Greetings from Travis

Spring, 2017

Dear Person,

Thanks a ton for visiting my blog.

Lifehack: Dogs who constantly bark are actually shouting at you in dog-language to give them a break of that Kit-Kat bar. The same goes for loud children, except they crave Nyquil.

What I’d give to never have to listen to loud animals or people. I should go live alone in space.

The last time I wrote a greeting to you was almost three years ago. This time, I’ll keep it brief because there’s really not much to explain. In a nutshell, God came through for me in ways far greater than I could have ever imagined, and I’d love to ANOTHER DOG IS SHOUTING OUTSIDE …share that with you.

See that? I was in the middle of a thought, and my neighbor’s beast shattered it. I can’t stand dogs. I mean, I like dogs, kind of – to pet them and all that, I guess. But if only they would shut up. I don’t know why people just let their dogs bark. I really don’t. And I hope those people find misery through a random annoying, persistent noise.

Anyway, God has done so much since my original greeting. I’m sure it’s hilarious to hear that after what I just said, but give me a chance. It can’t be that sinful to think dogs are annoying.

If you look through my entries, especially those from early 2015, you’ll see how cynical I used to be toward other Christians. I let a few bad experiences ruin them for me, and so for years I avoided befriending them.

Today, I love my Christian friends. If any of you reading this are not from my church, don’t get me wrong: I still love you just as much as always. (Also, to clarify, I’m not saying people who don’t go to my church aren’t Christians.) It’s just that my opinions regarding Christians have changed dramatically as bad experiences were replaced with positive ones.

About a year ago, God laid it on my heart to volunteer at church. A short while later, my friend Pete called me and asked if I’d help at the New Guest tent on Sundays. My church is big, so we need teams to help new people find their way around. We help lost souls get to church. (Lol joking.)

A few months after I started volunteering, I completed my history degree and earned my Comp TIA A+ Certification. From that point forward, my one and only goal was to find a career that would sustain me and give me opportunities to grow.

As I got to know Pete and his wife Tiffany, the idea of being on staff at church became more and more appealing. And eventually, it wasn’t just appealing. It became my dream.

I prayed countless times asking God to help me find a job – any decent job, really – but I always side-noted that I’d be thrilled if that job turned out to be at church. One day, I felt like the Lord said yes to my prayer. It wasn’t long after when a Desktop Support position opened, and I applied as soon as I saw it. The next thing I knew, they interviewed me for the position. After the interview, I left with mixed feelings about my chances, but they asked me to come back a couple weeks later. It wasn’t long after when they hired me. I’ve been working there for over two weeks, and I actually look forward to work in the mornings. It sort of makes me wonder if Hell froze over.

Sometimes I want to pinch myself because I must be dreaming. For years, there were four main things I desired. They were:

  • A closer, more passionate walk with God.
  • Christian friends who I can grow in the Lord with.
  • A good job.
  • A Godly, amazing wife.

To date, three of those have happened. When I wrote my first greeting three years ago, none of them had.

To me, that’s incredible. I can’t believe what God has done, and I love reading about troubled times in the past and seeing how He responded.

When I started this blog, I was without hope. I was scared I’d have no future. My life, as I viewed it, was meaningless. And yet today I’m full of hope, and I know I have a future. God really Jeremiah 29:11-ed the heck out of me.

Years ago, I decided that if I made it this far, I’d change my pen-name from the Madman to Progress-man. While I’m excited – so excited – there’s still plenty of room to grow. In this life, I’ll always be a madman to a degree, and Madman sounds cooler than Progress-man. Also, screw hyphens, amirite?

I’ll leave the old greeting below if anyone’s interested in how wrecked things used to be. I didn’t keep this brief like I said I would, so, uh, sike…

One final thing. When you read my blog, I urge you to read it by category instead of all at once. To do that, have a look at the menu on the left. If you really want to see everything all together, click the Home button at the top (also good for checking out the most recent entries). Though, it’s my belief you’ll have a better time if you just read it by category like I told you to.

I love you all. Just kidding, that’s just something YouTubers say when they can’t think of a clever way to end their videos.

You’re all okay, I guess. Go read my blog.

Yours truly,

Travis Martin

9624183041334669316

Fall, 2014

Hello Person,

It’s true. I am mad – crazy even. Once I tell you how I live my life, you’ll surely find yourself in appalling agreement. For the last decade, I’ve been a loser. It’s because of this, I have spent the same amount of time earning an undergraduate degree as some spend becoming doctors. My parents have money, so they just keep paying for it. And to be honest, I deserve to be living under a bridge right now. And yes, I feel awful for it.

That having been said, here’s the purpose of this blog. I hate the way I am. I’m not even close to kidding when I tell you that. I despise myself down to the core, and that’s precisely why I’ve taken on the title “Madman.” It’s an apt name for someone who would choose to exist in such an unaccomplished fashion.

But in light of this hatred, I plan to change. I plan to man-up and become the person I’d like to be, to become the person God wants me to be. I want to make my family proud, and I want to wake up every day feeling accomplished. I want to use my time on this earth for good and not be selfish with it. But most of all, I want to be a great man. And by great man, I’m not referring to wealth or fame. Rather, I want to have a heart with a vigorous capacity for compassion. I want a strong resolve, a healthy body, and a relationship with God that can move mountains. And if I’m very fortunate, I want to be a good husband and father someday.

These changes will not happen overnight. They simply won’t. Believe me, I’d do anything for the ability to snap my fingers and achieve instant improvement. Reality is, however, that nobody on this Earth can accomplish such drastic results without taking the harsh time to reshape themselves.

To the point, this blog will document my progress over time. I will never reach perfection in this life – it’s true – but one day I hope to free myself of the title “Madman” and instead replace it with the title “Progress-man.” It is Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Mark my words, ladies and gentlemen: By Thursday, October 22, 2015, I will be a changed man. I don’t know if I’ll be worthy of being called Progress-man or not, but at least I’ll be closer than I am now.

The initial step toward fixing a problem is to first admit you have one. So I’ll tell you right now what the present issues in my life are, and think of me how you will.

But first, before I discuss my personal issues, I must provide some context so you’ll understand. In order to do that, I’m going to have to tell you a few basics about myself.

I am a writer and a historian – sort of. Hah, I’m definitely a writer. The historian thing is debatable. I’m still in college at 26 years old. Originally, I was a computer science major, and while at first I exceled in computer science, I ultimately failed out and switched to history. Up until this point, history has actually been going pretty well. I’ve already completed a minor in professional writing too (they don’t offer a full degree in writing at my school). If things go according to plan – and, as you’re about to see, they’re not – I’ll graduate in the spring of 2015. I live at home with my family and commute to school. I used to live in an apartment, but the rent kept increasing until I couldn’t afford it. As for a job, I work at a Chinese takeout restaurant and deliver Chinese food.

So, the problems I promised you earlier:

I’ll start out with the fact that I grew up slower than I’d ever admit to my friends. When I was younger, I didn’t give much thought to my future and what getting there would entail. I didn’t study often and instead reveled in video games. I made no effort toward time management and being productive. If I could’ve gotten away with it, I’d have spent all day every day playing video games and watching TV.

And now that I’m 26 and still in college, all the while watching my friends start their careers and families, I’m struggling to rid myself of these awful habits holding me back from my future.

I think one of the core issues I have is a lack of discipline regarding time management. I can lie in bed and play with my phone for a solid hour at a time. It’s not hard to do, really, when one considers all that can be done on a smartphone. I get on Facebook, where I follow a bunch of science pages, political pages, and comedy pages (I’m looking at you, Cracked), and I constantly see links to articles on the internet that are fascinating. I spend enormous amounts of time reading these, one after another, until I have to pee so bad I’m finally forced to get up.

I also play Clash of Clans. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a fantasy village-building game for Android and iOS. It’s not uncommon for me to attack someone, wait twenty minutes to create more troops, and then attack again. I’ll do this over and over for hours at a time.

Sometimes I’m not even in bed when I do this. Sometimes I’m sitting in my desk chair with my feet propped on another piece of furniture (the item varies). Either way, we only get a limited amount of time on this Earth, and I keep burning through enormous amounts of it on my phone.

Part of it has to do with the fact that it’s easy to see smartphone activities as brief. But they’re actually not. Sure, an attack in Clash of Clans only takes about three minutes, but when you include the time it takes to select an opponent, issue the command to make more troops after the battle, and then manage upgrades and defenses, sometimes you’re looking at a good ten minutes per session. And then when you do this over and over again, and in your mind continue seeing the whole thing as of brief snippets of time, you’re horrified when you finally realize how much of your day is gone.

I also have a tendency to visualize my day into imprecise blocks of time. I misjudge how long things will take, and as a result, I’m late for almost everything. I’ll mistakenly think putting my pants and shoes on and brushing my teeth will only take five minutes. I’m always surprised when I discover it actually takes about twice that long.

You’re probably wondering how I can do this over and over without learning my lesson. Well, it actually has to do with a stubborn determination to get it done in five minutes anyway, darn it. So, I keep trying and failing to get ready on time, and so the cycle continues. And the whole reason I desperately want to get ready in five minutes instead of ten is because I usually like what I’m doing before I get ready more than what comes after. What I’m doing before is typically something I enjoy, whereas when I have to get ready to go somewhere, it’s usually related to school or something else that’s important.

The cycle must stop. I refuse to be so weak-minded that I don’t start getting ready until it’s too late. Being late is embarrassing, and, understandably, offends the crap out of people. So from now on, I plan to crush this habit of getting ready at the absolute last second. I will make a point to start getting ready a few minutes earlier so that I arrive at my destination on time and worry-free.

On a different note, my relationship with God hasn’t been doing so hot over the last year. I’m sick of talking to a wall, and so I stopped making the effort to pray every day. I usually read a chapter in the Bible before going to bed. It helps me sleep better, I think, but I’ve pretty much stopped doing it. I know He has a plan for my future. I just know it. But I can’t see it, and I’m getting discouraged, particularly at school. A couple weeks ago, my mom told me God would bless me as long as I seek Him. So this is definitely something I need to figure out. Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m blessed. Very blessed, actually. It’s just that I need hope for my future because, well I’ll be honest – things aren’t looking good right now.

I am taking four classes this semester. And, as mentioned earlier, I do have issues with time management. But it’s not like I’m not trying. I study and do my homework and all that, but things just go wrong anyway. Either I get a professor who grades like a jerk, or I study the wrong things, or something surprising happens (and not the good kind of surprise).

For example, I took four midterms earlier this month. One was in Historiography (the study of history as a profession), one was in Spanish, one in Medieval Europe, and one in Politics of the Pacific Rim.

In my Historiography class, I spent an entire weekend studying. Granted, I haven’t been able to keep up with the insane amount of reading my professor assigns (He’s been known to assign over 100 pages of reading for a two-day period. Combine that with the readings from my other classes, and it’s impossible to keep up.) But I at least skimmed over the readings in order to understand the gist of them.

Anyway, after I took the test, I felt pretty confident that I had scored either an A or a B. I have a friend in there who did even less reading than I did, and he thought he failed it. Well, as it turns out, the professor gave me an F and my friend a B.

I suck at Spanish. I also hate it and don’t know why it’s required for history majors. I can’t say I was surprised when I got a 54 on the midterm.

In my Medieval Europe class, the same thing happened as Historiography, except not as bad. After the test, I thought I made an A, but it turned out to be a C.

And to think both history courses put a blister on my finger while I took the tests. Each was about six to eight pages written by hand!

At least in my Politics of the Pacific Rim class I made a B on the midterm.

I just don’t know how I’m going to get through school and graduate. I just can’t see it. I want to finish and start a career so badly. But even if I do finish, I have no idea what kind of job to look for. That’s frightening. I…may not have a future.

I hate to admit what I’m about to write. It’s one of my most embarrassing secrets, actually. Like, I’d be humiliated if anyone I knew in person found out.

Russian cosmonauts used to carry suicide pills on EVAs in case something went wrong and they became stranded in space. There have been a few times when I’ve eyed my Berretta with the same mindset. I remember about a week ago holding it in my hand and just looking at it, thinking if God doesn’t come through for me and I permanently remain a failure, that’ll be my ticket out of here.

However, that was only a thought – not a plan. I’d never, ever kill myself. And if I did for some reason become homeless, I’d have no choice but to work my way back onto my feet. I certainly wouldn’t die. Fear is debilitating, and it often prohibits rational thought.

We’ll see how things go. For now, I think my future will turn up sooner or later. I don’t think God will let me down because He never has before. I’ll just hold out and try my best to change. After all, most of my problems are self-inflicted. Even considering those tests that didn’t go so hot, there’s always something I could’ve done differently.

This blog will document my progress in a weird, carefree kind of way. It may seem counterproductive, but I’m going to write about whatever the heck I want whenever the heck I want, which, I guess makes this kind of like most other blogs. Individual entries may not seem to have anything to do with my overall progress, but they will be indicative of my state of mind. The general trends of the blog will show how everything is going.

I’ve never been one for good conclusions, so this is it. Read on and enjoy the blog.

-The Madman

Comments
  1. Tammy says:

    Thanks for sharing Travis! What you’ve experienced in 2014, has become an epidemic for us all. It’s so easy to allow other thing, especially our phones, to rob us of productivity.

    But what is thrilling is to see the change you’ve made in your life through the power and blessings of the Holy Spirit! if “Progress Man” isn’t a cool enough name, perhaps one of your readers might have another suggestion? Although, there’s been tremendous progress for sure! God bless you as you continue to progress and share what God teaches you along the way!

    Love you!!

    Like

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