Monday, July 16, 2012

Maintenance Mode

I only go to the doctor when I'm sick, and usually only when I'm displaying symptoms that keep me out of work, but for the past few weeks I've been feeling really crummy, so I decided it was time to take a little action.

I went to the doctor on Saturday morning. I told him I was really fatigued and about some aches and pains I am having. One of his first responses was to ask if I was depressed and to suggest that I go on anti-depressants. He did the same thing last year when I went to him complaining of fatigue. Last year it was almost certainly depression-related, this year I'm not so sure. Either way, I gave him the same answer both times. I am not interested in getting started on drugs that are going to alter my brain chemistry and that I won't easily be able to get off of once I'm on them. I know some people are helped by them; I'm not convinced they're the right option for me.

Although I didn't take that suggestion, I did agree to x-rays and blood work, because there is something definitely not-quite-right going on and I want to get it figured out so that I'll be able to have more energy and more mobility again. I went up and down my steps three times in quick succession this evening and felt it in one hip far more than a healthy person my age should. Apparently there's the possibility of bursitis in one hip. I don't quite know what that means long-term, and I don't know whether the anti-inflammatories I now have to take for it will get me back on track, but it's a start.

I have to say, I'm impressed by how streamlined the hospital has become with their lab and radiology services. I was there for less than an hour and had several x-rays and a couple of vials of blood drawn. Both techs were very comforting and competent and listened to my concerns and questions. I've been there before for both services and have had vastly different experiences in the past. Nothing is perfect, but this morning was definitely reassuring.

Of course, who knows how long it will be until I get results of the tests that were run. I have a feeling I'll end up on the "no news is good news" track, so I'll just hope not to get a call from my doctor before I get around to scheduling my follow-up appointment.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's A Process

I've spent a decent amount of time writing today, but it's not something anyone but myself is likely to see. I've been working on a letter that's been a while in coming. I'm at nearly eleven pages as of now and I know I can easily keep going for quite a while.

Something is coming to an end that I haven't been ready to let go of, even though I've been telling myself for a long time that I probably should. It's been difficult, though not as difficult this time around (there have been many, many iterations of this scenario) as it has been in the past. I expected to be writing at least some of the letter through tears (which, since I'm using water-soluble fountain pen ink, could have been messy), but I haven't. I've been dry-eyed the entire time. Not anxiety-free, necessarily, but dry-eyed. It's a start.

It's a letter that doesn't make much sense to anyone but me, really. I needed to sit down and put all of the junk that's in my head down on paper so that maybe I could get rid of it and figure out what comes next, because I have no idea. I'm still not ready to let go completely. I still need things and I still want things, but I know that everything is going to have to be viewed differently by both of us. It makes me sad, but not sad enough, so I guess that's a sign.

I haven't decided yet whether I'll even reread the letter once I'm finished with it, let alone let the theoretical recipient read it. I haven't even decided whether to mention it to him. It's all very confusing and muddled, which is why I finally had to sit down and write it all out in the first place.

I started it on a park bench in the cemetery where I eat my lunch a couple of times a week and wrote the bulk of it at my dining room table. I never use my dining room table, not even for eating, but it's really the only clear, flat work surface I have at the moment, and by writing there I mostly avoided the distractions provided by the internet.

I think I wrote about seven pages straight through before my wrist developed a kink and I had to stop for a while. I resumed with pizza and beer and too much internet distraction via smartphone, but I made it through most of page ten before my pen ran out of ink and I had to come upstairs for a fresh cartridge.

I'll probably write some more, I feel as though I should. The sooner I get all of it out and down on paper, the sooner it'll stop circulating constantly through my head. It's a problem and it's one I am tired of. I don't necessarily want it to go away, I just want it to change into something more manageable, something I can cope with.

This is one of those things I shake my head about still having to think about at this age. It feels like a teenage problem, not a middle-age (or very nearly so) one. And, yet, there it is. I'm trying to learn and grow. I don't know yet whether I'm succeeding.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where I Stand

The unfortunate fact is that the level of rhetoric across the political spectrum has become such that invective has become the rule rather than the exception and it seems that people have forgotten what they truly believe in the face of what corporations and candidates are doing their best to drill into their heads.

The system is broken and it is beyond time to find a way to step back from all of the high-level information (truth, fiction, and all things in-between) being put out by the parties and their various corporate backers and remember that citizens are individuals and individuals take care of one another. The most basic tenet of any society has always been people looking after one another as best they could. This is what we need to find our way back to, despite what politicians would have us believe.

It's not about capitalism vs. socialism vs. any other -ism. It's not about left vs. right. It's about doing what we can to make sure that our neighbors have enough to eat, that the sick have access to healthcare, and that there is some sense of balance, fairness and equity across this society. We need to figure out a way to live up to the ideals the we supposedly hold so high in this society without having to trample on the backs of the poor and the "other" at home and around the world to do it.

I wish I had an easy fix in mind, but I'm afraid there isn't one. I'm afraid that the only thing that can be done is for all of us to work at it on an individual level and to do what we can to realize that the rhetoric is designed to be divisive and to find a way past it to the common ground that is in there somewhere, even though we are being told by both sides that it is gone.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm Done Waiting Around

I have a bad habit of waiting for things I know aren't going to happen and I think I'm about ready to stop doing that. All it does is make me crazy and frustrated. I try not to have unrealistic expectations, but it feels like all of my expectations are unreasonable, somehow.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mini-Getaway Day

I spent the day with friends at their cottage in Mount Gretna playing cards games and visiting. It was marginally cooler up under the trees than it was in the city, but we still retreated into the air conditioning a couple of times.

This is the type of social situation I am most suited to. Small group, relaxed atmosphere. We spent all afternoon and evening chatting and playing with their dogs. I didn't feel any pressure to perform or to be someone other than who I normally am.

I don't like that I often feel awkward and out-of-place in large groups, but I'm beginning to wonder whether I should simply accept that that is the case and not try to fight it too much anymore.

I think about entertaining from time to time, but I don't think I'd be comfortable throwing a large party for all of my friends. I'd have to do something small, just a hand full of other people at a time.

Since I'm torn between these options, I just don't do either. I've had these friend over for dinner once since I bought my house, and they're the only ones, aside from one friend who comes over from time to time, but that's hang-out mode rather than entertaining mode, so doesn't count in the same way.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Simply Hot

I do't have the energy to reflect on anything tonight. The heat has drained it all away. I had a couple of ideas for posts, but they evaporated on my walk home from First Friday.

I went to see work of current and former students and had a chance to chat with them beyond the walls of the college, which was refreshing.

I went to see the new home of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, got a tour of the building, considered a workshop (still considering) and spoke to a neighbor about a roving band of insolent neighborhood children.

My last stop was to see a friend's band play in the basement of a church. They are always fun, but by then I was feeling the effects of having walked around in the heat for a while, and still needed to walk most of the way home to get my car, so I left before the second set.

I'm glad I got out and ran into people and supported various endeavors, but I'm also glad I came home a little early and am now planted in front of my fan for the rest of the night. Fatigue plus heat equals irritable me and irritable me is better left alone.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Searching for Clarity

That's pretty much what it boils down to at the moment and it doesn't matter what part of my life I'm looking at. I want to be clear about what I am looking for in work, in the way I keep and organize my house, in how I conduct my friendships and relationships. I want to know what it is I'm looking at and whether what I'm looking at fits into what I want from my life in a reasonable way, particularly in the long-term.

Just about anything I do will be okay in the day-to-day, as long as there aren't too many of those days strung together. It's when you get to months and years that things can begin to fall apart if you're not clear on what you really want. I know this and I want to be able to get to the point at which I can view things this way, but I'm not sure I'll ever quite get there, because my vision of my life is always clouded by my emotions. I get too close to things too quickly. I invest. I care. I don't necessarily think this is always a bad thing, but lately it seems to have done me more harm than good. Because if I invest and care, it becomes so much easier to hurt as well.

Maybe I don't want crystal clarity, cold and hard. Maybe I want my clarity more like a deep pool in a stream. I can see where I want to be, but I can also see traces of the other possibilities. Maybe I don't want my vision to be completely unclouded.

I still don't quite know how to get there, though. I still mostly feel obscured. I should probably find my back to meditation, to the ability to get still and stay still. If I can do that, if the whirl in my mind can slow down long enough for singular thoughts to emerge, maybe I can figure out what the right decisions are. Maybe it'll all become clear.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Once Upon a Time on Independence Day

I didn't have any cookouts to attend today. That was fine with me, because, once again, I wasn't feeling so hot. Instead, I sought refuge at the budget movie theater for the afternoon. I drove out intending to see Mirror, Mirror, but after I purchased my ticket and walked away from the counter, I realized I'd said "The Lorax" instead. It had caught my eye on the marquee on the way in and I was distracted.

The Lorax was worth seeing, it's a good message on Independence Day, especially in light of the current tug-of-war between individual rights and the common good. Not to mention knitting! Once I left the theater, I realized I could still see a showing of Mirror, Mirror, so I stayed and did that as well. The theater has air conditioning, I do not. I loved the retelling of the story, the fact that I managed to pull the name Sean Bean out of my head appropriately, and the production number that ran during the credits. At $2.50 a movie, it was an afternoon well-spent.

In the evening I went to an outdoor concert by a local chamber orchestra. The main piece they did was Peter and the Wolf, so I ended up having a day filled with fairy tales and fables, completely unintended. I love when days work out that way.

I spent a little time thinking about independence and whether we are truly living up to the ideals set forth by our founding fathers (I don't think we are) and whether we really are, or should be, the greatest nation on earth (I don't think so, to both points. The fact that we, as a nation, feel destined by some higher power, to be better than and basically have control over, every other nation on earth feels like the height of arrogance to me). I think we need to learn to better to take care of people in need rather than pushing this economic every man for himself, dog-eat-dog, system we have in place at the moment.

As far as personal independence, there are things I'm thinking about that I hope I can work out sooner rather than later.

Right now, the neighbors are setting off fireworks and I'm the tiniest bit concerned about my house catching fire, because I live on a street of tightly-spaced row homes with tiny back yards and I can't imagine where the sparks are going, if not on our roofs, and I keep getting whiffs of sulfur.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Photo Walk in the Golden Hour

I live three blocks from Franklin & Marshall College, so this evening I decided to take my camera for a walk through campus. It's something I've been meaning to do for a while, just to see what I could see. I went at around 7 pm, to see if I could take advantage of the so-called "golden hour," that time when the sunlight goes all honeyed and heavy and shadows take on so much more depth and substance. It was a bit overcast, so I didn't get as much sunlight as I would have hoped, but I got a few things I'm happy with. Doesn't he look almost human? I want to go back and spend an entire hour just on this statue, I never realized just how much was going on there until this evening.

Work was long and frustrating, but ultimately productive, and by the time I got home, my resolve to go out with my camera was beginning to flag. I am so glad I did, though, because even though there were only a few shots I was really happy with in the end, I spent a good hour losing myself in looking at things and figuring out how I wanted to try to capture them, and it felt so good. I need to find a way to reconnect with that ability more often.

I need to find a way to reconnect to it with my writing again. I woke up at 5:30 this morning and so easily could have gotten up and sat in front of a notebook or my keyboard for an hour before getting ready for work, but I didn't. Instead I futzed around of Facebook and read an article on the Fast and Furious program, and drifted back off to sleep. Why did I do all of those things instead of writing? I think I did them because I am so worried about what may come up when I sit down to write. I worry that I will be sad or upset and right now I don't feel as though I have anyone to bounce those feelings off of, so I'd rather not let them out to begin with. It's frustrating.

On the positive side, I've written here for eight days running. I know they haven't been the most scintillating posts ever, but it's been a long time since I've written on consecutive days, let alone blogged, so I'll take it. I'm hoping that I'm just rusty and that as the month (and hopefully beyond) goes on, I'll begin to be more coherent and substantive in what ends up here. So, bear with me, if you can.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fresh Out of Big Adventures

A friend was showing Pee-Wee's Big Adventure tonight as the offering for a movie night she runs at a local cafe. I went, even though I'd already dozed off once or twice after work, because I wanted to be able to laugh out loud at something with other people (not to mention that I'd promised her I'd come). It is still funny, there are a few gags in it that I really love, but mostly what it ended up doing was remind me just how stuck I am feeling lately.

My family is planning this big trip just under a year from now, and that'll be sure to be an adventure, but in the meantime, I'll be hoarding my vacation time. I could take off and go on weekends, but I almost never do, because I'm usually so exhausted by the time they roll around that all I want to do is rest up and recuperate from my work week. I need to change this.

A few weeks ago I went to a writing retreat in the mountains a couple of hours from home, I guess that could be considered a small adventure. It got me out of town and away from most of the people I know and into an unfamiliar environment and experience. Things like that need to happen more often.

I think part of what is holding me back is that I'm getting tired of doing things by myself, but I don't really quite know how to go about asking people to go on mini-adventures with me. It sounds sort of silly at my age, doesn't it?

I need to get out of this rut. I need to change things up. Get out of my house, get out of my town, get out of my routine. If anything is going to change, I have to figure out how to make it change. I can't keep thinking about things I want to do without putting any action behind those thoughts.

Of course, I say the same thing over and over and I still can't figure out what it's going to take to make me step out and do something different enough to wake me up and energize me. Maybe this time I'll figure it out.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Returning to Reading

Thursday night I bought the Hunger Games trilogy. By mid-day today I closed the third book. It's been some time since I've lost myself in reading in quite that way. Most nights I read before I fall asleep, and a lot of the time I'll have a book in my bag to read at lunch (though I don't take it out as much as I could), but I've tended to let a lot of other things get in the way of reading time and this weekend reminded me of how much I miss spending so much time getting lost in story. It's important to do, especially if I want to keep writing, or do more writing, or whatever it is I'm looking for in terms of writing. If I'm not reading, I'm not creating those connections that get me to the pictures in my head, the transformation from words to images that our brain is so adept at.

It's not an automatic leap, perhaps, but the connection is there, The more I read, the more I write, because the more I read, the more my imagination and language centers are activated. I need to keep this in mind and spend more time with a book in my hand and less time with a movie or TV show in front of my eyes. I have an idea of suspending Netflix for a while, starting on my birthday, just to see if I can take a bit of a break from all of the exposure to other people's pre-formed images. I think it might help, and at this point I'm willing to try just about anything.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I haven't felt well all week. I've been run down and have a deep ache in my hip and a smattering of other things. I'm usually fairly healthy, but right now things seem to be catching up with me. I'm  eating more, finally, but it's more of the wrong thing, and I'm still not cooking, or even preparing salads. I walk to and from work, and usually to and from other places on weekends, but it's not really enough exercise. My weekly swim time doesn't really do it either, because I never swim for very long, not to mention that I may have lost my swim partner. I find it much easier to stay engaged with laps if I'm not doing them solo.

I'm the type of person who only goes to the doctor if I'm feeling really lousy for more than a day or two, which means I haven't been for over a year at this point. I think I may schedule an appointment again next week, though, because this complete lack of energy plus the various aches and pains plus my usual insomnia are all beginning to take their toll. I know this is part of the aging process, especially when I'm not taking care of myself as well as I could be, but it feels like it goes beyond that. I'm beginning to think that maybe I need some sort of baseline so that I can figure out how to make myself stronger moving forward, because if I do want to make any real changes in how my life is going, I'll need adequate energy to be able to carry them out.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Social Life (Or Something Like It)

I went to a CD release party tonight for a guy I've known peripherally for several years. A few years a go I interviewed him for an article I did on farmers markets in town. I knew or recognized most of the people at the event, there were lots of interesting foods and drinks and wonderful music, and yet I still mostly felt out-of-place.

I do better in groups of ten or fewer. More than that and I get overwhelmed. I have a hard time walking up and inserting myself into conversations. I know that I am at least relatively interesting and moderately intelligent, but I clam up and get what my grandmother used to refer to as "shucksy" in a large group. I am not comfortable being the center of attention.

There were several broad categories of people at this gathering and I didn't really feel as though I fit well into any of them. I'm not a musician. I'm not a college professor. I don't belong to the Unitarian Universalist congregation. I'm not a young, hip, artist-activist. I can have a perfectly fine conversation with any individual member of any of these groups, but get more than a couple from any one of them together and I go back to feeling like I don't belong.

This is in contrast to a friend who was also there, who can and will talk to anyone any time about anything. I watched him circulate around the place, completely at ease with whomever he was talking to, and willing to insert himself into any conversation with any group of people. I sometimes envy that ability, because I think not having it probably makes people think that I am stand-offish or unfriendly rather than simply shy.

Conversing with more than one or two people at a time is obviously a skill I need to figure out how to cultivate, but I find that I'm at a loss as to how to go about acquiring it.

I have plenty of opportunities to go out and be social, and I do it a lot more than I even realize sometimes, but I still somehow manage to feel as though I exist in a vacuum, it's an odd place to be. I like solitude, I need it more than I need to be social, but if I don't get to spend time with people semi-regularly I begin to feel cut off and lonely, so it is most definitely a balancing act.

Tomorrow I will be attending a pool party at the home of a high school friend and will probably know very few other people. Seems like the perfect time to hone those conversational skills. I'll see how it goes.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Today is for Work

I miss temping. Or, at least, I miss the flexibility of temping. I didn't take time off excessively if I had a steady, long-term assignment, but I could have. And even though I didn't get paid for them, I didn't have to worry about counting up my vacation days in order to do something I wanted to do. In April 2008 I took a three-week train trip across the country and back. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I don't know that I'll ever be able to do it again.

My family and I are planning a trip to Ireland next June. My vacation time starts over next week, which means I'll have to begin rationing and hoarding immediately in order to have enough available for a trip that's a year away. It'll be fine, and I'll make it work, but I'll chafe against the thought of it.

I'm not really cut out to have a career. I don't like being in the same job for any length of time. I get bored and restless and tired of the office politics and being told what to do by people who don't really know what it is I do in the first place. I am in my current job for my second go-round, have been for just over a year-and-a-half, and it's already getting to me. I hate the idea of having to stay somewhere that makes me miserable. I guess some people would say that I lack follow-through, that I should just stick with it, because that's what we're supposed to do, stick with things. I don't buy it.

Of course, this time around, it feels harder to leave. I have a mortgage now. I have an expensive phone. I'm earning a larger income than I've earned before (though still quite modest by most standards), so I don't have to worry too much about budgeting. All of these things make it difficult to truly think about picking up and finding something else to do again, the way I have periodically over the years.

I have thought about (and have taken small, unsuccessful stabs at) trying to write for a living, but I don't seem to have what it takes to put myself out there consistently enough to earn enough to support myself. I have a small stack of clips from mostly local magazines that are bunched together every few years, but it's not really enough to hang my expenses on.

If I advertised for a housemate and split the mortgage and utilities, I could probably swing a smaller income, but I like living by myself. I like my stuff being where my stuff is and being able to walk around naked if I want to (and come summer, I want to a lot). I don't want the freedom enough yet to make that sort of compromise, though the fact that I'm even letting it pass through my mind is an indication that wheels deep down somewhere are turning.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


That's actually putting it mildly. I don't just get attached, I cling. I hold fast to things, people, ideas, memories. All those things that bring me some sort of comfort or solace, I don't want to let go. Of course, by not wanting to let go, I make them (people, that is) want to let go of me, to flee as fast and as far as they can. It's a problem.

I'd rather not get so attached. I'd like to be a person who could simply bob along in life taking things as they happen, recognizing the lessons that come with experiences, and moving along to the next without a huge amount of nostalgia. It seems as though things would be so much easier that way (though I'm probably mistaken -- everything looks easier that way until you're in the midst of it).

I'd like a middle ground. Some ability to form attachments, get to know people, know how it feels to have that longevity, but also to be able to move on from things when they are no longer working without worrying about what will come next. Or, really, without worrying whether anything at all will come next.

I am introverted. I have a difficult time meeting people, so when someone comes along with whom I have a strong connection, I want to be able to hold on to it, because I know that it will be a while before I will have that again, and I get lonely.

I want to be able to be self-sufficient, to not need another person to validate who I am or how I am. The fact that I am in my 40s and still wishing for this bothers me. It seems as though it is something I should have gotten past, outgrown, as it were, ages ago. I have moments when that is the case, but mostly it is not. It is as if I do not exist if there is not someone around who wants me, needs me, cares for me. I don't like this about myself. I don't know how to change this about myself.

I'll have to think about this some more, this need for attachment, for other. I'll need to figure out why I can't be enough for myself. Why being me, as I am, is not enough on its own.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

30 Days Out

Today is 30 days until I turn 42. Every year as my birthday gets close, I get reflective. I think of where I am, versus where I'd like to be, or possibly where I thought I'd be. This year, I keep thinking of Douglas Adams, of course. In the Hitchhiker's Guide series, it was revealed that the answer to "life, the universe, and everything" is 42. Since I am a huge nerd, this is how I think of this birthday.

I wish all those things would, in fact, be revealed when I hit the magic number, but I have my doubts. I'm not doing the necessary work to have them revealed. I am in neutral and have been for the last year -- if I'm being really honest, most of the last decade -- and am having a bit of trouble getting myself back in gear.

I'd like this next year to be one that sees me finding out how to figure my way back into my life. I'd like this next 30 days to be a time to do some thinking here about what that means. About what I need to do to move forward again. I have the whisper of a plan about that, but still only a whisper, and I'm not very good at holding myself to these time-period challenges anymore, but I'll see what I can do.

This look at myself and my life in the month leading up to my next birthday can only be a good thing if I can make it happen. At the same time, I'm going to try not to beat myself up over it if it doesn't. This first post will be a short one, because I am incredibly exhausted and need to close my eyes. The fact that I managed to even set myself to this first task tonight surprised me, so I'm pretending that I am off to a good start.

With any luck, I'll talk to you tomorrow. About what? Your guess is as good as mine.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chrysalis: Emergent

I have spent most of the past year in a chrysalis of grief, fear, and overwhelm. I have been depressed and in stasis and have done only what was absolutely necessary to keep myself employed and housed more often than not. It has been a trying year. I did not want my life to grind to a halt, but it seemed as though I had no other options.

I am beginning to have a glimmer of hope. I bought a large stack of books tonight. I spent hours on Sunday tearing weeds out of beds and pots in my back yard so that I can plant things and over the past couple of days I have been contemplating what to plant.
I bought groceries and tonight made myself a sandwich for dinner and plan on taking another to work for lunch tomorrow. Last week I made myself a lovely salad. While waiting for a meeting to begin today, I opened the "Notes" feature on my phone and began working on a poem. None of these things may seem like much to the outside observer, but to me they are significant.

The money I have spent on meals out over the past year because I have not had the energy or inclination to keep food in the house has been substantial. I have always been a reader, but I have read very few books recently, and the ones I have read have taken a while. I used my back yard maybe twice last summer; part of the reason I wanted a house of my own was to be able to take advantage of an outdoor space of my own.

I don't expect my life to come flooding back all at once. There are still too many unwashed dishes in my sink at any given moment. Cooking is a distant memory most of the time. Many evenings I continue to come home and immediately crawl into bed and stay there until morning. The difference is that now there are other things calling for my attention and I am finally willing to give it to them again.

I'm looking forward to being me again, and I think most of the people in my life are as well.