Year 40. Day 1.

I woke up. Brushed my teeth, puttered around. Picked up coffee and breakfast and drove to the park. The latte I finished en route and I ate most of a protein box in the car.  And then I went hiking by myself. Which… unless you count my exercise runs in the woods I’ve never done.

Matthew Inman (creator of the Oatmeal cartoon) wrote a thoughtful missive on the confusing and pointless idea of continuous permanent happiness. That’s how I interpreted it anyway. It’s not a destination you arrive at. Or a fucking journey either. The idea that you’re in this achievable stasis of contentment is just… wrong. It’s a recipe for frustrated failure that completely abandons the idea of nuance.

I am not always happy. Fuck, in the course of a single day the range of emotions I can, or may experience would read like a seizure of brain activity.

I think my goal for being 40 is just acceptance.  And by that I don’t mean passivity. I mean that for me there will never be enough. If I get hit by a car and lie bleeding in the street tomorrow, my dominant emotion will be frustrated rage, because I want more and it’s not enough time.  But what I realized when I laid with the arms of the person I’ve waited most of my life to be with riding out the last minutes of my thirties, is that… that same statement will probably still be just as true if I were 80. So I have to learn to take moments of satiety and accept that those are enough. I can’t use the word satisfaction, that doesn’t sound transient enough. I will feel… in moments, fulfilled. Not perpetually. Not as a single thing of achievement. Just here and there. And that sometimes I feel frustrated with the struggle to achieve, or to nail down what it is that I feel like I “should” be doing.  Not for anyone else, or record keeping, or comparison. Just… true attunement to the frequency I run on. That I have given myself enough fuel and space and input to know what it is that feels valuable and meaningful to me. To stop and pay attention to myself and go into the woods or read or write to listen to music and remember what I’m supposed to be doing.  Create. Thrive. Adapt. Struggle. Suffer if I have to, at least if the pain is part of intelligent growth, in pursuit of something meaningful. Because it won’t all be glorious joy, it can’t be.  Acceptance of the fact that the elation is always the counterpoint on the pendulum to sadness, grief, stress, struggle. And none of things are bad. They just are.

The kind of pain that’s pointless is the stupid external measurements and restrictions you apply to yourself that are part of a system or idea or goal that isn’t something self identified.  WHY are you doing what you’re doing? Is it for you? What purpose does it serve? If the struggle is truly in pursuit to be your own person it matters, it will have results you won’t feel frustrated by or stress that isn’t just an irritating pointless wave.

I need to spend more time deliberating. To… Exercise. Write. Read.

The end of my marriage was the start of something. The universe answering a question I spent a long time figuring out how to ask. Here’s a milestone birthday. Use your one lifetime wisely.  Weather the unexpected with as much patience and grace as you’re able, forgive yourself when things don’t go exactly as you planned. Chase the things you want. Love big. Leap, push, grow and don’t stop to look around to wonder what anyone else things about what you’re doing.  Don’t waste the time, because you can’t ever get it back.

Live. Live. Live!  because you’re eventually going to fucking die!

Advertisements

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.

The Joys of Adulting

Tuesday   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

First day of summer it’s like the DC Elder gods heard us. It’s the kind of oppressive heat that starts early early in the morning and is only appropriate and pleasurable if you’re in a caftan with a good buzz anticipating a visit to a body of water within the near future.

Walking to get coffee, riding the bus to work, being outside FOR any reason that is not to travel between air-conditioned boxes is so unpleasant. I can’t even. But here it is. Season of my birth, which hey when I don’t have to worry about my appearance (by worry I mean not be a sweating nasty mess) is fiiiine. Otherwise this is when moving to Norway or Iceland or Maine seems like a swell idea. So that’s the small talk out of the way.
I feel better than yesterday. In fact I didn’t even feel bad all of yesterday, it’s rare that a single mood dominates an entire waking day in my life but I imagine that’s true for anyone. Work being slow and not keeping me occupied but at the same time requiring that I can’t tune it out to tackle other things leaves me in a weird limbo.
I started back on reading the book I’ve had (took a break over the weekend), it’s Joe Hill’s latest (the Fireman) and so far I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s end of the world stuff, one of my favorite genres. I think largely because that sort of scenario creates such a fertile landscape for the best and worst of people and resonates with my constant thoughts about focusing on things in life that really matter. Death, chaos, and hardship serve as irrefutable elements to forcing people into shedding whatever bullshit they surround themselves with and get to the core of who and what matters to them, or they unravel like poorly made dolls but it’s a thought-provoking spectacle in either case. 1984, Anthem, Oryx & Crake, Dogstars, The Stand, Hunger Games, Brave New World, The Road, The Girl With All the Gifts, Blindness, Hyperion and on and on and on.

Riding the bus to work today was the variation of experience where I am calm about being in the middle of the diverse crush of humanity. Sometimes it’s less than thrilling.

Today (Wednesday)

Things went slowly downhill yesterday. I left work on time and got home and got everything moving for my ideal evening. Sweet potatoes in the oven, cleaned up a bit, found the yoga series I wanted to start doing on YouTube, sat down on the couch to read and wait for M to get home.  He calls and let’s me know at almost 6 that he’s just leaving work… I’m disappointed but it’s not a big deal. The rain kicks in for a real show and then the fun begins. Water starts pouring through the existing hole in the ceiling and walls from our first major issue back in the first week of May.

I scramble to get the sheets and blankets off our bed. Email our HOA president. Grab pots and pans and towels. We ended up sitting on the floor picnic style to eat dinner and just chill. Nothing else happened. No yoga, no little household chores. Stupid bullshit with this condo eats up another evening.

Today we already had an appointment to have the leak source assessed and I’ve been planning to work from home. M took the day off and the damage assessment guy is early but really nice. Says to him the cause is obvious (gutter and downspout and masonry issues.) You can even see the dark streak along the building where the water has been permeating the masonry. I can’t help but feel that our condo people and insurance spent all this time delaying because they were hoping it was a cheaper problem. At this point I don’t care. It’s been almost two months. Now I have ANOTHER insurance claim open because these additional damages have to be dealt with separately. The water mitigation people came back and I have industrial fans in my room and MORE missing drywall and insulation. At least this time they were able to just tear off the pieces of nasty smelly carpet that were damaged.  Now we’re out $1000 so far in insurance deductibles.

And to top it off the tasks I’m getting into at work now are more complex. I am feeling intimidated and overwhelmed with the amount of new things to learn. I feel like I should have been a developer for the last 10 years to understand half of this. I know my current negatively swayed emotional state is not helping matters but this entire day has felt like an enormous trial.

I just want my apartment put back together. Keeping things clean an organized here lends itself to my overall feeling of sanity and control. I realize it’s fake and illusory but not having it is really making this entire shit show worse.

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.