A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Today is a good day!

It is absolutely beautiful outside today.  The weather started out a bit over-cast and dreary, but by mid day the sun had come out and it proved to actually be quite nice.  Walking back from the gym today, I thought I would blog about how I had spoken too soon and finally summer had arrived.  So I pulled out my iPhone to look at the weather app and see what blissfully balmy temperature we had finally achieved…

Oh well, it felt nice anyway.  That’s what really matters!

Today started out kind of crazy.  I arrived at work at 9:00, intending to go to the gym at 10:00 so I could be in and back out before things got too crazy crowded.  When I arrived my boss was nowhere to be found, but there’s nothing unusual about that.  Soon after, however, the lights in the office flickered for a moment and when I looked at my computer again the screen was completely blank.  I hadn’t touched it in several minutes so I thought maybe it had just gone to sleep.  Fortunately, there was no real damage and it restarted with no issues, but in the course of juggling the multiple phone calls that flooded our offices over the next several minutes, I found out that this had been happening for at least an hour and that one of our other buildings in Downtown had lost power entirely.  My boss was at that building dealing with the situation as that building manager was on vacation today.

Anyway, due to the excessive activity in the office I couldn’t go the gym as early as I had hoped and finally headed out at 2:00.  As it turns out 2:00 is an awesome time to go, at least on Fridays, at least on this Friday, at least at this location.  The space was not at all crowded and I was able to do everything I needed to do with minimal impediments.  I even had the shower room all to myself today which has never happened.

When I left the gym, I was really craving something cold and sweet (I usually do) and there’s a Starbuck’s on the way back to the office, but I resisted the urge.  My drink of choice is a venti Java Chip Lite Frappuccino.  Three hundred calories, which is actually fewer than I would have thought, but still not needed.  I resisted the urge and came back to the office to eat my “Bananarama Turbocharged Yogurt” instead.  It’s a cup of fat-free vanilla yogurt (kind of tastes like cake batter) with a banana sliced up and a tablespoon of chopped walnuts.  It’s actually quite tasty, but it didn’t hit the spot I needed hit.  Now I just have to fight the urge to stop at a Starbuck’s on the drive home.  After all, it may only be 300 calories, but given the four glazed donuts I had this morning for breakfast, I really think I should pass… dammit.  I hate that pink box of sugary goodness badness that my boss brings in EVERY FRIDAY!

I’m looking forward to a fairly quiet week-end.  Tomorrow is laundry day.  I’ll take two weeks worth of clothes and linens to Michelle’s house and hang out for the day.  We may go out for lunch, and we may do a minimal amount of grocery shopping but since I haven’t got much money, that should be pretty quick.  Mostly we’ll just hang out at her apartment and watch movies and play games, board and/or video (Mario Kart is our drug) and enjoy each others company.

Lil’B’s family went out of town for the week-end so I have Sunday free which will be nice.  Not that I don’t enjoy spending time with him, but these week-ends when I have laundry to do, I have no time for myself and I’m looking forward to a quiet day at home.  I’m sure I’ll do a bit of housework but that’s good to.

For the first time in quite a while, there’s been a very small amount of movement on my quest to obtain enough financial aid to go to school full time.  Not much movement at all and not even enough to report on just yet, but it’s some movement at least.  I’m hopeful for progress to be made!

Today is a good day!

I Got Nuthin’

So I really don’t have anything to say today and I should probably just allow today to go by without a post, but I’ve been doing so well lately, I just hate to skip a day.

So I have a pointless confession to make:

Everyday when I’m going home and I close down my final Microsoft program, I wave good-bye to the kitty office assistant as he jumps off the screen.

You’re welcome.  Carry on.

Get Out Of My Head

It’s amazing really how quickly and easily I can get wrapped up in my own head.  I guess that’s the right way to put that.  I’m not really sure.

I re-read yesterday’s post and I realized I didn’t really covey my sentiments as well as I would have liked and I wondered why.  Do I not know what I’m feeling?  I thought I did.  Am I unable to articulate it?  I know lots of words but sometimes I’m not as good as I think I am at stringing them together in the right way.  Am I afraid to say what I really mean?  Possibly, but if so why?  And I think, really, that’s the answer.

For all the talk about how I keep this blog for me, and it’s my thoughts, and my commitment to honesty, and blah blah blah, I do find that as I – I’m going to contradict myself here – as I form connections with the very small handful of readers/commenters (there are a handful of people who only comment to me on Twitter) the more I think about these real people who will read my blog and what they will think when they do and then I start to sensor myself.

Part of my real life job, though not in my job description, is risk assessment.  I spend a lot of time thinking about how actions will affect people, how they will react to them.  I spend inordinate amounts of time planning for likely eventualities.  And I’m good at it, which perhaps doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

My point is, that’s kind of where my head is most of the time; planning, softening blows, anticipating outcomes and reactions.  So maybe when I’m writing, and I’m thinking about you and you and even you reading what I’m writing, maybe I’m getting too caught up in my head, thinking of all the ways you might react to what you read and how you might respond in your comments.  Maybe I’m managing your expectations, your responses, in advance, somehow.

I made a commitment to being honest when I started this blog, and I can say that I have absolutely upheld that commitment, unless you want to split hairs and say that a lie of omission is still a lie.  It’s true that everything I have said is true.  It’s also true that I have not said certain things for fear of the reaction it would get.  It is also true that I have… softened some of the things that I have said so as not to illicit pittying replies, or words of encouragement that won’t really hit the spot.  (See, even as I write that paragraph, I fear how it will be received; that someone, somewhere, will think “well, fine!  I just won’t try to encourage you at all anymore!  Hmmmph!” and I’m not saying that.  I guess the truth is, it’s not the encouragement that I want to avoid so much as the assumption I make in conjunction with that encouragement: that the person doing the encouraging now thinks I’m a pathetic, whinny looser.

So clearly, I need to work on getting out of my head.  Spend less time worrying about what you all will think, and more time sorting out my thoughts and feelings and making them make sense in written word.  I need to put more energy into “full confession” and less into “polite commentary”.

My commitment to you is that I will try.

What’s So Bad About Being Alone Anyway?

I had my bi-weekly therapy appointment today.

It never ceases to amaze me how some weeks I feel worse when I leave than I did when I got there.  It’s not always like that, but sometimes it is, and today was one of those times.

Our conversation started out awkward as I told her I wouldn’t be able to pay her until our next visit.  Too many automatic bills on the same payday as my rent is due.  It’s out of my hands… Only it’s not really, but I don’t know how to control it… yet.  I couldn’t help feeling like — I don’t know what, really.  Deb said it was almost like I was afraid I was going to get into trouble.  Maybe she’s right, I don’t know.

It’s not like she has to worry.  She knows I’ll pay her for both sessions next time.  It’s happened a few times before when the timing was bad and I’ve always made good on my bill.  I’ve never given her any reason to worry that I’ll skip out on her.  I feel guilty though, because she’s self-employed and relies on the payments from her– what am I a patient?  A client?  I don’t really even know.  But I can only assume that, unlike me, she is not living paycheck to paycheck.

I don’t know.  Maybe I wanted her to tell me exactly how this would affect her, or more specifically, how it would not affect her.  Maybe I wanted her to let me off the hook when in truth, I’m the one who had me on the hook in the first place.

From there our conversation turned to my relationship with money and what I lacked growing up and my need to fill the void.  I talked for a bit about the financial lack I grew up with and how earlier in my adult life (not so terribly long ago at all, actually) I had a bad habit of frivolously spending money and then not having enough for the things for which I needed it.  I’ve made significant improvements in that respect; thinking carefully about how and on what I’m spending my money and whether or not it’s worth the expense, whether I can truly afford it.  I’ve learned a lot and done a much better job of controlling my finances each pay period and what I’ve learned is that I now need to work on effectively managing my money on a monthly basis, carrying over funds from one pay period to the next as needed to cover expenses that the next check won’t be big enough to cover.

This whole being a grown-up thing kinda sucks.  I really hate “I can’t afford it” being the thing that holds me back, the thing that keeps me from doing what I want to do.  But it is and it does.  Being a grown-up kinda sucks.

Then Deb said she felt like we weren’t just talking about money, lacking material things.  She thinks there’s a relevant connection between the lack of material goods that I’m apparently trying to make up for (or at least I was) and the lack of emotional provisions I grew up with.

This is an old song, and if you’ve heard it before, please forgive me and skip down a few paragraphs.  But here’s the thing.  My parents split up when I was two years old.  I’m the youngest of three with a sister three years older and a brother five years older than I am.  My Father cheated on my Mother and ultimately left us for the other woman.  I saw him on two week-ends a month (sometimes less) and the other two watched him come to the house and take away one of my siblings and leave me behind.  (He thought he was doing a good thing by spending one week-end alone with each of us, and then the fourth one with all three.)

My mother was clinically depressed and had nothing to give her children in the form of emotional support or availability.  She didn’t manage her money well and left her family lacking in material possessions and good food on a regular basis.  She was always “too tired” to deal with her children.  She never helped with homework, she never “played” with her children.  She never even wanted to listen to us.  Oh, I could tell you stories about her inability to be available, but suffice it to say, she wasn’t emotionally available and she wasn’t paying attention enough to know what that was doing to her children.

My brother hated me.  He used to beat me regularly.  The world is a different place now, but if we were kids today, we’d have been separated and taken out of my mother’s home by now.

My sister and I got along OK, but she’s three years older and there came a time when she was more interested in teenager things, and her friends outside of the home, than she was in me.

I was unpopular and relentlessly teased in elementary and middle school.  And in middle and high school, my mother never approved of the people who actually did want to be my friends.  She wouldn’t let me go out with my friends.  She’d yell at me to get off the phone with them after 15-20 minutes. And they couldn’t understand what the situation was.  Eventually, she drove a wedge between me and each of them, until being my friend was just too much trouble for them to go to.

I was alone all the time, even in a room full of people.  It sucked, but I got used to it.

I truly believe I have worked through most of the anger and pain that I felt for so long over the lack of emotional connections growing up.  But despite working through those things, I don’t know how to “undo” the damage.  I’m working from a deficit, here.  I don’t know how to do emotional connections and I’m not at all convinced that it’s worth learning, even if I could.

I told Deb, “I don’t know how to fix that ‘lack.’  I don’t have any control over that, so I just focus on what I can control; money, things.”

And then we stared at each other for several agonizing seconds, like we were in some sort of Mexican stand-off.  Maybe I was trying to convince her, maybe she was waiting for me to reconsider.

People are so afraid of being alone.  They’re so afraid to be alone that they’ll stay in bad relationships, years after they’ve stopped being any value at all.  People hop into bed with the first person who shows interest in them, all in the name of emotional connection; trying to fill the void of love left by their parents or other significant figures.  Only it never works and people hop out of that bed and into the next one, over and over, just trying to find something that can’t be found in the first place, and for what?  So that they won’t be alone?

But I’m used to being alone and it’s not so bad.  I’ve got no one to answer to. No one to fight for the remote, or argue over what shows to watch.  No one to clean up after.  No one to be dissatisfied with how much, or how well, I clean up after myself.  No one to hog the covers at night or squirm in the bed while I’m trying to sleep.  No one taking up space in the closet or dresser.  I go where I want to go, do what I want to do, watch what I want to watch, listen to what I want to listen to.  I deal with my own problems and I don’t have to listen to anyone else’s.

So really!  What’s so bad about being alone, anyway?

The End of The World As We Know It

I’m continuing this habit of going to the gym during the workday in order to make sure it happens.  So far so good, but on my way back to the office today something unexpected happened.

As I walked up the tree-lined sidewalk across from the park next to my building a strong gust of wind blew down the street.  The gust of wind is not particularly unusual.  The far end of Harrison Street begins by emerging from an underwater tunnel from Alameda, serving as the primary means of reaching downtown Oakland from the far side of an estuary.  In other words, the street begins at the edge of a body of water.  Alameda is a relatively small island, and beyond it is the San Francisco Bay.

Incidentally, the beach on which I spent my afternoon yesterday, flying kites with Lil’B and, as it turns out, getting a rather unusually shaped but bright red sunburn on my right forearm and backs of both calves, which, naturally I was completely unaware of until later in the evening when I randomly scratched an itch on my arm with my meant-to-clip-those-a-week-ago too long finger nails before crying out in pain and looking down to see my glowing red flesh with the half inch wide pale strip where my LiveStrong bracelet had protected my skin, was in Alameda and the waves that rushed upon the shore were in fact from the San Francisco Bay and not the Pacific Ocean.   (Was that really all one sentence?  Heather Armstrong would be so proud.)

Lil’B spent more time with his kite in the air and looking at the ground collecting Sea Shells than he did actually paying attention to his kite which only prompted me to reprove him, I don’t know, A FEW HUNDRED TIMES.  “You’re getting too close to that tree, you’re gonna get tangled up.”  “You’ve got to keep your distance or our kites are gonna get stuck together.”  “My kite is not coming after yours, but that’s why you’ve got to keep a little distance between us.”  Finally, I reeled my kite in and followed him around as he wondered up and down the beach looking for more shells.  He told me, though how he would know I have no idea, that he’s going to have to collect sea shells for his class next year in the third grade.  I’m not sure what was behind that statement, but I told him I guessed we’d have to make some more trips to some more beaches then.  So all of that is to say that you can potentially look forward to more beach pictures that are of the actual Pacific Ocean in the future… Maybe.  Also, that my skin really hurts.

But I digress.

This wind tunnel affect on Harrison Street is not an unusual thing especially since there is a “lake” on the far side of the park and my building is surrounded by wind causing bodies of water.  So as I walked up the street, it wasn’t the gust of wind that caught me by surprise; I’m used to that and it felt kind of nice after heating myself up in the gym.  No, what surprised me was the considerable number of dried or drying leaves that fell from the trees.  It is still July, isn’t it?

I am not a fan of extreme heat; it’s the reason I moved away from Oklahoma, after all.  I don’t mind it so much in the evenings when I’m at home and I can open up the doors and windows and wear fewer clothes to keep cool, but during the work day when I have already had my work-out and showered and I’m heading back to the office, I sure don’t want to be getting sweaty all over again if I can help it.  So with that in mind, I know better than to complain.  But I’m a bit surprised because while it is still July, it is also July and we haven’t had summer yet.  We’ve had only a handful, maybe a child sized handful, of days this year that have gotten into the 80s and many that have gotten just barely into the 70s, but most days it is in the 60s.  Being anti-heat (anti-sweating) as I am, I’m truly not complaining about this.  It’s just that, well, it’s rather like waiting for the other shoe to drop.  You know its coming.  It should have already happened, but it’s not.

A lot of the continent is experiencing summer now.  Places that are farther north than I am are having blazing hot, humid weather.  Even the southern half of the state I live in is having high heat, but here in the bay area…

And now we’re starting to experience autumn?  Are we skipping summer altogether this year?  Is this the end of the world as we know it?