New Year, Old Me – January 14, 2021

Hello, again, and Happy New Year.

I’m starting this New Year off right, as you can see, by once again going several weeks between blog entries, when I promised myself I would post more often. It’s a good thing I didn’t make any other resolutions, as I’d have probably broken those by now, too.

I hope all of you enjoyed your holidays, however you were able to spend them. Ours was quiet, as expected, but nice none-the-less. While we spent our holidays in the house, just us and the pets, we were all spoiled and spoiled each other in turn.

Several years ago I started a new Xmas tradition that my family has come to appreciate and anticipate. I had read about an Icelandic tradition where they make a point of exchanging gifts of books and chocolate with their loved ones on Xmas Eve. Everyone then gets to spend the evening reading and eating sweets in bed. It’s a huge thing in Iceland, and bookstores there have to make sure to stock up in the months leading up to the holidays for the expected and dramatic increase in sales. I decided to do the same thing a few years ago, taking care to pick books that I thought my family and friends would really enjoy but wouldn’t ordinarily buy for themselves. It’s been a big hit, and I’ve done well in choosing the books I’ve gifted. Of course, I also get them the requisite chocolates. As in year’s past, everyone enjoyed their selections, and were eager to dig into them.

We spent Xmas day relaxing in our pj’s after opening gifts, and then watched a few movies before Xmas dinner, which we did get cleaned up and dressed for. In all, it was an enjoyable, if quiet holiday.

New Year’s Eve was similar, though without the exchanging of gifts. We watched a couple of our favourite comedies, “Dodgeball” and “Role Models”, and stuffed ourselves with appetizers and finger foods. A half hour before midnight we ran upstairs and changed into some fancy evening wear. I got to wear my new white dinner jacket, a Xmas gift from my wife, (my old tuxedo jacket is a bit big on me since I lost some weight).

A national fashion chain (Le Chateau) was going out of business just before the holidays, and we splurged on some new dress clothes before everything shut down. They had a white dinner jacket that fit me perfectly, but I couldn’t justify spending the money on something I thought I’d rarely wear. When she’d gone back to the mall without me later, my wife bought it for me as an Xmas gift, along with a very nice evening dress, which she wore for our NYE.

So, dressed to kill in our finery, we toasted the New Year in our living room, all of us hoping it would be better than the last. While it was an enjoyable night under the circumstances, I do hope we have a lot more options for celebrating next New Year’s Eve.

Besides the holiday excitement, it’s been a pretty quiet few weeks. Today is my first day back to work since just before Xmas Eve, and though I did do some small projects here and there, I spent most of my time off just relaxing. I finished up a few small things that I’d let linger while I tackled larger or more important projects and had never got back to, but I didn’t get into anything overly involved, and I started no new projects.

I did keep up with working out five days a week through the holidays though, and I did a lot of walking, both to help manage my blood sugar and to get out of the house. Our area has been in “Lock-down” due to high COVID numbers since Dec. 26 (Boxing Day), so there aren’t a lot of choices for interesting places to go right now. No Cafes or Pubs open, no bookstores to wander around in, no ice rinks to skate at or movie theaters to escape to.

I’m by no means an anti-mask, anti-Lock-down COVIDIOT, and for the most part I do support the measures being taken to lessen the Pandemic’s impact, but I’m starting to worry that this whole mess is seriously driving me a bit batty. I’m finding myself restless and rudderless, unable to focus, unable to finish anything. I bounce from project to project, distraction to distraction, rarely staying with any one thing for very long, and even more rarely finishing anything. I’m worried that if we have to keep this up until September, when they predict everyone should be vaccinated, I will drive myself, and everyone around me, crazy.

Mental Patient in the Shower

I think that’s why this whole “Van-Thing” has become such an obsession, and yes, that is still a thing. It would give me a new and interesting project to lose myself in for at least a few weeks or months. Once the build was far enough along, I could escape the city for a weekend or a week, get a change of scenery and some time away to re-group and re-center. Maybe that will help me get through the rest of this Pandemic without going off the deep end.

I have almost taken the plunge, inquiring after a few vans that I’ve found on-line. I let one go with a bit of regret as it looked good, but the high mileage and the age made me uncomfortable, though it did seem well taken care of. I have a few other leads I might be checking on this weekend, if the new Lock-down restrictions don’t prevent that. Here’s hoping I find my van soon.

Lately, I’ve been trying to spend more time outside to see if that might help my mood. It’s been warm for late December/early January, without much snow to speak of. Besides walking the dog a couple of times a day, I’ve been setting aside some time on my weekends for nature walks, going to some local parks and conservation areas in or near the city to walk around for an hour or more, just to get outside and away from all of the distractions at home .

We don’t have a lot of forested area left near Windsor, Ontario. What we do have are small patches surrounded by manicured and asphalted pathways. There are a couple of city parks that have some hilly, tree-covered areas cut through with mountain-bike and hiking trails, which are the ones I’ve been going to. The cooler temperatures have kept the ground hard enough so it’s not too muddy, and I’ve had some enjoyable strolls. I can’t call them hikes, really, as they’re not very long or difficult, but unless I want to drive an hour or more out of the city, it’s the best I can do.

Today, the Provincial government announced that stricter Lock-down measures will be coming in a few days, so I may decide to take a few day trips, weather permitting, and do some actual hiking if I get stir crazy enough. The new restrictions may put a damper on my trying to buy a van, though. I’m sure we will be allowed to go to car lots by appointment, but private sales may be another matter. I’ll have to look into that.

In a couple of weeks, my birthday will roll around once again. With the Lock-down in place, the best I can do to celebrate will be my favourite take-out at home with the fam. Hopefully there will also be some virtual well-wishes from friends I haven’t been able to see in a while.

Last year, I had a great road trip birthday, traveling to a couple of museums in Ohio to see the Apollo 11 Command Module and the Gemini 8 Capsule. I’m a huge space-nerd and NASA fan-boy, so I was as giddy as a five year old in a candy shop all that day. I topped the trip off with a good meal at my favorite BBQ chain state-side with my wife and a very close friend. It was an awesome day and took a bit of the sting out of turning 50. I wouldn’t have guessed then that my 50th year would have turned out like it has.

It will also be a full year since I quit smoking. The day after my birthday last year I stopped lighting-up, hopefully for good. It wasn’t easy, but I feel better and healthier now than I have in a long time. It was a difficult couple of months at first, but I don’t miss it at all and have had no cravings in a great while. Though I still have some health struggles, I’m sure they would be much worse had I not given up the ciggies.

This week I had a friend come out and ask if I was ever going to start up my Dungeons & Dragons campaign again. I stopped holding regular game nights several months ago when I was going through a really rough patch, both in my relationship and with my mental health. I was depressed about a great many things at the time, actually, not to mention suffering from Pandemic Fatigue on a grand scale, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around running a game. To be honest, I’m still hesitant to re-start the game, partially because so much time has passed that I worry that we all might have lost the thread and the momentum, and because I’m worried that with the tightening COVID restrictions, I might fall back into another dark mood and drop out again.

I had planned on re-starting the game in early December, once I was done with Nanowrimo, but I continued to put it off when no one asked after it. I do want to start it back up again eventually, as it was a fun evening and a good way to pass a few hours with friends. It was one of my only outlets for social interaction during the first Lock-down, but I’d hate to get a few weeks in and then fall back into one of my “Black” periods and feel the need to pull back again.

I also fear dragging my friends down with me by having my personal issues bleed into my game-time. If we weren’t facing more Lock-down restrictions, and if my family doctor was taking in-person appointments, I think I would finally ask for a very mild anti-anxiety pill to help with my moods. Then again, if we weren’t in the middle of a Pandemic, I’m not sure if I’d need them.

Starting the game back up again would do me some good, I know, and would help me to fill some empty hours with something besides watching Van-Life videos on YouTube. I’ll give it some more consideration and maybe try and give it a go again soon.

For those of you wondering, Xmas and New Year’s passed and I still haven’t reconciled with my mother. Before you judge me too harshly, I do carry quite a bit of guilt over that situation, but stronger than the guilt is my hurt at my mother trying to find any way to blame me for my brother’s behaviour, when I did nothing to deserve his treatment. I’ve told this story before, it’s been ongoing for nearly two years now, so I won’t bother you with it’s re-telling. If you are so inclined, you can read about it here, and here.

I’ve always been the “Black Sheep” in my family, and I’ve accepted, have even taken pride in that, but I refuse to be made to be a “Scape-goat” as well. Because of that I still haven’t spoken to my mother, though she has tried to reach out to me.

My wife and kids have been to see her several times since our falling out. I told them this wasn’t their fight and that they should maintain a relationship with her regardless of what goes on between her and I. The last thing I want is to drag them into the middle of this mess. They keep tabs on her for me, making sure she’s doing OK and has what she needs.

From what they’ve told me, though she claims to be hurt and keeps telling them she loves and misses me, she is still trying to shift blame on to me, not not only for what my brother did, but for what’s gone on between her and I. She can’t understand why I’m hurt and angry, and refuses to acknowledge any culpability for the situation. I know that eventually I’ll have to try and make peace with her, but until she stops trying to paint me as the villain here, I don’t know that I’ll be able to. Right now, I’m at a loss as to what to do about the whole sorry mess. At least, through my wife and kids, I can make sure she’s doing OK.

Writing hasn’t been going well lately. As a matter of fact, it hasn’t been going at all. Over the two and a half weeks that we were at home over the holidays, I wrote less than two thousand words in total. I just can’t find the motivation to write. More days than not, I sit at my desk and stare at my Chromebook, wanting to force myself to put words on the screen, only to close it a few minutes later and go off and do something, anything, else.

I still like the story I’m working on, and I still know where I’d like to take it. I want to finish it and put some work into writing a second draft, but I can’t seem to sit still long enough to get back to work on it. Though it is still early days, I’d like to get the first draft on this story done quicker than the last two, which means finishing it sometime before August. I’d like to give myself time to get a good chunk of a second draft done before NaNo ‘21 comes around, so I just have to find the motivation and get to work.

Overall, my health has been good, with no major issues I can think of to report. That’s good considering we’re living through a Pandemic. As I said above, I’m still keeping to my work-out routine, and I’ve been walking and hiking more since I’ve been off work. I’m eating right, though I have to admit to a bit of over-indulging over the holidays. Not wanting to jinx myself, I think I’ve finally got my “timing” right when it comes to planning out meal times to help keep my blood sugar stable. That was difficult to do while I was on midnights, but I think I’ve finally got it down a bit better.

One trick is to not eat anything after dinner, so no snacking, not even healthy snacks, before bed, no matter how tempting. If I stick to that, my glucose tends to be at a good level when I measure it in the morning. I’m not due for another blood test or trip to my Endo until late March, so I’ll have a better idea if what I’m doing is working when that rolls around.

So, this entry is getting quite long, which is what happens when you post only rarely. I should say that I’m going to try and start posting more often, but as we all know by now, I probably won’t.

Thanks for sticking around and reading to the end, and thanks for being there. You’d be surprised if I told you how much help it’s been imagining that you’re there, reading this. It’s helped me to finish my last two novel attempts, and to work some stuff out by being able to vent on here. I wish I could talk about more, be more honest on this blog, but I’ve learned the lesson that when people you know read what you blog, you sometimes have to censor yourself or deal with the consequences.

I hope you’re all continuing to do well, despite the strange circumstances we find ourselves in. Here’s hoping that this is, finally, the darkest part of this pandemic, before the dawn finally breaks.

Be well,

Rob.

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