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!!!

 

 

 

 

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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.

Devil’s in the details

I had a great weekend. Somehow psychologically I have a weird need to do a variety of things to feel like my weekend was useful. Type A weirdness variety but between pottery and errands and then spending the evening visiting with friends. Sunday was an early morning to meet my Mom and my nephew for breakfast and a hike and then stopping for groceries on the way home. Suddenly napping for two hours afterwards didn’t feel wasteful and indulgent because I felt like I’d spent the time so well. It’s a stupid set of rules to impose on myself but I can’t seem to help from doing it. Ever mindful of the passage of time and wanting to feel like I’m spending this finite and invaluable currency well. It’s an admirable goal, I just want to avoid cultivating some sort of anxious neurosis.

Today I’m working from home. Admittedly because as I’m still learning things at my new job I am in a place where I’m not terribly knowledgeable or productive so I knew today would be slow. I feel this weird guilt gnawing at my thoughts because I want to be doing more but I’m not great with abstracts in this context. I could “read up” on the topics related to my new gig but that seems … sort of like time wasting. Which I’m not a big fan of. So I try not to actively worry too much that I”m not pulling my weight and also try to steer clear of being pointless defensive about being accused of not doing anything. I’m proactive about asking for work and offering to help and beyond that I can’t do much more, I don’t want to be a nuisance about helping. I’m often left wondering how many PTSD symptoms I have from my previous gig. Such an epic heap of paranoia and negativity I imagine it will be months before I finally shed the full weight of the baggage.

If I spend too much time thinking about it, atleast right now it feels weird and potentially cyclically damaging. Like… my life is great overall. I had an excellent weekend, I have a great job, spending all of my time wondering about the impermanence of this job, my life, my overall existence is quite literally HELPING NOTHING. It changes nothing. It accomplishes … NOTHING. So I shouldn’t do it. What I should do is be grateful and try to enjoy my life. That I’m at home in pajamas and I’m not super busy. That will come. I am smart and capable and even if the absolute worst thing happens and I get fired because they decide I am stupid and useless and unnecessary (which typing it out here seems ridiculous) I would STILL be ok.  I would live. I would find another job and journey my way back to sanity and stability. I can only do what I can do.

This weekend I spent great time with friends and family. I called my Dad. I bought a gift to thank a neighbor that’s been really helpful.

I am safe and healthy and can quite literally do anything I want. I think I just need somewhere to say it outloud and remember. And oh YEAH I went running and my knees and legs hurt but I didn’t die. So there.

Let me go back to sucking it up and not being such an enormous dumbass about everything.