Author’s note: I’m writing this at 5 PM, though the show doesn’t air for another few hours. I’m not linking to this because people might not want to know in advance what’s going down, except for the Twitter/Showtime/Live Feed followers, who already know. I actually kind of want to be surprised, so I’m not checking the Twitter/FB accounts of anyone involved in reality TV for the next few hours.

Fans have sarcastically dubbed this season of Big Brother “As Danielle’s World Turns”, because she is the most melodramatic, soap-opera-ish person to ever be on the game. You really expect her to swoon at every emotional difficulty, romantic moment, or challenging decision. Funny how this makes her likeable, while Rachel Reilly’s “over-the-top” emotional reactions to everything made her brash and irritated half the audience. The world clearly likes helplessness more than passion, and introverted emotion is “feminine” while extraverted emotion is “needlessly flamboyant”.

Yet, somehow, the soap opera continues, and our tragic heroine lives to act another day. (how many tubes of waterproof mascara and eyeliner did she bring into the house?)

Although there’s a week left on Big Brother 14, tonight is really the night that is host to the most pivotal moment: Who is making it to the final 3?

In an odd twist of fate, Danielle, who has let herself be manipulated by men with a sweet Southern-belle smile on her face all season, is the one with all the power. She won the HoH and the PoV, leading us to assume this girl has been throwing a lot of competitions this summer. (probably because Dan told her to. He’s not taking someone to the final two who is strong, and since Shane is “good at sports” and Ian is a “boy genius”, Danielle looks pretty useful.)

Since she has a one-sided showmance with Shane that he fakes so unconvincingly, he’ll never make it as an actor; and Dan has acted as a mentor and advisor and father-figure all summer, molding her into the role of a weak, rather self-absorbed child, it seems a foregone conclusion that Ian is going home. This is kind of sad; Ian is the kind of person who actually plays the game, makes big moves, and pulls out wins when it matters. This time, he didn’t. He needed that PoV, and he didn’t win. So, Ian is screwed, and he knows it. Like Danielle, Dan has been adept at manipulating Ian emotionally, because the poor kid, for all his brilliance, has no idea his alliance has been trying to get him out multiple times since his partner-in-crime left weeks ago. Although Ian and Shane both believe there’s such a thing as a “Quack Pack” and they are in an alliance, they conveniently never talk to one another. Somehow, it’s never come up that every person in that alliance has discussed stabbing one another in the back. There IS NO ALLIANCE. For all of them, it’s win or go home.

The only one who knew all this was Jenn, who was voted out for “not being part of the alliance”. In reality, she was voted out because she was more in the loop than anyone and had dangerous information that would kill Dan’s game. Her final speech, if she had cared enough, should have been: “Ian, Dan wanted you out, and then when he couldn’t get you, he went after Shane. Shane, you’re here because Danielle knows how to cry and you won a PoV. Danielle, Shane’s just not that into you, and Dan doesn’t really miss you when you’re gone. Dan, they all want to take you to the end because they’re stupid enough to think nobody will vote for you. Your alliance sucks.”

Dan is on the block against Ian, and he doesn’t seem even slightly worried. He can’t imagine Danielle’s attraction to a guy who is more interested in his dog back home than in her might send him home. Whether Shane goes or Ian goes, he could care less. They’re 50/50 on the threat-meter; Shane’s athletic, Ian’s smart, and they’re roughly equal at endurance challenges. It’s 6 of one, half-dozen of the other.

Ian is assuming he’s leaving, and it doesn’t even occur to him to campaign against the guy who has WON THE GAME BEFORE, by talking the athletic, easily-manipulated guy who has the only vote into keeping someone who is a 50/50 shot against him, instead of the one who makes him a 75/25 underdog. It’s mostly math and logic, and seems like nobody is thinking about it. There are four people in the house. Three of them have complicated, if fake, interpersonal relationships, creating a triangle where the girl gets to choose between Arthur or Lancelot. The fourth is a nice kid that everyone likes, but he’s less essential, and lost when he couldn’t afford to. He’s also pissed off enough people that the jury isn’t going to unanimously think he’s a great guy and vote for him. Voting off the expendable person, as has happened the past two or three evictions, isn’t really making a move. It’s just agreeing to a coin-toss, in which case, they all could have gone home a few weeks ago.

There’s a few scenarios that might save Ian, but they all involve Danielle having a clue that she’s not actually on a dating show (thankfully, they had enough sense to turn her down for that.), but one that requires strategy and the ability to use her fake soap opera charm to actually help her play for something better than second place.

1)She keeps nominations the same and tells Shane to vote out Dan. All she has to tell him is that Dan wanted him gone twice: once, Danielle saved him, and Joe took the bullet. The second time, he won PoV and saved himself. She also points out she has to choose between Dan and Shane sometime, and she’s choosing Shane. Conveniently, the strongest player goes home and Danielle gets to bat her eyelashes and look sweet and make America want to vomit.

2)She uses the PoV to save Dan and sets up a backdoor for Shane. Dan reminds Danielle that they have a final 2 deal, that he saved Shane, but had warned Danielle she’d have to cut Shane loose. Shane is a stronger competitor for the final challenges than Ian, and he has no allegiance to Dan. Dan needs him gone to win, and manipulates Danielle into allowing this to happen. Shane’s been playing Danielle anyway; he’s still voting for her against Dan, whom he doesn’t like, and Ian, with whom he’s shared no real personal connection.

3)She uses the PoV on Ian, and puts up Shane, letting Ian do the dirty work and ultimately make the tough decision. Danielle doesn’t like emotionally difficult decisions, and wants to look blemish-free at all times, whereas Ian doesn’t care about looking evil. In fact, he seems to think being the evil mastermind in a 125 lb. package is what’s going to either win him this game, or get him invited back in the future. Never mind that the evil mastermind spends all day crying about stabbing his friend in the back before he does it. This is the least likely scenario, because Danielle and Ian have spent maybe 5 minutes together the whole game. Strategically, this is to Danielle’s advantage and to Ian’s; she doesn’t have to choose between her boy toy and her father figure, and Ian decides who he wants to roll the dice against in the final three. It’s actually the most interesting option, and one I’d pick if I were her, which is why it won’t happen.

If Ian goes home when Danielle has all the power, she’s a walking illustration of “women can’t play strategically, because emotions get in the way.” She claims she’s not like that; she’s going to “play the player”. The player isn’t the 21-year-old kid who still can’t believe he’s on the show. It’s possibly the guy who’s conning her into a showmance that seems to have very little real affection, and can win challenges, even though he’s the most gullible person on Earth. It’s possibly the guy who has won before and has masterminded the last 5 weeks of the game, viewing Ian and Shane as useful but inevitably expendable tools to accomplish his dirty work and take a girl who’s lost without someone to follow to the final two.

Ironically, she’s the one with all the power, and the ability to manipulate the situation to her best advantage, but she still doesn’t seem to know it. This girl hasn’t made a move the whole season; Janelle’s eviction was masterminded by Boogie and Danielle got to be the messenger. The only thing she’s done is set herself up as an easily manipulated, gullible girl desperate for love and approval…something a charming jock with a lack of intelligence and an older, emotionally manipulative guy can both spot a mile away, and exploit to their advantage.

Now she has a chance to make a move, and it’s not voting out the weakest player. Dan screwed up big time by allowing Danielle to convince him to send home Joe instead of Shane, and then watching Shane win PoV. He’s not going to let a third opportunity go by in the calm, resigned fashion both him and Ian seemed to display on Showtime last night. Shane, on the other hand, will smile and flirt and make Danielle feel like the most important thing in life is knowing there’s this guy who really, really likes her.

If Danielle takes the easy road and votes out Ian, leaving her up against the two strongest male players that nobody’s been able to or wanted to get out of the house for weeks (except each other), she’s proving she really should have spent her time on The Bachelor. She’s also proving why men will continue to break her heart, take advantage of her, and why girls like Janelle and Rachel would want to rip her eyeballs out. (as she discussed on Showtime last night, speculating if she might be asked back for another “all-star” season down the line.)

If you want to be a player, you can’t just flirt and look pretty and smile and be easygoing. You need to play. It would be nice to see Danielle get the memo, not just because I like Ian and don’t think he deserves to go home before Danielle, but because I don’t give Danielle too much credit. She’s the kind of girl I don’t like, or respect, and I want to see her pull one brilliant move that says “You think I’m sweet and weak? Guess again.”, in order to redeem herself.

If you’re going to be an alpha female, use your power to take out an alpha male you’re aware has been using you for three months. Otherwise, you’re not “playing” anyone or anything. You’re just proving you’re an insecure girl who can’t bear to be disliked or hurt, so it’s easiest to get rid of the 21-year-old kid who isn’t going to take it personally and you just might beat in challenges to get to the final three.

As I briefly referenced, but didn’t really explain in my previous posts, I’ve found myself suddenly unemployed.

As a freelancer, it’s hard to be “unemployed”. You understand there are times when you’ll have more work than you can handle, and other times when the jobs aren’t there. However, my time working as a freelance writer has been filled with a series of fortunate happenstances that have allowed me to avoid the struggle and worry that many experience.

With my typical lack of humility, I thought this was due to some sort of talent on my part, as well as the tendency I have to approach any new project with extreme enthusiasm. Within a few weeks of deciding to become a freelance writer, I landed a gig with a company that taught me all about writing for SEO gigs, as well as putting out well-written content for websites. I applied for every “content mill” (places with plentiful projects that want you to write for virtually nothing, often for a penny a word or less, but pay promptly and are known to be reputable) that other writers were using. I was accepted at all of them. Bolstered by this success, I started to apply for jobs for which I wasn’t particularly well-qualified, having a month’s experience in the industry under my belt.

Two of them panned out, and became reliable sources of income that have enabled me to work for myself for the past two years. For awhile, they were even allowing me to thrive. I had sub-contractors working for me, because I had more work than I could ever handle. I eventually dropped almost everything, choosing to work full-time for a company that seemed to believe in me. There were people above me on the food chain that were full of praise and positive feedback regarding my writing. I was told clients were specifically asking for me. I was promoted through the ranks, and people in other divisions of the company sent me their overflow work. In short, I was very proud that I was succeeding at work.

Then, everything changed. Unfortunately, it changed right after I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, one that left me unable to work as quickly as I might have liked to for some time. Right after that, my roommate moved out with no notice, effectively doubling my expenses. I went from being on a path to improving my life and correcting mistakes I’d made with my finances and lack of focus to being beaten down lower than ever.

All of the sudden, all the people who encouraged and supported me either left the company or were told to leave the company. Everyone took a 60-70% pay cut. Then, the work dried up, turning my full-time job into something that paid less than working at McDonald’s. Unfortunately, being ill, I didn’t have the stamina to go seek full-time employment outside of my home—I still don’t—and it seemed like opportunity was just nowhere to be found.

I stuck with the company, even as new people were brought in, and more and more “guidelines” and “24 hour deadlines” were implemented for less pay. A “rating” system was implemented, as well as new editors brought in, and I went from being one of the most praised and valuable writers to crying because an article that earned me $3 was torn apart by an editor. To add insult to injury, my communication with the editor made it clear I was a far superior writer, and being judged by someone who couldn’t do what I do as well (or better) was a slap in the face. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t worthwhile anymore, why nobody praised me or rewarded me, why I couldn’t pay my bills, but didn’t have time to look for other projects.

Last week, I was late with an assignment. My last trio of assignments for the day was turned in 90 minutes late. My immediate superior told me that he’d made it clear that if I missed deadlines, he wouldn’t send me work anymore, so effectively, I was fired. I appealed this decision to one of the owners of the company, someone I thought was fond of me, but she wrote back a bland e-mail telling me she was sorry my immediate supervisor and I were unable to come to terms over these issues and she appreciated my loyalty and hard work over the past two years.

It sucks to be fired in a passive-aggressive way, one where nobody uses the word “fired”. You just happen to not receive work from your place of employment anymore. To be honest, I felt a little betrayed by this company. Once upon a time, I felt valuable and essential and as if working for them meant something. By the end, I felt thoroughly expendable, and I was.

I have a problem in life that’s consistent: I never know when to leave. I don’t know if it’s a fear of change (even letting go of something that causes me distress, like my former roommate, who was blatantly toxic to my way of life.), a belief that I can always make things better or that things will get better if I wait it out, or just a sense of loyalty. (I don’t have very many views that fall into categories like “morality” and “ethics”; I’m mostly a walking grey area. However, loyalty is something I demand from anyone wishing to be in my life long-term, and so I deliver it in return.) I stay in relationships long after it’s clear to me that things are over, that there’s no future. I stay in an apartment I dislike because moving is an expensive hassle. I stick with choices that don’t further me in my life goals or make me a happier person because I’m afraid the next choice will suck even more than the previous one.

At the same time, in other points in my life, I’ve been downright impulsive. I was reminded this year that I still have some of that quality lurking around in me. I seem to be an impulsive person who wants security, so refuses to let go of anything that resembles it.

I would love to decide I’m not going to work for the next year, that I’m going to travel and write my novel and step outside of my comfort zone and regain my health and focus on achieving dreams. However, none of those things pay the bills, and I don’t really have the energy to devote to all of those things, plus paying the bills. The end result is me stressing out over paying the bills, and wishing I could live a different kind of life, one where I was healthy and didn’t have to concern myself with frivolities like money and could view life as an experience, not an obligation. I used to live that way, but it came at a pretty heavy price. I am older and wiser and no longer have the luxury of viewing the world that way; responsibility has to be more important than dreams. Yet, living that way robs my day of joy, makes me feel so much older than I am.

I haven’t felt like me in a long time, save for little periods of time here and there where I realised “I’m happy because I don’t have to worry about the day-to-day obligations of life. I’m just living.”

Apparently, I’m a girl who needs to work for a living who was born to be either an aristocrat or a starving bohemian. *laughs*

I am anxious again, about finding work that pays the bills, about the future. I am anxious that time is slipping away from me, that my health and youth and vitality are disappearing. I am anxious that I am struggling so through what are supposed to be the best years of my life, and if I don’t do something, accomplish something soon to ensure my security in this world, I’m going to be a 70-year-old woman who has been cast aside, has no money, poor health, and nobody who truly cares. That thought terrifies me, because I didn’t spend my 20′s thinking about my future or building my career. All the things that truly make me happy are transient, insecure, valuable for the moment, but later just memories.

I have a supportive group of friends, people who tell me that I feel doors closing all around me because it’s time to make dramatic changes, to let go of what does not help me grow as a person. These people look at me and see potential I do not see, see a person I do not see. What I look at as a loss of security or a rock to lean on, they view as letting go of an albatross keeping me from doing something great and valuable.

I don’t have time to do something great and valuable. I am no literary genius, no celebrity, no great talent or beauty or intellect or charmer. I am just like everyone else, simply more lost. I don’t know how to live a life I love without starving on the street, because what I love is beauty and luxury and elegance and fun. In many ways, I am a frivolous person who likes being amused as much as possible. In other ways, I’m a creative and intelligent and highly sensitive person who loves thoughts and ideas and using my energy to create, instead of working for survival.

I don’t know what to do with my life. I wish I could do something I loved, that also gave me a sense of security, as well as some of the little luxuries that make life an experience. But I’m a grown-up; an ill person with seriously ill parents from which I am somewhat estranged. I know that I’ve been alone in my life for a long time; when all my friends had family to help them finance their dreams, set up a new apartment, or move to a new city, I was on my own. However, I can’t help but feel that someday soon, I’ll be even more alone, because the family that isn’t really part of my life won’t even be there.

The future frightens me. The uncertainty frightens me. It never used to, because I always thought I was young and had the luxury of doing whatever I wanted, and mistakes didn’t have consequences. I’ve learned otherwise, and as a result, learned to fear uncertainty. I am no longer young and out there “experiencing”; I’m an adult who is supposed to have goals and plans and stability.

I wonder why it is not in my nature to be that person, especially if I have gifts and talents and potential that others see in me. I don’t think I am lazy, because when I love something, I throw myself into it wholeheartedly. When I have an ambition, little can stand in my way. But I am largely uninspired; acquiring the tools for day-to-day survival doesn’t seem to motivate me as it does everyone else in the world.

I don’t look at life the same way everyone else does, I think. While some find this charming or think I am somehow interesting or unconventional or wise, I don’t know it serves me well in a practical sense.

I might want to permanently trade in my joie de vivre for practicality, or actively look to marry well. Yet, doing the first left me with an anxiety disorder, and I’ve failed at the second, multiple times. I seem to pass up opportunities that may provide me with the security I claim to want, in favour of independence and freedom, something I haven’t been aware until recently was that valuable to me. Yet, to be independent, you need the tools and temperament to survive independently. I don’t possess either.

So, again, what is it that I want to do with my life? *sighs*

Over the weekend, I attended the giant annual clusterfuck in Downtown Atlanta that makes me hate people. To clarify, I don’t really hate people. In fact, I tend to generally abhor the lack of people for more than 24 hours. Then again, I don’t really particularly like people, either, especially in large group situations that provide opportunity for you to be stepped on, run into, elbowed, tripped by the giant suitcase of a tourist who has no idea how to be a tourist in a city.

Every Labour Day weekend, when our friends are relaxing on a beach or getting drunk at outdoor BBQ’s, I’m on the verge of sheer mental and physical exhaustion trying to attend DragonCon. This is also the same weekend that the area is jammed with visitors from other Southeastern colleges in town for a football game (props to the folks from Tennessee for not being jerks like the people I met from NC State, and the nice people of Clemson and Auburn for not repeatedly sexually harassing me like the people from LSU two years ago.), as well as an LGBT convention and people trying to get to the Braves game. It is the one weekend of the year people *actually* use the subway system, and wonder why it sucks so badly compared to, you know, everywhere else.

On top of that, there’s the frustration of realising I live in a “city” that needs five separate hotels to host a convention, and you have to walk five miles a day and stand in hour-long lines just to attend this thing with 30,000 people that doesn’t allow you to ever sit down, find food, relax, or not get run over without effort. I’m surprised there’s not a booth that says “Free Oxygen: Line Begins Here”. Oh, and I forgot to mention: every year, it’s 90 degrees with a humidity level between 80 and 90%, and people wear wigs and costumes everywhere. Most establishments may have their AC on, but it is hotter in the room than outside. Even if you are healthy, the physical toll this takes on you is draining. Many people end up getting sick for a few days after convention. For someone on heart medication and dealing with vertigo and slight agoraphobia, it’s kind of a personalized version of hell. I don’t remember the last time I hated people so much I started to purposely bump into them and not apologise, because they were in my freaking space. But that’s what happens when you’re chest-bumped by some guy twice your size who runs into you and then keeps going. I can only imagine it’s some form of “The Hunger Games” devised by the people who run DragonCon, for their own amusement. “I estimate 1200 people want to go to this session! Let’s put 600 chairs in the room, make people line up outside and stand there for two hours,and see what happens from our air-conditioned offices.”

Here’s the thing: I don’t do lines. I make reservations and get on lists that allow me to skip lines. I show up 30 minutes late to anything just to ensure everyone else is already there. If I have to wait for anything, I’m probably going to leave. I’ve moved dinner reservations to a new location because I’m not interested in waiting 35 minutes to eat somewhere in a city with 5,000 restaurants. I’ve passed up on Black Friday sales to avoid standing in line for half an hour with an overly heavy object, just to find out I could have had the same thing delivered to my house by clicking a button on the internet. Living in New York, I kind of became a master at using my unobtrusive stature and “Ooops, I think I’m lost and confused face” to cut in front of people in line. I will plow through crowds of people to grab the last seats on the subway. The Guy I Am Currently Dating seems to feel guilty about this behaviour, or point out that people are staring at us. I don’t, not even slightly, and if staring killed people, I’d have been dead a long time ago.

You can take the girl out the Northeast, but you can’t take the Yankee out of the girl. :P

This isn’t how DragonCon works. You will spend more time in line to see something than actually seeing the thing. You will walk around between hotels in the 90 degree heat more than you will actually spend time in the hotel. Yes, there are huge parties, but you will stand around not getting served by an understaffed bar or wandering back and forth and back and forth looking for food, until you realise you’ve spent two hours doing so.

It really is pretty much a giant NYE party for geeks.

It’s probably worth it if you’re the sort of person who’s super into what DragonCon has to offer, are a big enough fan of anything to stand in line for an hour or two to hear some people talk for an hour, and you’re staying in a hotel that offers you air conditioning and a bed to rest on. Instead, we opt for the “hour commute on the overcrowded, overheated subway with nowhere to sit” to top off our day.

I think, honestly, I just don’t care about anything DragonCon has to offer enough to balance out the hassle, inconvenience, and physical exhaustion caused by being there. I walked and stood and was put in more vertigo-inducing situations in three days than in an entire year of slow rehabilitation. I go there because The Guy I Am Currently Dating likes it. But, he’s healthier than I am and has greater endurance and tolerance for people, despite being over a decade older than I am.

In fairness, it’s not just DragonCon that elicits this reaction from me. Two years ago, I helped plan a NYE party at a venue that didn’t have adequate seating or staff. It took an hour to get a drink, to the point where I went behind the bar to inform them I was one of the event organizers, and my party had yet to be served, so I was willing to start working the bar myself. People left long before midnight because there was nowhere to sit. If we hadn’t managed to get bar stools, I’d have left my own event. Waiting in overcrowded, understaffed venues that want to maximize profit while providing minimal amenities and service is the opposite of fun for me.

In a way, I really am The Misanthropic Extravert (a cool title for my autobiography!), and while getting sick has lessened my tolerance for rudeness and inconvenience, it’s always been a part of my personality. I am not happy when I am not comfortable. Some people think this is high-maintenance, and sadly, when I see others have more fun at events without me than with me being there because I am a high-maintenance individual, it makes me realise that person may not be my perfect friend/romantic partner/soulmate/travel buddy. (I think I thought at least four times in three days that The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I should just break up, because he didn’t seem to have any patience or understanding for how difficult the situation was for me, and that in return made me pretty angry. He did, however, have fun hanging out with other people when I wasn’t there. I don’t blame him, but it doesn’t necessarily make me feel positively about our level of compatibility.)

I just wanted to be chilling out on a balcony overlooking the ocean in Florida, drinking martinis and eating at places that aren’t standing-room only. I’d even have settled for a fun BBQ in someone’s backyard with 30 of my closest friends…not 30,000.

There’s another convention The Guy I Am Currently Dating helps run each October, and that one, I totally enjoy. We stay in a nice hotel, I go to stuff that interests me without standing in line, I help out when I feel like it or when it’s needed, and I meet interesting people that are actually interested in talking to you, not just being admired/posing for pictures, because it’s the one time of the year they feel comfortable around strangers. That convention is for video games, something I know nothing about and don’t really have much interest in; yet, many of the sessions are still interesting and I don’t have to stand outside for an hour to see if I really care enough to see it. It is 1/10th the size of DragonCon, but that, I can handle. It helps that you get to stay indoors most of the time and the average temperature has dropped from 90 to 80. Autumn is actually pleasant in Atlanta, even if it doesn’t arrive until Halloween.

I have been debating whether or not to try to travel to NYC this fall. Somehow, I think that compared to DragonCon, it’s going to seem like a breeze, provided I keep the walking to a reasonable minimum. I know I really shouldn’t be pushing myself to do more than a mile at a time, until that amount of effort becomes comfortable to my body. The heart medication makes it feel like I’m pulling a 300-pound weight along with me the entire time, and it’s horrible. I wish there were a way to get off the Atenolol, but considering my mother just had another stroke on Thursday, and can barely speak or walk at the age of 62, and her mother died at the age of 50, and my father’s health began a steady decline at 48…I understand why my doctors believe preventative measures can’t hurt. I just wonder if they’re really necessary, and if they’re really helping or hurting me. I can’t seem to manage my weight at all on this drug, or courtesy of some other condition that hasn’t been diagnosed.; despite being active to the point of exhaustion, the scale tells me I gained 3 pounds over the holiday weekend, and I certainly didn’t overeat.

It is all so frustrating. I feel too young and have a spirit that’s far too exuberant to be trapped inside a body that can’t manage to reflect that. I feel so frustrated that those in my life can’t, or don’t, understand. I used to be proud of my attractive figure, of my energy level, of having a personality that was always up for a fun adventure. It’s hard to be the same person on the inside, yet stuck inside a physical being that is someone and something else.

Doctors are idiots. I’ve been to 12 of them without any concrete diagnosis, and other than gaining 30 pounds in a year and having to take drugs that have some unpleasant side effects, nothing has happened. I’m living my life in a healthier way than ever before, yet I simply feel as if I’m wasting away, fading into the background of life.

The Guy I Am Currently Dating asked if he should buy my DragonCon badge for next year. I brought up a bunch of concerns. “What if I make other plans for Labour Day?” “What if I’m not living in Atlanta?”, “What if we’re not dating anymore?”. Yet, there’s always the unspoken hesitation to plan anything a year in advance, the one that stares back at me from the mirror and says “What if I’m just not here at all next September?” Sometimes, I still think of the future as fairly irrelevant, because I somehow just feel that “long-term” isn’t an issue or a problem for me. I no longer let it affect worries about my choices or my relationships. I know that all I have is now, and wasting time worrying over how a tomorrow that might never come plays out really robs me of today.

That’s why I wanted to try to make it to DragonCon this year, just in case I’m not around when it rolls around next year. I wanted people to be able to say, “Hey, remember when Alayna was here, and we did this, and it was fun?”

Sadly, I don’t think there will be too many memories like that. What I will remember is that after 3 days of exhausting myself, I spent a day in bed in my air conditioned apartment reading, and The Guy I Am Currently Dating had a fun time at DragonCon with his friends, while all of my friends were off doing things with their own families, friends, and loved ones.

It made me a little sad, really, to think “This is what the world will look like when I’m no longer in it. Life goes on without me.” I know it always does, but it’s a little like getting to see a glimpse of the future that doesn’t involve you.

I can’t help but feel like life wasn’t supposed to leave me behind so early on in the process.