Cautious and Reasonable

I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been midly manic. When I am my present “normal” self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.

Kay Redfield Jamison

Being cautious and reasonable is generally a good thing. I don’t know if it always is, and it is certainly something that can be overdone. I have been operating on the idea lately that it might be holding me back.

I have gone way further with my knee and bike than I could have dared to imagine, and so far, it has been quite rewarding. I can cut back on the stretches without losing progress, which is great. I really thought I was screwed forever because of the injury last year and previous problems. It is degenerative, but at least I have improved it, and I am hopeful I slowed down the progression a little.

With some adjustments, I can do more gardening. I think I will be able to do a little more than I initially thought. Gardening is what tore my medial meniscus a year ago next month, so I am still being extra cautious working outside. I did some general weeding in the raspberry and strawberry patches and added four more raspberry plants that will produce all summer and into the fall. I still need to figure out how to do detailed weeding in the berry patches without wrecking my knees though.

That injury negatively impacted everything that happened last summer. Summer would have been so much better if that had not happened. The good news is that I can do some things on my knee with a little bit of caution that I could not last summer as long I don’t put a lot of pressure on it. So sitting on my feet is not happening ever again, except at my computer chair. Old habits die hard, but in that position, my body weight is not on it, so it does not hurt it other than making it stiff for a few minutes.

Getting old really sucks. The only wisdom I can offer you is to stay young forever. How? You are young, figure it out, and get off my lawn!

As for riding my bike, I have ridden about 40 miles (~64 km) as my longest nonstop trip so far, and it features some steep hills around 8%-10% grade. Last summer, short hills half as steep were close to impossible, and now those hills are trivial, even on days my knee is angry. By June, I hope to double that distance, especially if I can get a real bike. I have a very heavy cheap Walmart piece of crap bike, and it is okay for rides half that distance with no giant hills. Much more than that, and it starts to fight me.

Nothing good ever comes from going into a Walmart.

I am really looking forward to getting my bike and hiking backpack with a built-in water bladder and tube. I hopefully won’t be getting so exhausted by the end of my long bike rides. I also had to get another set of Bluetooth headphones since my current pair doesn’t last long enough for my long ride. These are hopefully much better sounding and last as long as they advertise. I spent way more on these than my old set.

Yeah, my stimulus money went to biking, hiking, and fishing gear. I did put some in my savings since I can’t be completely reckless.

I recently bought a one-person fishing pontoon boat now that our governor has decided to reopen fishing and state parks. That was a ridiculously short-sighted thing to do. That boat will open up fishing possibilities, so much land around lakes here is private property, with a few exceptions. The lakes themselves are public, so when I am stuck on the shore, I have very little space to fish in. I have a small 4-door sedan, and it fits very easily into the back seat since the pontoons inflate.

Of course, my daughters are nervous about it. As long as I remember to bring water and a little food and don’t get super far from shore or take it on a river, it is not a problem. I don’t have seizures out of the blue and am a strong swimmer if something goes really wrong. I guess I should get a life jacket.

A bonus is that it will help with my upper body. Biking is really helping my legs and stomach, and rowing will definitely help my arms, chest, and shoulders. I have been trying various exercises with bands, but sometimes I can do it without pain but mostly cannot. The rowing motion will not put my shoulder in a painful position, so it may be the perfect exercise for me.

I have also been doing some yoga. I am just starting up slowly, but I think it might be useful. Just very basic stretches for pain and also simple positions for abdominal work. Most of the complicated stuff is forever beyond me. If I tried, my shoulder or knees would explode, and I would faceplant. So yeah, I am being reasonable here. I think people that know me would approve if they read this.

I don’t know if these videos are good since I do not know anything about the subject, but it seems like it is okay.

I have a lot to do in May, and I am curious about what I will have to give up or at least cut back. I will probably not fish quite as much as I really want to, which may be wise since fishermen in this state were at a near rebellion and will be flooding the waters for a while. They were already out in their boats - boating was not closed putting a fine point on why closing fishing was not smart. They were protesting with some really creative, but not very nice, signs telling the governor what to do to himself.

The catfish won’t be biting as much until June anyway. Since I missed my once-a-year chance to get some walleye - spawning time at river mouths since I do not have a boat I can use to troll for them - I don’t have any specific targets for now. At least there are some lakes to explore that I haven’t ever gone to.

I have a few small things indoors, but the bigger projects can wait until winter to help keep me occupied. I have started a project on the electrical system of my house. I am hanging new pictures on the walls, just a little stuff like that. There are other projects, like failing to learn to read and speak Russian, learning guitar, and my programming projects I have been working on. I think those will end up giving up the most time for more productive pursuits, at least for May.

I have been riding my bike every day, weather permitting, but that can be toned down to three or four days a week. I still have to build a new planter on legs that I am testing to see if it is worth it to buy a bunch to replace the in-ground garden which will save me much time and knee pain. The ugly trellis in my raspberry patch needs to be replaced with something bigger and more attractive. That should be fun. My yard is beyond rocky. Removing the rocks around the plants in the front yard and replace it with bricks and add another plant in the front yard is on the list. There is another landscaping project with lights, rocks, and bricks. That can be done in pieces through the summer and fall. I would really like this summer to be the last year of my big outdoor projects, so less time can be spent working outside. That way, there is more time for biking, fishing, and hopefully running.

We shall see if this is realistic or am just in a bout of hypomania, or I am about to completely wreck my knees. I can’t wait to find out!

Given my health issues, this is taking a major step forward which is good news, possibly. I realize now that I have been needlessly limiting myself the past few years. That is not good at all. I seem to have forgotten how much stamina and energy I used to have and that hardly anyone could keep up with me all day long. I am learning that I still have lots, even if my joints act like they are 1000 years old. Each week my energy levels are increasing, but I suppose I need to remind myself I am not 18 or even 30 anymore.

I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand, could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?

Joy Division - Disorder

This pandemic has not changed my life in the slightest - besides fishing, of course. I am not sure if that is good or bad, maybe both?

I would never complain about such a thing when this has been devastating to so many. I am always grateful for what little good falls my way. Even if, or maybe especially because that good came about through horrible and painful things in my past. That is a strange thing to say, but it is true.

The confidence that my financial life is really stable has presented new opportunities and possibilities that were only daydreams before. Maybe I am just on a prolonged hypomania event, but I haven’t felt like this in decades, literally. Since before my health crashed in 1995. I have nothing to explain why that is. In fact, things should be the opposite of great right now.

I am not sure but, I think my cautious and reasonable nature affected how last summer ended so negatively. I suppose it does not matter anymore, but I do think of it often in an attempt to better myself as an alleged person.

Whatever the cause, the effect was that I was going to sell my house last November and leave the country for warmer climates in December, hopefully never to return. Maybe that is a little drastic, I don’t know.

Existence, well, what does it matter?
I exist on the best terms I can.
The past is now part of my future, The present is well out of hand.

Joy Division - Heart and Soul

On the plus side, I have zero desire to meet anyone. I know why I tried last winter and why I am happy it failed. I don’t give personal gifts often. When I do, they are for life, for better or worse. I have nothing left to give anyone new, so that is that. The realization has given me a little sense of freedom, most of the time. It hasn’t left me feeling hollow, at least not any more than I felt two years ago. Most of the time.

In some ways, it is good I took more time researching, but now I am sort of stuck until things get back to normal, and by then, I might come to my senses. My sisters think this is an attempt to run away. That is not true. I am trying to find peace. This pandemic has helped me understand that at least the theory is sound. Now that everything is shut down, even if meeting a friend was something within the realm of the possible, it can’t happen for a while. That has made me feel much more at peace with everything.

The idea is to remove the possibility and option to try to meet new people, so that I might find something approximating peace and happiness.

A change of speed, a change of style.
A change of scene, with no regrets,
A chance to watch, admire the distance,
Still occupied, though you forget.
Different colours, different shades,
Over each mistakes were made.
I took the blame.
Directionless so plain to see,
A loaded gun won’t set you free.
So you say.

Joy Division - New Dawn Fades

The plan is to go to a foreign country that is safe, stable, inexpensive, and not too heavily populated and live in a remote area. Warm weather is the number one criteria. It could be super cheap and a great place to live, but if it gets cold: not interested. I am tired of being cold all the time, and maybe if I could live somewhere that never gets cold and is peaceful, I might feel warm again. A non-English speaking country is a huge bonus. I wouldn’t be tempted to try to talk to anyone because it would not be possible. As long as buying what I need is doable, I would be set.

The map of possibilities was cut down to the Philippines, Panama, and Vietnam. Also, the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory where parts of the islands cost about half as much as where I live, and there are no immigration issues. The southern part, Guam, also a US territory, is too expensive. Panama has about the same cost of living as those islands, depending on location. I have been to Panama, a long time ago, but I wasn’t exactly there on vacation. The Philippines and especially Vietnam are significantly cheaper. I could live comfortably in smaller areas of Vietnam for under $900 a month, including food. English isn’t super common, which will lend itself to staying isolated, which is a must.

The issues with Vietnam are that there is a sizable US ex-pat presence, including veterans, which I want to avoid. The other two countries have even more. Staying away from the two big main cities would solve that. The second is that Vietnam doesn’t have an immigration program like the other countries I mentioned for retired people. What can be done is to live there on a tourist visa that lasts a year, except that I would have to leave the country every three months and reenter and reapply every year for a visa. Annoying but doable. The hope was to lose track of time, but there are lots to see in Southeast Asia.

So this got me thinking, dangerous I know. There are plenty of cheap and safe places to live around the world, but not Vietnam cheap. I am not so poor that I could not expand my horizons. I could just travel around and stay in a particular country for the maximum allowable stay for tourists. I could go to Romania, Czech Republic, Ukraine, etc, in the summertime and head to southeast Asia, south pacific islands, Africa, or South America for the rest of the year. Not really having a home and only staying in places that are cheap enough so that I could easily save money for flights and any required visas sound really fun. I would never be in a place long enough to get comfortable enough to have dumb ideas about meeting people.

Twenty years ago, I would have been all over it if I had no children and nothing to tie me down, but I wonder if I am too old for such things now.

I still do have things holding me here. My kids and my grandkids are what gave me and still give me pause. My two oldest grandkids are extremely close to me. It would feel like I am abandoning them, especially my oldest grandson. If I left, it would hurt him badly. Their parents are great, but he is an intelligent and sensitive lad who has made a deep connection with me. Maybe I am just in dire need of a vacation, and going to Vietnam or someplace just for two or three months will be all I need? I could do that for less than $3500 for three months, including travel. That is easily doable. I didn’t spend anywhere near all the money I had stashed away for my dreams on my stupid laptop.

When I went crazy and tried to make a friend or two. I saw many profiles from women that wrote that their kids are finally out of the house and are looking for a new adventure. I have lived for my kids for the past 30 years, and maybe it is selfish of me to try to do something for me. I don’t know.

Most countries are shut down, so I couldn’t even try it now, and it might be a long time before it becomes tenable. I have no idea what the near future will bring, so I am stuck here because I hesitated, and caution overtook my sense of adventure.

The longer it takes before I could do it makes it less likely that I will. I tend to get into ruts, and was violently ripped out of complacency twice last year. I just need to calm my mind. I had been thinking of leaving for a few years but not so seriously that it was more of an academic exercise. I was not exactly in a healthy place last fall, so maybe it is for the best I did not do such a big thing on a whim.

So this is permanence, love’s shattered pride.
What once was innocence, turned on its side.
A cloud hangs over me, marks every move,
Deep in the memory, of what once was love.

Oh, how I realized how I wanted time
Put into perspective, tried so hard to find
Just for one moment, thought I’d found my way
Destiny unfolded, I watched it slip away

Excessive flashpoints beyond all reach
Solitary demands for all I’d like to keep
Let’s take a ride out, see what we can find
A valueless collection of hopes and past desires

I never realized the lengths I’d have to go
All the darkest corners of a sense I didn’t know
Just for one moment, I heard somebody call
Looked beyond the day in hand, there’s nothing there at all

Joy Division - Twenty Four Hours

To be honest, I am not doing all that well now. Not really. Even though I have a much more positive mindset and so much energy, something is missing or not quite right. I can’t put my finger on it, and can’t really explain it clearly. It could be the constant silence or the pandemic playing with my paranoia or something I am not ready to deal with. All the bike riding and yard work are helping to keep things in perspective and my brain somewhat clear. We’ll see. Maybe it is hypomania. I think if it is, I will crash before the first week of May is over but if it is the result of being more active, then it should continue through the summer and fall if that is not too optimistic.

On the plus side, I haven’t had to take down any whiny and incoherent screeds off this site in quite some time, so perhaps I am doing better than I believe. Although, I have sat on this article for weeks debating if I should post it(posted it on 4/30/2020) while chipping at it and adding new thoughts. I made a promise to post everything I write but have already broken that several times, which makes me feel guilty.

It was probably for the best.

When routine bites hard and ambitions are low
And resentment rides high but emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways, taking different roads

Joy Division - Love will tear us apart

Yes, I have been listening to Joy Division a lot lately, why do you ask?

Edit: The song quotes were put in during the first iteration at the beginning of April and was not doing as well, I kept them in to show the juxtaposition that is my mind even though most of the darker thoughts didn’t make it to the final draft.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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