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.