Dear Dragon – Nightmare

Dear Dragon,

I had my first nightmare with you in it and it surprised me. I don’t remember most of my dreams; those that I do don’t last long and unlike your mom’s they’re not complex.

Your Gramma told me that in her nightmares I was always a small child. Even when I was in university, her dream version of me was no older than five. I always assumed that you’d be a newborn in my dreams. I was wrong.

In my dream you were trying to get to me and making that pterodactyl screech you make when you’re annoyed. You were toddling towards me, screeching, and darkness swallowed you. Your screeching turned into your panicked scream and I couldn’t get to you.

You were hurting and terrified and try as hard as I could I couldn’t get to you. (There are tears in my eyes just remembering the dream.)

When I woke up from the dream, I thought you really were screaming but after a few seconds of panic, I could tell you were just snoring. You were getting over a cold and your nose was doing this weird whistling noise.

Most likely the dream was caused by stress and feeling like I’m not spending enough time with you. I wish I could work from home every day. You change so much and so quickly that I don’t want to miss anything.

My greatest fear is that I won’t be there for you when you need me. I can’t promise that I will, but I’ll try as hard as possible.

I love you Dragon,

Your Papa

I Have a Hole and I’m Leaking

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Over the past year I’ve been extremely lucky. I’ve had 9 months off with my wonderful wife and the adorable baby Dragon. I’ve finished a book, started two, and finalized one that will be published in early September. A lot of other awesome things have happened.

Unfortunately, I’m currently struggling with some issues. Mostly anxiety and stress. I hurt my neck in June and even though I’m getting treated and it’s getting better, I’ve been in near constant pain for two and a half months. It’s made it hard to sleep and concentrate.

Work has been extra stressful. I was hoping that coming back in summer would mean a slow readjustment period. That wasn’t the case; there were some issues while I was gone and I’ve been thrown into some intense work. It’s work that I have little control over and that has to be done quick which makes me extremely uncomfortable.

So the combination of anxiety, stress, lack of sleep, pain, and work has caused a few issues (current events aren’t helping much). At the worst, I feel trapped that causes mini panic attacks; at best I’m completely wiped.

It feels like I am a cup and I hold all my creative energy and motivation inside, but lately I’ve felt like my cup has a hole and every time I try to tap into that energy and motivation, it drains away too fast. I fill it up by gaming, reading, watching TV, and dreaming but it still drains away faster than I’d like.

I’m dealing with it and doing my best to try and get stuff done despite the lack of motivation, but it’s not always easy. Wife and Dragon cuddles help a lot. Same with taking time to do things that I find fun.

Please be patient with me as I work this out. I might be a little bit hermit-like and grumpy.

Thank you for reading,

Éric

The Importance of Taking a Break

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Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Some mornings I wake up thinking about all the things I have to do and I panic. I lay in bed and stare at the ceiling paralyzed. I’m not afraid of work, or working a lot. I’m terrified of forgetting something.

Since September, I’ve increased the amount of things I do and I’m not just talking about taking care of a baby Dragon. I’ve written a few more short stories, added a few more jobs, laid out more books, and roasted more coffee than ever before.

I’m extremely lucky both in the quality of my clients and that I had this wonderful opportunity to watch my child grow up right before my eyes. That said, other than a week at Disney that was a lot of fun but not relaxing, I took a few days to myself after Christmas.

I’m starting to feel like butter spread over too much bread. I know my limits, and with my parental leave quickly running out, I need some time to recharge.

If you don’t force yourself to take some time off from doing all the little things that stress you out, you’re never going to get the chance.

So I’m taking next week, the 15-19 of May, off to relax, watch some TV, and play some video games. Hopeful the weather will be nice and I can take the Dragon to the park. No plans, no big obligations, just me, my wife, and baby Dragon.

After that week, I have to start preparing for my return to work, and I’ll have 3 books to work on, along with more conventions.

Later Days,

Éric

All Work and no Sleep Makes Éric something something…

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Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Have you ever gotten to the point where you’re so busy, or your to-do list is so long, that you feel like you’re drowning? Well I’m almost there. The ocean of stuff is turbulent and I’m barely dog paddling. All of it is made worse by lack of sleep and this stupid, unending cold.

I’m starting to realize I might have taken on too much too quickly this year and certain things have been suffering because of it. Mostly my writing, or lack thereof, and other creative endeavours like FADDS.

What am I going to do about it? I’m going to get as much done of what I have already promised and try to stop taking on more projects. Both publishers I work with are going to settle down into a slower routine and after Ottawa Comic Con, conventions will slow down too.

All that said, I’m going to try and take a week off to relax after OCC. Maybe play Skyrim with the little Dragon.

I have a lot of coffee to roast and not much time so I’ll see you later.

Éric

5 Pieces of Advice for My 20-Year-Old Self

I’m older now than I was at 20 and I hope wiser. Here’s the non-paradox causing advice I’d give myself if I could talk to the 20-year-old me.

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5. Trying new things is scary but worth it.

You know how you hate the idea of sushi or kale chips? Try them anyways, twice. You’ll be surprised. You’ll love the first and hate the second, but if you don’t try them, you’ll never know.

This applies to more than just food (although new food rocks), try new kinds of books, new events, new crafts, and new ways of seeing the world.

A lot of it will suck, but the more things you try, the more awesome things you’ll discover.

4. It is ok to like things.

You will meet people who you respect and who absolutely hate things that you like. It doesn’t mean that you should hate those things too. It doesn’t mean that you’re dumb or stupid for liking those things. It certainly doesn’t mean you’re wrong for liking them.

People will judge, berate, and mock you for things you like. Those are the people who suck and shouldn’t be in your life. A true friend will tell you they don’t like it and discuss it without making you feel like crap.

As weird as it sounds, it’s ok to like something that is bad. It gives you the chance to find out more about yourself and what about it you like.

Don’t let others tell you what you like. Trust yourself.

3. It is ok to show excitement about things.

Showing emotion and controlling emotion isn’t the same thing. Society tells you that men need to be stoic, strong, and controlled. That’s complete bullshit. If you want to squee in public, that’s ok. It doesn’t make you less of anything.

It’s perfectly ok to be excited about a movie, job, book, trip, person, meal, tv show, piece of lint, etc.

Showing your excitement shows others how you feel. If they agree or disagree, they’ll talk to you about it.

2. You don’t have to know what to do with your life yet.

You know that deep existential fear that you’ll never find your “calling” or “purpose” in life? Unfortunately for most people, that doesn’t go away. It’ll bug you for the next few decades, possibly more.

Good news is that you’ll find a lot of things you’re good at and that you’d gladly do for the rest of your life. Bad news, they probably won’t pay much to start with, if they ever do.

The only thing you can do about this is keep searching and keep doing the things you love.

1. Jobs, Money, and Love will stress you out…

You may at some point pay off your debts, get a job doing something you’re passionate about, and fall madly in love with the most wonderful person. These are all possibilities, but just like a frustrating video game there’s always something after.

Jobs, Money, and Love will always be there in one form or another.

Getting the perfect job? You’ll stress about keeping it, being good at it, being the best at it, and not over doing it.

Paying off debt and suddenly having lots of money? You’ll have other debts that come up, other expenses, worries about what happens if you lose your job.

Finding the love of your life? You’ll worry about losing them, not being good enough, having to share them with others.

Maybe you’re just a worrier. Maybe these are just facts of life. Either way, deal with them by planning and taking it one step at a time. They’re not going away, they aren’t ends. They’re rungs on the ladder of life.

 

In short, the advice I’d give my 20 year old self is this: Chill, enjoy life, and don’t let anyone tell you how you should be or feel.

Éric

Stressed is Desserts Backwards. Cake for Everyone!

Good Morning my Imaginary Friends,

I bought antacids today. I only get heartburn for three reasons, Sickness, Coconut Oil, or stress.

Stress is one of the hardest things to deal with. It changes the way a person thinks, acts, and feels. It can be a great motivator or a poison that slowly eats away at your insides.

A lot of people talk about dealing with stress. I’m fairly certain the people who say that have no idea what stress really feels like. Unfortunately stress is completely subjective. What causes stress, how it affects you, and how much you can handle changes from person to person.

As if stress wasn’t troublesome enough it loves to feed off of other conditions. Anxiety can make stress so much worse that it’s almost paralyzing.

So why am I stressed? It’s the end of the fiscal year for work and things are crazy. I’ve been told several times this month (Yeah the past 5 days) that my job is useless and unnecessary. I’ve also been told several times that I’m doing it wrong. Always from clients, my coworkers and bosses are awesome and stand up for me but it still hurts and makes every project a trial. (Let’s not think of the self-doubt comments like that cause.)

Because work has been insane I also haven’t had the chance to write regularly. Stress means I don’t sleep well which means I have a harder time reading. It’s a vicious cycle. I have a four day weekend starting tomorrow that will help relax me.

When you’re stressed people will give you advice and platitudes. I know because it’s what I want to do. Remember that they aren’t trying to make you feel bad they’re just feeling helpless and want to help. The best way to show your support for someone who is stressed is to tell them you’re there for them. A hug helps if you’re both ok with that.

Stress is part of life and I don’t have any magic spell to get rid of it. This time next month It’ll be over and I’ll feel better. untitled

What do you do to de-stress?

Live long and prosper my friends,

Éric

The Ottawa Shooting

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Yesterday I was one of the quarter million people working in downtown Ottawa who were put in lockdown after the shooting. I wasn’t in danger, I saw nothing, and all my news came from internal emails and social media.

I’ve made Ottawa my home for the past twelve years and I’ve always felt safe. Even when I lived in the less savory areas, I still felt safe. Yesterday for the first time in twelve years that feeling of safety was shattered.

The thoughts that passed through my mind were so stereotypical it almost hurt. “But this is Canada?” or “How could this happen here?”

Being in a situation like this made me think of, and appreciate, the writing of John Windhelm. You’ve most likely read one of his books in high school. He was a science fiction author who worked for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War. In a lot of his books he deals with disasters and the way he does that is by giving snippets of information from news sources or from word of mouth. Never explaining anything as the narrator. The style makes the reader feel the same way as the characters, unsure and wanting more information. He does is so wonderfully that I felt that I could be in one of his novels yesterday.

Everyone has coping mechanisms for trauma. When I was in early high school, my brother and I played catch and I tried to be fancy and jump for a ball. The ball bounced off my glove and hit me in the face. My K9 tooth pierced the inside of my lip and boy did it bleed.

On the way to the hospital he made jokes. It wasn’t mean but his way of dealing with the situation. I needed five stiches in my lip and still have the scar today.

My brother is someone you want to be around in an emergency, he’s a smartass but he’s calm and always seems to know what to do.

I have three ways of dealing with emergencies, when there are other people around. The first is to help, the second is to joke, and the third is to cook. When I say help, I mean I’ll help you whether you want it or not.

When I’m alone I like to write, and yesterday I couldn’t. All I kept thinking was, “If I could write the perfect sentence, I could make everything better.” There’s no such sentence, not for those who lost someone, and not for those who can’t help but see Ottawa differently.

The theme of this morning seems to bet Ottawa Strong, or Don’t change Canada. It’s a lovely sentiment but it’s just that a sentiment. The truth is that Ottawa has changed, these events have proved that Ottawa isn’t immune to these kinds of attacks.

If I can climb on my soapbox for a little I’d like to address my fellow Canadians. What happened was a tragedy and an affront to what we, as Canadians, hold dear. It is not however a license to judge, persecute, or attack anyone based on their race, religion, or skin colour. Don’t let this tragedy provoke hate.

Thank you,

Éric

Microphones, Desk toys, and Vlogs.

This is a picture of the stuff on my desk. It’s only missing The Mummy mug that my brother got me from MGM.

Agent P. Pez, Tardis USB hub, Uncle John's daily calendar, Two Portal Turrets, Princess Cadence, Crystal Applejack, and K9 Mark 2.
Agent P. Pez, Tardis USB hub, Uncle John’s daily calendar, Two Portal Turrets, Princess Cadence, Crystal Applejack, and K9 Mark 2.

Last night I received my microphone. I now have everything I need to start my vlog. I was so excited about the microphone that I just tossed and turned until 1am. Leaving me exhausted.

It’s kinda silly that I’m so excited. I mean I barely have a concept. I don’t even have a channel name yet. I was thinking JenEric Productions. If anything I should be panicking. And there I go. Ack. I have no clue what to talk about other than just ranting on random subjects that interest me.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what topics I should talk about?