Iceland (Part 1)

So for Thanksgiving (and as a belated anniversary trip) we went to Iceland for the first time. And some of the things I’m going to rattle off will be familiar to people who know more than I do (about Iceland) which is probably not hard but I’m writing this more for my own benefit (and later recollection).

Iceland is located north and east of Greenland and has a population of about 350,000 people. The things I was not prepared for going there were innumerable. When we planned the trip we both knew we wanted to go, neither of us had been, and I trusted that it would all be amazing. I did something I don’t normally do and I booked us a tour. We only had 4 & 1/2 days and I wanted to get as much out of our time as possible. I expected we’d see more if we weren’t dealing with driving around on our own (we did), and I didn’t want to roll the dice navigating an unfamiliar country in the winter or worry about gear (for ice caving), knowing when to stop (because you could drive for an hour an see nothing), or dealing with crappy driving conditions. It turned out to be a really wise choice for our first visit (even before we got there I knew we’d be going more than once).
While we may have traded the freedom to linger and be self-directed everything we saw was amazing. I wasn’t disappointed with anywhere we stopped, both of our guides were locals that were knowledgeable and friendly and took us off the beaten track to see little stops we would have struggled to locate, let alone identify. We booked with Extreme Iceland (which is run by Arctic Adventures) and I have nothing but great things to say. Being able to gaze out the windows at the amazing landscape while someone else drove made the relative sacrifices completely worthwhile. Our tour was on a shuttle with about 18 people total, so larger to offset the cost, but not an unwieldy mess of 50 people on a big stupid bus. Everyone kept mostly to themselves and the people we did chat and interact with were all really nice. (People were from literally all over the world: Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, various parts of the US).

 

At the start of the winter in addition to being cold it is unbelievably dark. The sun doesn’t rise until about 10:15 and then for the hours of the day that are technically daylight the sun never seems bright. It always hovered around a dusk or dawn. Around 4:30 the sun would start to disappear again and it would be pitch back by 5:15. On the shortest day of winter (Dec 21) the sun is only up for 4 hours. Nothing could have prepared me for the experience of what it’s like waking up in complete darkness. While I can’t imagine the struggle of dealing with that as a permanent resident the challenge of dealing with it for a few days with something that was kind of exciting and interesting. It added to the feeling of other worldliness.

 

Day 1 – West Coast

 

We arrived on Thanksgiving on an “overnight” flight (the short duration of the flight makes this a little painful because at no point during that first 36 hours are you going to get adequate sleep – the only advantage this had for me was training me to be a cat napping master on the bus in between our travel spots). Another sort of interesting element of this trip for me is that I planned very little. Other than booking the tour and getting us a hotel for our last night I planned and researched nothing. As a planner this was a weird exception and I wholly enjoyed have ZERO expectations and just showing up to see what would happen.

After getting through customs and a hilarious interaction with the ATM (periods, commas, foreign currency and sleep deprivation make for an interesting situation – luckily the ATM didn’t allow R to take out the $1200 US he initially attempted.)

We found a shuttle bus to Reykjavik and it dropped us at Hallgrimskirkja (the crazy church in the center of the city), to wait for our tour to collect us. Our tour would be broken into two mini-tours. With one guide picking us up and taking us out to the West Coast and then returning us to Reykjavik before the second two-day tour started. We headed out of the city about 90 minutes give or take and made our first stop in between a waterfall and a mountain at Kirkjufellsfoss (I only remember this because I took a photo of the sign).

Continue reading “Iceland (Part 1)”

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VIP Seat on the Strugglebus

I think the concept of a struggle bus is funny, even if the phrase is cheeky and annoying in the same way that people are now famous because they open packages for a living on YouTube.

I am annoyed at my 2019 not starting with more momentum. I’m not sure what to blame it on but I feel like it’s a combination of:

  • the winter
  • a mild case of seasonal bleh disorder (it’s cold and dark and hard to do things)
  • Having a shittastic cold that mutated into lame viral bronchitis for all of December
  • the lull in routine at work and in life that let me get used to sitting around watching history shows with my heart’s bff
  • My back being a dick because I am lazy jackass that sits on the couch watching too much viking murder tv (but is there such a thing?)
  • Not sleeping great because of all of the above
  • Being healthy for about 36 hours only to end up with a stomach virus that rolled right in to the start of my period.

It’s making things hard.

I like feeling motivated. Being unhealthy makes everything impossible. I don’t want to run or cook or lift weights or read or take down the goddamn tree and put all this shit away and OMG EVERYTHING IS ANNOYING.

I am having issues with motivation. I am .. sick and tired of being sick and tired, when it’s already hard, in the winter in particular, to push yourself to do things.

Things I want to be doing but am not doing, yet.

  • Exercising.  OMG. I need to find a way to work this back into my habits. We hiked before NYE and it was so nice (even if I was hacking up a lung). See, here’s a photo even.

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  • Being more engaged with work and pushing to make progress with stuff…. I need to find some training to attend, I think that will help. (I like my job and am immensely grateful for that so I refuse to spend time complaining about that, atleast for now)

Things I am already working on improving

  • Making more art. Being sick and out of town made it really hard to get to the studio since before Thanksgiving. But I got back this weekend and hope to get back into a better rhythm now that we have a break in our travel. I make pots if you find that sort of thing interesting.
  • Reading more. I say this every year but really… I want to read more (I am actually on a roll with this even though I have been feeling like arse). I finished a graphic novel in one sitting and have been working through a chapter per night of the Scar, which is very good. (Let’s not talk about the Murakami book I’m stuck 60% of the way through). I’m on Goodreads, I still really like that site.

Things that are minor and dumb but still worthwhile

  • I got my car serviced
  • Set up my new login and info for our new health insurance
  • Got my annual mammogram
  • Took down the tree and packed up all of the decorations
  • We dragged our asses out yesterday for real groceries so we made dinner last night and have all of the stuff we need for tonight too.
  • I’m writing, here and hope even if it’s just me howling into the wind about stupid day to day stuff I can work on making it habitual and that writing about the random things I’m thinking about will bring me a greater sense of accountability, plus lists!!!

 

 

 

 

We all end up alone.

Abandonment. Textbook abandonment. Whatever that means. For any child isn’t it sourced ultimately at the disappearance of a critical figure. A parent, a sibling, a close childhood friend. People leave. Accepting that is part of your life forever.  Or should I say making peace with it, or maybe never making peace with it and wrestling it forever in some type of Promethean torment. Consciously. Unconsciously.

Maybe I did carry it around. Maybe I still carry it around. I will admit that a cornerstone of my last relationship was built on a feeling a safety I don’t remember having previously. I spent over 9 years feeling like I had one less worry. That I wasn’t going to have to concern myself with being alone. I had a family that I made, even if it was just the two of us. I had a teammate, a partner. Someone to help tread this weird path we’re all on. Help me along. Take care of me if it all fell apart. Love me even if my body or mind failed and make sure that I wasn’t left discarded at the side of the road. He said forever. He meant it. I meant it when I said it. Then forever changed.

That’s the thing. I still want those impossible promises to be made. Knowing they can and likely will end up being broken. Maybe that’s what marriage is for non-religious people. The subscription to the belief that you are trying to make the same kind of iron-clad promise, that’s your intent. We all want forever but I don’t think any of us knows what that means, we see the end but we don’t see the journey. Here’s the point A, the goal is the point B, seems obvious right. But what about that fact that the path we’re talking about is this undefinable road. The not knowing is what you’re trying to use that promise as a shield against, to plow forward, to keep going, to free yourself from one of the litany of worries we all hang on to.

No one wants to do this alone. Not the exhilarating bits or the dull ones or the simple agony of being alive. It’s intended to be shared. But gods how we fuck that up.

The only peace I am ever going to make is accepting that the only constant in the entire world is knowing things will always change. We’ve been defiantly shouting it at each other since the 8th grade. NOTHING IS FOREVER EXCEPT CHANGE (ACCEPT THE CHANGE). If it was a thing when we were younger we’d all have shitty tattoos that said it. We tossed it at each other like we had an inkling of what it meant. Fuck we were idiots. Beautiful, optimistic, children. Thinking we’d sort it out, we’d find some impenetrable shield in each other, in our relationships to navigate it together and ride these changes like some epic tidal wave. But you can bet that we assumed we’d be on top. In charge. Adapting and doing it with grace and success.

It’s all an illusion. There is no grace anywhere to be found sometimes. And the success, the bitter reality of redefining that is understanding that success means getting your ass kicked again and again. Your heart broken. Your sense of stability obliterated. And standing up and moving forward because you are too stubborn to give up.

Kittens clinging to cliffs on shitty motivational posters.

Hang in there.

Sometimes that’s all that I feel like I’m doing.

Guess What? It’s the Same.

All of that shit you’re waiting on. Dreaming about. Stressing over.  That list of obstacles or goals or specific life events you feel like if you could JUST get those done, you’d feel differently. Paying off your car, moving, getting through some specific project at work. Or maybe it’s the larger and more far reaching stuff. Divorce. Student loans.

You envision these milestones a bit like carrying around a stack of concrete blocks on your back. Only the truth is, even once you free yourself from those specific things you’re focused on, you will simply trade one block for another.

Life, if you chose to focus on it that way, is mostly the same. Atleast in the ways you’d imagine. The predictable routine of your ability to adapt to experiences, or changes, good or bad.

I sold my house. I got divorced. I moved. I paid off all of my debt (save for my car). My credit score is 825. I am Jack’s sense of pained irony.

And don’t get me wrong. It felt good to do all of those things. Necessary. Elemental even. To strip out the clutter in my life by moving, ending a relationship emotionally, legally and changing everything. To move towards something and feel like in the restructuring I was learning about what the things I’d already experienced meant.

Knowing that I can save money for the things I want. That I enjoy a level of freedom and flexibility that has in some capacity eluded me for the duration of my adult life in 40 years. It’s grand.  But it’s not such a sweeping mind-bending change that I don’t still wake up and throughout the course of a day, become preoccupied with the same petty trivialities that bothered me before.  Those larger successes that I waited so long for… they’re not a magical inoculation against manufactured anxieties. I still worry about dumb shit.  Different dumb shit, but by and large. I am not so dramatically changed that I have unshackled myself from the pitfalls of what it means to be a person. Forever struggling against your own patterns, habits, tendencies. Making hard won progress.  But only through dogged persistence, luck, and will.  None of those requirements change.

So now what’s the moral of this ramble. Hey look at that, I think it’s the same as the last post I wrote. Don’t do it. Don’t dig yourself into the promise of someday as a solution to your state of mind. Because all that matters is right now. You will arrive, perhaps – I won’t even add “if you’re lucky” because luck is irrelevant and it may not be lucky anyway – at your desired destination.  You will pay off that car. You will get rid of that student loan. You will move to that new city. And you will still be you. In a different place. And you will have done all that waiting. That anticipatory promise of changes, solutions, a blank(er) slate and you will still find yourself wanting. It’s a giant waste. A pile of misdirected energies. Speculating on how different you will feel with certain obstacles out of your way. The only actual obstacle is the barrier you created in your own head. Crush that shit and move on. You, are really the only thing in your own way.

Escape from Suburbia

Maybe it’s because I spent over two hours in the car (a car I just bought less than two weeks ago) trying to get from the city into Arlington out to the suburbs. I’m moved yesterday. Like a privileged adult I paid two guys to move all of my shit into a truck for me. I feel almost embarrassed to be this exhausted because I didn’t actually do anything, I mean I did, but comparatively speaking.

My move has been this prolonged, looming, never-ending saga. Endless packing. Multiple hit or miss apartments before we finally landed one. The stress of selling my first house, negotiating the money situation with my ex, handling all of the logistics of staging, selling, putting things into storage, pulling things out of storage, scheduling, arranging, cleaning. Just the mental energy to deal with all of the logistics, none of it even touches on the emotions. I’m back to renting. Into the land of beige and cohabitation with a non-romantic partner (a really close friend but still… it’s not the same), there is some whiff of failure around it, temporary or not.

So I’m thinking of this as an adventure. Temporary in nature. So the washing machines are upstairs and require an ongoing commitment to a bucket of change – at least they’re big and I can get a bunch of shit done all at once. Besides I work from home and that’s easy to knock out during the day. There’s the rooftop pool – what a kick ass way to spend a lunch break – again with the working from home bit. And I’ll get to actually save some $ and go back to cooking for myself and I’m living with someone that actually eats well. I’ll have an actual walk in closet. I can cover the ugly ass beige with area rugs. I will live in a neighborhood that I can actually WALK to things. to get my nails done. To the fucking pub. There’s a bus that rolls right into the city and puts me a 15 minute walk from the office. Did I mention that my boyfriend will be right across the street?

It’s all good, when I orient myself correctly. And then in a year… on to the next adventure. Not into the suburbs.

Arlington is farther away that I thought I’d ever want to be. Moving into the city 4 years ago, even if it was the same city my entire life has been situated around since junior high, still felt like escape, or elevation of a sort. In some ways I feel like I failed by never moving away. Never lived in another city, or another country. Getting to DC at least it was different. Less than an hour but still enveloped by an entire lifestyle that seemed more _real_.

I expect to spend a lot of time weighing how I feel about this to evaluate that next step… wherever it goes.

So You’re Getting a Divorce?

The heart wants what it wants. Ha. I googled it – Emily Dickinson. That’s something that no one tells you. That it can happen. That you can be perfectly content or distractedly content, or in some sinister state of utter denial –  too busy, or dishonest or scared to stop and clean off the lens so you have an accurate picture of where you are. And then something will happen.

You will be standing in the shower and realize that you’re about to initiate a conversation that you’ve had before but it feels different, truer somehow. You’ll send another email, you’ll both agree that while you’re happy that things are not perfect, and actually they’re far from ideal. And you’ll agree that you both want things to change and that the impasse is because you’re both stumped about what to do, which feels true when you say it, but another part of you that is sort of slowly waking up … is calling bullshit on that. That’s only part of the truth. The other part of the truth is that there is a solution but it’s utter destruction. A truth that’s existed far longer than it’s been acknowledged as viable. Ofcourse that’s always an option. Start over. But you can maintain what you have, and part of you really wants to sustain that, solve it, refine it and continue to believe that it’s something that can survive. You built your life entirely around one other person. They’re your family and interwoven through every element of your life. Why would you change that? Deliberately inflict so much pain, invite chaos, alienate yourself, leave yourself without the family you chose, quite possibly end up alone. Who does that?

You do. That’s you. You took the lid off this Pandora’s box and it was this uncontrollable unraveling. Could not un-do it. You wanted to lie. To yourself, to him, to everyone. Because it would have protected you and meant you weren’t walking away from the life you’d built to completely start over.  You knew you would do it. You just had to slowly turn around and face it.

It’s been like tearing apart the worst onion. Ripping off layers. Yes, your marriage is over. And when you’ve been with someone for nine years you’re breaking up with everything. Your spouse, your life, your routines and comforts. Ripping off an endless series of bandaids. Tell your family, tell your friends, wait to be judged, hated, pitied. Relieved because work is new enough that you can hide there, smile, try to just enjoy being in a good spot with smart and interesting people. The previously perceived source of stress (new title, new responsibilities, surrounded by brilliance and intensity, trying not to fail) is usurped by the utter insanity of the complete unfamiliarity of the rest of your life. There is nothing to prepare you for waking up every day and feeling this crushing sadness, panic, resignation.

You go home and realize that no one is coming back. You don’t own a hair dryer any more. You gave up your car. You really need to remember not to take the trash into the alleyway at 11 p.m. because there’s no one there to look for you if you get jumped and you’ve been gone for 30 minutes. You stop wearing your wedding rings. You realize you have a fridge full of groceries for two people and a life that no longer exists. For awhile every day you have these moments of abject terror. It’s been weeks since you’ve been able to eat normally, waiting until you’re starving to even try because you’re not sure you can choke anything down. You’re already full… of this pulsing sense of anxiety. What the fuck are you doing and each day that passes you realize that it’s harder and harder to go back, to undo the path you’ve put yourself on. Until you realize that your worst fears, that you got it wrong, that any smug sense of success you felt about how you’d “won” your life was delusional. That the thing you thought was the worst possible thing, your permanent partnership ending, was already happening, and you weren’t so broken that you couldn’t continue. You realize that you knew that there was no permanence to anything, that you, like everyone else were measuring something with a set of rules that made no sense at all. Success was not, IS NOT, finding a single person and making it work forever. The cultural and social forces that sold the entire western world on that notion are assholes.You feel vaguely foolish for ever thinking you got anything right.

But you feel guilt for feeling brave. It’s not really confidence if you truly feel that you have no option save for starting over. That’s where the reality lives. You can want, to want something, but there is no bridging the gap to make that true if your heart has already decided it’s not about the work. It’s not that you wouldn’t work, if there was something to work for but it’s like a fire that’s already gone out, you can’t bury it in more fuel if there’s nothing left that will ignite. You have the memory of the warmth and the feelings of all of the experience that existed before it went out, you remember that it had kept you warm but not anymore. Not because someone stamped it out, or dumped water on it.  It burned up what was there and turned it to ash and before you knew it that blaze you already carried around was chewing through fuel you didn’t realize you were feeding it but it was a completely different fire.

Oh hey.

I realize running in the middle of the brutal heat of the day is not the BEST idea but really it’s not the worst either.  I need to exercise. Yes I miss the gym, yes I miss the sportsing but that’s neither here nor there.

Your heart is a muscle, if you allow it to sit unused and atrophy you can expect to live less or not as well or hey maybe you will have a myocardial infarction (that phrase makes me laugh, it sounds like a joke a kid might make. infarction) and die anyway, but at least you were doing something about it.

I read something, somewhere… Buzzfeed, twitter, a generic inspirational article generator that you need to view certain things (dishes, exercise, your damn laundry) as one of those things you just _do_. You don’t have to love it. Brushing your teeth, drinking water, getting enough sleep that you don’t feel weepy or homicidal. Exercise is one of those. It’s a thing to complete as a human being who is making an effort to live a decent life.

I made myself a Google checklist that is going to pop up every day. It reads like a weird haiku or the worst and least explanatory list ever made.

Stretch
Write
Exercise
Declutter
Art
Snuggle
Hydrate
Read

And I feel like any day I can do ALL of those things, is a good day. So today when I had time because I am lucky enough to work from home I turned my bad mood into a really good day by getting the fuck over myself, ignoring my hunger and going outside to run at 12:30 and I’m halfway through that list for today and it’s already better.

Just Another Day

I squeezed the tip of my left thumb mercilessly before I remembered that I had spent the previous day elbow deep in Old Bay coated crustaceans. It was not a splinter, it was a small crab-inflicted puncture. Oops. My hands take a lot of abuse. Relentless washing to fend off large-scale office cooties. Hours coated in clay. Dishes. Keyboards. Scrolling. Flipping pages.

Friday Happy Hour, dinner on the town, home in a stranger’s car for an early night. Two glasses of wine flattened me. Why do people drink? It’s fun for an hour and then I just want it to go away. Up early, breakfast, hours of pottery. Someone delivers decent tacos to my house now. It was hard to leave. Took a nap, played video games, watched a movie. Lazy days at home with the Mr. are some of my favorites.

Sunday we slept in, made breakfast, went for a short hike in the nearby park we’ve never managed to visit in nearly 3 years since moving into our place. We grabbed salads, showers, I chopped fruit, sat outside in the woods with friends and future friends to eat crabs and drink beer and hang out. Happy summer. Man, I wish I had a yard. Spent a good 30 minutes looking up into the trees at a bard owl. So cool. Got to pet lots of dogs, talk to  people, eat more food than is reasonable. Bailed on the second party, too tired. Again with the drinking, I really don’t like it. Trying not to fall asleep at 9 p.m. is a real thing.

Monday! A bonus day. To clean and relax and wonder if I can fit an entire apartment of stuff into our bedroom for a new floor. Popcorn for late lunch was totally unintentional, trip to the grocery store, sorting through books, killing monsters on the xbox. I could relive this day several times. It means a lot of time in my pajamas with my forehead pressed against his making stupid jokes and hanging out. I already know I will miss things like this at some point. My personal anxiety is trying not to preemptively miss them.  Sad for things that will be gone that have yet to occur.

It’s been two months since our bedroom water explosion. Sorting through stuff feels not unlike moving, but we’re not going anywhere. I hammered people with email this morning. Waiting. Waiting on the insurance company, waiting on the condo association, waiting on the flooring guy(s). It’s going to cost more than the insurance company will give us for what we want. How much more? At this point the pain is less about the money than it is about the status of purgatory. Stuck. It’s exasperating to send email after email and hear, I’m sorry I’m so busy, etc… these are all people who are paid, people I pay, condo dues or insurance I’ve invested money for a service that right now, is fucking useless to me. I don’t even necessarily expect to hear good news, I just need information. It’s been two fucking months. I can’t put anything away. My bedroom smells like mildew. I have a bunch of crap that I need to rent a truck to haul off to a dumpster. Speaking of which, if my insurance company didn’t suck they should probably be paying for that shit.

My stomach is pissed, fucking alcohol and fucking wheat. Why did I eat that shit. My knees hurt. Garbage complaints. Remember. No one is sick, or dying. Enjoy that nice car and the hipster office and your husband. Go home, do some yoga and make some dinner with your overpriced groceries. Try not to let this petty shit eat at you. You have no real problems. You had free lunch today courtesy of work. Crank some Slayer in those earbuds on the bus and keep moving. Write your stupid blog post on your laptop. Consume. Obey!

Meat suit.

I sat on the floor last night and my knee ached. I can’t sit cross-legged with both legs equidistant from the floor, it’s like a wire pulled taught. It’s not always the case but I think the 7 miles of hiking the previous day may have had something to do with it, or the cheeseburger. Wheat and I don’t always get along. Joint inflammation, bullshit.

When I was 19 I drove around in my first car, empty Mountain Dew cans rolling around in the back seat, smoking menthol cigarettes, sleeping 6 hours running on stimulants at 120 lbs of furious energy. I was tiny and intense. Like a thin wire vibrating with current.

Before I get in bed I try to remember to smear a thin layer of vaseline over my eyes so this tiny spot of rogue eyelid eczema doesn’t reappear. It’s not on both eyes but why tempt fate. The non-steroid medication I have from the dermatologist makes my skin burn like it’s on fire from the inside. It’s a great sensation so close to your eyes. Eyes that randomly water, so once every few weeks I’m holding a steaming hot washcloth to my eyeball to make sure my tear ducts do what they’re supposed to. Maybe it’s the lasik? Or hey, apparently the warm memory I have of my grandfather always carrying around a handkerchief was not because it was a classic gentleman thing to keep in your pocket but was, in part, because he had perpetually watering eyes. I wonder if no one told him about the washcloth trick. I remember he and my Grandma used to sit on the floor with us, I’ve seen it in old family VHS tapes. I wonder if he ever got old enough for that to be too hard. He died right after his 65th birthday so I hope not.

Suddenly 65 seems so young I want to grasp my entire life with both hands and never let go.

Waking up every day knowing that some part of this body will ail me, a twinge in my neck, a slightly upset stomach, an aching knee. Never anything intolerable but like a quiet pulse of mortality. My body is wearing, irreversibly. Another day older and closer to death. Is it fucking scary to read that? Sure it is. But only because it’s like a bucket of ugly truth water in your face. We are dying. By tiny degrees. Slower, less efficient. The peak of your physicality behind you, it’s where that lovely sardonic expression “youth is wasted on the young” comes from. That learned knowledge of just how fleeting and ephemeral everything about being human is. You change the oil and maintain the tire pressure and wax the whole thing but it’s still going to fall apart, require tune ups, eventually be a still hulking rusted shell. Parked.

I try to get 8 hours of sleep, if I don’t for more than a few days I start to feel broken. Emotional, unable to handle the more complex mental tasks that involve working, living, acting like a sane functional human being. I gave up sugar in my coffee with the occasional deviation. With my weight the highest it’s ever been pushing me from medium to large in clothes in a sick combination of vanity sizing and actual sizing reality, I try to be selective about where I throw sugar into my face. If I got to choose where that extra padding went perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. If I eat poorly for an entire day my lower abdomen inflates like a balloon and my digestive system typically stages a riotous protest for 12 to 24 hours. It makes me tired and hungry and annoyed. Vegetables, they’re friends.

I try to drink 2 liters of water every day. Sometimes that water comes from coffee, or kombucha or flavored mineral water. If I’m being evil it’s ginger ale or strong sugary tea but that’s rare. Alcohol in anything more than tame dinner party quantities has the potential to eat into both the quality or mere existence of the next day. An actual hangover is a punishing and frustrating affair that feels like throwing my precious and most valuable commodity into the toilet, my free time. The relief only truly arriving after 24 hours of “system” processing and another round of blissful sleep.

Sometimes I have issues with sciatica, usually if I’ve forgone exercise for too long. I’ve had the same knee surgically repaired twice, by and large it feels good. Sometimes I really miss soccer but the prospect of yet another surgery and the trauma of 6 months of rehab is just too significant of a hurdle, it’s humbling to realize that something you once enjoyed is beyond your reach. I guess age does equal wisdom in this instance, thinking about a third major ligament injury feels like inviting long term disaster. I like hiking and walking and running and generally being able to use my legs. I take the stairs whenever I can, two stints of crutches really drive home an appreciation for mobility that I try to be mindful of.

Mercifully I still sleep well and without difficulty. Camping in insane weather with my beloved but loud-snoring spouse notwithstanding I can sleep when I want to and insomnia is a demon that has never visited it’s suffering upon me.

When I’m outside exposed I coat my entire body in sunscreen, repeatedly. Skin cancer is not an obscure punchline anymore. I’m glad my forays into the land of the tanning bed were short lived, now my idea of color is just more tattoos. As my skin texture changes the incentive to decorate grows, it’s my party and I’ll color it if I want to.

Before I go to bed every night I eat two biotin gummies, who knows if it’s working but they’re like candy and I like having thicker hair, my nails are an afterthought because I’m always hacking them off to keep them out of my way on the pottery wheel. I dissolve a sublingual b-12 under my tongue and swallow: a capsule of turmeric, probiotic, vitamin d, fish oil and just introduced magnesium into the mix. If I add anything else I don’t think I’ll be able to get the whole lot down in a single mouthful.

Last month I finally had a troublesome tooth dealt with: root canal, temporary crown, permanent crown. It was creepy to feel that tooth ground down to a little nub and the permanent crown is this smooth alien object in my mouth, like a polished stone that I can tell is foreign when I run my tongue over it. My original equipment has started with small failings. It made me uneasy when I thought too hard about it … but like most changes it’s already faded to a footnote in the larger narrative of living.

When I wake up the idea of leaving the house without concealer is no longer an option. Being told you look tired gets really old after the 4th or 5th polite inference. I get it. Thanks. So I shower and shave and pluck and moisturize and perfume. Generally unless it’s freezing or special I don’t bother to blowdry. Special leave in conditioner for my hair so it’s not a scratchy pile of hay and now I’m up to three products to fill in my thinning eyebrows so I don’t look like a sleepy mole-faced ghost.

Beauty is fleeting and time consuming. And less and less meaningful. The chase is on. Hopefully with age the appetite for vanity wanes and my gaze shifts farther outwards and inwards. To what’s inside and to everyone else. House of cards, castle on sand, etc… No sense is driving yourself into frustration for a thing that will be increasingly elusive. Appearance pales in favor of function.

I just want to FEEL well and BE HERE and holy hell FUCK ALL THE REST. I know so many beautiful unhappy people.  I just want to be engrossed and enlightened and engaged. How I look doing that is a currency I don’t want to spend too much time managing.

I refuse.

I don’t know – but that’s ok.

I don’t know where it’s coming from. Actually that’s inaccurate, it’s always kicking around upstairs, it’s just a matter of taking time to giving voice to what I’m thinking. I want to tread the careful barrier between usefully “blowholing” and thinking critically and writing as a useful form of self-evaluation and analysis, versus turning garden variety normal human stress into a giant mountain of oppressive bullshit.

Transition does this to people. It’s normal. Talking about it is normal. Thinking about it a lot is normal. Notice I didn’t say too much because really what is too much if you’re not walking face-first into a legitimate self-inflicted disorder.

I am in such a heavy engineering environment. I am out of my element but with each new job I guess I sift through the contents of my professional career and ask myself, what is my element? I mean how am I rounding the bend towards 40 and still completely up in the air about what I want to be doing. I have a decent length of professional continuity but in hindsight it feels like an accident. “And you may ask yourself, how did I get here?”  I feel like I’ve done things “right” atleast in protecting myself from ruin or having too disjointed of a resume. I put myself through school. I made what I wanted professionally happen. I used my skills and experience and education and found a way to marry those things into a path that so far, I have enjoyed. In hindsight it’s kind of amazing to me that I was able to actually do this. It seemed really abstract and complicated when I graduated 7 years ago. I feel like I decided to do something and was actually able to exert my will over the outcome. It’s kind of a big deal to me when I stop to savor it.

So without rehashing all of the crap I was rambling to M about last night basically I find myself in a new situation. It drives me to a lot of questions about the things I’m learning, what the motivation is, if I’m wired correctly for the type of environment I find myself in, if any of that even matters.

At times I miss my old job, but not because it was good AT ALL (parts of it were good, I feel like I did make the best of it and learned a lot…), only because it was familiar and I felt capable and confident about what I was doing, what I knew and my ability to contribute. It’s just that outside of the actual “work” it was a totally poisonous, negative, terrible environment. I am *very* glad to find myself in a situation now where the vast majority of my energy and thought and the stress I deal with is related to the “work” I’m learning about and how to do things and NOT on the mountain of politics and personal bullshit that seemed to completely overtake my last job. It was so unbelievably exhausting to be in that environment and have so little of your time spent on the work that you were supposed to be doing.

I guess the “key takeaway” from this ramble, for me ….is to stop beating myself up for not knowing what I don’t know. The people who hired me knew this. I did not falsely represent myself, my intelligence or my abilities. Not knowing how to code or the lingo or having the same background as the technical people here does not make me dumb or less capable. It has nothing to do with me being an intellectual equal. I am a smart capable person who has always found a way to thrive in any job I’ve found. I make friends, I make a point to be an asset, I learn things quickly (yes even on this large and varied of a scope) and I will be a useful and valuable member of the “team” so to speak once I have a better idea of what I’m doing. It does me and the people around me a huge disservice to spend any time disparaging myself for not knowing things. There isn’t anything wrong with that and I have got to stop thinking of it that way.

I have NEVER been the type of person who would want to waste time lying about my abilities or knowledge to save face, because I wanted to look knowledgeable, that’s stupid and unhelpful and will only be a wall between me and actually learning anything. What a sad self-defeating way to operate.

I can only be patient with myself and with the so far, really friendly and helpful people around me. The rest of all these large existential questions can wait. I’m enjoying it, I will learn things. There may be no massive lightbulb moment of “this is what I want to do exactly” and that’s ok. It’s ok that I don’t know. Everyone has to start from somewhere.