Tag Archives: responsibilities

Coming out of the fog

Since finally being unemployed, a few things have cropped up, and mostly they are things in my head. I have referenced a couple of times that I’ve been dealing with major anxiety, which sort of snuck up on me and took over for no reason that made sense to my logical brain. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a struggle; it’s been hard when it gets dark out, it’s been hard when the TV is on and when it’s off, it’s been hard when my wife kisses me or if she doesn’t kiss me.

Luckily, I have a kick-ass relationship with my awesome therapist, and she knows me well; she hooked me up with a doctor who could prescribe things that might make me feel better, and after exactly 18 days of nearly paralyzing anxiety, I am finally starting to feel clear-headed.

looking towards clearer, happier days

This is something that’s sort of tough to write about, but also really, really important to read about. I find strength every single day from reading Karen’s blog, Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable: she is such a cool person and if she lived closer I would want to be friends with her, but also she deals with all this crap stuff all the time and talks about it in such a normal way.  Plus!  Heather Armstrong of Dooce routinely references the tough mental stuff she’s gone through – and all of this, I think reaches people who realize that it’s really okay to ask for help.

Again: It’s okay to ask for help.

So if posting has been a bit less entertaining than usual, it’s because real life has been a bit more challenging than usual.  But it really is getting better.  And along those lines, I want to thank Karen, for helping me realize that there is hope and that I am not the only person in the world who is dealing with this; I want to thank Ellen for sharing her experiences with anxiety, and how they’re over (i.e. There’s hope! There is an Other Side!); and I want to thank my wonderful wife.

Turtle and I have been married for four months today, and the last four months have been wonderful and challenging.  For the last 18 days, I have been needing her support more than maybe I ever have before, and you know what?  She’s there.  She’s checking in with me, checking on my meds, making sure I don’t get into bed with all my clothes still on.  She’s stretching her own limits and she is doing a damn good job.

best wife, on a better day

When we say “in sickness and in health” (which, actually, I am not sure we did say), I picture someone in a hospital bed, or vomiting over the toilet, or needing a ride to a doctor’s appointment.  I don’t picture the mental health aspect of it, but that’s it, too, you guys.  In sickness and in health is checking in, saying, “How are you feeling today?” and just asking about moods and emotions.  Funny, the things that we promise that we only learn the meaning of later.

And this, four months in.

So, to my readers: thanks for sticking it out, despite the foggy posts.  Knowing you’re out there makes it worth all the trying.

And to my wife, as I said yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that: Thank you, in all the ways.

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Yes, I am technically comparing myself to the dog

Back when I first got Daphne, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what I was doing.  Like, yes, I did know how to have a dog, essentially: you feed it, you walk it, you teach it to behave the way you want it to.  This is sort of like saying I know how to have a baby: you feed it, you change it, you try to figure out why it’s crying and how to make it stop.  I still don’t have a baby, so I have no idea how accurate that is, but I suspect it’s an understatement.

In order to figure out how to have a dog and that I wasn’t Doing It All Wrong, I started to read a ton of dog books.  My all time favorite is Jon Katz’s book Katz on Dogs.  Okay, it’s a corny title, but I love me some Jon Katz.  He has written a ton of books about dogs; the first one I read was The New Work of Dogs. Basically, this guy gets that dogs are really important, but also that they are not people, they are dogs.

Why am I writing about this on my real blog instead of my dog blog (um, haha, remember when I said I would stop plugging my dog blog soon?  I guess it’s not soon yet.)?  Because there’s one thing he wrote about that I keep thinking about.  I can’t find the exact quote, but he basically says that crate training your dog gives it a job to do.  The dog knows that while she’s in her crate, her job is to sleep or to chew the chew toy in her crate.  If you leave her home alone outside of her crate, she has no idea what her “job” is, and that’s when she gets destructive.  Maybe her job is taking apart your dining room table, one sliver of wood at a time; maybe it’s trying to find what components make up the soles of your favorite shoes.  The idea is that dogs aren’t destructive just because they like ruining your stuff, but because they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing; they need the rules and structure (and quiet time) that a crate provides.

You guys, I need a crate.  I really, really need a crate. I’ve enjoyed this time of unemployment, but I’m finding myself suddenly feeling a little bit lost, a little drifty.  I need structure, rules.  Someone, tell me what to do?

I had my great How to Be Unemployed Tips last week, and I maintain that they are good ones.  But I’m also discovering that they are not enough for me.  How can I have Time Off if I don’t have some hardcore Time On?  So here’s my public declaration: starting Monday, I will Do Better.  If no one else is giving me structure, I will make some myself.  Remember, world (and self), the time you spend being unemployed is finite, and you will miss it when it’s gone.

What are your tips for keeping your sanity?  Does anyone want to plan my days for me?  Yes?

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Staying on the Road, or Moral Superiority

Here is something I’ve been struggling with as of late: our damned car.

I bought the car almost a year ago, and since then, there have been many, many times that I have been incredibly grateful for it. See: the time Daphne got suddenly sick and we had to rush her to the hospital, or the time my dad ended up in the hospital and we wanted to be able to visit him without having to reserve a car for certain hours. See also: all the times that we were able to spontaneously go up to Camp for a weekend or even just take Daph for an off-leash romp in the woods in the next town over (off-leash is illegal in my town).  Not to mention the fact that owning a car has made possible the majority of the petsitting that I do…

car for to has driving all the dogs around! ALL THE DOGS.

But I have major car-owning guilt.  We lived car-free for almost two years; Turtle has been car-free for 15 years.  I was always so proud to be the one bicycling everywhere, and was also a fan of the occasional feeling of superiority it gave me (“Yes, you are a good environmentalist, but you drive the 1.5 miles to work, and I bike.  VICTORY IS MINE.”).  I recognize that a feeling of superiority in this context is sort of ridiculous, but I’m trying to be honest here.

Now, though, it’s January in Boston, and it is cold.  It’s cold and my car is warm.  My car can hep me run lots of errands at the same time without having to put on eighteen layers.  And I think it’s reasonable to drive five miles to do something… but that doesn’t really help my guilt.  Because, you guys, it’s also reasonable to bicycle five miles to do something, and afterwards, you feel good, you haven’t spent any money on gas, and, most importantly, you are morally superior to everyone else.

I was sort of joking about that last part.

I just keep considering whether I should be bicycling everywhere, and articles about awesome winter bicyclists do nothing to appease my driver guilt.  Even when I’m not afraid of the cold, though, I am nervous about the ice and the narrower roads and the fact that drivers just don’t expect to see bicyclists out in this weather.  Where is the line between personal comfort and environmental responsibility?  I sometimes wish we had never bought the car so that I wouldn’t have the option of doing anything other than walking, bicycling, or taking public transportation, but we did, and I do.  Where do you draw your lines?

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In which I answer some questions

Apparently, I’m taking the Pet Blogger Challenge:

The Challenge, as I understand it, is a time for bloggers to reflect on their blogs, why and how they write them, and… share?

At first, I though this was silly, because I don’t really care about why other people write, I just want to read their entertaining, witty, educational, interesting work.  So obviously you don’t care either (because I generally assume that I’m writing for an audience of me).  But then I noticed a lot of really interesting answers popping up on the blogs I read, and while I’m not yet a “pet blogger” (I think), I did start thinking about what my answers would be.

1. When did you begin your blog?

I started last January. And just to double check, I looked at my first post – happy belated birthday, blog! I started writing here on January 8th of last year.

the first picture I posted on the blog

2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?

Turtle and I had gotten engaged a few months before and I had been reading wedding blogs for awhile.  There was a lot that I was thinking about weddings and wedding culture and I really wanted somewhere to participate in the conversation.  At the time, I didn’t find a lot of writing that resonated with me; I couldn’t find anything written for the audience of me (planning a small, gay, non-WIC wedding), so I decided to be that writer.

3. Is your current purpose the same?

I am trying to remember that purpose when I feel like I’m in a slump.  Like, does anyone else really care what specific method I used to teach my dog to go into her crate?  Well, the answer is that I would care, so yes.  But I really don’t care about the sewing pattern you used for something – that just is not my thing.  Please don’t expect to see any sewing patterns shared here.

4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?

I started blogging when I felt like it, which was anywhere from daily to weekly.  Since participating in NaBloPoMo and writing daily in November, I realized I do enjoy a regular schedule. I also enjoy reading blogs that I know post regularly, so I’m trying to follow their example.  Realistically?  I am not going to be able to post every day, but I think I can handle every weekday, so that’s what I’m aiming for.  Since starting Flying Dingo, this may change.

5. Are you generating income from your blog?

If so, how (e.g. sponsor ads, affiliate relationships, spokesperson opportunities)?   If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how?

6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular (bragging is good!)?

I love having somewhere to dump my thoughts, to be sassy if I want to, and to have such awesome support from readers!  It’s really created an important community for me here. I look forward the comments and the ensuing conversations.  I love finding out that someone whose blog I love is reading my blog.  I love when people I know in real life say hi and sort of mumble, “I stalk your blog.”  I know, it’s sort of awkward, but it makes my day.  You know me and you like my writing?! Super extra happy points.

7. What do you like least?

I have a hard time when I’m not inspired to write something, but I feel like I *should* write anyway.  I love knowing that posts on some of my favorite sites will be up by 7 am, and I want to provide the same thing; what is hard is when I’m not inspired until mid-morning.  Really, I know 3 hours doesn’t make a huge difference, but I feel bad about it.  Sorry.

8. How do you see your blog changing or growing in 2011?

I hope to find a little more direction this year.  Now that the wedding is over, I need something to focus on; it seems to be The Beast these days, but I’ve turned to Flying Dingo for that, and I hope to keep writing here about terribly entertaining things like how we keep the heat at 50 degrees during the day (yes, my fingers are freezing right now) and how I reffed my first roller derby scrimmage last night.  What, I didn’t mention I was considering joining the ref team?  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that later.

this is me blogging, right now. and by blogging I mean defending my lap from Jake. Yes, it's 53 degrees in the house now, and the warmest spot around is on my lap where the computer is cozy.

Thanks, all of you, for reading and commenting and saying hello!  You’re the best. For serious.

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FunEmployment

You may remember that back in November, I quit my job.  Aaaand by quit my job, I mean I gave notice. Ahem, five weeks’ notice.

run away, run away!

You guys!  If you are going to leave your job, I highly recommend giving way, way less than five weeks’ notice.  Here’s what happened over my last five weeks: I got less invested and they did not hire a replacement.  Both things that were not good.  Also, I made some money.  That‘s a good reason to give five weeks’ notice.

What am I getting to here?  After leaving my job, and doing lots of petsitting, yesterday marked my first day of full-on unemployment.  I know a lot of other people are also dealing with (f)unemployment, and after watching my wife survive six months of it, I have some thoughts on how to maintain my sanity and enjoy – yes, I hope to enjoy! – this temporary period of having absolutely no job at all:

First, know that it is temporary. Maybe say this to yourself every single day.  So often these days, Turtle says, “Wow, I wish I’d done this when I was unemployed!”  Because it seems so endless, it’s hard to be motivated; but it will end, so take advantage of your, ahem, unpaid vacation time.

you know, live for the moment, dance like no one is watching, all that jazz.

Second, get up at a reasonable hour. I say reasonable hour because it’s pretty subjective.  For me, a reasonable hour is sometime between 6:30 and 7am.  It gives me time to sleep in a bit, but still have my entire day.

Third, start your day with something productive. I drop Turtle off at the bus stop and then take Daphne for a good off-leash romp somewhere.  I signed up to volunteer at a local wildlife center, so every Monday morning I have somewhere to be.  It’s nice to start the week feeling like I’ve accomplished something, even if it was just show up and look at pretty raptors (you guys!  Yesterday a Broad Winged Hawk was NOT happy with me. It was awesome.).

Tuesday morning hike with the beast.

Finally, set some goals. Mine are probably very different from what yours would be, but they include working with Daph on 3 new tricks a week, taking her out for at least 30-45 minutes every day, and writing every single weekday.  They’re not big goals, but they are productive and measurable and manageable.

Yesterday I did my volunteering and then deep cleaned the kitchen and reorganized a few parts of the house that we haven’t really touched since moving here back in May.  I was nervous that I got too much accomplished yesterday and wouldn’t have anything to do for the rest of the week – but then I set up some interviews to volunteer at a few other places, and I’m excited to see what comes of those.

If you are or have been unemployed, how are you maintaining your sanity?  What advice do you have?

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Reflections on a year I was grateful to see go

Well, hello, there!  I said I’d be back in the new year, and here I am.  I missed you!  But I also spent the last couple of weeks masquerading as a slightly insane petsitter.  Slightly insane only because I think sane petsitters occasionally say no to jobs so that they can occasionally care for their own pets; I, on the other hand, had up to 13 jobs in one day.  Thank you a billion times over to my beautiful wife for taking care of our own beasts!

I both love and hate year-in-reviews; sometimes I find it really boring to read about other people’s years, but really, if you find this boring? Skip it.  Because when it’s not boring it’s really interesting, so I’m banking on everyone loving my version of a year in review.  It’s a bit more of a reflection than review, but that’s what you get. Ready? Let’s go.

Our 2010 year started off with us screwing up a dinner party.  Seriously.  We thought we were being invited to just a “let’s all hang out, it’ll be fun!” party and we showed up 2 hours after it started.  Um, fashionably late for a regular old party, right? Yeah, well, as I mentioned – it was a dinner party.  Being 2 hours late is very, very bad.

I tell you this because, in retrospect, it seems like an appropriate beginning to the year that 2010 was.

In 2010, we had in our lives or in the lives of people we’re very close to a birth, a death, jobs lost, new jobs started, a separation, a wedding, we moved, we got a kitten, we lost our kitten, and we each turned another year older.  That last part is just how things work.  Other notable things: I started blogging, I started classes, I dropped classes, I got rejected by roller derby (twice!), our dog bit someone, I changed my life plan, we changed our last name, we merged our finances, and – yes, I already mentioned the wedding, but it feels worth mentioning again – we’re married now.

yes, I know you've seen this picture before... but it is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES. So here it is again. Enjoy, because it's beautiful.

What I mean to say is that 2010 was a really big year, and I am really grateful that it’s over.  When the clock struck midnight and our little group of friends yelled “Happy New Year!” I felt this sudden and huge wave of relief.  Really, that’s sort of silly: who knows what 2011 brings?  Maybe more stressors, different stressors.  But I find a lot of hope in this: we made it through this last year, and we did a really good job.  The chances of all of these things happening in the same year again are probably not very high, but, regardless, I know we can handle it.

Being engaged and then married has been an enormous blessing throughout all of this.  When things get hard, I know that there’s someone by my side, someone on my team; even when we’re having a rough time in our relationship, we’re in it for the long haul.

So here’s to 2011, with hope that it is full of love and new beginnings and is only somewhat eventful.  Happy New Year, you guys.

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The End/I’m always covered in fur

So my last day of work was last Friday and for some reason I expected some downtime.  Did I already talk about this?  It’s all sort of a whirlwind of craziness.  The plus side is that I do need to eat but I don’t have time to shop, so tonight I threw a bunch of ingredients we had around the house (canned beans, frozen veggies, soy “hamburger”, some herbs) into our slow cooker and things smell delicious.  Sadly, it still needs another 20 minutes to cook slowly, so I thought I’d pop in and say Hello! I’m not missing!  I am just, once again, terribly (wonderfully?) covered in other people’s cats.

us, covered in our own animals. I promise these are our only cats. We are not crazy cat ladies... though I think becoming a crazy dog lady is not a bad goal.

Also sadly, it seems that this trend of being covered in other people’s pets (or feeding and cleaning up after other people’s pets) will continue for the rest of 2010, and I am not going to have the time I would like to dedicate to thoughtful blogging.  Lucky for me, many of you have time off of work and so will not be hoping my blog has new content so that you can procrastinate.

So, my friends, here’s to the new year a few days early!  Thank you to my faithful readers; even though I don’t know who most of you are, I appreciate knowing that you’re out there reading.  And thank you to the regular commenters for helping me feel like I’m saying something worth saying.  Lastly, thank you to those of you who have approached me in person or emailed to say you like what’s happening over here: it always seems to come when I need it most.  You all make this worth doing.

Happy New Year!  And Merry Christmas, if that’s your thing, and also happy birthday to me, my wife, and my dad.  See you next year!  No, seriously, I’ll be back in full swing 1/1/11.  Hooray!

Cheers,

Bird

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