Monday, June 21, 2021

Back on Track, Baby!

 


Just a short post today because I am running behind schedule this morning.


I feel like I have been running behind schedule since I got back from my Washington trip about two weeks ago. I’ve expended lots of emotional and mental energy over the last several months trying to make adjustments to this life of mine, with varying degrees of success. Going out of town — while fantastic — screwed up my progress and last weeks I lived more like I had been living for most of Quarantine, which is to say I let my sleep schedule get away from me and my diet somehow decayed back to wine and pizza. That seems to be my default setting, which is no good.


So here I am today, trying to get back to the business of living better, healthier, and non-Quarantine-y.


So while I slept later than I was supposed to today, I have still managed to wedge in the time to sit down here and write out this little post. So now at least I have this little marker for when I started to get back on track. 


Today I have a full day of work, followed by what is supposed to be a run this afternoon, followed by a reasonably healthy dinner this evening. Back on track, baby!


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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Boating with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


Aaaaaaand I’m back!


I took a little vacation. I went up to Washington state with some people and spent a few days staying in a beautiful house on a lake. I had a wonderful time, thank you for asking. I got to ride on a boat. I got to run in the forest. I went to new places and met new people and I only embarrassed myself a little more than the normal amount.


The pandemic is not over, I know, but the scientific miracle that is these vaccines has given us back a version of life that I am incredibly grateful for.


It wasn’t until I arrived back in my empty little apartment on Tuesday night that I realized how debilitatingly lonely I have been. My situation is not unique. Lots of people went through quarantine alone. I was lucky to have family zoom calls and a supportive group of coworkers and friends to talk to, but nothing is quite as life affirming as being in the same room with other people. It is with good reason that some countries consider solitary confinement to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment. 


I’m not going to lie, I cried a little when I got back here. Not because it is terrible here — I’ve made the best of quarantine, I suppose — but because of how much simply being around other people felt like such a warm blanket. It was like walking in out of a bone chilly cold into a room warmed by a fireplace and with chocolate chip cookies baking nearby. I had to go back out into the cold eventually, but the experience of the cold is different after you’ve known warmth.


There is a scene I always think about from the book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It is a book about prisoners in a Stalinist gulag. Each morning they have to pile out of the bunkhouse into the Russian winter and the guards inspect each prisoner to make sure they’re not taking anything illicit out on their work day. Solzhenitsyn goes on for like two pages about Ivan’s strategy for standing in front of the fire in the bunkhouse absorbing as much warmth as he can before he has to step out for inspection. About the way he’s learned to buckle his coat over his body to make sure he takes as much heat with him as possible. The thing that sticks in my mind about it is that Ivan knows that the guards are going to make him open his coat once he lines up outside. He’s not trying to take the warmth with him all day, he knows he’s only going to get to enjoy it for a few brief moments. But he has a whole strategy for it, because he knows that at the very least, those are moments that he can enjoy. Ivan has learned to appreciate things as brief as that.


Now, I am not in a gulag. I did think of Ivan though while I was gone. I so enjoyed being able to be a person in the world again, to talk to people, to drink with people, to play cards with people, to enjoy people again, to laugh until I cried. There is so much life out there still and bit by bit by ever-too-slow bit, it is coming back. And I am eager for its return.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Leaving on a Jet Plane (Tomorrow)!


Short post today.


I am doing a half day of work this morning and then this afternoon I am driving up to the Bay Area to meet up with some travel buddies and then in the morning we are driving to Oakland Airport from which we will be flying to Washington state where we will be spending a few days in a beautiful house on the shores of Lake Whatcom, which is basically in Canada.


I know what you’re thinking: Is this an adventure? Because it sounds like an adventure …


Let me ask the judges … Judges???


Judges say: YES! IT IS AN ADVENTURE!


Man, I love an adventure.


I am especially looking forward to this one because of — you know — Covid. While I know that the pandemic is not, strictly speaking, over in America, I am fully vaccinated as are all my travel compatriots. My county is doing great, the county we’re flying to is doing great. We have reached the point where those of us who are vaccinated in this country need to start giving the middle finger to this disease. Vaccine summer, baby!


I have practice-packed and repacked my little black backpack, my travel clothes are ready to go, my devices are charged, my airplane snacks are ziplocked and loaded. Let’s go!


We are getting to that point where life like sunlight after a storm is beginning to break through the glowering clouds of quarantine and I am here for it. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, I am returning to cheap airfares on budget airlines to go to weird places just for the pure fuck all joy of being alive.


It is good to be alive again.


Not sure if I will be able to blog tomorrow morning, not sure what the morning will be like, but if I don’t just know it is because I am just so busy being alive again.


It is good to be alive again. 

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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

How to Feel Grateful When You Don't Wanna.

 


I’m in an odd little funk today. I have a bunch of work I need to get done today for my job and I’m feeling a little weird about it. Tomorrow night I will begin my first post-Quarantine trip and I am very excited about that! But there is this pile of work between me and that.


Interestingly, this might be one of the first real “vacations” I have taken as a professional and grown up person that is specifically happening because I need some time to chill the fuck out away from work. Most of the times I have taken vacations they occurred because there was someplace I wanted to go or an adventure I wanted to have. This is that too. This trip basically fell into my lap (a friend put it together), but I was going to take some time off no matter what. My boss even told me recently that if I didn’t use some vacation days, she’d make me. That was very nice of her.


I’ve explained to people before that I am not a workaholic. In fact I’m the opposite; I’m just doing what I have to do to do my job well. Lately that has just required a lot. The stress of it kind of ruined my weekend too, but that is a longer story.


Perhaps it is because I know that tomorrow I’ll get to check out that today already feels like such a slog. I don’t like feeling this way at the start of the day. 


But we carry on, right?


Attitude matters, not to get all self-help-y on you. Sit up straight. Smile. Grit your teeth and get your nose to that grindstone. 


All the minimalists that I follow always eventually get around to talking about what you should do AFTER you have purged all of your stuff, because it isn’t really about the stuff, it is about the life you are trying to make for yourself, and eventually they get around to gratitude. About how important it is for people to recognize how much they have in their lives and to feel grateful about it all. I’ve been trying to do that more. Sure, my job is hard, but I am happy to have a job. Yesterday I drove down to the beach for no reason and sat on a log as the sun was sinking into the sea and I just watched the way the light played on the water and it was a nice and peaceful moment and I’m thankful that I got to have it. I have people in my life and tomorrow I get to take a trip with them. I have a place to stay and people who will welcome me. I feel gratitude for all of that. Or, I’m trying to feel it, at least. I’m not good at this part yet, but I’m working on it.


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