Under Construction

607490368I have given people a reason to turn away from me over the years.  Sadly, some of the people I love the most are the ones I have given the most reasons to.  Ironically, it is the fact that I loved them that I was able to be such an asshole. The love gave me a sense of security, the sense of security allowed me to drop walls and dropping too many walls lets the asshole out; add alcohol and asshole is polite.

None of these people deserved my behavior, in fact they deserved it the least.  For my actions I truly apologize to them all.  For staying by me, for their patience as I try to fix myself and for looking past my sometimes wonky-brain to the person I am when things are actually working these people will have my everlasting devotion and friendship.

As for my short-circuiting brain, it’s no fun for me either.  Nothing good comes of them; they usually pull me away from the emotional need I’m trying to get met in the first place.  Not only I the original need not getting met, now I have a whole lot of other garbage (that I made) to cleanup, too.  It’s very counterproductive.

I’m working on it again, though.  I’m seeing a therapist again to help me with my anxiety.  I’m also trying to reincorporate a meditation practice into my routine.  There are other strategies that I am working on with my therapist to help my anxiety: sleep patterns, diet, exercise – things like that.  These are habits to help with my self-esteem which should help with the anxiety:  a lot of my anxiety is over self-worth and insecurity.

The people who have stuck by me and my friends deserve the best me I can be.  That meme about “not accepting me at my worst means they don’t deserve me at my best” is utter bullshit!  I need to strive to be my best for the people in my life at all times and consider myself LUCKY when they stick around me at my worst.

My brain needs one of those “under construction” holders.  Everyone knows my brain is there but there are bits that are trying to be improved.  Please pardon my appearance while under construction.

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blankBlank.

That’s what my brain went just now as I sat to write; it went blank.  So I’m writing about that.  I write a lot about my inability to write, the resistance I feel to it, the sense of dread of putting letters on the page.  Which is funny since I used to love it.  A lot.

Laura was here the other day and even she remembered when we went to a diner to write.  We took over the table for a few hours.  Lunch, lots of coffee and a waitress who thought what we were doing was cool.  We tipped according to time, too, as opposed to the food bill.  The waitress appreciated that.

I remember being at pool parties – the all weekend long kind – and Laura and I would trade notebooks to see what the other was writing.  The support was amazing.

Maybe I should find a local writing group.  It may be a good way to spend a weeknight or a weekend afternoon.  I could make some friends and get some feedback and support. But even that seems like a chore. PEOPLE! And small talk.

Ugh, small talk. Blech.

I WANT to write.  It’s just that I’m so old now.  It’s too late to find my voice.  That sort of suffering is for the young and the resilient.  I’m not quite either of those things anymore. I was never particularly resilient even at my prime, honestly.  Fear of rejection has always been a fear.  Pouring my heart and soul into a thing to have it pissed on is frightening.

“Fear is the mind killer.”

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

But fear is still pretty scary.

So here I sit, another whining session where I just sort of belch onto the page.  I guess it’s a start.  Maybe it will help get the crap out of my head so real ides can start to come out; churn the compost as it were.  But it really comes down to fear.

And laziness.  But that’s for another time.

Ignore This Post

buddha see no evilI saw a therapist today for the first time in about a decade.  It’s the same old complaints:  anxiety, self-deprecation, insecurity.  This is the first time I got homework on day one, though.  My assignment is:

Goals 5-15-18
1.  Workout 3x/wk
2.  Decrease Facebook use to < 60 min/day
3.  Decrease Caffeine

Number One is something I know is good for me and have been meaning to get back to anyway.  I have been finding it hard to work up the motivation to GO.  Working out seems a bit like a chore.  It’s so much easier to just go home and watch TV.  The new therapist recommended working out to improve mood and self-esteem, both of which I know are true, but still, chore.

Number three is completely doable.  I managed to quit caffeine for a month in March and mostly for the same reasons that my new therapist listed:  help with sleep, lower anxiety.

I relapsed back into coffee on a business trip late last month.  Early flights, long layovers, seemingly eternal travel times and more made it a bad trip.  I needed something to keep my eyes open for safety courses and meetings.  I haven’t tried to kick it again since but now it’s homework.  Homework I know I can do.  Funny though, when she mentioned it all I could think of was getting a huge coffee on the way back from my appointment.  One for the road as it were.

Then there is number two, the hardest one to be honest.  I am always on my phone looking at Facebook and Instagram; always couch as “keeping in-touch with friends”.  It’s an easy excuse to rationalize given that I have friends from Hawaii to London; Canada to South Florida.  All in all, it’s just an excuse.  To help keep to my assignment I have again deleted both Facebook and Instagram from my phone.  I can use them at home on my computer or on my iPad.  I have also removed the Facebook Messenger app.

I mentioned in the session that Facebook tends to fill me with FOMO.  Also, checking in on my friends all day long tends to make me miss them more than helping me feel connected.  Maybe cutting it back to an activity opposed to a reflex will help.  I might be able to keep mu mind in the right place.

There are reasons I am going to see the therapist, things that are itching at my anxiety.  The therapist said we’re not even going to deal with those things yet.  She wants to work on my self-esteem and insecurity before we deal with anything that they may be aggravating.  They are the base cause for a lot of my anxiety, so it makes sense to me.

Downsizing

DownsizingFotolia_JJAVA_16982277_Subscription_LI have been downsized. “Reduction in Work Force” was the actual term used, but downsized is as good a word as any. The downstream engineering nosedive has left me unemployed and it amounts to the same thing. It’s not any easy position to be in but I’m taking it as best I can. I just needed to figure out how to react to this new situation.

My reaction is to downsize my life. Yup – just jump on the slide and follow it down. I’m going to strip my life down to the bare essentials: the stuff I actually need, want and that make me happy. This may sound crunchy granola, though it’s really not. It’s smart, concise and makes sense. I’d done it before and it was freeing.

When I moved to London in 2012 I brought 5 suitcases with me. This was all the clothes and personal items that I felt I needed. I didn’t miss any of the things I’d left behind or sold off – not even my car. The only things back in the states I missed were the people, and the Internet helped to alleviate that a bit. But I didn’t miss the stuff.

Granted it was easier in London where a furnished room or apartment is the norm. All little sundries of living in a city were in the apartments already. One only needed their personal effects to move from place to place. It was nice – and moving was so much faster for the most part.

My time in London came to an end though and I returned to the states. On my return I made a mistake and went all “American” on things. I wanted space and things and comforts. The over sized apartment for one person. The car I used maybe once a week. The dining room set I have used all of once except as a laundry rack. The “home office” in the extra space I didn’t need. The comforts I stored away and never looked. The framed pictures I never bothered to hang – some still in the shipping box. And I had to pay for them all instead of living within my means with the stuff I only needed and putting money into savings.

This slump in my industry has been slow moving, like a sinkhole that gets just a bit bigger everyday until you realize it’s become a chasm. There were layoffs behind mine and I took steps months back to try and hold it off. Since last October I have been working part-time hours and taking in only 50% of my salary. My big mistake was not taking the steps I needed to THEN to reduce my lifestyle. So here I am now, taking in less than a quarter of what I was while working and my savings have already been tapped. Being a Pollyanna is not a way to deal with economic downturns.

Now I have to work with what I have – which ain’t much. There is car insurance, medical insurance, housing, food and storage for my stuff that won’t fit in a smaller place. Unemployment insurance does not pay enough for all of this. Something has to give.

STUFF loses in this scenario.

If I can’t pay rent, I’m homeless and I lose my stuff.

I need to eat in order to live. If I die I won’t need my stuff.

Without insurance I can get sick or worse and end up in a place where I lose my stuff.

With my reduced income I can see a lot of scenarios where my stuff is forfeit or a burden. If it all comes down to me needing to sacrifice to keep it and it could all be lost anyway, why not just sacrifice my stuff now. This way the extra money I would be paying to STORE it can go to the more important things in the first place. I also have no idea where I will end up in the next few months as I will probably need to go to where the work is, so why pay even more to MOVE the stuff?

So sell my stuff (again) I will, or donate it if I can’t find buyers. Its just stuff, it can all be gotten again if needed. Of course next time in a more controlled and non-debt creating way. I have already let go of some things and every item leaves with a bit of fear, sadness and regret. But there is also a sense of freedom. That sense of freedom gets stronger each time. And it’s just stuff.

Writing

stock-photo-14801367-ink-well-and-quill-penOk, so writing. Why do I find it so painful? I like expressing my thoughts in words; I have for years. Sitting in front of the computer and putting them down on the page is excruciating, though. If I had to put words to it I would say it is a mixture of fear and insecurity. Well, if you boil insecurity down to its primal nature, that’s also fear. So, I am just afraid to write.

That’s not quite right. I’m afraid to put the words out there. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid that ultimately I have nothing to say that anyone is actually going to give a shit about.

There are always stories going through my head. Stories that I find interesting but that no one else has actually written (that I know of). What if my stories are only interesting to me? Are my stories nothing but derivative shit? Maybe even my life is only of interest to me since I’m the one inside this skull and everyone else is out there going “Meh!”

Still, for over 20 years now, writing is the one thing I keep circling back to like that clichéd fucking moth and the flame. I think I need to give into it, embrace the fear and just fucking do it. It’s apparently not going to go away on it’s own.

I am trying a system that I can see getting annoying really fast if it doesn’t yield results. I have heard it referred to the egg-timer method by Lauren Graham (love you Lorelei) in her book “Talking as Fast as I Can”. She got it from someone else but you can read her book for that reference.

Basically you literally set a timer, egg time not required with an iPhone. Turn off all Internet, TV’s and phones (except the timer I guess). Also turn off any music you can sing along to. Start the timer and just sit in front of your writing platform of choice. You don’t have to write; you just need to sit there for the duration of the timer. If you do write you don’t even need a project – just write anything.

This is how this little piece is coming out; I set the timer for an hour and just started to write stuff. It may be a bit spot-on to write about WHY and HOW I’m doing the writing but it’s day one so “PPHHLLAABBTT!”

I just remembered that this is not the first I’ve heard of the method. I took a creative writing class in College and the text was a paperback by Natalie Goldberg called “Writing Down the Bones”. She has similar suggestions in the book but is more rigorous about actually writing for the period. Her method is you keep writing, regardless of what you say, for the entire time. You can pour out your hatred of your grandparents, cite nursery rhymes and just curse for the entire time. She has a story in the book about a student who did this and just wrote “vagina” (I’m pretty sure it was ‘vagina’) for the entire time period for several classes. He just needed to get rid of the block first.

Here I am trying to remove a block. This rambling is it. It is work; it is progress. There is not need for it to be concise, poignant or even readable (and I pity you who may be reading it) but it needs to happen.

Also, setting hour-long writing blocks is a good way to fill up some time in my day as I deal with being unemployed. I must do something with my days to avoid falling into sadness and moodiness. No one wants that, least of all me. I’ll annoy myself when it happens.

I just cut a segment out of this that was just as long into another file. I went off on a topic that seemed to have it’s own life so I am giving it one. I guess I do have things to say and this is letting them out. So – good on me.

Writing is something I have found therapeutic in the past. I remember in my 20’s when my friend Laura and I used to write together and read each other’s work at certain intervals. I miss those days. We even took another page for “Writing Down the Bones” and went to a diner to write. Say down, talked ordered coffee and breakfast and started writing. We explained to out server what we were doing, that we were going to tip based on time not just food ordered, and that if she needed to table to turn over to let us know and we would leave. Far from being annoyed she was very interested and kept out coffee full. This was FAR from the days of millennials camping in Starbucks for hours at a time so was as novel to her as to us.

I miss those days with Laura and other friends giving me a support network for writing. The further from those days the harder it was to keep up the practice. A few bad relationships didn’t help either.

Now I must start over with being my own support network. I need to find my own reasons and my own motivation for renewing the practice. Tricks as it were to open myself up to it again. I need to tease the love of the act back out of the fear of the result.

Ok – My timer went off. I’m done. It wasn’t that painful and I got a LOT more on paper than expected, especially since I edit as I go. I can get used to this. We’ll see.

Improv’ing My Life

improv_deal5

In an attempt to keep myself occupied, I signed up for an improv comedy class. I was scared, insecure and nervous. Last Saturday was my class recital – before an actual audience. And. I. LOVED. It. It was a rush.

For having a self-described fear of public speaking, I loved being up there. Not only did I perform, but I wound up being the spokesman for the class that night. I tried to NOT be the spokesman by doing “not it”, but no one else said it so I was the one. Truth be told, I’m glad I did that, too. Ultimately I want to be out there.

Looking at myself with an open eye, it comes as no surprise that I like it. I like making a fool of myself. I make up things regularly in order to try and be amusing. Improv is just pretty much me. Now to learn how do actually do it as opposed to just being an idiot with my friends.

Level two classes are set to start and I have signed up for mixed troupes under my theaters umbrella called “Protostar”. It is going to be a lot of work, but it should be with any craft. I have started listen to a podcast on improv and even the people out of improv that have made it have put a LOT of work in. No one seems to be a natural.

I know at 48 that there is all but no chance of going anywhere with this. But right now I love it and will keep at it; working and listening and studying. I will also be making a fool of myself on stage whenever I can.