Archives for category: more than a little bit of bitching

…Home…work…home…work… Back and forth, pretty much continuously, distractingly interspersed with a couple days off, not quite convincing me that I have ample leisure. lol Omg – fuck this. I sigh and sip my coffee. I breathe, exhale, relax… And remind myself that the bills are paid, and this home is comfortably warm on a chilly morning. I had hot water – and indoor plumbing – and sweet smelling shower gel in my morning shower. This cup of coffee? Work was involved in that, too; coffee beans aren’t free. The electricity that ran the burr grinder? Paid for that, too, with money I worked for. So…okay. Work is thing, I guess I’m stuck with that for now.

…I’m so ready to get off this treadmill. Have been for a long time. It aggravates me to see articles about the need to “raise the retirement age” – let that shit be optional, voluntary, and self-determined! Damn – you think I want to be “gainfully employed”? Um… no. It’s just that our society is built on the exchanges of goods and services made possible by the additional exchange of currency. Currency that represents our labor (and in a most bitter and unfortunate additional bit of truth, the “exchange rate” of life force for currency is neither “fair” nor “equal” and some human beings are most definitely paid too little for their time, whereas others are paid far far more than any real value that could be assessed based their life or humanity). So… work. Home to enjoy. Work to pay for it. Back and forth.

It really does bug me when “retirement ages” are set such that they only account for those who wish to work longer. Of course, it would also bug me if the agency of adult human beings was undermined such that people who are capable and eager are forced out of the workforce solely due to their age. Either way, it’s the lack of agency I’m actually objecting to; we are not machines, we’re not all identical in appearance – or intention. Some people earnestly want to work in their later years – I’ve met a few. (Keeping things real, I’ve met far more who felt they had to continue working because they needed the money and were not financially prepared to retire.) I’ve also met people who are looking ahead to retirement before they were 30. (I’m one of those, but I’m also likely going to be someone who has to keep working due to not being financially prepared to retire.)

Sipping coffee thinking about the work-life treadmill on a Thursday. Of course, I have choices, and I mull them over now and then, fully aware I could, perhaps, paint full time (and be creatively contented and probably below the poverty line), or go into business in my working profession as an independent consultant, or do some other work I’d never considered but is incredibly lucrative – people who have freed themselves from the treadmill do exist. I just don’t happen to be one of them. lol This morning I’m tired, and I woke with a headache from a dream that I was commuting to work driving my car backwards. lol Too many late-ish nights, not enough sleep? Another sip of coffee, and an internal commitment to going to bed “on time” tonight, is the only result of my fatigue-y cynicism.

The truth is, I’m good at my profession. I’ve chosen to continue it a couple times after attempting to escape it. I’m pretty skillful at the “going to work every day” thing, in a way that quite a few people I know are not. I support myself, loved ones, and creative endeavors through these skills, and I feel satisfied with all of that. I’m just tired this morning and yearning for a freedom from routine that I not only don’t have – I’m neither comfortable with, in fact, nor skilled at managing well. lol It is what it is. (This sort of thing is specifically why I don’t make major decisions while deeply fatigued or stressed out; my thinking changes when I am relaxed, and able to face challenges from an emotionally neutral, practical perspective, and I make very different decisions.)

Choices. Verbs. The things that are. The things that are not – or are not, yet. The wheel keeps turning. If I don’t like my circumstances, there are alternatives. If I don’t like the person I see myself becoming, I can make changes. If I don’t like the conversation going on around me, I can walk on. Hell, even when the conversation I’m not enjoying is the internal “conversation” going on with myself, I can definitely “fix that” – I can begin again. πŸ˜‰

The possible (likely) impeachment of the US President? I don’t care right now, at all. Local weather? I’m indifferent; it’s meaningless. Work? Connectivity? Housekeeping? The appointment I have scheduled later? Nothing matters beyond one small (huge) thing; I’m sitting alone, heart aching, while my partner is elsewhere, also alone (an assumption), and probably having a less than ideal experience, too.

…I’m not even sure what went wrong, exactly. We started down the path of a conversation… we converse daily, often, and manage both deep conversations, and light-hearted banter (and lots of things in between) quite effortlessly, most of the time. Was I pre-disposed towards frustration, after spending a morning frustrated by technical difficulties, on a rare day working from home? Was he having his experience from within a context that had him potentially predisposed toward difficulties, himself? Is this even “about” either of us, at all? We are each having our own experience – this much is reliably true. I feel, at the moment, sort of bitter, rather heartsick, fighting off tears I don’t want to deal with, and feeling that I am a failure as a partner because – how can I not manage something so fucking basic as a conversation??

In all respects it was a lovely morning to start with. I sit staring disinterestedly into this 3rd cup of coffee, trying to hold onto the morning’s delights. Elusive. Those moments feel as if they were only a dream, now. I am acutely aware I have a “routine” check up with my therapist coming in a couple weeks, and I find myself struggling with a feeling of shame over maybe really needing that time, even after so long, and so much progress. It flares up as resentment and anger, then recedes as a sort of sad gray shadow over my experience, and a hint of despair and futility. “Doesn’t it ever stop…?” My demons attack where I am weakest, that’s a given, and I’m unsurprised by the bleak feeling of doubt, the sense of loss, of abandonment, the feeling of hurt and unworthiness. Damn, this is shitty.

…I hope he’s okay (he’s probably feeling shitty, too).

I look into my coffee mug again, as if I were even going to drink it. I put the cup back down. I also don’t care about this cup of coffee – not compared to how much I care that I am enduring this moment, or that he is enduring his… or that we ended up in this place, in the first place. This coffee doesn’t even smell good. I made it the same as always. No interest in drinking it now. It just sits. Same as me. Just sitting here, mired in this mess. I tried the “walk away and calm down” approach to handling miscommunication and frustration… it does not seem to have provided any useful benefit. I mean… I suppose it’s better than waiting around poking a hornets’ nest until one or the other of us seriously lose our temper. I can’t stand raised voices. Instead… oh sure, it’s fucking quiet, but… I am isolated with my despair… my most dangerous personal foe. “Misery loves company”? Nah. I don’t buy that. Misery doesn’t love a fucking thing, it’s grim, stoic – a loiterer who takes everything pleasant and destroys it without hesitation.

…I even know the steps to take to not be here… and can’t raise the motivation to do a thing about it… like giving up. The futility becomes a quiet waterfall of hot tears. A lifetime of frustration and learned helplessness clench my jaws. My back aches with the weight of it. This? This right here is another very human experience. (“It’s just a moment”, I hear my internal reminder on autopilot, “this will pass. It’s just weather, not climate.” I can’t hear it; it feels very distant and irrelevant.)

Too fucking human. So… what’s to be done about it, then? Yeah, um… I don’t know right now. I’m too busy feeling hurt and filled with chaos and damage. Let me get done with all that, then I’ll move on to doing something else… probably sort myself out at some point… maybe even begin again.

Same routine, different location – at least for this morning bit – and I’m okay with that. πŸ™‚ My coffee is still too hot to even sip on, and made in a peculiar molded plastic drip contraption of some utterly ordinary sort. I don’t expect much of it, and I’m considering walking down the corridor to the ice machine to cool it down more quickly, just because ice is readily available…and I really want a cup of coffee, without having to see any people, yet. lol

Air travel has some uncomfortable moments for me. It wasn’t the seating on the aircraft that was the problem. It wasn’t the line to go through security. It was just… all the people. By far too many. All talking. Many grousing about absolute bullshit (much as I am right now, but a lot less of me, and a whole lot more of them. lol) I’m just saying; it was a bit much. The roughest bit was the high-pitched, fast-paced, near-continuous, over-sharing, stream of consciousness from a very insecure-seeming young woman who latched onto anyone near her and just… downloaded. Total brain dump. Unfortunately, seated just behind me on the aircraft, after having to deal with the noise and overshare in the seating area at the gate as well. Loathsome creature. Oh, sure, just one of many human beings, and ordinary enough, I’m sure. Just… fuuuuuuuuck. I did not really need that.

Seated on the plane, I expected things would quiet down. The talking woman never stopped. There was that. A man in a seat ahead of me decided to occupy his time withΒ  video game. A combat first-person shooter. The entire flight. With the volume up, no head phones. (Seriously??) O…M…G… “Complimentary PITA” (pains in the ass) served generously.

…Earplugs for the win.

Getting to the hotel looked like the easy part. I had set my expectations too high, and further, made assumptions that were incorrect. I was nearly in tears by the time I located my ride-share driver (and I assure you, I had to find him, not the other way round), exhausted, cranky from traveling without being medicated (hard to find a smoking area, especially once I was cleared through security, and I was traveling without any cannabis on me), blood sugar low, ankle screaming at me to get off my feet… I was so relieved just to finally be in a car and headed to the hotel, I almost didn’t take a moment to appreciate that in spite of all the stressors, I never snarled at anyone, never actually wept, never broke down. πŸ˜€ I sat back in the seat, took a breath, and looked around…

…So this is Los Angeles, huh? It’s very… busy.

The hotel room is a hotel room. Clean. This one is even quiet. I even (mostly) slept through the night… sort of. Weird ambient light from smoke detectors and whatnot coming from different locations and angles relative to my sleeping self resulted in some restlessness. The bed is comfortable, the linens clean, but it feels unfamiliar, and sleep was difficult in spite of my fatigue. The nearest smoking area, where I can vape, is a long corridor away from the elevator, 3 floors down, and about half a city block walk from the front entrance of the hotel. lol I’ll get some exercise, just getting a quick vape. LOL I’m settled in for a couple days, though… and I’m reasonably comfortable. It’s enough.

I crashed early… then couldn’t sleep. I read awhile, until sleep caught up with me, and the alarm went off too soon. Suddenly, it’s time to begin again, there’s a day ahead of me, I’m surrounded by the vastness of busy-ness that Los Angeles… and… I guess all that’s quite okay. πŸ™‚ All my temptingly ambitious plans about time between working hours have dissipated like dreams – I’ll be content to stay on top of my self-care, and enjoy my work gently. I hope to return home in good spirits, feeling well-cared-for and accomplished. Nothing fancy, nothing broken. πŸ™‚

…I have yet to see the dawn. πŸ™‚ It’s definitely time to begin again. πŸ˜€

A few years ago, a much younger version of me was heading home from work, it was late, a hot evening, and… the train seemed to be late. The later it got, the more anxious and agitated I was becoming. There was already so little time. The more stressed out I became, the more bothered I was by even the slightest restless movement of other aggravated commuters – and the longer we waited, the more of us there were. Frustrated clueless conversation reached me from various pairings of “been waiting” and “just got here” commuters; that was making me angry, too. “Just stand still and wait!” I snarled quietly under my breath. In fact… I had, at one point, gotten to the “teeth-grinding and sub-vocalization” level of stress and pure, distilled frustration. I wanted to rip my damned heart out of my chest to stop the pounding.

…I just wanted to go home. That’s all.

Yesterday morning, on the way in to the office, I observed that there was a rail interruption for construction, and a shuttle-bus detour provided, on my usual route to work. I didn’t think much about it. It did add some minutes to my commute, but at 5:30 am, that’s not exactly noteworthy – and there are no crowds, just stoic sleepy-eyed commuters quietly heading to work on auto-pilot.

After a very busy, very weird, day in the office, I headed for home quite a bit later than usual – or planned – and made my way to the train platform. I didn’t see anything much to be concerned with, and I wasn’t troubled by the awareness of that bit of construction… I mean… they were probably done? Or… maybe I forgot? It wasn’t on my mind, is what I’m saying, even after I saw the sign.

Oh. Huh. Well… I guess that’s a pretty big project.

Pre-occupied with my own thoughts, I got on the train, and promptly forgot about the construction. Some few minutes later, the train stops. I look around puzzled and realize I’m at the last stop; the detour. Time to grab a shuttle bus… wait… where are the buses? I see a lot of passengers milling around waiting. Hell, the transit company is giving away free shave ice to the passengers waiting in the heat (almost 90 degrees F, a bit more than 32 C). No shade anywhere. It’s hot, and people are cross about waiting. An absolute raging douchebag pushes past a substantial queue of passengers growling “where do we get on the shuttle? where do we get on the shuttle?” squeezing past people with strollers, elders on walkers, and women in burqa’s to get to the front of the line. So rude. I’m irked, but… I breathe, and let that go.

We wait, and wait longer. I see transit employees on walkie-talkies beefing about the delay with the buses. I can see that traffic patterns have been interrupted to accommodate shuttle buses, there are cones, barriers, and signs everywhere, and frustrated workers in oranges vests – and more walkie-talkies. A bus arrives, after a time, and we all crowd on it. Finally. It won’t be long now. I’m almost merry – I’m at least content. I’m heading home.

So… about that.

Quite a crowd, waiting for a train, on a very hot day.

I ease myself past groups of strangers. I notice that even considering the construction, it seems odd that the platform is so crowded. It looks like more than one train’s worth of passengers. I overhear someone complain that they have already been waiting 20 minutes. I keep walking, to the far end; it looks less crowded.

10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes later… no train. More shuttle buses have continued to arrive. There are easily 200+ people waiting on the platform, crowded together, fussy, irritable, frustrated with waiting, growing more and more impatient, and potential for conflict increases. Giving the matter some thought, I realize I will not even want to try to crowd onto the first train that eventually arrives… maybe take an Uber, or… a bus? I make my way to a shady spot at the edge of the park alongside the platform. I exchange expectation-setting messages with my Traveling Partner. I hit my vape a couple times. I drink some water.

Well…so… the traffic around the construction is such a snarl, and being peak rush hour on top of that, and Uber was going to cost me dearly (on this whole other unreasonable level), so that was out. The estimated time for the closest bus I could walk to that would take me more or less directly to where my car was parked was a bit of a walk, followed by a bit of a wait, and then quite a long ride… the train would be faster, when it got here… So. I waited.

The crowd was sufficiently large that getting them in one shot from eye level was difficult.

More people accumulated on the platform, until it was clearly no longer safe for more, and they spilled onto the track that was not in service, and on into the edge of the park, where I was seated in the shade, at the edge of the piled up human stress-puppets, all waiting for the train. Still no train.

By the time the next train arrived, there were easily 300 commuters waiting for it. Trust me, they don’t hold that many. No way I was going to take that train. Maybe not the one after it, either. I watch people push on, crowding each other. I sat back, away from all that, having a vape, and watching the afternoon sunshine slowly turning golden as the sun began to sink lower in the sky. That train left so crammed with human beings, they were literally pressed against the doors and standing two abreast in the aisles as it pulled away. No thank you. The next train looked much the same, but as it left, there was actually room on the platform to stand and wait for the next, which came in just 5 minutes.

(As it turned out later, in addition to the construction snarl, a transit employee confirmed that there was the additional hassle of someone having thrown a shopping cart in front of a moving train, further east on the westbound line, resulting in the transit company having to remove that train from service, and clear the track – and backing up trains rather a lot, creating the fairly horrible delay I’d found myself caught up in.)

I got on the train, no pushing, no snarling, no frustration, and took a seat. All the seats ended up full, and a handful of folks standing – that’s what the train generally looks like in the evening, as I head home. People were a bit more tense and aggravated than usual, and there was a crying baby (the shrieking “I’m fucking pissed and you just don’t get it” crying of a confused, discontented, uncomfortable, too hot in the summertime, baby who has no will to be consoled). At one point, the entire train had to be stopped over … drama and bullshit. Tempers flared over priority seating for disabled passengers; a seated disabled woman with a child in a stroller refused to yield her seat to a woman insisting she was “more disabled”, rail-thin, appearing intoxicated, pushing a wheeled shopping basket. All hell broke loose when rail-thin woman touched the seated woman’s baby, as if to move the child out of her way. People were yelling. I was more than a little surprised it didn’t break out into a proper brawl. Other passengers got involved. Eventually the driver call-button was pushed. That’s when the train was stopped, and held, at the platform, while the driver intervened. The rail-thin woman was ejected from the train by the driver, firmly, although he did point out (and truthfully) that another train followed closely behind his. We continued our journey. The baby commenced to crying again.

At each stop, a few more passengers disembarked. It got quieter. The train reached my station, and I got in my car, and went home (by way of the grocery store, for salad ingredients for a dinner that we didn’t have, because it was late, and we were neither of us very hungry). I enjoyed a pleasant evening with my partner.

So… simple. So… easy. No freak out? Nope. No tantrum? Nope. No snarling at other people impatiently because… “omg, what the fuck??” Nope. I was pretty chill the whole time – in spite of the heat. (lol) It’s summertime, and that means construction, and construction delays, and… well… I don’t know. I’m fine. It wasn’t a big deal.

Who is this woman I have become over time? She’s pretty patient about construction delays, cranky passengers on crowded trains, shrieking babies, and douchebags who line-jump crowds on hot days. I like that about me… I sip my coffee and wonder when I became this woman, and what did I practice that got me here? Did the meditation get me here? The reflection and perspective-seeking? The savoring small pleasant moments and building emotional resilience over time? The creation of, and existence within, a calm and generally contented environment at home? I’m not perfect; I’m surprised. I fully expect that some time in the future I’ll lose my shit over something dumb (I have priors)… but… last night? Last night wasn’t that time. πŸ˜€

This morning? Pretty nice morning. My coffee is just okay, but it’s still coffee, and I’m grateful. I load up the dishwasher, and set it for a delayed start to avoid waking my partner (who I think I already woke with my bumbling around half-awake after the alarm jerked me from dreams of love and contentment). I consider the commute ahead of me. Maybe I’ll drive in. LOL I smile to myself; a good start to the day. I look at the clock… definitely time to begin again. πŸ˜€

Even more exciting, and much more worthwhile, than The Bottle Cap Challenge! Yep – and we can’t even opt out, not really. It’s The Communication Challenge – the one where any given pair or group of human beings attempts to communicate ideas, across the vast chasm of differences in perspective, filtered through individual experience and assumption-making, using poorly defined terms. lol Oh my.

…It’s not always easy, is it?

Yesterday, my day was literally filled with variations on the theme of challenging communications. It was an interesting assortment.

…Team communications…

…Individual entirely non-work-related social communications…

…Communications overheard in passing by uninvolved-but-now-interested individuals…

…Communication with people who lack emotional intelligence…

…Communication with people far more emotionally intelligent than I am…

…Communication with people who have a clear – but also hidden – personal agenda at stake…

…Direct communication…

…Misleading communication…

…Necessary and also delicate communication…

…Frank communication that was “long overdue”…

…Heartfelt warm communication…

…Tense, purposeful, communication in which I, myself, had a clear (and also frustrated) agenda…

…Dispassionate routine communication of factual details…

…Passionate communication of concerns…

…Communication advocating a position…

In some cases, some of those were a single conversation, others were common occurrences in several conversations; there are so many opportunities to communicate, in a single day. Some conversations were easy, comfortable, helpful, or merry. Other conversations felt like work – real effort was involved in “getting an idea across” or in truly listening with my whole attention to ideas I felt disinclined towards, to the point of being reluctant to hear the speaker out. It was a very interesting assortment of moments.

I arrived home, tired, at the end of what felt like a long day (because it was), and definitely ready to stop communicating. LOL

…I’m sure I learned something. I know that during my struggle to relax at the end of the day, fighting off a surge in anxiety that was making sleep difficult to come by, I was pretty certain that mastering my greatest communication challenges would have a lot to offer in the way of reduced stress, because damn, I was definitely stressed out. I sip my coffee and think about that.

I think over the communication challenges in which one or more parties to the conversation showed signs of stress, or frustration; how can I do better? Create a less stressful experience? Listen with greater care? Be more patient? Define my terms more clearly? Slow down enough to avoid being provoked? All of these seem like excellent steps. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I contemplate the very nature of “being provoked” in conversation, and wonder… to what end? I definitely have some room to grow here. You, too, probably. πŸ™‚ Everyone.

…I promise myself another reread of The Four Agreements. I consider, with some amusement, that none of the books on my reading list are specifically on the topic of effective communication, most especially considering how much of it I need to do, day-to-day. lol I think about how little real coaching, encouragement, mentoring, or development, we provide each other as human beings… Where did we get this notion that so many things in life will just sort of “happen” over time? It’s rather strange, is it not? 0_o

I tell myself “the weekend is almost here”, then tease myself for the lie; it’s only Wednesday, and frankly, weekends do not have curative powers. We’ve all still got the lives (and baggage) that we do. The way out is through. πŸ™‚ Another breath. Another exhalation of breath. Another moment. The wheel continues to turn.

I’m not perfect. Still practicing. There is so much to learn – and so much I can do to be more the woman I most want to be. I see daybreak turn the sky from dark – to slightly less dark. I am reminded that seasons do change, and that moments do pass. It’s time to embrace a new one, and begin again. πŸ™‚