Categories
Emotional Work

Day 291 and Self Control

Self control is a form of self abuse for me. Early in life I learned that I could control others by controlling my emotions. Instead of showing my feelings, I’d distort my emotions into whatever got me attention from adults. That’s pretty clever for a child, but is the road to misery once you’ve grown up.

Alas I’ve kept up the habit of self control. It might not look like it from social media or press narratives, but I self censor a lot. I’m often conscious of what others will like or dislike and I will edit my feelings if I feel it isn’t to my benefit. What can I say, I am still hurting from feeling like I wasn’t loved as a child by my father. Same old story that everyone has in their lives (well maybe for you it was your mother but same idea).

But it hurts to keep your emotions inside. Eventually it will turn into pain or sickness. Not that I’m saying all pain or illness is caused by emotions (that’s some bullshit) but the mind body connection is real. The point is it’s only hurting myself to exert so much control over my emotions.

I need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable with other people and how they feel about me. The control I have is largely a fantasy. It’s not that it’s not possible to change how others perceive you. Hell I’ve picked professions where that’s practically the main skill set. I love the perception game. Public relations, fashion, even venture capital are all games you win by building a good reputation.

Having a good reputation doesn’t mean turning off honesty. If anything reputations are built on being trustworthy. And that generally means saying what you mean and meaning what you say. So I’ve got to stop abusing myself by choking off emotions I don’t think others will like. Maybe it’s a gender thing. I learned pretty quickly no one likes an angry woman. But sometimes I get angry. Whatever excuse I’m using for hiding unpleasant emotions has got to go.

Categories
Internet Culture Politics Preparedness

289 and Apocalyptic Aging

Millennials are aging, but that doesn’t seem to have kicked off the midlife crisis handwringing of popular culture yesteryears. The first millennial are edging towards 40 but it feels like no one is a day over thirty on social media. Maybe because it’s hard to feel like you’ve hit midlife when the traditional markers of stability like children and mortgages feel more like luxury status symbols.

Maybe no one is craving red sports cars and the open road because no one has the security of a home life from which to break free. A midlife crisis seems like an almost comically indulgent thing that our boomer parents did. Imagine having kids and a home and thinking that you wanted to go back to the insecurity of your twenties? And boomers have the balls to call millennials spoiled. You had to have have stability to throw it away first.

I’m an elder millennial and a reasonably comfortable even wealthy one at that. But I don’t have kids or own a house. I frozen my eggs when it seemed like having kids wasn’t financially feasible. My husband and I lived in Manhattan at the time and we both had early stage startups. It seemed like a wise idea to put off the decision at the time. And we never even considered buying an apartment. Tying up all that wealth into a one bedroom apartment was for trust funders not the professional class.

Now it’s clear we can afford children and a mortgage on a house, but it seems crazy to commit to either. No one has a clue what life is going to be like in ten years so why would you anchor yourself and innocent progeny? It almost feels immoral to consider.

I don’t really understand how one can age gracefully when so much of life feels casually apocalyptic. Maybe millennials aren’t acknowledging aging because we live in the stasis of the long now. If there is no future then we aren’t moving into it. Each passing year is just a lucky bonus when nothing builds towards stability.

Not being able to afford children and houses is a blessing if you don’t believe in the future will be better. We’ve rationalized that the basics of the American are luxuries only for the wealthy. The wealthy can afford to live with rising tides and six figure college tuitions. Everyone else is thrilled to have enough cash to buy prepper supplies and pay their health insurance deductible.

And in some horrifying sense it is rational. I don’t trust the political system in America. Which means I don’t trust we can solve pressing issues like climate change or rising debt. So when new and exciting issues like the pandemic destabilize life even further it makes committing to a future even less appealing. There is absolutely a part of me that stopped believing in the future sometime in 2016. Everything went Hobbesian. Millennials are aging but we aren’t growing into a future.

Categories
Chronic Disease Preparedness

Day 286 and Appointments

I’ve been going to a bunch of appointments in the past week or so. And I’ve got a bunch more lined up in the coming weeks. My calendar is a mess of obligations; optometrist, dentist, gynecologist, and the hair salon for starters. I feel like I’m drowning in appointments.

I made the mistake of not capitalizing on the last dip in case numbers in the late spring and early summer and missed the pandemic window before delta. I didn’t want to make that mistake again so I’ve been hustling to have the appointments that I’ve been putting off for the last 19 months. Check my eyes, check my teeth, check my fiddly bits. And yes cut my hair. God is my hair long.

There is so much maintenance work that has been piling up that I wonder how I’ve made it through the entire pandemic putting all of these life chores off. Has everyone been putting off their appointments? Was it just me? Or is it just people who are still trying to limit their exposure to infection?

I grant I’ve got a very different risk profile than the average American but I feel like it’s probably not unusual to put off stuff you are supposed to do but can probably live life without. But should you? So far no one has found anything wrong but maybe it’s just luck that I could go for two years without someone checking my tits or my teeth.

I didn’t put off any of my truly crucial health appointments over the pandemic but I am sure other people did. The eye doctor is something I tell myself I can put off for two years but maybe that’s a rationalization. Did others do that with annual physicals? With breast exams? What else have we been putting off in our appointments. It feels like I put off my entire life. And now I’m scrambling to fit it all in before something else has happens.

Categories
Media

Day 281 and Villains

This is a post that will have spoilers about the end of the second season of Ted Lasso. Do not read any further if you have not seen it. I’ll put an extra paragraph to keep it from your eyes and we can meet again tomorrow.

SPOILERS BELOW

The first season of Ted Lasso may be one of the most perfect seasons of television ever made. It’s like being inside the best session of therapy you’ve ever had. The kind where you have a breakthrough so profound that the hurt and agony of your worst childhood trauma suddenly feels not only bearable but also the reason to fully love yourself. It’s just that good on the emotional truth scale. The warmth and safety and growth is beautiful.

But season two leans into tropes and villainy where it used to rely on nuance and kindness. Rather than feeling the pride and hope of emotional truth that has been hard gotten (the truth will set you free but first it will piss you off), we are given the obvious end of Nate betraying Ted and Rebecca by going to coach for Rupert’s new team West Ham.

Nate makes a massive accusation that Ted abandoned Nate emotionally but we are given roughly thirty seconds to wrack our brains for these betrayals before it is revealed that Nate has chosen to abandon Ted. How do we feel about this? Wouldn’t we normally explore how both people contributed to the feeling? But nope it’s send Nate right into insecure narcissistic reactivity rather than mine for the potential nuance.

We could have been given a story where we see Nate and Ted equally participating in the traumas they each carry and how it affects their relationship. Ted with his fear of abandonment brought on by his father’s suicide very well may play out that pattern of abandonment on Nate. But that’s left largely unexplored. Perhaps it could have shown us how Nate intuitively sees that because of Ted’s unresolved pain with his father, Ted in fact isn’t fully there for Nate in his new role as a surrogate father figure coach.

The struggles of a young man coping with a new position and unexpected authority granted by father figure like Ted juxtaposed against Nate’s own issue with his father who doesn’t show him respect would have been an empathetic story in the hands of this show.

There was so much fertile ground for how each character could trigger emotions in the other and for how they could own and resolve these feelings. But instead it’s straight to villain don’t pass to don’t collect 200 dollars. By the end I wasn’t even sad about the loss. I’d resigned myself to the conclusion. But they could have done so much better by everyone. Even if Nate must experience his darker impulses we would have been wiling to see the full journey of how he arrived there and the pain other’s traumas has inadvertently wrecked on Nate.

I guess I’m not sad. I’m just disappointed. And that’s how you know it really mattered to me.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 277 and Supplies

I’ve been watching the supply chain cascade issues for several weeks. Ports are backed up across America, the cost of a shipping container from China has gone on average from $4000 to $19,000, and there is a national shortage of truckers to get goods moved even if they reach American shores. If you are interested in the topic and the possible impacts, my favorite site for preparedness The Prepared has a synopsis without the panic or bullshit.

I reached out to my mom suggesting to her if she had any major purchases or repairs to do so now. She’s been intending to get the shocks replaced on her husband’s truck and moved up the appointment to get it scheduled today. I went through my various preparations for emergencies and realized I was in very good shape. Maybe I could upgrade a pair of boots or consider a new winter parka to upgrade from Uniqlo to LL Bean.

But there just wasn’t much I needed to do. If we had food, fuel, or medication shortages or delays like Britain is experiencing, I am prepared for that. I’m not in a place where I can sustain a full civilization collapse (I haven’t convinced my husband to move to a homestead yet), but I’d definitely be fine if we had a month or two of cascade issues. I am thinking of scenarios like a big winter storm knocking out the power grid and impacting downstream systems like water treatment. Or I-70 gets blocked for a week or two and we have shortages at stores because truckers cannot get over the pass. I mention those two because both happened this year calendar year. These issues are it as rare as you think.

And it struck me how incredibly lucky I am that I can consider something like a supply chain crunch and rather than struggle to afford things like a car repair or a winter coat I can simply buy them. The privilege I have to be a prepper (or a doomer) is significant. And I really genuinely don’t think that should be the case.

America makes big claims to exceptionalism but we regularly have disasters that make us look like we’ve barely achieved a stable economy with functional infrastructure. So if you can prepare for a disaster please do so. The life you save may be your own. But in reality it’s probably more likely to be your neighbors. And we owe it to each other to take the strain off the system so when a disaster hits so we can do better together.

Categories
Chronicle

Day 266 and Out Like A Light

I nearly missed my daily commitment to write (or as it autocorrected “weird) everyday. Yesterday I was overcome by an intense need to sleep. I could barely manage to get a sentence on paper, tag it, and put it out before I passed out completely. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to missing my daily writing exercise in over two hundred days.

A narcoleptic spell would be pretty cool but I think it was a much simpler form of fatigue. I’d been so focused on a number of exciting projects (including a startup with a founder that is the best I’ve seen all year) that I just needed a rest. I couldn’t push it anymore and needed to sleep.

I didn’t feel any of the poisonous desperation from workaholic exhaustion that I’ve felt in the past. This felt like a simple tiredness that was so complete I couldn’t overcome. I fought off closing eyes as I tagged and hit publish.

And I was out. In the past fatigue has been a draining but far too lucid an experience. The kind of tiredness where you wish you could sleep but the combination of worry, focus, and anxiety would keep you awake is more familiar. I much prefer the clean tiredness of being unable to fight off sleep. Though if I need 12 hours of sleep if I work too many hours that might get a little annoying.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 264 and Shiner

I’ve been eyeing the full recline zero gravity chairs and desk combinations for a while. Because of a spinal condition sitting upright at a regular desk is tiring for me. It seemed like an extravagant purchase as they are well over $4000 at a base model but being able to spend a full work day in comfort reclining seemed worth the investment.

The Altwork chair and reclining desk

Last week I finally decided to pull the trigger and buy the chair on the advice of executive performance coach Dr. Julie Gurner who helped me see that investing in an environment that accommodates my physical needs is worthwhile.

Today was set to be the big set up and reveal day but in the excitement Alex was trying to take a picture of me laying flat while working and he dropped my phone form about three feet over my head onto my right ocular bone. It hit so hard it formed a blood bruise immediately. It was such a shock I didn’t even yell. So rather than playing with my new desk I’m icing my face.

Blood bruise from a phone hitting my face while photographing my new chair.

It hurts like hell. My face is swelling and I’ve got that jumpy nerves thing that comes from a physical trauma you didn’t see coming. So tomorrow I’ll finish setting up my new workstation. Right now I’ve got to stave off a shiner.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 235 and Grief

One of my Twitter mutuals suggested I explore the work of psychiatrist Francis Weller and his work on grief. I spent two hours with his lecture and another hour on the writing and exercises explored in this talk available on YouTube. I found his five gates of grief particularly helpful.

1.Everything that you love, you will lose. 2. Places inside of you that have not known love. 3. Sorrows of the works. 4. What we expected and did not receive. 5 Ancestral grief

I have been exploring my childhood emotions and the unconscious way those experiences still affect me. Using Weller’s gates of grief I see I need to grieve but also understand these patterns and what I gave up as a child so I can see what to let go now as an adult but also understand what gifts it has left me with.

In the framing of the second gate, I felt abandoned and unloved as a child. There were parts of me that were never loved. It was a challenge to get attention. This has left my inner childhood fearful that love is unreliable, attention is fleeting and abandonment is always to be feared.

Francis Weller asked what are these lessons or emotional complexes protecting? Why do I feel this way and what did I gain? At the heart of every experience is a jewel of great price. I was protecting and nurturing the capacity to get my father’s attention.

As a small child I didn’t understand why he didn’t pay attention to me for the things I wanted and I liked. So I found ways to get his attention through the things he liked. I developed the expectation I would be ignored. I wouldn’t be paid attention to unless I made myself appealing. So I learned to cut deals to be paid attention. I learned useful skills this way. A pearl of great price indeed. But I was also giving up the idea I’ll be loved just for being his child.

That all the things I did to change myself to be paid attention to and to be loved never ultimately got me what I needed when I was a small child is a loss I must grieve. I’ll never be able to go back and feel like I was wanted. No change I made fixed it either. I must mourn the second gate.

To leave behind these coping mechanisms or emotional complexes, to grieve them, is to admit that they did not work. I cannot change that I felt I was not wanted or loved. They have nothing to offer me now. I have to grieve the lack of a loved childhood to love myself in adulthood.

But it is not a bad thing. Francis Well shares that the other hand of grief is gratitude. In one hand we hold grief and on the other gratitude is in our other palm. So I recognize I have gratitude that my childhood gave me the skills to see what others want. I see what they are looking to find. I know what others are manifesting. I see what others are building and making and wanting. I learned to see the power and magic of others so I can hold space for them. And I learned how to golf. Useful skills indeed.

I grieve that this was my tool for attention and love as a child. I deserved love and attention just for existing as a child. But I am grateful for what it has given me as well.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 228 and Recurring Nightmares

Chances are you have some kind of recurring nightmare that your subconscious tosses up for processing regularly. Some blend of math tests or being naked at a big meeting seems pretty popular. I used to regularly have a dream where I was told I wouldn’t graduate from university as I had forgotten to take some core requirement. But by far the most consistent and upsetting nightmare I have is packing.

I moved a lot as a child. A fun (sad) fact about me is I changed schools every two years for my entire tenure as a student. These moves were generally coupled with moving homes while some just were just me moving by myself. I did first and second grade in Orange County in California, 3rd and 4th in Sacramento, 5th and 6th in Niwot Colorado, 7th grade I was homeschooled (somewhere in there my parents got divorced so my mom and I moved out), 8th was a prep school outside of Boulder, 9th grade was boarding school in Connecticut, 10th was half at prep school and half in France, 11th grade I dropped out and took classes in Manhattan, then for 12th I was back to Colorado and remote classes and prep school. The first and only time I had a consistent schooling experience was at University of Chicago. I did it in three and a half years to save money.

Just writing it out makes me anxious and sad. I wish I could condense it for purposes of the narrative. It feels too long reading it over. It wasn’t just moving schools and houses. It’s actually worse than I’m letting on. My father loves travel. I was put on an airplane at six weeks old for a flight to Hawaii. Many of my childhood memories are of airplanes and cruise ships and motor homes. You name a form of traveling and we did it. We were always going somewhere. I fucking hated it.

Now as an an adult I loathe packing. It brings back all my childhood memories of never feeling stable. Boxes and suitcases take me back. And I don’t just dislike it, I loathe it so much I dedicated several years of my life to making it more convenient to carry your cosmetics with you. I called the line Stowaway. It was all travel sized. I hate packing so much I went to years of trouble to make one core routine easier to take with you. I wanted one thing about travel to be less scary. Less overwhelming. One less thing you leave behind. Childhood trauma sticks.

Maybe only people who love travel should try to improve the experience. Working from a place of childhood trauma is often the road to riches. I guess it worked out fine for me. But I don’t have the fondness for travel that many millennials of my generation have. I only have nightmares. Maybe if I had realized that before I started it would have gone better.

A common theme in my recurring nightmare is trying to find all the basics I will need for some trip. I’ll be searching for underwear or prescription medication. As the dream unfolds I’ll find a key item only to have it disappear. There is always a countdown. Some reminder that a flight is taking off soon. But it’s usually much more dramatic than that. It’s often some kind of unspoken crisis. I won’t remember it when I wake up. Maybe it’s apocalyptic. But it’s rarely a go bag or a bug out situation in my nightmares. It’s just a suitcase or a box or a bag never being filled up.

I never leave on the trip. The dream never lets me finish packing. I guess my unconscious hasn’t figured out how to proceed that it wasn’t the packing that scared me, it was leaving behind the life that I thought was safe. Maybe I’ll get there eventually. I don’t want to be stuck in a nightmare, packing up my life, being afraid of being dragged someplace I don’t want to go.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 169 and Heatwave

I’m pacing back and forth inside my apartment. I need to get in my steps for the day and it’s simply too hot to go outside. A record (isn’t it always) heatwave has been scorching the American West for the past week. It’s hot. It’s dry. It is miserable.

Earlier in the week I tried getting up at 5am to beat the heat. But even first thing in the morning it was still over 80 degrees making it downright unpleasant to go for my usuals hour long wander. So I haven’t been outside for several days except to sprint into my Subaru and then into an air conditioned doctor’s office. Frankly it’s driving me insane. My body hates it. My mind hates it.

I’m a cold weather person by temperament and culture. I blame it on my Swedish ancestors and growing up in a mountain town in Colorado where I don’t think we even had air conditioning when I was a kid. Now twenty five years later I haven’t turned off the air conditioner in weeks.

The National Weather Service says temperatures are 10-20 degrees above average because of a heat dome. And also because climate change. I honestly think this jet stream fuckery sucks. I don’t understand how we are supposed to live like this.

A backpack containing a first aid kit and other disaster preparedness supplies.

I am grateful we haven’t yet started fire season. Though I know it is coming. All this time indoors should have me going through disaster supplies. And indeed we did redo our medic kit and trauma supplies this week. We even made our list public if you have been considering doing some preparedness of your own. But disasters have a way of blunting your capacity to do anything. So I’ve been pacing inside, my mind racing but accomplishing very little. Fuck this heatwave.