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Lost in the mist, returning to the light

For the last year, since I nearly died from a rare complication after a routine surgery, I have felt crushed down — a lesser version of the person I was before.

I still completed a novel. I still bent my brain to learning languages and Go and story structure and poetry and music composition and piano. But memory was slipping away from me. Only bits and pieces would stay. One day I would feel like I was the old me again, the next I would be a shattered mirror with the biggest and most important pieces lost in fog.

I wondered if this was it,if I had gone as far as I could go; if this wall in front of me was unclimbable for my every-day-older-and-weaker hands. I am not young anymore, in my body, but I am still young inside. Reaching. Striving. But my grasp was so short, so weak, I felt like every time I tried to climb up I slid back down farther.

But now I see the hope. I ate better, began exercising again, and began researching supplements. I researched anti-aging supplement and supplements to clear up mental fog and fight Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s. I read all the scientific studies I could find on Google Scholar, made grids and tables, dug deep, or at as deep as I could for a brainfogged man.

Just three months ago, I began taking some supplements (50 mg pterostilbene, 100mg 7-keto-DHEA, and 120 mg Niagen, all once every day; 300 mg Citicoline and 10 mg Noopept a few days a week when I really need to be sharp). All of these are available over the counter.

My eating is still far from perfect and my exercise could use work too. But there’s a big gap between PERFECT and GOOD ENOUGH, and I seem to be at Good Enough.

The results? Great. Essentially, my brain and body are working again. Better than they have in a looooong time. The supplements, the exercise, and the eating all stack with each other and reinforce the results.

My body moves faster when I sword fight. I have more endurance, and I can do much more before I am injured, and my injuries heal faster. Not like wolverine or anything. But I’ve been fighting crazy hard every week for 6 weeks and I am am still going. In one battle, I defeated all 12 opponents on the other team after my own team had been destroyed. It has become common for me to steamroll 3-5 people of low skill with few problems.

I’m entertaining to talk to again; witty. Remembering random trivia is easy now instead of like slamming my head into a wall.  My Go and languages are easier to learn (still difficult but easier). Even my writing is getting easier, faster, better. The clouds come less often and are almost always a result of simple sleep-deprivation. (Side note: when I hit exhaustion on this stack you are well and truly exhausted and will want to lay down and go to sleep no matter what time of day it is.)

I don’t know how long the stack will work, or if my body will eventually adapt to it so that the benefits disappear. But I am happy with it for now.

I am turning back into me again.

Note: I found this stack out of desperation, and I don’t recommend it for anyone except myself. Every brain and body are different, and everybody reacts differently to supplements. Please do not take a supplement stack without consulting your doctor and doing all the research for yourself; it can be very dangerous. Never take a stack with SSRIs or MAOIs or other strong medications. There are all sorts of possible complications from drug interactions, including fatal ones. In addition, I want to be clear on this: No one under the age of 25 should take Noopept. The brain is not done developing until 25, and there are no studies on what Nootropic substances might do to a developing brain.

Feet back on the ground

It’s been a tough few years. My grandfather died, followed by my wife’s grandfather, and then my mom. Grieving while sorting through complex reams of estate paperwork, overwhelmed by my mom’s thousands of collectibles filling up every corner of the house.

Then the house burned down, and we lost everything of both ours and my mom’s, and we were living in an apartment again on month-to-month lease fighting with the builders who couldn’t seem to figure out to make a house even pass a code inspection.

This year I had a minor surgery followed by a major complication, and I was in serious danger of dying or having massive brain damage (none of which came to pass, knock on wood-grained polymer composite). To top that off, I fell down a flight of wooden stairs over Christmas, breaking a 1.5″ thick piece of pressure treated lumber with my spine.

Thankfully over the last month things have slowed down enough that I can write for an hour a day, and that’s awesome. My feet are back on the ground. Literally. Take it from me, this is a lot better than having them up in the air, past your head, as you plummet ten feet down.

But now I am obsessed with writing productivity. Part of me is absolutely sure that I have lost three years of prime creative time, and I have to catch up some how. So I’ve been researching. Testing out theories. And last month I reached 54k words and finished the rough draft of a new 100+k book I’ve been working on since last August.

This pretty awesome, but I have a long way to go. A lot of successful selfpubbers produce 30-45k per week, which is about 4x what I’m at. Maybe I don’t need to keep up with them, but I feel the pressure to try.

Still, I’m proud. This is a big first step in the right direction. I’ve got tons of ideas I want to write, and now I’m not scared to invest the time in some of the stranger ones.

Let the novels fall like dominos!

The House is Nearly Done… Or So we Hope!

9 and a half months after the house fire, our house is finally getting close to done. We should be moving back in this Friday, if all goes well.

Of course, all may not go well. Our contractor, picked after much discussion and research, turned out not to be as good or as organized as we’d hoped.

Decorative columns are falling off the front of the house because they were only attached to house with paint. We have concerns that maybe the builder didn’t tell the roofing truss company they had taken out a load bearing wall. We go on a trip with the builder to pick out appliances and finishes, and he calls us for the next week asking /us/ for the SKU’s because he’s lost them. Ditto for finishes. We show up at the house and the plumber is sitting there doing nothing because the builder has forgotten to bring in the toilets and dishwaser. There is something odd with the actual roof itself too; we can see the ribs of the roof through the tile, and we shouldn’t.

We are fed up, and as final inspections by the city and the move-in date approach, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope.

Well, that, and call the roofing truss company and bring in a third-party home inspection company. Because, really, I don’t trust my builder anymore. Honestly, I barely believe he can put his pants on the right way around in the mornings.

Bow, Book, and Sword

I haven’t been posting… because I’ve been busy.

 

Book

I’ve been coming to terms with the setting of my current novel, and reworking things so that it feels alive to me. For instance, since I’m writing about a place very much like Ancient South China, I’ve been learning a lot about rice and paddies, and really focusing on experiencing this place on a visceral level.

I had gone down a path of too much book learning about the subject, which really means I wasted a lot of time taking notes about useless stuff. None of my notes make it real. I need to see it, smell it, taste it in the back of my throat — then I can make it feel real.

This means not a lot of forward progress, but what I do have is much more satisfying to me, personally.

 

Bow (for Amtgard, the swords and sorcery LARP that I play)

Drills every day last week. Speed-nocking, arrow gripping, speed pull, rapid target acquisition. I am in an apartment still, so no target practice; this means my accuracy is likely crap. But, by god, I will be able to nock, grab, pull, pick a target, and fire fast. 

I still only have one arrow, but hopefully that will be fixed soon.

 

Sword (also for Amtgard)

Lots of sparring and block/strike drills this week. 

The park held a mini-tournament this weekend. The format was “Ironman”, also known as “Bear Pit” — two people fight in a ring for 15 seconds. Whoever wins, stays in, and the next person in line goes in to fight. Wounds are not healed between bouts. Overall time limit was 30 minutes, I believe. 

I came in second, and I could’ve come in first if I hadn’t made a couple of stupid mistakes. My longest streak was 6 kills in a row, and I had 29 kills total. The winner had 34, which is closer than it sounds. I lost my place in line (and thus my turn at winning and staying in the bear pit) twice, and it would’ve been a lot closer if I had been paying attention. 

My left shoulder is now killing me, due to overwork.

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Also for sword:

Three top level Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) coaches from mainland China visited my Kung Fu school on Thursday. Really amazing to see 60 and 70 year olds move with lower stances, more fluidity, and more suppleness than me, someone 20-30 years their junior. 

I have lots of medals in Taiji from various national and international tournaments, but these people were much better than me. They were really doing Taiji. I don’t know quite what I’m doing, but it’s obviously not Taiji yet.

 

Recovering from the house fire: stage 1

Since there is a high likelihood of both us and our insurance suing (redacted), the house rebuild has been delayed for legal-related niceties.

We’ve finally started interviewing custom home builders, and it’s like a game of pick your poison. One guy is really expert on building techniques and city code, but has the bedside manner of an axe murderer. The other guy is nice, but everything he wants to build is against code.

The delay also means we are chewing through our housing allowance far too fast, especially since rebuild always go over time and over budget. The company that’s supposed to converge all of this for us is also overcharging. They’re only supposed to get 15 percent commission, but somehow this crazy overpriced $3000 per month hotel room is costing us an extra $1000. At this rate we’d be on the streets long before the build was done.  So now we have to find out own apartment and file manually for reimbursement.  Another headache we don’t need.

But still, it’s slowly coming together.

Feeling Old Today

Image 

Feeling a little worn out. Maybe the stress of the house post-fire is getting to me, the grind of listing every possession we owned and trying to figure out what it was worth; or perhaps it’s the slight,-pleasant-but-still-present pressure of getting the novel ready to sell that’s pushing me that little too far. 

I have not slept well since the house fire. Not well at all. I am not normally a bad sleeper, just a night-owl who burns the candle at both ends. But these days I have to be completely exhausted in order to sleep. And I’m a little snappier and grumpier than normal. I’m usually a laid back, meditative guy, so I weirds me out to be angry at all.

Still, it is an exciting adventure, too. The house fire has wiped our family’s life clean of accumulated junk, and the insurance has bent over backwards to help us, so we expect that we will have our house back soon, just a little newer and with a better floorplan than it had before.  And I’m learning things about how to sell a book I’ve never known much about before. 

Overall, I’m a little unsteady, a little unsure of myself. Inching along with all the insurance work and plans for my next novels. But hopefully soon I’ll be back to full throttle.