Today is what you make it

I’m keeping my butt firmly planted at home today. Yesterday I took a day for self-care. I drove to Glenwood Springs and sat around in my favorite hotsprings for a few hours. I visited with all sorts of interesting people, had conversations, and got my peopling in for the week.

Where I live is a little isolated. I don’t get out of the house much sometimes, since I’m usually working or the weather sucks, so yesterday I fought my escalating agoraphobia and left my dog with my folks for the day. She’s in heat and doesn’t want to be stuck in a car all day. I thought I might just deal with that kind of thing twice a year, but it hasn’t been that great for her, so I’ll probably be getting her fixed.

Hot springs are often some of those places I go when I need some sort of spiritual reset. I was in need of one this week. My drive back home was long and probably undid a lot of the relaxation I accomplished visiting with Polish tourists, Long Island university employees, Columbia grads, newly hatched flight attendants, musicians, and various sundry other people I encountered. I went to bed with a splitting headache, probably from sinuses or dehydration or eye strain or something.

On the drive, I sang with the playlists, I enjoyed the winding mountain roads. I thought of the other times I had taken that drive. Unfortunately when I got to Glenwood, I went into a panic attack. I know this might sound stupid to people, but when I get them, it’s not some dramatic thing. For me, it just means that my mind wandered and set off some weird irregular heartbeat thing that lasts for about twenty minutes. My extremities go numb, fingers get tingly, I have chest pains sometimes, and I have to just get through it. Sometimes I don’t even know what causes them. So, when people tell you they have these things, try to show a little compassion. They suck and if someone is really getting them, they don’t want them, they aren’t going to use them for attention. They just want them to stop.

Today, I plan on working on the book. These long drives might seem nutty to those unfamiliar with the creative process, but sometimes you just need to step out of your environment and receive some external stimuli. Yesterday, I saw familiar places that are almost like save points in my life. They remind me of where my mind was at other times and they help me to feel more grounded. I had some good memories to think about yesterday.

Nearly two years ago, I took my girlfriend at the time to the same hot springs for her birthday on a romantic weekend. It was just before the pandemic started. Good memories, but hard to imagine that it was one of the last times I would see her in person. It was early March and spring had come to the western slope. One of my favorite memories of her was when we got coffee downtown in the morning and a bee had gotten trapped inside the shop. It was hitting the glass, trying to get outside, but it couldn’t figure it out. It looked exhausted.

She asked for a little bit of honey from the barista and lured the bee onto a stirring stick. As it ate the honey, she took it outside and set it down in a planter full of dead flowers from the summer before. The bee finished the honey and we watched it fly away.

Yesterday, I stopped by the perogi truck not far from there, and when I couldn’t decide what to order, I just asked for some of everything. They upsold me on the sour cream and fried onions and bacon too. There were beef, potato, cheese, and mushroom perogis. What might have been two pounds of delicious, stuffed, dumpling-y goodness was quickly devoured. Mama’s Perogis. I regret nothing.

Too much coffee

It’s just after midnight and I had too much coffee a couple hours ago when I was writing. So, I’m here. It occurred to me recently that more people read my blog whom I don’t want to read it than people I actually want to see it. So, I haven’t been posting as much here.

I’m not sure what the future of this site will look like but I tend to use whatever I write here as a guage to see how things have been going in recent years. Tonight, my dog is mad at me that I’m still up. She just skulked off to bed, letting out a deep sigh before extracting herself from the chair and heading off.

Three years ago, I was working through some things with a relationship that had finally ended. Thankfully it failed, because it was killing me. In seven years, I have been through four situationships and one actual healthy long term relationship. The thing about that is even though that healthy relationship ended, I still think of that person fondly and look back at the time we shared with a smile on my face. I don’t really want her back, but the months we shared were fulfilling and I learned a lot about myself, about happiness, and how good things could be when people have healthy boundaries, say what they mean, and put in effort.

The four situationships taught me to be more guarded. That my values will differ from the values of others and it is okay to have boundaries with yourself and others. That I don’t need to put up with someone’s bullshit if it isn’t filling my buckets, and I’m not in any serious rush. I don’t need to settle. I’ve settled enough in life.

It’s okay to fish or cut bait.

Though there are times I miss companionship, or just talking with someone at any hour of the night, or long deep conversations. I don’t miss wondering where I stand with someone, or worse still being afraid to ask. And worse than that, being taken for granted. I don’t know why it seems to be so much to ask for to want connection with someone else, but until I find someone who actually puts in effort and wants mutual respect, I’m fine being alone. I get the feeling sometimes that it will be very hard to match my values with someone else, because I am old fashioned and those standards are not respected or taken seriously anymore. Situationships seem to be the norm, and you can count me out if that’s the case. I have had enough of that bullshit.

I’m sick of learning someone’s favorite color or middle name or things about their grandparents, only for it to just be superfluous information that I will never use again. I’m just exhausted from watering dead plants, so I’m not going to do it anymore.

Today I drove to Steamboat for some groceries. It was nice to get out of the house for a few hours. Penny is a good co-pilot. I had an actual decent slice of deep dish pizza for lunch and a coffee I didn’t make myself. Part of the reason for my drive was Penny ate the bathtub plug…again, and I had to buy one out of town.

When I drive, my mind wanders and I often think of the future. The five year plan that I have been working on. Sometimes it feels scary, downright impossible. I’m 46. How many more five year plans have I got left in me? It’s hard to say. Right now I’m on a mission to seek fulfillment, and I think I’m getting close to figuring out how to do that.

Covid really knocked me down for the last few weeks and between the dry cough and fuzzy head, writing has been difficult. I’m well past contagion, but still recovering.

Two years ago, I was happy and planning a romantic weekend in Glenwood with my gf at the time for her birthday. Last year, I was planning a trip to Oregon with family. I was in the talking phase with someone. I was renovating the house one room at a time. This year, I seem to be a little…adrift. But I am writing. I am working. I am finding peace in my solitude. Renovations will resume when it stops snowing.

A part of me is ready for another adventure, but I need to work and make some money before that can happen. This is a time in my life when I should be building a future and no longer chasing or surviving. It’s time to thrive.

One Month and then Some

January 1st was the last time I posted directly onto Facebook. I still have my blog set up to post automatically on my timeline for some of my readers who get notifications there, but otherwise, I have not been using Facebook. I have checked the platform maybe half a dozen times, and none of those sessions were any longer than a few minutes.

In the last month, I have steadily weaned myself off the dependence of the site. There are many, many more reasons to stay off it than there are to return. The first two to three weeks were incredibly hard. I know it sounds silly, but I think it was a lot like what people who have quit smoking tell me their experience has been.

You don’t know what to do with your hands, for one.

I would find myself bouncing from app to app on my phone to kill time. TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, email. It was my daily ritual of catching up with others, getting that dopamine dump to propel you into the morning as you waited for the caffeine to work. Remove one of those elements and you are all out of sorts for a while.

You know something that actually hits worse for a dopamine rush? Jig-saw puzzles. I’ve been working on a 1,000 piece puzzle for the last week. I haven’t worked on a puzzle in probably thirty years. I realize now that I become a little obsessed with them. There is that trickle of reward, the dopamine microdose you chase. And before you know it, it’s 3:20am and your eyes are throbbing.

After two weeks, it got a little easier. The few times I did check Facebook I realized there was nothing I wanted to see there anyway. I read books. I wrote. I didn’t write on my blog because I was working through some stuff and rather than pontificate here, I decided to just give myself a break.

At week three, I got Covid. I was pretty sick for a couple days. Body aches, stuffy head, fever, cough. But everything I catch turns into a cough. Thanks, asthma! I rounded the corner after a couple days and I believe my vaccines kept me from getting worse. Why the hell not? The same people who probably created the damn virus helped create the vaccines, so I’m sure they are effective. The other day I went to the clinic in town for my allergy shots and a couple people wandered in looking like Death. They all had Covid. Omicron hit my town like a sack of oranges to the face.

The brain fog (Covid Brain) has been the worst part. But I’m over it now. It could have been a lot worse.

This time of year has been rough as long as I can remember due to the isolation and weather. It has been cold. And there are only so many books you can read or puzzles you can work out. I went to Dutch Bros. in Ft. Collins for my monthly Dutch sticker and my Americano. And of course some grocery shopping. It was nice to get out of town and lucky for me the only time the remnants of Covid still bother me is when I have to talk for a while or wear a mask. So I was happy to spend most of the day driving alone, just thinking through some things in life and enjoying being out of the house for once.

I have all sorts of plans, and I just need to keep my butt in the chair and work towards my goals. That’s the hard part sometimes. Today was a day that just sorta got away from me. It was 11:45am before I realized I hadn’t eaten anything yet and I hadn’t even had coffee much less showered. I was in a good place though. I felt centered. Present. Breathing easy. Lighter.

I think Facebook has exacerbated all sorts of unhealthy impulses. We keep up with the Joneses. We see everyone else’s finished, polished lives and we are ourselves working on a first draft. We see our regrets and what we don’t have and that hurts as bad as the microdosing of dopamine felt good. Peeking in on other people’s lives and wondering why yours isn’t that great. It inflames depression and anxiety.

Fear of Missing Out. Damn, you feel so alone.

At four and a half weeks (and a couple days in February now), I can say that like the city, I don’t miss much about Facebook. It’s more than a waste of time. It’s more like looking for that piece of the puzzle until 4 in the morning and not being able to sleep because if you just scroll a little bit longer, everything you hate about your life will feel that much better. Only your dog probably ate that piece of the puzzle and you just keep looking for it like a schmuck. You keep chasing that rush and it’s never any good. It just reminds you of how much better things should be, but you are wasting your time on an app instead of building a future that you will be happy with.

My blogging here isn’t much better. I really don’t want to broadcast my life like I had been doing, but my subscription auto-renewed and I’m out $96 for the year. So I might as well keep plugging away here. Besides, it’s a good place to just air my thoughts sometimes and it’s always good to hear from friends and other readers who stop by. I might live in the mountains, but I’m still not a total recluse! I’m just at that point in my life when I am tired of wasting my time on empty things. And sometimes I come back a year or two later and read what I have said and see how far I have come in life.

I’ll be curious to see what the next few months has in store for me. I honestly am beginning to feel the healthiest that I have in a long time, mentally that is. My worries are just worries. They aren’t amplified in an echo chamber and ignored by “friends” or compared with or validated by “likes.” It’s just life. You get over it.