine once asked me what I do for fun. I told her that I like to work on projects. She said it wasn’t healthy. But I just get so much joy from it. When I don’t have a project to work on, I feel terribly lost. It’s a good thing that started graduate school, ne?
But the consequence is that I see so few people. I saw no one outside of work or school for most of October (my D&D game is academic, and I consider it school, even though it is with friends). I managed to spend an hour and a half at a Halloween party on Monday just to see people I haven’t seen for nearly a month. It makes me feel… guilty.
But there’s not much I can do about it, I guess. This is just the way I am. Sanity or not.