temple

I don't know about your uncle, but I'll try to get a message to your Aunt Nancy

I cannot believe I said that...

(no subject)
temple
rainwalk

I've been spending far too much time lately doing what other influences have been pushing me to do, and not enough time in my own head.  What does this look like?  Well, I took a Caribbean vacation at the beginning of December, and it feels like it just happened last week.  I feel as though no time has transpired between then and now because of how fast I've been moving.  It looks a lot like me working long hours, not spending nearly enough time sitting and doing nothing.

The promotion to supervisor left me holding the bag for a great many things, which eat up quite a bit of time in my weekday waking hours.  The holidays came and went quicker than I had expected, although I took no time off during.  I have nothing to say for myself except that in my spare time I managed to see my biological family for Christmas, finished Dragon Age Inqusition, halfway knit myself a new shawl and destroyed for good one of the last knitted reminders of the god forsaken, collosal mistake of time I spent with Chris.  Good riddance.

Sigh.

I have very serious depression.  Life circumstances being what they are, I make it through alright.  I set goals and I attain them, much like I always have and much like any normal person would do.  It's the crippling fear that I cannot go back in time and reverse most of my decisions that paralyzes me most of the time.  I tend to have a frighteningly black and white view of things, and my values have always skewed toward the absolute.  This is why I end up punishing myself atrociously when things go wrong.  I am ultimately responsible for the goings on in my life, and I refuse to give up that responsibility or be a victim of things "happening" to me.  Needless to say, that takes its toll.  When feeling absorbed and busy with responsibility, all other aspects of life seem to shut down.  This is why I blink and months pass.


Coffee and cake
temple
rainwalk

It's been a while since I last had the opportunity to get my thoughts down in written form.  My troubling need to spend every free moment immobile and listless has been crippling any such endeavor.  Last week I spent the entirety of Monday and Tuesday in San Francisco at a small group training.  I took the ferry to Oyster Point and walked a couple of miles each way to the hotel in which the training was being held.  It was actually quite nice being on a nice boat in the morning sunlight, and having a brisk walk along the water.  However, this greatly impacted my ability to go swimming.  By the time I got home on Monday, it was 6:30p, later than the time I would have had to leave in order to make it to swims.  Wednesday was entirely another matter.  It was Josie's birthday the following day, and she requested cinnamon rolls for the morning instead of a cake.  I obliged her, but the cinnamon roll dough, while not labor intensive, takes quite a bit of time to rise and futzing with it to get them into the pan takes an even greater amount of effort about three hours later.  That took me right up until bedtime, so swimming was right out for the entire week.

This lack of expendeture affected my ability to move, sleep and process information for the bulk of my time since then.  I suffered through the weekend on very little sleep, despite taking sleep aids.  Still, in my opinion nothing truly awful and insurmountable transpired over the weekend.  On Saturday I was able to complete a multitude of chores around the apartment after spending a blissful couple of hours completely alone, save for the cat.  I have been craving alone time like air, and I took it whenever I could get it.  I even made time to take a bath that morning.  On Saturday night, Josie and I were supposed to have a salsa dance lesson and then watch a colleague's dance performance.  Unfortunately, what was billed on the ticket was not what transpired, and we cooly sat in the most uncomfortable chairs in America while literally nothing transpired.  Oh, we could have danced a bit if we wanted to get up on stage and learn a lesson it in front of about 1,000 people.  No, thank you.  So we sat, and we sat, and we sat for about two hours (after driving 45 minutes to get there, and spending another 15 trying to park and finally walking about a mile to the venue).  We were both really put out by that.  I really enjoy ballroom dancing, and both she and I expect a 'lesson' to mean an actual lesson, not "Hey, come up to the stage and bumble around for a few minutes while we finish setting up".

Yesterday (Sunday) I woke up after about five hours of sleep.  I could have fallen back asleep to get a bit more, I think, but again I was craving alone time so I decided to get up and spend the morning in the front room.  I made coffee and sat with the cat.  I was feeling adventurous, so I put on some old episodes of The Walking Dead and pulled out the recipe that I had found for strawberry-almond cupcakes.  I found a few flaws in the recipe, and I should have gone with my gut on the preparation, but all in all, they turned out amazing.  I went so far as to make almond buttercream icing, which also turned out better than expected.  Actually... sigh... it was the best tasting cake I have ever had.  I even liked it better than the almond cake Rachel made (I feel terrible for saying that).  Later in the day, I picked back up the shawl I've been knitting for Ellen, and made it back to the spot I had stopped before prior to frogging out about a million rows.  I hate screw ups on patterns that I know I can't screw up on.  Played some Dragon Age in the afternoon and then went to Hana Japan for Josie's birthday dinner.  True to Hana Japan form, I consumed my food and then felt terrible, terrible stomach pain.  I went to the bathroom because I thought I was going to throw up, but managed to keep it under control.  I absolutely hate that I can't go to that restaurant without having terrible, terrible indigestion, or whatever it is.  The sad fact is that it's Josie's favorite place, so I will end up having to go there forever.  Driving home, I laid in the passenger seat.  I couldn't move for the crippling pain, but was able to get some pepto dismal down when I arrived back home.  I stayed pretty much immobile until bedtime.

Surprisingly enough, I was able to sleep until my alarm went off this morning.  That hasn't happened in a while.  I am looking forward to swimming tonight, and the blissful sleep it will bring afterwards.  Here's hoping that I can make it without difficulty.


Fear.
temple
rainwalk
Fear is a horrible motivation for activity (or lack thereof, as the case may be).  Typically, I very much enjoy being scared.  My favorite movie is The Ring, and I have seen it probably 300 times.  I watch things like Ghost Adventures and The Walking Dead before going to sleep at night, loving the scared, uneasy feeling.  However, where the rubber meets the road, I'm often very timid and dysfunctional due to fear.  It can be crippling at times, even for things as simple as going outside or going to the grocery store.  I very much enjoy going out to dinner, but anxiety stops me very freqently.  I look at the world outside and feel terrible that I don't actually feel like living my life.  Part of this is due to the exhaustion I feel on a work day, but a larger part is due to the potential I acknowledge every second of every day that I am not safe.

Let's take this past weekend for example:  I finished a particularly tough work week and landed at home on Friday night with a thud.  I thought to myself "Gee, it would be nice to go out for a drink and maybe grab some dinner".  Immediately, I felt the hard shell of reality enveloping the thought.  "Well, Nellie is going to stop by and it would be bad to miss her, and I am pretty tired from the day".  It doesn't really smack of fear, but it was there.  Saturday morning I knew I wanted to focus on baking for the weekend, and I also knew I didn't have the supplies on hand in order to do that.  "We must go to the store", I thought, rather calmly.  However, as I started to pull my clothing on, I felt like I was being choked.  I didn't even want the personal responsibility of taking myself outdoors.  There's something really wrong with that feeling.

Luckily, I have enough of a sense for how to speak to people, and charisma is usually on my side.  I can pick my way through person to person interaction very well, and it does not cause me any pain or grief.  After much soul-searching, I find the heart of the matter to be this:  It's simply the thought that I wouldn't be getting the most out of my life if I were to be doing anything but maximizing my time alone, away from the world doing absolutely nothing.  Now, I've said before that this has to do with the tremendous abuse that I endured a year ago at AL.  The 18+ hour days of hard labor and being constantly in tears burned into me the mindset that any minute not spent relaxing is a minute wasted, and furthermore would pay for it when I had to go through it all again the following day.  However, this regime is gone. It is no longer the case, and I need to work harder at approaching that limit and pushing it out a little.  Perhaps I should start with just going out for an hour or two on a weekend morning.  I like going to do things like grab a drink or some food.  I just don't like the constant fear that I should be sitting at home doing nothing or I will be sorry.  Another thing I really need to push myself to do is swim.  I hate pulling myself outside in order to do it, but it MUST be done.  Especially today.  I went yet another week last week without it, and my sleep is really going to suffer if I do not force myself.  It's the being outside that is truly punishing. 

(no subject)
temple
rainwalk
There are a couple of things bothering me professionally at the moment.  One is that my retirement accounts seem to be plummeting with a fury that I have not seen since 2008 during the major economic downturn, and the other is that I have applied to the supervisor position in my department after Shane's untimely departure and it is very uncertain at this point whether or not I will even be given serious consideration.

Obviously, there is not much one can do to control the economy, and to watch my retirement saving plummet thousands and thousands of dollars in a matter of weeks is disheartening to say the least.  I put in a good amount of money every month, and to see the number fall by ten times what I put in every month makes me believe that this is the worst thing I could be doing with my money at this point.  At least if I weren't putting it into that account I could put it into my local economy by purchasing groceries, etc.  Very frustrating to see.

As for the supervisor position, I have absolutely been crushing it lately, to the point that I didn't even know I could stay this responsible for this many things for this long of a period of time.  As soon as Shane left to join Document Control, I have been stepping up to take on many of his responsibilities.  I have been working very late almost every day and on weekends just to keep up, not to mention performing duties WELL outside of my job description.  I have heard rumors that they will be bringing someone from R&D over to take over the position, and that they made this decision without even speaking with him.  That's right.  Someone from R&D, who has no knowledge of GMP processes or exactly what it is that we do here.  I have come to the realization that I cannot make them choose me for the position, especially over someone less qualified that they have already chosen.  They make terrible decisions like these all the time.  However, I have also decided that if they do not choose me that they do not see value in what I have been doing lately and I will stop doing it.  I will go back to performing the tasks that are clearly outlined in my job description.  I will be telling my manager about that before I do it, however. That might shake him up a little bit to realize just what I've been going through.

Other than that, frustrations continue to abound in my life, though I haven't had much time to work through them (for obvious reasons).  Hopefully a decision about my position can be made one way or another soon, so that I can either have some added stability in my activities and future, or go back to having more free time.  Either way, I will be okay.  I have to let it go, personally, because I do not have any direct control.  All I can do is present myself as the best candidate I can, and be done with it.  Though, I'm not sure how I will handle the rejection if that is the case.

Birthday.
temple
rainwalk

Here I am on the other side of another birthday.  Birthdays are tough for me, but special.  When I was growing up, I had to deal with the abuse which came doubly on birthdays.  Days which were supposed to be special turned out to be strange sources of dread, as my father couldn't handle anything out of the ordinary when it took the focus off of people worshipping him and following his instruction to the letter, if even for one day.  I would urge my friends to not come to my house on my birthday, that it was not a good idea.  I would tell others that I simply did not care for birthdays and they were not a big deal.  Truth be told, they're still not a big deal to me, just another day.  However, I do find delight in celebrating pretty much anything, and it's as good a reason as any.

This year's birthday was lived in stark contrast to last year's.  Last year at this time, I was still working for AL.  My days were bleak, and I spent 18+ hours at work every day, worried that something dangerous would happen.  I missed my own birthday party, and came home from work at 10:30pm.  Steven had bought me a pint of toasted almond ice cream from Tucker's.  I sat on the couch and ate the entire thing and then went straight to bed.  Honestly, I don't remember much about the day.  I know that the following day I went to Napa, but I don't remember much about that either.

This year I was able to go out to a very nice dinner at BayWolf with people who care about me, and I was able to drink a bottle of my favorite wine.  The day following my birthday was Oktoberfest, and I was able to go to that as well.  I took the bus down to Fruitvale and caught the 21 up to the Dimond.  Wonderful day filled with delicious local brews.  I got to see some old AL folks as well.

The rest of the time was spent sitting around doing not very much.  I played a lot of Ar Nosurge and ate a lot of food.  I bought kringles for my birthday instead of a birthday cake, and that was the best decision I have ever made ever.  I am very grateful that I got to spend my time at home, relaxing with things I enjoy.  Just one short year ago that wasn't possible, and I feel the difference in my life every day.  Any day now I will stop being paranoid about that life and move on to how I'm supposed to be feeling now.  Any day now...


Recovery
temple
rainwalk

The concept of 'recovery' is a simple one, however it does not hold much significance without context.  I feel that I'm always recovering from something... a hard day, a big meal, treating myself terribly, an accident, driving erratically, an illness.  I can never just live.  Ironically, I continue to be alive.  I have this strange, aloof, unobservant way of going through my life.  I don't know why this is.  I have a tendency to check out and not notice what's going on, specifically with my life.  This has been a remarkably consistent aspect of my attitude recently.  This could be related to my fall back into depression over the past several weeks and months.  I do not have a grip on this.  It seems the simplest of activities, to be aware enough of one's own life and existence enough that terrible things are not allowed to happen, and when they do, the course of action is to treat one's self better, not worse.  It is the opposite with me, and far more reactionary.  Things happen, I don't have a handle on them, and I become more introverted and depressed.  I'm not in my head when I eat.  I sort of wake up after I'm too full and starting to hurt.  Then I'm painfully aware of what I've done and punish  myself.  It is the same with being afraid to go out anywhere.  I want to go out and have good times, but I am so unwilling to put myself out in the slightest, to even leave the house.  I am attempting to change this about myself, but it is a slow, slow process, and awareness does not come without practice.

With respect to my work situation, I have decided in recent weeks that fretting over what develops at work is beyond my control, more specifically my promotion.  I lost Shane as a supervisor on Friday to the document control group, and I decided that if the supervisor position goes up on the website that I will apply.  However, beyond that I cannot control their decision.  I cannot control whether or not they even put it up there.  All I can do is have my resume ready and my game face on.  I know that I will not lose my current position, so really have nothing to lose by trying.  I know I am a tremendous engineer.  I am crushing it in my current job, and I love what I'm doing.  I just can't get too far ahead of myself with this supervisor thing, or I will end up in the same self depricating situation as described above.  Being in my head more might not be a terrible thing...


Ray B.
temple
rainwalk
Today is Ray B's memorial service. I have known him for so long. I met him my first week at Impax. He and I bonded over our love of equipment and he shared much of his knowledge with me over the past seven years. Changing companies was like losing a father. When I came back, he was one of the first people to greet me, telling me that he thought he noticed I was gone for a while. When I came back, they gave me the desk right across from his. Every morning he would complain to me about his stomach. One day, Josie and I were talking at my desk. I said how my stomach had been bothering me lately. He quietly snuck out that morning and went to McDonald's and bought me a strawberry milkshake to make me feel better. When I first made homemade beer, I gave him some. When he tried it, he said it was the best beer he'd ever had. I have all these memories of him, all of them good. I am more than aware of the fact that the longer I survive, the more people I know will die. I've seen people die from the time I was old enough to remember it. We're so fragile, and all it takes is one little thing and we're gone. I hate that I can't see him anymore. I will go to the memorial today and try not to cry, though I probably will.

(no subject)
temple
rainwalk
I'm back from the holiday weekend. I was supposed to have Friday off, but worked from home almost the entire day. Not sure what that means from an accrued hours standpoint, but meh. Had to be done. Nothing really noteworthy happened over the holiday because I spent most of my time doing very introverted things like trying to finish up Myst IV and watching the Kanadajin3 channel on youtube.

I built myself up and tore myself down about four different times over the weekend about wanting to abandon my current life and trying to go after something that really interests me. Then I decided that would be too big a journey (and decision!) to swallow all at one time, and that I would do much better to take it one step at a time like a normal person who has normal thought progressions. I have set myself on a path in life, and it's not one that is easily redirected. I will give it some more thought over the coming weeks, and see if it's something that I'm actually willing to put into words or just let fizzle out like a headache.

At this point I'm not willing to go after something unless I'm pretty damn sure it's going to work out. I have far too much at stake currently to go making piss poor decisions in a childish way. Then again, life is too short to wait forever to do what makes you really happy. This is the thought pattern I've had for the last four days. I didn't get much sleep over the holiday because I kept bouncing back and forth between these two ideals and getting caught up... Sigh. I need to actually have some experience first before I go making decisions. I am nowhere close to even being able to do that at this point. But that's life. You think you want one thing, you go after it, and then you change. Or maybe your situation changes. Or maybe what you were planning for doesn't work out the same way. There are a whole host of reasons for changing your mind, but I'm not yet at the point where I can make that decision. It's a frustrating headspace to be in, but here I am.

Thoughts
temple
rainwalk

Last night I went swimming for the first time in a couple of weeks.  Summer swim session is over, and I was able to have an entire lane to myself.  It was wonderful.  I swam a mile, though my time has gotten worse for having that break.  It's one of the few things that makes me truly happy.  I will go again tomorrow night, and that will be the extent of the swim hours they offer during the week.  That's okay.  Twice per week is okay with me.  I won't even mind swimming in the dead of winter.  Though I might only go once a week at that point.

At the end of today, this week will be half over for me.  I'm taking Friday off, my first actual day off since May of this year.  Its a special time for me because it's my ten year Berkeley-versary, and it marks ten years to the day since classes started in 2004 when I moved down here to change my life.  It's been a great and terrible ten years.  Grievous oversimplifications aside, there are a few things that stick out in my memory from my time at UCB.

Learning to be alone.
Actually being alone.
Walking to class in the pouring rain because I didn't have an umbrella.
Living in a place I didn't really care for.
Living in a place I loved.
Meeting Josie.
Living on my own for the first time.
Giving myself wholeheartedly to study.
Anime club, and realizing that there were about a thousand other people at Cal who I could share that with.
Realizing that the person you love might not be someone you can be around for the rest of your life.
You CAN be happy, no matter the circumstances.
Somestimes you give up, and things are still okay.
Family is not something you should ever rely on.  They're just people, and they will act the way people act.
Sleep actually is something you need.
Food does not equal sleep.
Coffee and donuts at home on a Thursday morning watching the sunrise after very early discussion section.

I'm sad to say that the bad memories from that period of time outnumber the good ones, but that was entirely a result of my own inner workings.  I could have been more diligent about getting help.  I could have been more willing to see good instead of bad.  Instead, I was hell bent on roping myself to the boulder that was my relationships which were doomed to failure from the moment I touched them.  I chose what I chose.  At the time, it was worth it.  Looking back on it now, it was not.  I want to go over these feelings more, especially with the ten year anniversary looming so close.  I will likely take these feelings to coffee when I have some time and write them out.  I wonder what will happen...

I have a lot of work to get done this week, and I'm not sure I'm going to make it, but I am going to try.


The Scarf
temple
rainwalk
I took a trip back to the UC Berkeley campus last Saturday morning on the ten-year anniversary of my very first day.  During this trip, I remembered something very vividly: a specific experience during my first semester.

It was November, 2004.  My academic life was taking off, and my first semester at UCB was inching toward closure.  My home and personal life was in shambles after numerous years of depression and self-deprication took their toll on my relationships with my family and friends.  I cried every single day and night.  I was living at 2330 Blake Street, in a terrible, spider-infested hole with terrible house-mates whom I didn't really care for.  It was during that time that I kept an item with me at all times:  a scarf.  The scarf was sheer and navy blue, with black decorations like ink marks.  It was a gift from Aaron from years earlier.  He was always nice to me, even during the times he hated me and couldn't stand me.  Truth be told, I didn't really have anyone in my life at that time that didn't hate me for what I had done and who I had become.  I was alone in every sense of the word.  I kept the scarf with me at all times.  I would only be without it for just long enough to take a shower.  I would tie it around my wrist under my sweater so that I could keep it with me at all times to remind myself that no matter how terrible I was that there once a time when there was some value in me.  If it wasn't tied around my wrist, it was around my neck or in my pocket.  I have memories of sitting in anime club crying in the dark theater feeling the fabric of it against my skin.  I would sleep with it bound around my left wrist and when I would wake up crying I would clutch it to try to keep myself tethered to reality.  On one particularly cold, rainy, blustery day I stopped at the Boba Cafe to get myself a drink, a small infrequent luxury in a time when all I could do was hate myself.  When I stepped outside to walk home with my almond milk tea in hand, a gust of wind strong enough to almost knock me over blew past and ripped the scarf off of my wrist.  That scarf was the most important thing in my life, my only lifeline at that time when everything seemed so terrible.  I chased the scarf down the street for so many blocks.  I finally caught up to it on the corner of Dana and Bancroft.  I picked it up, the wind still beating against my back, and clutched the scarf to me like a lost child.  I cried and held the scarf tightly in my fingers as I walked back to Blake Street.

When I was in Berkeley last Saturday, I stood on the corner of Dana and Bancroft and remembered that moment ten years ago.  I remembered how I felt and was almost moved again to tears for how I used to feel.  I'm so grateful that I had something to hold on to in that time that made continuing possible.  I'm at a better place now than I ever thought possible, and I am so grateful for that item in that terrible time.  I still have the scarf.  I keep it in a drawer in my dresser and to this day I know where it is at all times, still a wonderful reminder of my own value when I forget.

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