Hello…Again.

It’s been another apallingly long time since I’ve updated—130 of them, to be exact. In that 4 month time equivalent, the dust storms on the horizon that I had back then have largely settled, and things worked out rather well. Soon after my last entry, I ended up picking finding what started as a part-time job doing in-office tech support and website administration for a property investment company not too far from where I live. I’d applied to an office admin/executive assistant posting, but even though they ultimately went with someone else with more industry-relevant experience, I interviewed well enough that they created the a position for me.

The job was initially set to be 4-6 hours 2 days a week, it changed to 3 full time days on my first day. Right at the end of my first month, my co-worker had to resign from the position to move home to help her family with her dad, who’d just had a serious medical episode. On her last day, I sat with her and looked over all the resumes that she’d received from the Craigslist ad for her replacement. I was out the following week, having thrown out my back. When I returned to the office the following week, I was expecting to find a brand new face waiting for me. Instead, I got called into a meeting in the middle of the afternoon and was offered the position, making me the all-in-one office support I intended to be. This mean I would have to resign from my part time job with my previous employer, but when I interviewed at the new place, the question *was* posed as to where I’d fall if I were told they needed me join the team full-time, to which I’d replied I would definitely do it. It was sad to slowly phase out over the course of a few weeks, but the time spent in transit traveling the 9 miles out to La Mesa and back working for someone already in semi-retirement in comparison to a 13-15 minute bike ride (and that only because of city traffic) for a new venture made all the logical sense. Now fully able to take a page out of the millenial playbook and forego car ownership and its many expenses and rely on biking and ridesharing, I’ve been completely in love with my commute. Being someone that actively recycles and cares about the planet, trading in a carbon footprint and ongoing fuel/maintenance expenses for some moderately light exercise feels like a major win.

In regard to the job itself, it’s been a fun and engaging challenge juggling multiple projects and learning how to work for two people instead of just one as well as having to learn and adjust to their expectations and styles of communication. Project-wise, designing and implementing a filing system and an AP/AR processing workflow tailored to the needs of the company has been the focus of my time thus far. The volume of the backlog and having to design around *multiple* operating entities and partnerships instead of a singular business entity has been frustrating at times, but reaching the final stages of execution and being able to see how I’ve tamed the mess has been far more gratifying. My days are never slow, and I get to spend them working with two really great guys, and two days a week, a sweet-yet-feisty older lady.

Admittedly, the busy days at the office have been leaving me fairly gassed out. With barely enough energy to tend to household maintenance, I haven’t been as proactive with my running/exercise as I was before, and I’ve fallen behind on keeping my personal life as organized as the businesses I do it for during working hours. But I have been giving a lot of thought on the the next push forward. At the start of the month, the guys at work paid for me to go take a notary certification class & exam. Seeing as how this is the third job in a row that has ended up pertaining to homes and property, I’ve pretty much settled on the idea of taking classes next year to get my real estate license. All the while, I still haven’t given up on content creation and web development or this blog, so I’ve got a lot in the pipeline. Regardless of how “ready” I feel, life’s at a point now where it’s time to think less and just act.

False Start

In what feels like the blink of an eye, January 2016 is already about to be over, and the past 30 days haven’t exactly been the best for me. I ended 2015 on a high and optimistic note, but in the weeks since then, I’ve been dealing with what has felt like systematic physiological failure. I can’t recall the exact order and/or duration, but off the top of my head, this month I’ve had:

  • Bronchitis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Persisting knee joint pain
  • Soreness on the balls of my feet
  • Oral inflammation
  • Dental pain (I think those wisdom teeth are now effectively on borrowed time)

It seems that fall last December was just the tip of the iceberg, and continuous wave of physical illnesses — along with the early nights and cold winter weather — knocked the fight out of me. As soon as I felt good to go and over one thing, the next one would kick in. Rather than getting bummed out and depressed about it, I ended up mentally checking out, using a fair amount of marijuana to mitigate the pain & discomfort and shifting my diet to one where I’d eat whatever the hell I wanted to.

To say to myself (and write publicly online) about this big push to make with the coming new year only to find myself betrayed by my body and incapable of following through…old, broken, hopeless…those are the types of thoughts I was frequently visited by. Even though I didn’t let the feelings take hold and get to me, it didn’t make the thoughts I was thinking throughout this time any less tiresome to process and push out of mind.

All of this is “the latest”, the reality that I have as a material for an update, and it’s obviously not the entry I would have wanted to find myself composing one month into the new year. In addition to being something I’d rather not have to think/talk/write about, doing so would then require doing something about it, which the past weeks have left me doubtful about being able to do.

Even now, this cloudy & windy Sunday afternoon, I’m not feeling anywhere near 100%. Honestly, it feels like my max has lowered and 80% is as good as I can get. Still, looking back on where my thought processes and general outlook has been this month, I’ve been contradicting my personal philosophy and resilient self-perception. Best to put a stop to it now rather than let it become the precedent for the remaining 11 months.

Unshipped

November seemed to just fly by, and all of a sudden, the final month of 2015 is now well underway. This one’s a particularly big deal for me, as I have a February birthday and with the coming of 2016 looms the inevitability of turning another decade older. Doing some reflective thinking on both the year and my life as a whole, I find myself feeling admittedly overwhelmed. My 20’s have been a decade-long ordeal — half spent spiraling into the depths of depression, the other half crawling and fighting my way out. It’s only in the past couple years that I’ve started to pull myself together as I intended to, and the pressing realization of just how much lost time I have to try to make up for bears down on me every day. I’m going to be turning 30, but vocationally and academically I’m not much further along than those who’ve just turned 20. All the time and energy that should have been applied on those fronts I’ve ended up having to allocate towards figuring out my damage and fix it, all the while feeling like shit for having it and for not being able to resolve it quickly and easily. More specific to this year, I’ve made constant mention of making a “harder push”: mapping out and manage my time with deadly efficiency, maximize productivity & learning, expanding the focus/frequency/insensity of my workouts, and improving as a writer. So far, the closest I feel that I’ve gotten to embodying that was back in August of this year when I ran a cumulative distance of over 200 miles.

During a recent listen to an old episode of Back to Work, the following question was posed to listeners:

What Haven’t You Shipped, and Why?

I decided to start blogging again years ago as an accountability mechanism and as a progressive journal. For the longes time, I didn’t write much because I felt I didn’t have much progress to log. Yet, with all that’s changed/improved over the recent past, the output doesn’t reflect that. As for why:

  • On Guard

In my entry about Thanksgiving this year, I made mention of how openly I write about myself publicly but am very guarded when it comes to discussing myself in person. Similarly, I write more freely about myself when it concerns my past, but when it comes to the present or recent events, there’s a heavy reluctance to do so. Partly because I’m still somewhat figuring that out on a day-to-day basis, and partly because of…

  • Sense of Lack of Authority

Writing about being a depressed trainwreck of a person is easy — it’s what I’ve lived most recently for such a prolonged period of time, it’s what I know best. In areas of other relevant interests, like Greek stoicism and Buddhism, I’m such an unlearned novice that trying to take those on as writing topics feels like it would only result in uninformed noise.

  • Time Mismanagement

As stated above, there’s a lot of other things that I’ve got on my plate in terms of personal improvement. Physical fitness goals, career skill development, hobbies. In constantly shifting my focus across the board instead of dedicating time to hone in on one at a time, I’ve been getting a whole lot of nothing done.

  • Good Old Fashioned Procrastination & Laziness

Enough said.

Ultimately, these are excuses more than they are reasons, in spite of whatever amount of validity there is behind them. Last month, I thought I’d be able to pull off a repeat of August with my running and get a lot of writing done riding the NaNoWriMo wave. That got derailed, but already finding myself a week into the last month of the year, I’m feeling the fire under my ass I should have been channeling last month.

The Better Personal Quality That Was Lost

Shortly after typing up yesterday’s blog entry, I headed over to join the friends for that Thanksgiving day dinner I’d mentioned in the post closing. I’d been invited via direct message from the host, so I had no idea what it was that I was walking into as there wasn’t a social media event page whose guest list I could review in advance. I hadn’t really questioned it, and assumed that it’d be a gathering of the usuals when these sort of things come along. I arrived to a party of nine people, out of which only five I had anticipated. Three of them — the host’s housemate and two of his friends — left shortly after eating dinner, leaving me in very mixed company. On one hand, there was my best friend and two other good friends; on the other highly ambivalent hand, the best friend’s boyfriend, a former flame who was the first person I’d ever fallen in love with back in the final years of my age ending in -teen that I haven’t seen in ages, and his present long-time boyfriend/partner/whatever it is they would call themselves.

In other words: three people I would have chosen to spend the holiday with, and three people who are not a part of my life and effectively strangers but have some degree of history with that leaves me generally disinterested in socializing with them, given the personal sharing and “opening up” that doing so entails.

The initial leg of the evening felt stilted and awkward, something that I attributed to my general outlook on Thanksgiving day itself and not to the present company. That, and my sober state of mind. Shortly after the first hour, I decided to lend myself a hand a socially lubricate by helping myself to a few shots of whiskey. Not soon after I did so, I ended up in a “catch-up” exchange with Mr. First Love from my old past life. Admittedly, it was actually somewhat enjoyable, a brief glimpse (albeit a severely anemic imitation) of that closeness we had once upon a long time ago. Up until the question of family came up.

“How are your sisters?”
“I wouldn’t know, I haven’t had anything to do with my family for years now.”
“But what about all your nephews and nieces?”
“None of them either, they’re all just collateral losses”
“That’s unforunate, you used to be so close with your family…that was always one of your better qualities.”

I responded with a cold and matter-of-factly tone that it was something that it was something that did unfortunately need to happen and ultimately nothing more than the price required to be paid in order for me to find and take on other far better personal qualities. Naturally, his follow up question was “…like what?”, but luckily more people came into the room, providing the opportunity to break away from the “serious” conversational topic at hand to something more general everyone could partake in…and in turn, sparing me from having to fill him on the events of the past years and sharing about present self to provide context.

From that point on, I grew increasingly disinterested as the night wore on. As much as I told myself that I should be trying to enjoy the moment like I’d intended to before leaving home, after that exchange, all I could think about was how I should be using that time productively rather than socially. All I wanted to do was to be home by myself and using that time and energy to exercise or work on my present goals rather than having face-to-face discussions whose underlying themes were how drastically different I’ve become from the individual they all remember me as, especially in relation to the topic of family that I’d written about just hours earlier. I stayed for a little while longer, but took my leave and made for home right around 10PM before calling it an early night and climbing into bed.

Now, as I’ve been typing out this narration of the last night, I’ve been asking myself “where am I going with this?” At face value, it reads like I had the loss of family (and Thanksgiving with them) that I was trying to get away from inadvertently thrown in my face and subsequently ruining the night. In actuality, it serves to highlight the big difference between my thought process when I’m thinking (and writing) to myself and when I have discuss myself with others. For instance, in regard to privacy, I’ll publicly post what I write when I earnestly reflect on myself and think nothing of it; but when it comes to actually talking about myself in face-to-face conversation with others, I’m very highly guarded and withholding. Similarly, when I reflect on my life, my past, and present person with myself, I think of all the things I’ve lost along the way and the struggles I’ve faced alone…but when it comes to sharing it with others, I exemplify that calm acceptance and empowered bravado I want to naturally default to when I’m thinking to myself, especially since that’s what I end up writing & posting. The lamentation of my first post in the day is what I think; the aloof detachment and general “nothing” with which I was discussing my non-existent familial relationships is what I feel. Effectively, living with the pain of memory without the burden of suffering. It’s not something that’s exactly new on a day-to-day basis, but it is the first time that the holidays haven’t caused it to go flying out the window and reverting back to old thought/behavioral patterns.

As far as the effort to reconnect with my ability/willingness to be warm & open with people and the holiday spirit goes, last night wasn’t a smashing success by any means. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Still, it went fairly well considering it’s the first time in years that I’ve made some semblance of an active effort instead of just being a hermetic turkey-day scrooge. But when it comes to resolving my outlook towards Thanksgiving, strengthening my personal self-awareness, and ceasing to pine for times & people long since past, improvements were definitely made.

Return to Form

At this point, it’s been well over a month since the last time I posted an update. In the time since, I’ve meant to buckle down and post an entry many times, but I’ve been in a weird place this past month. It was not unlike those old behavioral loops I used to be prone to, only without the nagging rumination and general mental “funk” of times past. After all the insane amounts of running I did in August & September and all the social activity in my off-time during those months, I simply burned out. I lost touch with my drive, my thumos, and stopped working out regualrly and abandoned my self studies, opting for escapism instead and losing myself in video games and Netflix.

Throughout that time, I kept telling myself to pull it together and get “back to work”, but I didn’t. Couldn’t. I completely lost interest in myself and my projects. I kept trying to think of all the things I had running about in my head that I wanted to get out and commit to text, but was unable to muster up the intent to get it done.

Now, in what feels like a literal blink of an eye, I find myself at the start of a new month. I finally it together enough to write out one of my “life snapshot” entries in my offline journal, and seeing my current reality reflected back at me hard coded in words has jarred me back to my senses. There’s still so much to do, and time, as always, continues to tick away.

Lebensgefühl

Seems it’s been a whole month since I last composed an update. Life’s been full of change and really busy since the end of the previous month. My best friend and long time roommate moved out, leaving me facing the prospect of being out in the world and sharing living space with someone I didn’t have an existing relationship with for the first time ever. After doing the interview rounds on Craigslist, I ended up with a 25 year old guy from Germany that’s going to be studying at San Diego State University for a year.

From the night I picked him up at the airport, it’s been a non-stop month full of activity. Since he had the first three weeks as down time before the semester started, we’ve been going around getting him setup for his stay (getting cell phone service, a bank account, etc.) and familiarized with the city. Even on workdays, soon as I’ve gotten home and knocked out a run, we’ve been off to go explore San Diego. All that foot travel has been definitely helping with the weight loss efforts — every weekend, I’ve been matching/exceeding my running miles (5-8) with our sight-seeing walks.

As far as a roommate goes, I think I got really lucky. He’s very easy going, and generally open to trying anything and maximizing his experience here in the US. Almost every night we’ve gone out to a sit-down place, we’ve ended up meeting new people and sharing a dinner table with complete strangers.

One of the German words he’s taught me that I really like is lebensgefühl, which means one’s “awareness & attitude towards life”; mine has improved greatly over the past few weeks. I feel fully locked and engaged with life now, steadily moving forward. The memories of the past few years, all the posts I’ve drafted along the way, seem feel completely foreign to me. That place of confusion, fear, doubt, and helplessness, all those past burdens I couldn’t unshoulder, all left behind for good and determinedly a place I am literally incapable of returning to. I don’t worry about myself having relapses into depression and unhelpful mental/behavioral loops because they don’t apply to me anymore.

This sense of completeness and confidence in both it and myself are what I’ve been relentlessly pursuing the past decade. To deconstruct, analyze, and reform an entire lifetime and personality was a hell of a process. Now, starting to really see and believe myself to be that person I’ve aspired to be, that opposite of the mental/emotional damaged mess I used to be, it’s good to have my inner monologue back in a supporting role, no longer the harsh and hyper-critical warden I forced it to become.

Readjusted. Rebalanced. Refocused. And ready to get shit done.

Hesitations

Over the past week since my last entry, I’ve been putting constant thought towards my next update, but haven’t been able to firmly nail down what to address. I try to focus myself by asking the question “what is it I’m trying to communicate?” Immediately, I’m flooded with so many different ideas itching to be transposed from thought to text, but as I start mapping one out mentally, I trace dependencies on other past events/people/places that I’d need to also write about in order to provide full and proper context and get overwhelmed by all that needs to be written. It feels like I need to author an autobiography of my life so far for everything I have to say to make sense, but it also feels ridiculous to put time and energy in diving deep into the past when my present and the subsequent future demand are so demanding of my attention.

I tell myself that I’d already have it done after all these years if I’d spent even a fraction of the time I’ve put into that repeated deliberation towards writing, and that it probably wouldn’t end up taking nearly as long as I imagine it would if I made a concentrated effort. Once I get those doubts pushed out of the way, I leave myself confronted by my final and greatest hesitation: the burdens and responsibilities of disclosing truths.

Little over a decade ago, when the beginnings of my inward spiral were freshly transpired, I took to the internet and wrote about them. Since the internet was screen-name driven and largely anonymous at that time, I was safe behind the cover of whatever LiveJournal username I had in use at the time. So I wrote about myself, my family, and what had happened then, overflowing with unbridled rage and hatred. I removed them from the web sometime in the early 2000’s, and since then have not allowed myself to write about them until I’d achieved the capacity to revisit those memories without being affected by them; emotional bias has a tendency to skew the truth, and likely being the only documented perspective on the events of my past, I’ve been very hesistant to believe myself capable of creating a record that accurately reflects reality.

Even if I now feel myself capable of doing so, my life hasn’t always been the isolated existence I’ve forced on myself in the recent years. Even if I were to avoid using names and stuck to relative references to people, public records and online social networks make it very easy to pinpoint a person’s identity. I’ve made my peace with airing my personal past public knowledge, but the inherent nature of also making parts of other peoples’ past as well in the process isn’t lost on me. And it makes the thought of playing the part of historian feel like a very arrogant prospect.

But at this point, it’s just something that has to be done – my alternative is to throw in the towel and sweep everything under the rug by purging all of my internet records, which even then wouldn’t guarantee anonymity and something I refuse to ever do again. So over the past few days, I’ve been firing up Scrivener in small stints, getting familiarized with the application and cobbling together the story of the past 28 years. My expectation is the more I get through it, the more I’ll be able to work out those reservations I have through refinement.

When I Write About Myself

I loaded up the last entry I wrote to give it a secondary review before switching it from “draft” to “published” status, and that inner-critical voice immediately got to work. The situation being my own mind attacking itself, I was just as much criticising everything I write as I was that single entry.

If you’re supposedly not that person anymore, why can’t you just drop it and leave it alone for good?

You read like a badly written petulant & pretentious closet-narcissist.

Is this finally going to go anywhere, or are we circling back to pointless babble. Again.

Self-acceptance: I’m constantly an asshole to myself, but that’s how I move myself forward; doubt is how areas for improvement are recognized. My inner monologue is not a positive self-affirming voice – and that’s okay. The potential pitfall to this approach, the one I not too long ago was deep into, is letting the drill sergeant take control and actually break you. Moreso if you’re the self-aware introspective type; knowingly completely how flawed your thinking is, and being powerless to break away from it.

So I tell myself to stop being a dick, but that I have good points. After so much time already invested (and even wasted) on “looking back”, it does make more sense to focus on the present & future instead of putting it back towards things already past. Considering all the greater adversities that other people are facing and conquering every passing day, this tireless determination to tell the story of my own makes me feel that I must either be really in love with myself or addicted to dwelling in my past misery.

So I tell myself to stop being a dick again; I should know better than anyone to accuse myself of being in love with myself having spent day after day for years feeling the polar opposite of that sentiment. And sure, my story may not be anything worthy of a Hollywood prestige biopic, but it’s still my own. Flawed, fucked up, and unproud of it as I may feel about it a lot of the time, it’s what I have to tell, much as I wish it were a different story entirely. Most people spend their 20’s in self discovery and adventures in life, big and small. Mine have been consumed by a decade-long war against myself.

It may be counterintuitive to progress to keep focus on that huge part of my life I’ve written off, but the way the world is, keeping it to myself and burying it in the past does my little good, but putting it out there, in whatever pieces it comes in, may do someone else some good. May just be pointless hopeful idealism, but “dare to dream”, as they say. That, and I’ve already started – even though it’s a decision my present self would probably make differently, I can’t leave business unfinished.

Snails, Sprain, Pain, and Sloth

Over the past few weeks, I’ve started joining one of my co-workers on her lunch time walk. She’s an older middle aged woman of a heavy body type who’s recently started getting focused on losing weight, and using my breaks for exercise instead of hanging out making conversation at the smoking area seemed like a more judicious use of my time. On Friday, I took all of my gear – sensors, armband, headphones – intent on getting some running done. I planned on running ahead in short bursts, then running back to her as she power-walked up our route, and jogging in place when making conversation.

RunKeeper Activity - 06..06.2014
Back and forth, back and forth…

As we exited the parking lot, I turned and started jogging backwards while encouraging her to start picking up the pace, having given her a target walking pace of 15 minutes per mile on one of our walks earlier in the week. She was wrapping up something she was doing on her phone, and when she finally looked up, she told me to watch out for the snails. I’d been jogging backwards with my gaze fixed on her the whole time, and hadn’t registered what was behind me for a good while. When I looked down, I saw the sidewalk covered in a tiny mine field of snail shells. At the same time I noticed them, my right step happened to land right on top of one, which let out a resounding crunch as it buckled under my foot. My reverse jog became a burst of blind unplanned hops to avoid stepping on any more snails, and one of my landings with my left foot ended sticking at the wrong angle; my ankle gave way and I felt my foot fold in on itself, letting out a sharp snap that almost sounded like the snail shell I’d crushed moments earlier.

My co-worker gasped, and asked with serious concern if I was okay. She’d seen and heard how violent the ankle injury had been, and her mom instinct clearly kicked in. I took a few moments to assess the ankle, and only feeling a faint tingle of pain, decided that I’d still go with her on our route. I did my running as planned, and had very little issue with the activity. However, once we finished and got back to our desks, the more the day went on, the more I found it harder to support myself or even walk using my left ankle. After work, I struggled to get about and run errands done without ceding to the pain and maintaining a normal walking stride. On my way home, I stopped at a taco shop to grab something to eat, and was very happy to finally arrive to the comfort of my couch. I elevated the ankle and applied ice to it, fully appreciating for the first time in my life the relief that applying cold to an injury.

I spent my afternoon and evening bouncing between video games and the new season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Saturday, I woke up still unable to walk or bear weight on my ankle. I ordered in a bunch of food for the day and Sunday, and spent my whole weekend incapacitated on the couch indulging in those distractions. I’ve been a bad little piggy this weekend, and have undoubtedly set myself back some weight loss. From the feel of it, I think I’ll be back to walking tomorrow, and run-ready by Tuesday afternoon. I eagerly await being able to get back to work.

Smoking (as in “,Quitting”)

It’s bad for you. Common sense, right? Hard to believe that I’ve had this habit for almost 10 years now. The irony about this is that I used to be so vehemently opposed to smoking as child, to the point where I would insert toothpicks in the center of all of my Mom’s cigarettes in a vain effort to dissuade her from the habit. I first started smoking back in my high school days when I found out about the existence of Djarum clove cigarettes. I stuck with those delightful cylindrical flavor bombs until recently, when Obama signed a bill that rendered the sale of all flavored cigarettes (save menthol, of course) illegal. At the time, I figured that I would be force to drop the habit, since I never cared for the taste of normal cigarettes. Then, Chris introduced me to the menthol cigarette. It wasn’t nearly as good as my beloved cloves, but it wasn’t too terrible and it got the job done.

In part of my redefinition of my life, I had determined that I can’t continue with this habit. It’s both extremely detrimental to my health, and counterproductive to all of my goals. I downloaded the Livestrong quitting coach app for the iPhone a while back. However, I didn’t write or post about it, as doing so would legitimize a commitment to seeing it through. Now, it’s a must.

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The app is not only very well designed and responsive, but also extensively featured considering it has a pretty streamlined and simple focus. It’s got a nice customizable motivational home screen, detailed tracking, and taking a page from Xbox Live, ACHIEVEMENTS! That’s right: quitting smoking is now like a game. A very fucking stressful and challenging game.

So, without further ado, my customized quitting plan:

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<p>I’d say wish me luck, but I’ve got unshakable determination on my side.