On a slow anger simmer

I had the last four days off and had hoped that Monday and Tuesday I would primarily be by myself. That didn’t happen and I’ve been on a consistent angry simmer for the last 48+ hours. Nothing I’ve done, or attempted to do, has gone according to any semblance of a plan I had ridiculously thought might have helped. Wanted to finally get all the taxes together and ready to mail, they’ve already been submitted electronically, just owe all around this year. Wanted to get some writing done for EPV, but my mental attitude didn’t lend itself to that either. Wanted to cut the lawn but couldn’t get the lawn mower started; think it needs a new carburetor. Needed to get the toilet guts swapped out as water is leaking into the bowl and making them run every so often; decided that would be a bad idea.

Rather than getting 5-6 hours of time to myself, to work at my own pace, I wasn’t alone except for a few hours on Monday but I was too far into the anger to have it be productive. The wife was supposed to be at her sister’s house until last night, but came home last Sunday instead because the accommodations there were hard to deal with. I get it, I wouldn’t want to stay somewhere that was cluttered and messy. Being forced to sleep on the sofa alone would have been enough for me to want to leave. The problem is that I’ve needed to get alone and work through some difficult issues and work up some plans that require focused thought to complete. My tolerance for the normal things that bother me is gone and I simmer all day on the edge of anger. At this point, short of a taking a day to myself outside of the house, I don’t think I’ll get past this overwhelming feeling.

Adding to the pressure is the fact we’re having a birthday dinner for my Mom this Saturday, at our house, with my brother in attendance. I’m off on Friday, but I already know that I won’t have any time to myself unless I just head out in the early morning and don’t come back until later in the day. That would most certainly cause more problems than it solves as I need to stay around and get the lawn taken care of. Dinner at our house means that we’re stuck with cleaning up after dinner. We’re also stuck with all the leftover food (we always have left over food) that ultimately will be lunches and dinners for the next few days into next week. I’m okay with the same thing the next day, but push it two or three then I’m just not hungry and won’t eat.

The wife is off this entire week and I already know that today and tomorrow nothing will get done. She’ll get sucked into working on something for the firehouse, doing something random that wasn’t planned, or just not have any motivation and do nothing. I’ll end up cleaning up the dishes, running the dishwasher and most likely doing the laundry. If it’s a tag team effort I don’t mind doing any of that, but when it’s me all the time because some time suck is occupying her time for days on end through the week, it quickly gets annoying. When I sit in my office or in front of the TV, I’m not just sitting there doing nothing. I’m inside my own head, thinking and processing, trying to work through anger so that I’m no longer angry. From the outside, it looks like I’m just being lazy further convincing me that her saying she understands doesn’t equal her actually understanding at all.

The next few weeks don’t tell me that I’ll have any opportunity for time to myself.

This is your brain on stress

I need some downtime.  For the last few weeks, I’ve had something to do pretty much every day from the time I’ve woken up to the time I’ve gone to sleep.  It seems like months, but in reality it’s only been maybe three weeks.  The stress of going from one thing to the next has my limits being tested especially when plans don’t go exactly as expected.  I can count the number of hours of downtime I’ve had on one hand making finding a long stretch of time where I can unbind my brain that much more imperative.

The free time that I have had was used to run through the finances, complete the family taxes and creatively find funds to pay for tax shortfalls that we didn’t anticipate.  We aren’t by any means in dire straits, but don’t have too much of a cushion or emergency funds to tap into as we’ve already used them a few months back for healthcare bills.  That brings me to something that’s been on the top of my mind, healthcare.  It seems so much harder this year than in previous years as the providers are getting harder to deal with in terms of payments.  It seems being a patient for years, with not an issue with payments, has no bearing on the them forcing a $1k repayment for testing over three months is unfair.  My usual offer to pay back $100/month fell on deaf ears, to which I said I’m sending them $100/month and if they don’t like it, they can send me to collections.

The wife is going to her sisters house for a few days to help her recover from major surgery and is leaving home base in my hands.  I took two days off next week so have a 4 day weekend coming up; something to look forward to.  The daughter is quite self-sufficient at 10 now and finds things to occupy her time.  I have a few activities planned that the both of us can do of course, but they’re maybe a few hours on 1-2 days.  She also has school on Monday and Tuesday giving me several hours to myself that will be a welcome relief.  Those two days will be singing to me like violins out of the sky and I can take my time doing the few things I know need to be done.  One of them being a real overhaul of the household budget that I can really concentrate on with nothing interrupting me.

I need to have another conversation with the wife reconfirming my need for a few hours each week where I can unbind and peel off stress.  The fellow introverts out there know exactly what I’m talking about and understand.  My wife is concerned that the daughter is showing signs of wanting to be by herself more than be with friends on most days; something I said wasn’t a problem.  I was forced into social situations and was made to go outside when I was younger and I resented my parents for a long time because of that.  I told the wife its normal, to let it be, and if she starts becoming too isolated I would take the lead in helping her find a balance.  In my experience, it’s the balance that is more important than forcing one behavior or another; balance makes it good.  My wife, the extrovert, tries to understand but doesn’t have the context to truly understand.

Hope to see you again on Thursday, the wife made another painting that is now hanging in my office.  I’m going to need a bigger office if she keeps up the painting, or I’ll just have to start getting them framed and hang them up in the house.  She’s really getting good at them.  I also had a lake in my backyard for a few hours during a ridiculous rain storm that confirmed that the sump pump does in fact work as advertised.

One word theme for 2017

Post Inspriation: One Word 2017: When The Words Don’t Seem Right, What Do You Do? by The Spectacled Bean

This was an interesting idea that I had to steal. I’m not a resolutions supporter as I wrote here, but this idea of a one word theme was intriguing. Taking a single word and using it to drive all decisions and actions for an entire year, it’s genius. I highly encourage you to read through the post that inspired me to write this one. I spent some time thinking about the one word I would select, which ended up being something that has been driving me for a few months.

LEARN

Yup, that’s my one word for 2017 and is a continuation of what I’d been doing the latter half of 2016. Learning in several key areas over the last few months:

  • Family
  • Introversion
  • Minimalism
  • Technology
  • Politics

Additional key areas added for 2017:

  • Consolidation/Purging

I wrote about these already as my problem areas that I have been consistently working on for a few months to a few years. What I failed to understand is what is common among all of them: Learning new ways of thinking and doing. The first three are essentially in the same group and are inter-related. Technology in the spirit of living with it as an assistant to life instead of it controlling my life. Politics as I still have a ton to learn after discovering that the world I thought existed was figuratively a dream. Consolidation and purging is a natural progression of minimalism.

So, there, my one word for 2017 and my living theme is “learn”.

What’s yours?

2017, just another year

The year that was 2016, as I put it a few days ago here, wasn’t fun for a lot of people including myself. The frightening part of all of this is now that it’s 2017, it’s not necessarily going to be any better of a year than 2016 was. We’re on this roller coaster, and taking into account everything that happened last year, I don’t think we’ve even crested the first hill. I can hear the clicks and clacks of the chain pushing the cars up the first hill before we drop, weightless, to the inevitable just beyond the horizon. How high we are and how steep that hill is going to be is anyone’s guess, but this is potential bubble bursting territory in proportions we’ve never seen before. In just over seven years, we’ve added $9 trillion to our national debt to have it almost over $20 trillion. Math lesson: How many years would it take to spend $20 trillion if you spent $100 million per day? 547 years!!!

This isn’t the point of this post though, I am just venting a little. If more people realized how much, seriously how much money we had in total debt, it would be a major issue. I’ve been kept up at night thinking of the consequences if the U.S. economy completely collapsed. The Great Depression would look like a sunny day compared to a completely collapse right now. Ahh, I digressed again…..

So, what is my 2017 going to be about? Well, it won’t be resolutions, I learned long ago that I made them just to break them a few weeks later. It also isn’t going to be about non-resolutions as in refusing to not make resolutions is a resolution in of itself that I’ll end up breaking a few weeks later. Instead, I’m going to continue life endeavors that I started several months to a few years ago that is more experimental in nature than anything else. The scientific method is very helpful here. I see a problem, make a statement to the problem, decide on a solution, execute the solution, review the results, move on to the next problem or re-evaluate the original problem. It’s a work in progress. With that said, here are the problems that I’ve been working on recently.

  • Technology usage
  • Family time
  • Mental balance (related to introversion)
  • Minimalism
  • Consolidation and Purging (new)

I’ll speak to technology usage and consolidation in this post as I’ve already written about the other three over the past several months. On technology usage, it’s a positive outcome of my minimalism. I’ve found that removing complexity in some aspects of my life has allowed me to group similar events together and create efficiency. For example, I process the finances twice a month, reconcile once a month, and discuss upcoming spend that I’m not aware of with my wife. While I’m on the computer already, I use about 30-45 minutes after I’m done to go through the non-important email and junk/spam review that I stopped doing on an almost daily basis. I’ve setup inbox filter rules that puts email from specific addresses into my inbox and whatever remains is moved to a folder for bi-monthly review. It reduced several interruptions I’d have through the day checking email that didn’t need to be checked because my phone dinged.

That brings me to my other topic on technology, my mobile phone. The only alerts I get on it now are text messages, phone calls, and work email when at work. I have the Twitter and WordPress desktop apps installed and will review both between meetings (no more than 10 minutes at a time) and at lunch. The alerts are non-intrusive so they don’t catch my attention when something comes in. I’ll admit that I’m not always disciplined with this and will often spend much more time than I should in both apps, it’s still a work in progress. My mobile phone however has become less important as a part of my daily routine and often just sits upside down or in my bag. Part of the reason for this is that I don’t have the social applications (like Facebook) demanding my time and attention. The other reason is that I don’t have a phone that can handle really more than one thing at a time and it has consistently frozen on me requiring a battery pull. Rather than get angry and throw it against the wall, I just don’t use it as much. I’m getting a new one in February and plan on getting something more capable, but I don’t think it will hold as large a place in my life as it once did as I’ve become accustomed to life not revolving around it. Technology in general is on the outs with me and I’m using it to enable my life, not control my life.

Now, consolidation. It means different things to different people. In my case, I’m consolidating everything electronic into a single location. After moving, I realized that I had 5 external backup drives of various sizes. After finding the largest one, I started to bring all the backups onto a single drive while performing a de-duplication of files. It took several weeks as I did it on spare time and I now have a single drive with backups from my laptop and home desktop that operate as the “backup to the backup” since all my files are in the cloud as well. Windows 10 made it quite simple to backup to an external drive, just a click, provided that all your files are in their default locations. The four drives I no longer needed were given away (after a DoD wipe) or recycled. For several years now, I’ve been purging myself of useless technology that I’ve kept around in the spirit of “I might need it someday”. Boxes of stuff dating back to the late 90’s. I don’t need 4 3.5″ floppy drives, I don’t need 3 5.25″ floppy drives, I don’t need 9 CD-R/RW drives, etc. In the end, I kept the best hardware and got rid of the rest of it. The interesting thing is that I no longer have a computer I can install most of this stuff in, so had to add a cable kit that converted the interfaces to USB; they’re all in a single container though. I cleared out an entire closet over the last 8 months!

Saved magazines have been purged (recycled). Saved newspapers and clippings have been reviewed and mostly purged (also recycled). Purging is in line with minimalism in that anything that doesn’t have value to me or serve a purpose, I get rid of it. At first it was difficult to let go and I often would go through boxes of stuff to only get rid of a few items at a time. I’ve since realized that having the stuff around, that I only looked at when deciding whether to keep it or not, was self-defeating the whole idea of minimalism and purging of stuff. Moving certainly helped with this as it became a question of whether I wanted to move it or not. Our trash guys got a good work out a few weeks while we were packing as I quickly decided to not keep a lot of the stuff that had accumulated for more than 15 years. My wife and daughter are now starting to pick up on this and are starting to clear their respective piles of stuff, though not quickly. My daughter seems to have embraced the spirit of purging and is actively making decisions. My wife still has her box of New Kids on the Block memorabilia that she only looks through when I make a point to show her she still has it. Baby steps 🙂

What this means is that I no longer make New Year’s resolutions. Deciding to do something in the coming year, usually to fail, is a waste of time. Plans are made to benefit everyone around me, not just me personally. Experiments that I think will benefit me in the long-term are a much more efficient use of my time and energy. To demonstrate my point, all 5 endeavors listed above support balance for an introvert in an extroverted world. Achieving balance not only makes me easier to be around, it makes others around me want to spend time with me instead of avoiding me. I guess you can say to a certain extent that my laser focus on my introversion allows me to be extroverted in short bursts to socially engage with others around me. These social engagements made the questions stop, let people stop worrying too much about me and made it easier for people to invite me to certain things. I no longer say no given enough lead time.

My 2017 will be just like every other year since 2015, just another year where I have to learn to write 17 instead of 16 for about 2 months.

As we head into Christmas…

This isn’t my time of year, various posts in my archives all around this time show a common theme. While I generally don’t get excited or drunk on the Christmas spirit, that doesn’t mean I Scrooge on others that do. My approach is to establish clear boundaries with people so they know that I don’t share in their enthusiasm and that, if I were to be forced to get involved, the consequences aren’t pretty. For the most part, everyone in the family knows this and isn’t too bent out of shape anymore (there are still moments). They know I get “that look” at a certain point and it’s a signal to just leave me alone for a while. Counterproductive to a non-introvert, almost frustratingly so, but a necessary moment of time for me.

 

thislook

This is sort of how I look when I get “that look”.  Best to steer clear.

Although I’m Scrooge to most outside observers, I do value the fact that it’s a time set aside every year to be around family that you normally wouldn’t see otherwise. I have my issues with family, we all do, and I do my best to accommodate as best as possible so as not to make my Scrooginess contagious. I focus on Christmas as a time my daughter can enjoy and we have never made it about gifts. Our family uses a modified version of Santa, where my wife and I get the bulk of gifts to help him out and he delivers one special gift to her. We have, the three of us, made Christmas about volunteering at the local department store to wrap gifts for families in need (department store donates gift cards, we wrap what they pick out). As this is the first year we’ve been involved with the local volunteer fire company, we rode around with them to hand out candy canes to the children in the neighborhoods Santa on the fire engine visited. We’ve also made it a family affair to one weekend go nuts with baking cookies that we hand out to family, friends, neighbors, etc. I put my foot down that the Snickerdoodles were NOT to be shared, they’re way too good a batch this year 🙂

 

leglamp

May Santa bless you with many sexy leg lamps to put in the front window, LOL

It’s going to be a rough weekend coming up. Christmas Eve (Saturday) dinner with my family, brother included. Christmas morning (Sunday) just the three of us, then breakfast with my wifes and my parents. Then Christmas Day dinner at my wifes families house, usually chaotic and stressful, but strangely enjoyable. I have consistently taken the day before Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas Day off so that I can prepare (before) and recover (after) that has typically worked quite well. If I don’t get time at the house to myself for at least a few hours, I just head out somewhere that I can. I’m anticipating this year to be a little rough with my parents and brother as they’ve picked up on the distance I’ve created. I can only hope that they respect that Christmas Eve isn’t the appropriate moment to have “that” conversation and it’s left until after the New Year.

 

It’s my wish that everyone who reads this has a wonderful Christmas holiday (or quiet weekend if you don’t celebrate) and that we all take a few moments to review the year behind us and hope for the best for the coming year. I’m heading into the final weeks of 2016 with an optimism that 2017 is going to be a good year and my life will continue improving as I increase the understanding of myself and learn about our political, financial, and governmental systems.

See you on the other side of Christmas (next Monday basically).