How is it 2021, and there are no flying cars? I can’t believe The Jetson’s lied to us kids. No enlightened and serene humanity, no alliances with aliens??? We haven’t even been destroyed by wayward AI and the few survivors forced to live underground, hacking into said AI. The remains of humanity haven’t even been crushed by terminators. What is going on here?
I feel gypped!
Am I the only one dreading 2021?
Probably. I am not dreading it with the thought process of ‘what next?’. It is more like I want time to stop. Sure, my personal life didn’t change much. The lives of a lot of people did, and they suffered, which bothers me a lot. Three people that I sort of know but is related to my granddaughter got coronavirus. It was rough on two of them. I have been exposed a few times because of it. My youngest grandson got into some medication and spent a few days in the hospital, tripping out and not in a fun way. I am just glad it was not my medication, not sure I could live with that. Not a fun end to 2020.
Covid is an awful thing, made worse by some of the most undisciplined, soft, and selfish people I have ever seen in my life. No one asked you to storm the beaches at Normandy. That is even discounting the multiple, pointless runs on household staples. I don’t think I have ever been as embarrassed to be an American as I have this past year. I remember when people actually listened to subject-matter experts and cared for their neighbors. Instead, they just make up random things to fit their selfish wishes.
Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.
Well, at least the orange stain in the White House is being scrubbed out. That is one of the only things to look forward to this coming year. The thought of who the next President will be is depressing. Sure, he is a million times better than that con man currently infecting the place. He is just not what is needed during these times, and his running mate is even less inspiring. Hopefully, changes will be made so that all of the crap that was pulled is never possible again. Clearly, the office of the President has become far too powerful. Congress is lazy and has delegated its responsibilities to the executive branch in the past 3 or 4 decades. This past four years, Congress decided to become a wing of the executive branch instead of the co-equal branch responsible for oversight that they were designed to be. The job of the President was never intended to be all-powerful. Politicians in the past assumed that the President would always work for the people and act in good faith. We have learned otherwise the past four years and became dangerously close to becoming a banana republic. I fear what would happen if a smart wanna-be dictator runs for President in the future.
There is so much to do. Both personally and our nation as a whole. Incremental steps are the way to progress, and stopping the bleeding is the first step, and that is all I expect the new President to do. Talk about low standards, but here we are. Maybe someday, we will elect someone intelligent, empathetic, and who has a real vision about how to pull this country into the current century.
Hopefully, enough people will be able to get the vaccine this year, and hopefully, it will stop the spread. We’ll see. Personally, new medicines scare me since I am so sensitive to so many types of medication. Luckily, I will be pretty far down on the list, despite all my issues. Because the US government apparently didn’t order enough, at least from one of the companies developing a vaccine, it will take longer to get it to everyone. I can wait and see how it goes. I have no life, so I am comfortable waiting. It is unknown at this time if vaccinated people can still spread the virus. Therefore, masks will be in our future for at least another year anyway, regardless of how many get vaccinated in the meantime.
A year from now, things should be looking up, and then we can probably see the end to this mess.
If it weren’t for all the sick people and the suffering, I would really enjoy all these lockdowns. Fewer cars and people on the street, the stores aren’t crowded, I get to hide my ugly face in public. Yes, I have avoidant personality disorder and am a grumpy curmudgeon. Why do you ask?
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that being completely dependent on the economy is not a good place to be. There has to be a better way to do things. We need to question all of our assumptions and figure out if doing things simply because that is how we have been doing it is really the best way forward. Sadly, there is no one in any position of power in Washington D.C. or anywhere capable of or willing to ask such questions, and certainly few forward-thinking people in the private sector. Everyone is too busy protecting their little fiefdoms to spend much time looking ahead so we can avoid similar problems in the future.
One little virus broke things or at least severely damaged them. Maybe I am being way too optimistic that we might learn something from all of this.
Maybe, working from home will be more common? That would be a huge positive if companies realized that all that office space is a waste of money and land. Imagine cutting down to half or more of the traffic at rush hour? That would have many benefits, economic and environmental. Maybe, just maybe, Americans will learn that a social safety net pays for itself many times over? Perhaps, people will understand that affordable education is critical to staying competitive? How many businesses that might have done great things never got off the ground because we foolishly tie health care to employment? How about learning that helping our fellow citizens to gain true equality is not a zero-sum task? You don’t lose by raising up traditionally marginalized people. That is a win for everyone.
As automation becomes better and better, having a workable solution to fewer jobs is worth more than the irrational fear of helping “others”, and of certain words. I am skeptical automation can replace every job. Lots of jobs are too complex for computers inside robots. Consider the hotel maid robot. That would be a fiendishly hard problem to solve. In both software and the mechanics of a robot. Even so, automation will be disruptive, and for the first time in history, advancements could very well hurt the workforce.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
There are many things that we should be doing differently, but will we? Not likely, as a group, it seems that humans are incapable of learning. Too many flaws in our ways of doing things have been laid bare in the past year. Time will tell if we learned anything. If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, perhaps that is it. Minor things that changed, like “why do we have to drag ourselves down to a theater and pay $7 for 50 cents worth of popcorn to watch a brand new movie?” or “why can’t some NFL practice squad members suit up on game day?” got solved. Hopefully not temporarily. For people that drink, at least in my state, alcohol can now be delivered with food. Why on earth was that not a thing before the pandemic? We do so many things with no reason or rhyme.
Even in small things, going back to the status quo would be an epic failure to learn anything.
Perhaps, watering our crops with Brawndo is the answer to all our problems?
Going back in time has some appeal, but it might not be as good since I would know the future. Of course, that means I could get a sports almanac before heading back in time. Although that didn’t really work all that well for Biff Tannen, did it?
Perhaps stopping time is okay?
Usually, I want time to stop because something great is happening, and I do not want it to end. If I had a superpower, that would be the one I want. Now, I want time to stop because there is nothing good coming in my future, and lots of bad. There is nothing good right now. The last few months have been painful, physically, and emotionally, and not just because of the bike accident. I am still working on getting the strength and range of motion in my shoulder back to normal, but it is so close. I even canceled one week of PT, and never returned, but I keep working on improving. It is uncomfortable having strangers that close to me, especially the massages.
My shoulder is about 95% of the way back for mobility. It is almost the same for strength, but only about 50% of where I want the strength to be.
The incision gets inflamed and hurts quite often. I was told that it could take a year for it to fully heal. It is not infected that danger is long past. There is another large scar on the same shoulder, although it is less than half the size of the new one, and it was nothing like this at all. Could it be that the difference is that the old incision was stapled because I was having seizures during the procedure, and the new incision was glued?
The reason time should stop is always emotional. Right now, I am just ‘blah.’ That is the best case I have to look forward to: ‘blah.’ I have no one to talk to, and judging from the past four months, that will not change. Yes, it can get worse than that. I guess it is possible things can get better, but it is always temporary. I guess this is the part of the never-be-happy-so-pain-doesn’t-follow theorem. If I am going to risk pain again because of happiness, there is really only one scenario - as unlikely as it now seems - where it is more than worth it. That would be worth 20 lifetimes of pain.
Anyway, the future will come since there is no time-stopping superpower to tap into, so I guess things must move ahead.
That is actually not true. There is no reason that I have to move forward, I can literally do nothing all day, and nothing bad will come of that, and nothing will change. Imagine that. Staying productive or doing nothing has the same result. Is that a good place to be?
I suppose there is some freedom in that, but it is also difficult to not stay self-motivated, which is strange to say. If you were to ask my master’s advisor to describe me, she would say: quiet and fiercely self-motivated. Being self-motivated is generally not a bad trait. Right now, with no hope and no real purpose, it is a very bad thing. Very bad. It gets in the way of wallowing in my sad little brain, which of course, would be the point of doing nothing all day.
That won’t happen even though doing nothing is a great money saver!
So the rest of this will be random whining (duh!) and a road map to get me through the next pointless year.
Oh well, onward, and um upward, I suppose.
New Year’s Resolutions are Lame!
Generally, I do not make them. It is an arbitrary date to make changes that can be made anytime, and that encourages procrastination. Too many industries cynically take advantage of it as well.
After New Year’s Eve, it is easy to say on the first that you will start on the second because you are tired and maybe hungover. Then on the second, you might still be recovering, or going back to work, so maybe next weekend? And so it goes. The way to do these things is to start at the time you decide to do it. To not be overwhelmed start slowly until it nears being a habit and then ramp it up.
I have goals that I am working on right now, and keeping up with them and improving is my not-a-new-year’s-resolution. Everything I would like to accomplish in the foreseeable future, I am on the path to them right now. That makes it easier. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that I can literally do nothing, forever. I answer only to myself, and it turns out that I am my toughest boss and critic. Lucky me!
Yes, self-motivation helps. When I have severe setbacks, it is more of a hindrance than it makes me feel worse. The sole trait I possess that others notice is self-motivation. I never need to be told to go beyond the minimum requirements. Whether in the military, university or at work. I usually need to be told that I am doing too much.
I am ashamed to admit I fell off that temporarily in the past two autumns, for different reasons that really shouldn’t have caused such upheaval. My bike ride last September 1 was literally the only thing I did that entire month, and the next month, that was related to my goals. Sure, I was pretty broken - seven fractures affected me for a while. Weird, right? - and had a rough surgery and a very hard recovery that severely impacted my mental health that month. Not to mention that I only had one functional arm. In hindsight, I had some sort of brain injury - regardless of what the CAT scan says. Not that my brain is all that functional on a good day, but the confusion and dizziness had to be from a head injury?
I don’t like to make excuses for myself, but maybe I had valid excuses. Probably not, I have been told more than a few times that there is no excuse for me.
So, the only new thing, or resolution - puke - that I am making is not to allow my mind to affect me so much when it is down and when it is hypomanic. I should always be the same every single day without any deviation. I am already good at interacting with people in the same way. Regardless of mood, headache, mind spinning, pretty much everything except seizure, you will get the same me every time. I can’t say the same about accomplishing goals. I shouldn’t do anything when depressed and should not spend so much money and be so aggressive in my plans when I am hypomanic. Neither depression nor hypomania should knock me off my plans.
I should not get too energetic or too depressed and listless, regardless of mood, headache, tiredness, anxiety, or any other reason. That will be a hard challenge, but life is boring if everything is easy, right? I don’t drink and will not be with others tonight past midnight, so there is no excuse for not starting, right?
It also means that I will strive to never allow myself to be happy. Horrible things happen every time I am genuinely happy. Every. Single. Time.
I don’t know why I am not allowed to be happy, but there is no doubt it is true. That doesn’t mean that I can not smile or love my kids or grandkids or anyone else. I just can’t allow happy feelings to overwhelm me to the point that I feel happy. Feeling content has never come back to hurt me. This is an easier challenge.
Sleep, Exercise and Projects
That is a good description of this coming year for yours truly. Meet the new year, same as the old year.
Sleep is odd but better. Like I wrote recently, I wanted to try and reset my sleep. It more or less worked. I can sleep most nights before 1 AM but every four or five days it goes bad for just one night. My average usage of my APAP machine is over 6 hours a night instead of the 3.5 it used to be. Instead of 100-120 hours a month of sleep, it is a bit over 200. That is a marker that it is getting better. It still takes about an hour to sleep, and probably 50% of the time, I wake without that stupid mask on my ugly face. So, it is not an accurate measure of how many hours of sleep, but at least it is a reasonable estimation. Last month, I was legitimately exhausted every day, not at all this month. Better, is much better, ya know?
Dreams are off the chart weird, but nothing that bothers me when I wake. I haven’t even had a dream that I know could trigger seizures, so that is good.
Once the pills I am taking for sleep stop working, I am not sure what is next. CDB/THC? Drink myself into a stupor? Take prescription sleep meds and hope it doesn’t trigger a psychotic episode? Ideally, taking nothing to sleep is the way to go. Maybe I can find a way to help with that? If I go back to CBT-I, they will ask about everything that has happened since I went almost four years ago, and I know they will try to place the blame where it does not belong. Besides, it was a complete waste of time when I went through it, so what will have changed?
That is a bridge that I hopefully won’t need to cross. The current sleep supplement mix works well and has for longer than they usually work. knock on wood
Why am I bothering? Good question, theoretical reader. I have no idea why!
Exercise is not as good as since my bike accident. That is to be expected, and I have gained a bit of weight, which is probably also expected. My goals, until it is nice enough to hit the bike trail again - hopefully not literally this time - are to continue my PT for knees and shoulder, build strength, lose lots of weight, and ride my indoor bike at least 2 hours a day in one session. Until I can ride outdoors, 2 hours a day, three times a week. 7 days of PT and three days of stretching and light strength training. Ideally, I will get that upright bike that is programmable to simulate hills. The goal with that is to be able to ride at least 75 miles (121 km) a week once I can ride outside for the first week. Before my accident, I was around 100 miles (162 km). My goal for next year is to ride an average of 150 miles (241 km) a week. The indoor bike workout isn’t as good because it can’t simulate air resistance and whatnot, but it should be okay. What I don’t want is when I start riding outdoors is to start slowly like last year. I was doing only 40 miles a week! Sad!
Ideally, I will be riding closer to 200 miles, but I don’t want to set goals that might not be possible. We’ll see. If I can get the yard maintenance down to a minimum, 80-100 miles a day, 5 days a week might be doable, but that is really stretching it.
Building strength is a little tricky since almost all of my joints are fried. With proper stretching, it should be okay to use resistance bands again. Ideally, getting near my Army weight is my goal this year. I am not an idiot. I know that I can’t be that active, athletic, shy, and awkward 19-year-old dork again. I can at least be in reasonable shape relative to all of my medical issues. Being a shy awkward dork never seems to go away. I already went down several sizes in clothing, and meeting my goal will mean nothing I currently own will fit. It was only three years ago that I tossed out my old clothes. Too bad that I do not enjoy clothes shopping, well not shopping for myself and by myself…
Why am I bothering? Good question, theoretical reader. I have no idea why!
Projects? Maybe too many. There is still doubt about what programming project(s) to do. I am trying out little bits and pieces of various projects to see what interests me the most. Ideally, it would be something that could help people improve their lives. By the time spring arrives, there should be a project, possibly two, settled on and progress made.
This winter is indoor home projects. More painting, more decorating, and minor remodeling. Still need to find more things to put on the walls, the color scheme is definitely me. Most of the pictures I hung do not reflect whatever my personality could be called. They just match the color scheme and each other. The few people who have seen them in person seem to like them, especially since most of the images are printed on heavy glass. Some impressionist or abstract works would look nice, I would think. The impressionists are my favorite artists, more than Baroque or Gothic - which I also like. Abstract art is very hit or miss but more easily found than other types of works. I am ready to remodel the walk-in closets, although I am a little nervous about it because of my shoulder. It’ll be okay.
Springtime will be the start of outdoor projects. After some trial and error in the yard the past two summers, I finally have a plan, and hopefully my knees and shoulders cooperate. Almost every single goal for me hinges on my knees and shoulder, not ripping apart.
Clear out and expand the raspberry patch and fill it with everbearing plants, so I get berries all summer and fall. Raising the strawberry patch to eliminate the need to weed it twice a week, or at least massively reducing it. Planting four or five hydrangeas, building a large, complex trellis for the grape plants. Placing a sort of raised garden for tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. That will consist of landscaping fabric with decorative rocks on top and around the planters on legs and the cloth growing boxes. The Irina roses are established and growing very well. I hope that continues.
The best part is that once it is done, the amount of outdoor work needed going forward in the backyard drops by like 90%, and that is a great thing. More time for programming, fishing, and bike riding.
The front yard is still scary, so I will start slowly by removing the ugly river rocks around the bush by the front door and replacing it with brick. Then, cover the dirt with decorative rocks to rid the area of weeds. Do the same in the corner next to the gate and place something nice there. That is the minimum goal for the front yard. Removing strips of grass along the driveway, and placing decorative rocks and solar-powered lights along with maybe some small rose plants is on the to-do list.
We shall see if it can be done this year. It is not a high priority. Neither is installing an automatic sprinkler system. It is lame that previous owners did not do that. I might have to contract that out since my ground is insanely rocky, which would hurt my shoulder and knees to dig out.
I also need to redo the garage, adding more storage space, so it is not cluttered looking. I don’t know why the house has a four-car garage. That is a bit ridiculous in my estimation. They could have reduced it to two, making the interior larger, and that would have been better. Then again, this house is not large by most standards, but it is ridiculously large for one resident. I should probably sell it and move into a tiny one-bedroom apartment. Except for the fact that rent here is insane and that one-bedroom place is barely cheaper than this house. Of course, a house is nice to have so my kids and grandkids can stay a week or two at a time and have some space.
There, I have enumerated my goals. I have something written down and hopefully will serve as a motivator.
Of course, keeping myself from blowing my budget while doing all of this is paramount. I finally got the massive property tax reduction settled for the next five years. That, along with a refinance should bring the cost of principle, interest and property taxes around $1000, which is approximately just 27% of my guaranteed income. An income that arrives every month no matter what I have done or not done in the past month. That is kind of a weird situation, huh?
So, these projects should be okay, even if I have to play some games with 0% credit cards and still maintain a decent savings account balance. After that, it is just some basement projects that I can do bit by bit, and the house is done without stressing my finances.
What is bad is the money I spent on a laptop and my extravagant carbon fiber road bike. I am pretty sure that I would not have had that accident on my old, slow, clunky, crappy Walmart bike. The price of both would more than cover every single thing I want to do inside and outside this year and still be able to take a week-long vacation in Vegas or Vietnam. I am not sure why I stress about money. I am pretty good with money - I need to learn more about investing - I can afford all of this, and I have nothing and no one else to spend it on, so why do I stress? Being single with no kids at home and no life is a cheap way to live.
Cooking bad things has been front and center this month.
The grandkids enjoy it. I used to enjoy Christmas baking and candy making. I am just going through the motions, trying to make myself feel something for this holiday. Next month, I will push my cooking further into new areas, but much healthier food.
I also want to move this site to a more up-to-date static site generator. Of course, every new article I post makes that job a little more difficult, but it will force me to go back and edit some of the clunkier essays for you, dear theoretical reader.
Nope, nothing to do here.
Like I have mentioned before, meeting new people, especially where I live, is a pointless, frustrating chore. There is no point, as nice as a friend or two would be, it doesn’t seem likely to happen. I suppose if by some accident I meet someone and become friends, that would be okay. But dating someone new? Nope.
Of course, there is the best girl in the world. I feel that it would be a horrible tragedy for me if we did not keep in touch at least every now and again. I am very hopeful that we can at least be good friends where we can still make each other happy and enjoy fun conversations. That is the essence of friendship, no? I think it is.
Maybe I live in an area with bad people. I have been cheated on, laughed at, ignored, and rejected my entire adult life. I don’t know how to maintain any kind of relationship, so why even try?
Like I talked about before, I would love to leave the country forever. I really want that, but I know I never will. I can not leave my kids and grandkids. Well, in one case, I would, but I would need to come back here three or four times a year, and that wouldn’t be very affordable and wouldn’t likely happen anyway.
I did make a bunch of Christmas candy and baked goods. I packaged it up in nice little Christmas tins and had the grandkids give it to the neighbors. I hoped they liked it, but I am not sure if they did, but the next day a plate of cookies was on my doorstep. The cookies weren’t even poisoned! It was fun to make and made me feel like I was actually part of the human race. Yeah, that is kind of a weak attempt at reaching out, but baby steps, right?
Hopefully, this is the last time I feel the need to write about me and my personal life, just don’t hold your breath. Sadly, it will not be the last time I post, but I wish it was. My life seems to be nothing but wishes that will never and could never happen.
I would like to say “maybe in the next life” when it comes to my dreams. I know that if there is a next life, it will be the same as this one.
Supposedly, it is good to enumerate things one is thankful for. I am skeptical that it matters, but here we go.
I realized this week that the biggest stress in my life is that I often forget to shave until it becomes uncomfortable. Then I stress about shaving because it has grown almost too long for my razor. Only to make a resolution to not forget, but I forget…
If that is my biggest stress, there really isn’t a lot to whine about, is there?
While I am nowhere near as rich as I could be if my mind wasn’t so bad, I am comfortable enough. There are people with my exact mental diagnoses living on the streets and in group homes with no real hope for recovery or independent living. Through luck and mindfulness, I am sort of functional, and that is a wonderful thing.
My kids: sometimes I think I learned more from them than the opposite. They are why I am here today and are awesome people and wonderful mothers.
Grandkids are so much fun. Each one of them is so sweet and very different from the other. If I had known how great it is to have grandkids, I might have found a way to skip being a parent and go straight to being a grandparent. Being a parent is difficult, frustrating, a serious job, as well as being a joy. Being a grandparent is pure joy; I cannot imagine life without them.
Family is always important to me. They are the reason I survived last year, and no matter what my issues are, they are always there to listen and give me a swift kick to my butt when I need it.
Yes, even my health. It is a miracle I was able to ride so much that I was even in a position to crash. It is a miracle I am upright and living independently. It could easily be worse, which would lead to even long walks being too painful. As much whining that I do about my daily pain and aches, it could easily be so much worse.
Lastly, I am forever grateful for meeting the best girl in the world. I am not really sure what happened or why, but knowing she exists makes existence seem so much better. She taught me so much and gave me so much without ever asking for a thing in return. She is perfect, funny, smart, gorgeous, and flat-out wonderful. Sometimes, I wonder how someone like me even caught her attention and interest. All I can say is that I will forever love her and want nothing but happiness for her. I wish and hope that I fit into that happiness in some way.
Happy New Year
If anyone is actually reading this, I hope you have a happy, safe, and wonderful year.
I truly hope this year is better for the world, and it can move on to hopefully bigger and better things. Maybe, just maybe, society can actually get moving to the place it should be in by now.
Whether that place is peace or terminators, I am not sure.