Portmanteaux Series: 5
The Portmanteaux Series is a short collection of personal writing to celebrate and encapsulate the memory of the beginning of my career writing online, a little over a decade ago I had the plan to start publishing my content online, which quickly became a blog about life. Every Friday I wrote about what I learned, what I didn’t learn and what I could teach to my peers.
I’ve since stopped writing in this manner, but given the circumstance I wanted to get one more good run in before I hang up the “lifestyle” writing for good. Lifeis+ 2023 is a celebration and it is also a funeral.
I’m glad you are in attendance.
Previous Entry: Arachnomad: The Spider’s Rental
For years my gamertag was “Dicephalous” which, besides confusing teammates when they tried to pronounce it, is a word I rather fancied meaning “having two heads; two-headed.”
I picked it up from a song by one of my long-time favorite bands, He is Legend. (which as an aside, if you are a fan of heavy music and you haven’t listened to them you are shooting yourself in the foot.) It was the title track from their 2009 album “It Hates You” and was the anthem to much of my high school experience.
Eventually, the callouts were shortened to “Dice” because it was easier to say and didn’t frustrate the randoms in my lobbies. In a (not) surprising turn of fate, after I graduated I got into a table top roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, which involved the use of dice of all kinds. Dice eventually became a staple in my day to day life as I planned home made content for my D&D group every night for weeks at a time.
What began as my gamertag eventually grew into my outlook on life. Everywhere I looked I saw two paths. The right and the wrong. Due in part to my religious upbringing I was no stranger to the concept of right and wrong. There was always a “right” choice and always a “wrong” one. Which, for a creative mind like mine materialized to my mind’s eye as a two headed dragon every where I went. Whichever head I severed would decide the nature of my decision.
When presented with a choice, I could enact the good or bad and I would have to pay the consequences of my actions. Sometimes those consequences were good ones. Buying flowers for my mother on mothers day made her happy. It was good. Forgetting to wish my friend happy birthday would upset him. It was bad. Every time I made the wrong choice, the other head of the dragon would laugh at me until it was time to make another decision and the severed head would regrow, once more expecting to be cut from the spine in a new game repeating on a cycle for eternity.
I previously spoke about “black and white” decisions, and this is in some aspect why I see the world as black and white. Severing the wrong head more often than not led to the recalculation of every decision I’d made up to that point. This didn’t matter so much when I was skipping class to get coffee with my friends, but it began to matter a whole lot more when I grew up and was pulling out loans to pay off credit card debt which absorbed prior credit card debt I obtained from buying Magic cards or paying for my entire host of friends to eat dinner with me.
What began as a simple two headed dragon became a Hydra and I couldn’t discern one right decision from the other. This is no fault of my parents, and I want to be clear I don’t blame them for it. They didn’t do anything wrong, but what I’ve learned about myself is that due to the dual nature of good vs. evil being explained through theological teaching from numerous guides in my youth, it became “obvious” to me that there was a clear right (good) and wrong (evil), but it was not obvious how to discern what was correct or incorrect.
Experience, supposedly, is the best teacher but what good is the experience if you don’t see the consequence to gain the experience before you make the same decision a second time. Using credit cards to finance hobbies is a perfect trap because when you are young and poor, you can buy all of the silly things you want until you turn thirty and are burdened, sometimes crushed, by the decisions of your youth and all you had to go on were the stories of family or friends who went through it too.
I experienced it firsthand and I know if I were to tell the younger me what he’d eventually have to go through, or more specifically, what he couldn’t get to do when he was older it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Still, when we can see the consequence and gain the experience immediately it is easier to discern the correct choice from the incorrect. My first Valentine’s Day with my wife we got off work, had dinner together and watched a movie and then she was getting ready for bed. Assuming she wanted to sleep, I went to play games with my friends. She said she didn’t care so I did and returned to bed a couple hours later to her crying herself to sleep because she wanted to spend more time with me and wanted more from the day itself which I didn’t give to her, and she didn’t know how to ask for.
Every decision we make comes with consequences.
Historically, I’ve had decision paralysis due to not wanting to make the wrong decision. I fear more than anything the loss of opportunity to do right, because I didn’t have the information to make the most objectively correct decision from the host of options available to me. On paper, it might sound like a steady state of mind but just like being careless is dangerous, being too careful is dangerous in the opposite direction. It’s astounding how frequently I can make myself lose out on things because I am too afraid to make a decision.
This is extremely fatiguing, if you could imagine. I have struggled with this for most of my life because the objectively good thing to do doesn’t always feel like the correct thing. Every decision we make on this planet is grey until we make it. When we finally commit to cutting a head from the hydra, all we can do is hope a new one doesn’t grow in its place.
Don’t even get me started on how laziness factors in. I have been both profoundly lazy and more active than every single one of my friends and family members. I got back and forth between being unable to turn my drive to do things off, and being unable to get out of bed. The height of each side of the pendulum is mind numbing and therein lies my purpose for this entire writing.
The definition of a Portmanteau is both a large suitcase, and a fusion of two words which are fused in order to create something entirely new with the meanings of both. Motel, being a “motor hotel” or podcast, being an “iPod broadcast.” Or, Portmanteauxiliary, being the extra baggage I am hauling around, or the fusion of two words to support one another and make something entirely new.
I’ve longed for most of my life to make something “new” — my inspiration for my universe was to create a universe in which multiple novels could relate to one another, twisting the fates of numerous characters into one garbled mess, displayed not only in literature, but also eventually in movies and music and television.
I was beaten out by Stephen King before I was even born.
They say there are no “original” thoughts, and I’m sure there is truth to that, but I’ve realized as I’ve crawled closer and closer to 30 years (and my inevitable death.)
I don’t care so much about being “original” anymore. I just care about doing right with what I was given. If the means I retire from writing in a few years after giving it a good national shake, then so be it. If it means I get to do the things I love with the people I love, all the better.
What I’m trying to say here is that the path we each get to walk is a bit like the dragon’s head. There might only be two roads before you, but there are hundreds more connected to it and the only way you’ll ever make it out of the woods is if you pick a path and accept the results.
Then pick another one.
Everything we do is distinctly separate from everything else, and still all lumped together. Paths connect, and split in intervals. The best decision might not always be the correct one, but is usually the good thing to do. But even then, who am I to judge someone for stealing bread to eat, or pulling themselves from long term relationships because they realized, later than they wanted, that the relationship was abusive?
Who am I to decide what is best for you or anyone else?
I’m a spider killer.
Thank you for reading all of the “Portmanteaux” series. I will have new writing out for you tomorrow, and (hopefully) every other day this month.
Life is a great big journey and I’m just glad I still get to be here. I’m sure next year, when 31 feels scarier than 30 I’ll revisit The Great Spring or Portmanteaux, or maybe by then I’ll have thought of something else to complain about.
I’ll tell you one thing though. I’ll still be healing, and I’ll still be making something I can be proud of.
Thank you for participating once more in the Lifeis+ celebration. I’ve got a lot to celebrate this time around so you’ll be hearing from me often. If you’d like to read more, you can check out me current fiction project Sisters of Westwinter & The Portmanteaux Series below!
If you’d like to support what I’m doing here, you can click either of the links below to be taken to ways you can help you (if you feel so inclined!)
I’ve recently started a Ko-fi Shop online where, if you would like to help support me as I continue to work on my various writing projects here and over on Vocal, I would be so, so appreciative.
As of the publication of this post, it’s a little barebones but I’m working on getting it spruced up! I’ll be linking it at the end of each of my posts going forward if you are interested in helping me keep my eyes open at all. Anything offered through Ko-fi will go directly back into the blog, or toward other projects I can’t afford at the time.
Regardless of your decision, thank you for being here. 🔺
A.T. Baines Ko-Fi
Mental Health Support
Consider donating to a charity with the intention of aiding those struggling with thoughts of Suicide, Self Harm or Depression.
Below I’ve listed a few charities and non-profit organizations you can donate to. if you’d like to support groups trying to make the world a little bit less sad.
If you don’t see your preferred charity here, pick one! Or go give someone’s dog a treat. Anything kind will work. ❤️
More from Me:
Breaking a Promise (My Favorite Flowers: 2)
In a garden somewhere, not quite here and not quite anywhere, there is a boy who has cried his eyes away.
Seeing Someone Learn (My Favorite Flowers: 1)
In a garden somewhere, not quite here and not quite anywhere, there’s a boy who is afraid of eyes.
SOW: Chapter Five, Part Five: A Single Spark
The Nail Ward, as they called it, was as miserable as it looked from the outside. The thousands of needles covering the floor and walls made it impossible to relax, and sleep was terribly out of the question. So Kerrick stood in the corner waiting, patiently, for the sunrise.