Such a perfect day…

This last week was rough, but I think I’m turning a corner. Yesterday I got some writing done, went on a six mile hike at the Devil’s Backbone, and in spite of being stuck within the same four walls for a couple months, I chewed up those miles with hardly a blister on my foot to show for it. Let’s face it, not many of us have been treating our bodies very well on this lockdown. Too much drinking. Too much sleep. Not enough sleep. Junk food from take out places, or eating a bag of Chips Ahoy! for two out of three meals for a few days. Coffee. Lots and lots of it.

I’m slowly getting healthy again. I’m at the anger phase of grief. And just about done with that horseshit. I’m down to one season of Peaky Blinders. I had an apple for lunch yesterday and felt great! My son came back early today. According to the emails, it was to make up the week he stayed at his mom’s for “quarantine.” I informed her that her math was bad. One day doesn’t equal seven. She of course didn’t like that I pointed that out. Anyway, I picked my son up at 9am today. We started the day off with coffee, then just got settled in. I think he was happy to get away from the chaos. Apparently my seventeen year old daughter flunked the 11th Grade and will need to do summer school to avoid retaking the year. According to my son, his mom “just snapped” and actually spanked her.

I wonder who is going to call CPS on her for that? Oh, that’s right, nobody, because she is the one making the calls. If she can’t even agree that one day doesn’t equal six, and believes this, I’m sure there is a way she is justifying spanking a 200lb almost-adult. Cluster B should be renamed Cluster F. DSMs should be mandatory before all marriages too. Just sayin’. It’s a stupid thought anyway. As awful as spanking a 17 year old sounds, she’s still a minor, and it’s still allowed. It’s pathetic and won’t accomplish anything, but yeah, laying hands on someone when you’ve “lost it” has solved many problems in the past. I guess my kid just reallllly wanted some negative attention. And she got it.

Anyway, that’s their problem. That’s the relationship they have cultivated, and this is why I try to make my home a place of calm and words when we are frustrated. I made my therapist laugh the other day when I said things like this are their “love language.” She said she had often thought about writing a book of dysfunctional love languages for just such a reason.

Today I cleaned the dishwasher. It had gotten full of gunk and wasn’t cleaning the dishes right anymore. That was a few hours worth of work, putting my hand in all sorts of disgusting sludge, and watching YouTube videos on how to do it the best way. It works so much better now.

I went grocery shopping, then I did some laundry. Made dinner (ramen with some broiled steak slices and garlic) and then we went on a walk around campus. My son ran through the sprinklers, his favorite summer pastime, and I got another four miles in today. My legs are screaming. But we did see a pair of great horned owls on the roof of the gym. We startled one out of a tree just a few feet from us. Owls are so cool because you cannot hear their wings when they fly.

It was nice to just see people out on walks, instead of last night’s viewing of idiot college kids at parties playing Beer Pong. Sure, that’s sanitary!

It’s all about the simple things. Taking each day as it comes and not letting things bother you if you can help it. Exercise helps. Hopefully I can get over the insomnia soon. I have much work to do in the next few months. I’m sure if I stopped to think about it enough, I would scare myself silly, thinking about how I’m going to live writing full-time.

This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Might as well give it my best shot!

(I am trying to be hopeful. Really, I am fucking terrified.)

Hangover

Yesterday I got a lot of writing done. I started off the day a little late, after beating myself up most of the day before. You might not know it to read my last post, but things were not good. I had a few deadlines which would have been due today at 2pm, but first I had to take care of some other things.

I visited with my therapist for an hour and got some things lined out. It will probably be my last session for a while. She is very helpful, in spite of it just being over the phone due to social distancing. According to her, a lot of the thoughts whizzing through my head are attributed to grief. Grief over my relationship, my work, and even the general grief many of us are experiencing due to the pandemic. The world is changing and like it or not, we are mourning the loss of how things were before. It just sucks.

After that, I went to my doctor for my yearly physical. She was not happy that with the end of my job I wouldn’t have medical insurance with them…possibly indefinitely. She is a really good doc and has an excellent bedside manner. I discussed a lot of things that are going on, and she pretty much echoed what my therapist had said: Stress. Nearly all of my concerns were stress related and she couldn’t blame me one bit for any of them. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

I wrote a personal blog post, and then I sat down to write one of my paid posts. I decided I would write it and then do the second that was due today when I woke up in the morning. I got it outlined and then a regular client dropped three on me, which I did in the interim. I ate some food, made some coffee and finished the big assignment. I watched a couple episodes of Peaky Blinders. Made dinner. Drank a cider. Read a little. And my brain would not shut up. It was midnight when I crawled into bed and my heart was just going. So, I figured I might as well put the time to good use.

I got up, wrote the next big post from start to finish, and had the whole thing done before 2am. My brain would not shut up.

So I took a melatonin and before long, I was watching patterns ebb and flow in my vision even though my eyes were closed. My brain would not shut up. I fell asleep around 3am. Then I woke up at about 4:30am. My brain still just going and going. I fell asleep and woke up again at 6:30, then 8:30. Then I finally dragged ass out of bed at 10:45am. My head was pounding.

I managed somehow to drive to get coffee. That part is a little foggy. I got home, paid some bills, and made a hamburger. I am not a happy camper, and I blame stress, as well as melatonin. I feel the effects of that even now. I feel drugged, in spite of the caffeine I have been mainlining since I got up. Part of me also wonders if I’m not going through FaceBook withdrawals. I am 36 hours clean right now. When your doc and your shrink both tell you social media is bad for you, it’s beneficial to listen to them.

There has got to be a better way. Eventually, I hope, my brain will give me some damned peace and quiet. Until then, I plan on taking a nap. This evening, I hope to work on the book some more.

The Glass is Half Full

Yesterday was a rough day. I’m struggled with the idea of putting these words down, mostly because even though this is a personal blog, I get a lot of traffic from other sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Why I chose to list a personal blog on an employment site is beyond me. After all, so much about getting a J-O-B is telling an employer what they want to hear.

In my case what I want an employer to SEE is that I am a writer. I don’t pull punches. My work is honest. This is my voice. That is what a writer should be. Open up the veins and bleed onto the page, like Hemingway used to say. Easy as that. But these days, people only want to hear what they want. Things that will make them feel secure in their decisions, ways that will allow them to sleep better at night.

I’m sleeping for shit.

If you are a prospective client, you’ll notice that sentence was in the active voice. Your SEO checker on your website would be pleased. But I would also hope you know too that SEO bots don’t know everything. They know absolutely nothing about the human condition.

Yesterday, all my problems were right in my face

Yesterday was hard because I’m dealing with the confluence of many problems. Getting my writing off the ground, dealing with a week without my son at home, grieving the loss of what felt like a really good relationship, and of course a layoff. I have been officially unemployed for over a week now. It isn’t much different from the preceding four weeks where a giant workstation occupied my kitchen table and I would log in a few times a day to fight fires. Only now I can eat my meals at the table without a computer in my face.

If you are one of my friends who is reading this, you might have noticed I am off FaceBook. I pulled the plug last night. One of the reasons I kept with it as long as I did was to promote my blog and podcast posts. FakeBook is social media at its worst. I have railed about this plenty of times, but I will sum up what it wrong with it in a nice bulleted list:

  • It’s bullshit: People put a false image of what their lives are and that is what we are supposed to believe.
  • Algorithms don’t give a fuck about you: Out of those 300+ “Friends” on your list, why is it you only see posts from about 20 of them? The rest of the content you are scrolling through for literally hours every day is put there to take money out of your pocket and put it into someone else’s. It’s mostly ads or videos that get paid for the number of clicks. Your information is scoured for data everyday and that is all you will see in return. It’s the echo-chamber effect. Why do you think that the dogmas of the political parties have gotten so much worse? Or why any dissention against the coronavirus pandemic are dealt with in such polarized ways? Look up “Garbage in/Garbage out.”
  • It’s lonely: Seeing the happy lives of others, even if it is fake, doesn’t make you feel any better about yourself. The serotonin drip from instant gratification of every like, heart, care, etc. etc. is there to keep you maintaining. The isolation you find yourself in every time you logon is there to promote scarcity. If you have been in an unhealthy relationship, you’ll know that withholding affection is actually a good way to get someone to try to cling tighter to you. Dole out a little approval and they will keep trying. The situation works exactly the same with lab rats and training circus animals. Only in that case, they respond better to food.

The risks and the gains

By dropping off FakeBook, I risk losing a lot of readers. But, I also get several hours of my day back. I can put that to better uses, such as writing, and actually socializing when this lockdown is in the past. As it stands, I only had a handful of readers come through from FakeBook anyway. Most of the time they would scroll right past my blog links or just “like” them. Writers actually like to be read. It’s frustrating to be a writer these days. I guess I will find out who genuinely follows my blog, and who just likes to scroll in the upcoming weeks.

At this shitstorm of depression, uncertainty, and isolation, I’ve had a hell of a time being motivated to do much of anything. Some mornings I have to will myself to get out of bed, brush my teeth, get showered, and anything else that used to just be a part of my daily routine. Gone are the evening phonecalls with my girlfriend, which were wonderful at helping my mind wind down, which have now been replaced with a sense of mistrust and scepticism for anyone saying that they are “all in.” Gone are the good morning texts. Gone are the regular paychecks that ensure I won’t starve to death–even if the work was at a minimum and hardly fulfilling.

My coping mechanisms have been absent as well. I used to work out several times a week, and I have to say that 40 minutes on an eliptical is as good as a therapy session for burning that stress out of your mind. Trips to the store to buy healthy foods whenever I wanted to are now a hassle. It’s fat and flour, stuff out of a box, and to-go orders for the last two months. Garbage in. Garbage out. You can’t be mentally healthy with junk food fueling your body. I have lost weight though, mostly because I have been living off coffee and not eating meals a lot of the time.

Wiggle your big toe…

Routine is important because it gives us structure. Humans need structure as much as affection, and new experiences. It has been an uphill battle to brush my teeth, eat, and exercise, much less write, build websites, or record podcasts. It helps to set goals, no matter how small or nearby. I will get up. I will brush my teeth. I will shower. I will do the dishes. I will return that phone call. I will get coffee. I will take the next breath. I will put one foot in front of the other. And so on…

I’m tired of distracting myself with empty things. Because when things are empty, you are filling them with what little you have left in your tank. Right now, I have things that need to be done. I think it’s pretty telling when you talk to your doctor and your therapist about getting off social media and both of them say “Good!” I got less flack from my doctor about cigars than I did FaceBook. Though I did get flack.

Anyway, I have a lot of work to do. If you are interested in my progress, bookmark my site, because I won’t be posting links on FaceBook anymore unless it somehow does it automatically to a closed page or account.