Once upon a time…

Once upon a time there was a female who felt herself to be (in the words of the immortal Ms. Spears) not a girl, not yet a woman. After all, on the cusp of 28 years old she was well past her girlhood and probably didn’t even qualify as a young woman anymore. But for a number of reasons she could not escape her family home and live a life with full adult responsibilities and therefore often felt like a child. (Although, for the record, she was very thankful that her family home was a pleasant place to live. Just wanna put that out there.)

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Additionally, there were aspects of her personality that occasionally made her feel childish. For instance, she would much rather stay in and play a video game than go out into the world and make connections that could perhaps advance her adult life. She had no long term goals besides “be happy and be able to support myself” which really was getting in the way of finding a job that would help her achieve those goals, as she had no firm direction to point herself in. When she reached her point of ultimate frustration, her body’s reaction was to cry (and then to cry more out of embarrassment for having cried).

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However, her greatest problem was that she had very little discipline. This can be traced back to her years in college. After spending high school driving herself crazy to get good grades in her full course load of high level classes, she very quickly noticed that she had enrolled in a college that was perhaps slightly too easy for her. She realized that she could do the bare minimum and still get good grades, and so that is what she did (while somehow still managing to graduate a semester early). By the time she left the mountains to return home to the land of Jersey, her discipline had fluttered away on a breeze.

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She turned her attention to various endeavors as she started her adult life, but she had lost her ability to follow through when it was not required by an employer. She took up the ukulele and wrote a handful of songs that were well received by people she knew, but when her inspiration fled, so to did her relationship with her ukulele. She bought a beautiful blue guitar and attended lessons, but when her teacher left the community center she let the guitar sit in the corner because there was no outside force compelling her to practice. There was a watercolor kit that she’d purchased after watching a few videos that had been barely touched. She couldn’t get herself to stick to an exercise regimen even though her overweight body begged her to by developing hypertension. There was a box of video games in her room that had been started, but never finished.

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Then there was the whole slew of internet videos, over 100 of them, made over the course of many years. YouTube was her most successful attempt at keeping up with a hobby long term. She occasionally took breaks for months at a time, but always returned. Until one day it hit her that she did not want to go back. There wasn’t any particular reason, she just somehow lost interest in creating online videos (although she did still spend an inordinate amount of time watching online videos instead of doing any of the things mentioned in the last two paragraphs).

If she was being really honest with herself, in most of the things she tried she grew to feel she was hopelessly mediocre and would never be good or worth notice no matter how much effort she put in, so why should she even bother?

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But just because she had given up on talking to a camera did not mean that she never wanted to talk to anyone about her more long-winded thoughts on the internet ever again. The internet can give the impression that we are meant to share everything about our lives, and while she knew that many aspects of her life were probably too dull to share, she still wanted to share some things. So she started a blog. She could have kept a physical journal, but the notion that someone might read her words and interact with her because of them excited her. She had made some quality internet friends on YouTube and thought that once she got going she might make some blogging friends as well.

She plugged away at her blog, dedicating time to make sure there would be a new post each week. While she didn’t make any new friends, she did feel herself to be free to talk about topics that she never felt alright talking about on YouTube. She finally unburdened herself regarding a few heavy stories from her life and was more open and raw about her mental health than she’d ever been before. She had friends and family to talk about these things with, but she could be clearer and take her time composing her thoughts. Somehow it was easier to write everything down instead of having to use her actual voice. It was freeing.

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But then, the inevitable happened. After taking a week off to go on a trip, her posting became more irregular and ultimately ceased entirely. Her main excuse at the time that she stopped was “it’s too hot to sit at my laptop for hours during the summer to put these posts together” and she swore she’d return in the fall. But autumn came and went and winter began and still she had not really posted anything, besides a post saying that she would be posting again soon that had actually been posted quite some time ago.

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The blog tugged at the back of her mind, but she was nervous about returning. She realized that was scared that she had nothing new left to say after all of the YouTube videos and blog posts she had already made. Nothing interesting anyway. But she wanted to write. So just after the new year started she put Google Docs on her phone so she could work on the same documents both at her desk and away from it and she started typing away. She wasn’t sure if it was any good, or if she would even be consistent about it, but she very badly wanted to be. She wanted to prove to herself that she could follow through, even if she felt like a worthless mediocrity while doing it.

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It was a new year, a new start, a new chance to do and be better. Hopefully this time something would stick.

[All images are from my collection of photos/YouTube thumbnails that I’ve taken over the years.]

27

Somehow it never really feels like the year has actually started until my birthday comes around at the end of January. And I mean the very end – I was born 1/31/1991, which sort of rolls off the tongue in a fun way. Just for kicks, here’s my birth announcement — I randomly found it in my house years ago and took it for myself, lol.

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I’m still feeling residual anxiety and hopelessness from 2017, but I’ve already talked at length about that so I won’t rehash it. You can, however, read about it here, if you’re feeling so inclined.

So after putting aside the notion of writing more about how shitty 26 was, I was trying to think of a direction for talking about starting 27. And then somehow my brain looked back 10 years to Krys-at-17. What was she up to? How does her life compare to mine now?

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Age 17. Driving a Duck on my first ever visit to Boston (an overnight trip with the school band).

The answer is, as much as I didn’t hate high school, I definitely wouldn’t want to relive my junior year. For instance, Junior Krys had a boyfriend who didn’t respect her boundaries and neither the voice to convince him to stop nor the confidence to just leave him. She spent a lot of time worrying about getting top grades in her full slate of high level classes, while her mother told her, “as long as you pass it doesn’t matter.” Driving gave her extreme anxiety so she didn’t get her license when she turned 17 and as a result didn’t have much of a social life outside of school.

When I think back to that school year I don’t remember being a constantly unhappy little cloud moping about (for instance, I did get to go on the cool overnight school trip pictured above), but I do vaguely remember writing on my Xanga blog about taking a mental health day. How many 17 year olds in 2008 even knew what a mental health day was?

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Actual picture taken with my webcam on my 22nd birthday. Was trying to show my whole outfit without cutting off my head, and somehow thought this pose was okay, lol.

And then I thought back just five years, to Krys-at-22. It was the start of 2013. She’d graduated from college just before Christmas, was beginning her search for her first adult job, and was nervous, but cautiously optimistic about what life would be like going forward.

2013 turned out to be one of the worst years of my entire fucking life. I was plagued by multiple forms of rejection, plunged into a very deep depression, and spent most of the year unemployed. It was only in September when I got part time work helping kids not so different from Krys-at-17 prepare for the SATs that I started to feel alright again. So, no, I would not want to go back five years’ time either.

So while, yes, I’m not starting out 27 with things in my life exactly the way I’d like them to be, I’m glad for the life experience I’ve gained. I’ve managed to survive all of the garbage of my life so far (including things I haven’t covered in blog form yet, obviously), and while I’m probably not the absolute strongest person I know, I’m not a weakling anymore either.

If someone isn’t treating me well and I’m in a position to get them out of my life (ie: not at my job), I do it (although usually silently, because I’m still usually not strong enough to tell people off). I’ve been shown multiple times that a lot of times I can get by in life with minimum effort, and that I don’t have to worry about being perfect so much. When rejection of any kind happens (by jobs, men, etc.) it’s because it wasn’t meant to be in the first place (although that doesn’t mean it doesn’t always sting a little). Driving is one of my absolute favorite things.

And if life is disappointing me now, that just means I’ve got better things ahead, right? (Hopefully?) (Soon?) (Please?)

Anyway, wherever you are, Reader, I hope you’re having the best week you can! Hang in there. ❤

–Krys

Distant Worlds Concert!

My birthday isn’t until the 31st, but this past weekend, my friends and I ventured to NYC for my birthday outing. On Facebook I’d spotted that the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds show was coming to our area again, and when I asked my friends if they wanted to go, they were totally down. We’d been in 2015, coincidentally also for my birthday, and the show was so good we decided to see it again.

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View of the stage from our seats! Taken before the show started, natch.

Distant Worlds is a touring concert series that performs orchestral versions of music from the long-running Final Fantasy video game series. While the orchestra plays, little movie montages play on a screen, with the footage corresponding to whatever game or character the music applies to. I’ll be honest here and say I’ve only partially played three of the Final Fantasy games (four if you count Crisis Core!), but the music is still fantastic even if you’re unfamiliar with the subject material and your friends just happen to have invited you along (as was the case with a friend’s girlfriend who came with us). Final Fantasy already has great music, but there’s something that’s extra great about hearing it performed by a live orchestra.

You might be saying, “Hey, if you already saw the concert, wouldn’t it be the exact same program? Wouldn’t that be boring?” Fortunately not! As of 2017, Distant Worlds has been happening for ten years, and they’ve built up quite a collection of orchestrations by this point. (If I’m remembering correctly, the conductor/director Arnie Roth mentioned that there’s something like 140 pieces of music in the repertoire. Woah.) There are certain classic songs that you can expect, but they don’t announce the program in advance, and I’m sure there are slight variations from city to city.  Additionally, 2017 was also the 30th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, so they had some special, brand new arrangements to show off, including a new arrangement of The Opera from FFVI and a couple of songs from the recent FFXV.

In 2015 Distant Worlds was playing in Newark, NJ at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, which is in driving distance of where we live. But this year they were at Carnegie Hall, so we decided to make a little bit of a day of it in NYC. There were two performances, in the afternoon, and in the evening, so in the interest of being able to take our time, and not having to rush in a dinner before, and then rush to the train home after, we opted for the afternoon, with plans for dinner after the concert. Also, when we were buying tickets, the afternoon show had ever so slightly better seats within our budgets.

I’d never been to Carnegie Hall before, and I was surprised by how vertical everything was. There were many stairs. (There’s also an elevator, just so you know if you need it.) I’d thought there was one more balcony above ours, but I guess I misread the seating charts, because we were right up there by the ceiling! Walking down to our seats kicked my fear of heights into gear just a little bit, even though we were a good six rows back from the front!

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View of the back/side of the balcony from our seats. Look how close to the ceiling we are! Oof!

My friends had wishlists of things they were hoping would be played, and all of their boxes got checked! Very lucky! The only thing I wished afterwards was that they had played Dancing Mad for us instead of The Opera, but I knew when they did The Opera we weren’t getting Dancing Mad because they’re both from FFVI and both very long. I just didn’t like The Opera as much because I couldn’t understand what the soloists were singing (it was in English, they were just a little drowned out).

(I hadn’t heard the Distant Worlds version of Dancing Mad before I pulled this up to embed it, so I’m assuming the excessive amounts of pipe organ and electric instruments would be an obstacle to live performance, but also I’m SURE they would’ve made a touring arrangement that doesn’t require it, because I’m pretty sure Dancing Mad is a fan favorite. Anyway, moving on, lol…)

There’s something about live music that I really love, especially orchestral stuff. I was a band student when I was in school, played flute for a decade, so I just love getting to watch and pick out what all the different instruments are doing, because sometimes when you listen to a recording you hear something neat, but don’t know exactly which instrument did it, and I’m a nerd who thinks it’s cool to know.

Also, my friends feel that when they hear this music live, they can feel the emotions better than when they just listen to a recording. I get where they’re coming from, and I agree with it to an extent (and so do all the goosebumps I felt throughout the concert!), but also, I’m not entirely wired like they are. Music doesn’t often make me cry, but there are certain chord progressions that plug right into my emotional core and make me well up.

For instance, To Zanarkand, from FFX. I’ve played a good portion of FFX, but got derailed by a tough boss. From the moment I first heard this in the game, I thought it was lovely. But something about this particular arrangement had tearing up pretty badly. The section between 2:19 and 3:00 especially gets me. This section isn’t exactly present in the original version. There is an undercurrent of those eighth notes (I assume that’s what they are?) in the original, but somehow just the way Distant Worlds builds them out and harmonizes them and spotlights them gets my tear ducts going. I’ve nearly made myself cry about three times while writing this post when I was trying to figure out the timecodes for the part I noted above, lol.

The concert closed with an encore that included One Winged Angel (aka, Sephiroth’s theme from FFVII). They used this as an encore at the 2015 show as well, so it’s probably what they always do as an encore, because they must know that FFVII is one of the most popular games in the series and that’s one of the most famous songs. They make it fun for the audience though, by encouraging them to sing along to each of the loud SEPHIROTH’s in the song.

(Although as I recall, the singalong was a little more extensive in 2015, with subtitles on screen for all the Latin, or whatever that is in there. The composer Nobuo Uematsu was there, and he pointed at us when we were supposed to sing. But I think they might not’ve had a chorus at that performance? Or at least not for the second half?)

After the concert we made our way to dinner. And since this was my birthday outing, you bet your ass I dragged my friend’s asses down to Wagamama. Luckily, they all liked it! I would’ve felt bad if any of them said they didn’t like it (and I trust them not to lie to me about that, lol).

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Give me some chili squid and I am a happy girl. The red stuff is some pickled vegetable that my friend let me have because I realized it was similar to the little pickled things you used to be able to order as a side.

And then we basically ran to the train. Not because it was really late, but because it was super cold! I was wholly satisfied with this early birthday outing, and everyone had a good time, which is something that’s important to me. And also, I looked hella cute. All in all, a great day!

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Me and the brick wall behind our table at Wagamama. My friends said the brick lighting makes it look like a texture from a PS2 game, lol.

(If you think you’re interested in seeing Distant Worlds live, you can check out their website here. Not sponsored, obviously, just wanted to make your life a little easier!)