Day 499

It’s fall. I’m hitting a groove of comfortable routine between organizing, hobbies, and playing video games. I’m trying out working with stained glass, and it’s coming along okay. It moves me from doing zen-like, repetitious hobby tasks from my chair. I consider that a good thing. It feels more active.

I also have added e-juice sampling to my list of distractions. Really, my goal was to simply get my vaping habit to not require buying disposable coils; but, like most things I get involved with, I got a tad obsessive. Similarly, this week I’ve been attempting to lower the cost of using Nespresso pods, since I seem to have gotten accustomed to enjoying a morning espresso.

My morning routine has become: shower, espresso while playing Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes. Of all the modes of entertainment, the one that has kept my attention the longest these past couple of months has been a stupid little free-to-play game on my phone. Weird.

Although it hasn’t been incapacitating, I’m still learning about what aggravates my gut.

The basement couch/staging area is box free (as of yesterday)! Granted, some of the boxes have just moved locations in the house to be put away, but those represented the last of unsorted stuff from moving and quitting working. There’s one more area that needs to be sorted through in the garage, along with a shoebox containing stuff from a dresser junk drawer in my father’s room, and I can finally say I’ve gone through EVERYTHING. There are still jumbles of stuff that will need to get organized neatly. And, after that, it will be about optimization of space and tackling the storage room of boxes. It took 3 1/2 years, but it’s safe to say, at this point, the “to do list” isn’t as overwhelming as it has been. It’s reached a point of being an annoying list of chores rather than a dire task list of things to accomplish so I can move forward.

Speaking of moving forward, I’ve got a doctor’s appointment next week. I intend to ask for a referral to “talk to someone” professionally for various reasons. Oddly, as I think about explaining those reasons, I’m feeling a bit shy. I usually don’t have a problem rambling about my battle with internal demons. At the moment, however, they don’t seem worthy to write about.

Tomorrow will be 500 days since I stopped employment. I haven’t stopped “working,” so I’m saying “employment” because of the connotation of going to a job each day. Milestones.

1:53pm

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Day 436

Tonight I was chatting with a buddy of mine about how long it’s been since I “retired.” Of course, I’ve got a spreadsheet that counts the days for me solely for the purpose of being able to quickly label these ever-so-sporadic posts of acclimation to a purposeless life at 44 years old. Note that I’m 45 now since it’s been 436 days since the last day I earned money in the traditional sense of employment. Technically, I’ve only been officially without a job since July 1st of this year, but I’m not going to count the unpaid leave of absence. 

Anyway, call it curiosity… or rather morbid curiosity, but I was wondering how many days the titles here might end up counting. Cue up the IRS actuarial tables. A 45 year old has an average life expectancy of 83 years. Multiplied by 365 days per year, I’m looking at another 16,342 days. 

Wow. 

That’s a lot of days to aimlessly exist. 

Not that I’m entirely aimless. I keep myself occupied even though I have no primary overarching occupation. 

Here’s the sticking point of the last 436 days: my benchmarks and statistics inform me that maintaining my relatively modest, but by no means austere, lifestyle, I needn’t fret about running out of money unless I outlive not only the actuarial average, but my genetic history. 

But, as all studies of market performance warn: past performance is not indicative of future returns. A chance exists, even if it is small, that I’ll outlive my ability to fund myself. 

That’s one part of the equation. Moving on to a much more humane perspective, there’s a hope for expanding one’s lifestyle throughout working years to enjoy during retirement. The tradeoff there, of course, is spending those younger, healthier years employed in the hopes of having health and vitality to enjoy some years before age takes hold. 

I’ve recently had a “scare” involving getting older. Diverticulitis. While the symptoms have passed, there’s still a chance that I’ll need a surgery. I’m not sure if having a section of intensines removed is considered a major or minor surgery, but I do know that if it does come to pass, and it is successful, it won’t impact my overall health and vitality. In fact, it may improve it. 

Still, it’s starting to hit me fully: the bliss of not having to get up for work tomorrow… or the next day… or the next month… or the next decade. What else is starting to fully hit me is the utter and complete lack of purpose. Now, I’ve got to clarify, I’ve never really felt a strong sense of meaning in life. I can distill pretty much everything to effectively being trivial. Yes, I know that’s a sad, pathetic outlook on life, and that arguments can be made for actions and events that have significant impact. I don’t have the motivation at the moment to defend my perspective that the Black Plague, the sinking of the Titanic, or Fatman and Little Boy were meaningless. Of course they weren’t meaningless. Nor is the death of any individual meaningless. That’s my point, is the death of Captain E. J. Smith in 1912 any more tragic than any of the countless people that died yesterday in a myriad of ways? 

Rambling now. Back to the main thing prompting me to write something tonight: the aimlessness I possess regarding the next sixteen-and-halfish thousand days. I’m not concerned about boredom or inability to keep myself occupied. In fact, if it weren’t for external judgements of others burdened with having to justify employment in the traditional sense in order to stay sane, I probably wouldn’t even ponder the concept of aimlessness. 

I wonder how folks born into wealth achieve a sense of purpose… or if these matters cross their mind at all. 

I mean, for the majority of us, we work with the hopes to someday retire comfortably. And once retirement is achieved certain routines have become ingrained, and there are kids and grandkids to be involved with. 

Here I am contemplating having children after retiring. Backwards. I dunno. Maybe I’ve been dead this entire time and am living toward being born. Only to be born in an old and failing body. 

And there it is. There it is. At 45 years old, I feel like I’m in the prime of my life AND I have the ability to fully enjoy it beyond the weekends and a two week vacation each year. 

And what do I enjoy? Sleeping the day away and puttering around all night playing video games or contemplating my purpose while staring at the back of my eyelids. I’m content. It seems like a waste. I’m in a state of blissful peace. Others are so much more deserving. I’m overjoyed with having nothing to do tomorrow. Someone else would be motivated to make an impact. 

That someone else could be… should be… me. 

And, so, 436 days after I left traditional employment, having recuperated, looking at a still overwhelming “to do” list of things that aren’t really all that important, the thoughts are starting to take root… it’s time to consider what I want my purpose to be. It’s time to aim toward something. 

I don’t mean tomorrow. It might take another year before I am actually able to focus on something. Maybe it will take a year just to narrow down the focus to a few possibilities. 

Nonetheless, I’m happy to admit that I’m starting to have a desire to not be utterly aimless. And, honestly, that’s a good feeling. I was somewhat concerned that it took me longer to decompress than I thought it would. I figured it would take me twice as long to get antsy. And, I figured that I would pass through a stage of melancholy and/or boredom first. 

Instead, I’m at a place of contented *shrug*. Not feeling pressured to “do something,” but also feeling like I shouldn’t waste this opportunity. And seeing that number of 16,342, I don’t feel guilty if the number dwindles to fifteen thousand something before I get focused on a target to aim at. 

Everyone deserves to have the ability to take as long as necessary to find their purpose instead of stabbing at the most readily available target then spending a lifetime convincing themselves that’s what they were aiming at all along. 

And, by God, if I determine my purpose is to achieve a Gamerscore of 100,000 on Xbox, so be it. Although I think it’s pretty safe to say that, although that’s a current potential possibility, it is NOT the target that will be chosen. (Currently my Gamerscore is 24,422 just in case I end up at 100,000 before finding my true purpose… and if I do, Dana, it might be time to suggest finding an old-person eSports league.) 

4:10am

Day 424 (Whoo… that hurt.)

Twelve days ago on Tuesday, July 25th, I started to have an uncomforable feeling in my abdomen. I thought it was just gas. The next day I went kayaking for a few hours. By that evening, the uncomfortable feeling moved up to the scale to qualifying as painful.

Thursday and Friday that week were miserable. I was taking some supplemental fiber and drinking some Pepto Bismol. Dana wanted me to drag my ass to the doctor, but, of course, I wasn’t quite ready for that yet.

By Saturday morning, I was.

We spent some time at an Urgicare clinic where the waiting room was hot and the pain was becoming worse. The nurse practitioner there diagnosed the problem as constipation and prescribed polyethylene glycol and suggested guzzling milk of magnesia. Which I did, then spent a lot of time becoming intimate with my toilet Saturday night and most of Sunday.

Monday morning, six days ago now, the pain was past the 10 on the pain scale. I don’t really get that pain scale. If 10 is the worst possible pain, I consider that to be on the level of torture: knee caps broken, blow torch to soles of feet, eyelids ripped off… that sort of thing. So I’m never really comfortable qualifying any pain I’m experiencing as a 10. That is, until the pain is unbearable, then the scale is entirely meaningless and I start quantifying the level as 14 or 86 or I want to die.

I got into my doctor for a 3:30 appointment, by 7:00 I visited the hospital, had a CT Scan, and a prescription for a couple different antibiotics.

Whew! Diverticulitis. That is some seriously unfun stuff.

By Tuesday morning the pain had become debilitating. My doctor prescribed some Tylenol and codeine. Oh, and a clear liquid diet.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday last week were terrible. Intense, eye-tearing pain. No food. pondering if there were any glaring omissions in my estate planning.

Finally Friday, the searing pain like someone repeatedly stabbing my lower left abdomen with a triple bladed knife subsided to just feeling like I was being punched over and over again. Bliss. I also had an appetite enough for some beef broth and jello. My God! Food never tasted so good… and that was still technically the stuff of a clear liquid diet.

Yesterday, Saturday, I was feeling functional again. Although the lack of calories was apparent. And about 4am, I had such an intense craving for french toast, I drove out to Meijer to get a frozen box and ended up walking out with a cheesecake danish to boot.

Here I am on Sunday afternoon. I’m back to that uncomfortable feeling like I’ve got a bit of gas. I’ll take it over what I just went through.

Between keto and diverticulitis I’ve learned more about food, digestion, and eating in the past two months than I ever have. I’ve lost about 20 pounds since the middle of June. Granted, I expect some of that to come back on now that I’m not terrified about what eating will do to my lower body, but still. I’ve got another 30 pounds to shed to reach my goal weight.

One another note: After finding myself sucked into trivial videos of Epic Fails, recipes, and who knows what else, I unfollowed a majority of people from my friends’ list. I’ve kept it to family, friends that I talk to, and friends that I think about talking to, with a couple of others that tend to post some stuff I actually find interesting not distracting numbness.

Something else occurred during the past couple of weeks’ ordeal: I felt boredom. Boredom, to me, is the inability to entertain oneself — even if that means popping on a television show that one finds entertaining. I have enough things that trigger despair that boredom has no place in my life. And, given my circumstances, something I have great concern about succumbing to. I’m sure that feeling was evoked my debilitating pain and a clear liquid diet with an extreme calorie deficiency, but it was significant enough to cause many of my recent musings about the need to “reset” to be scoffed at.

2:44pm

12Day 1 + 365

Ahhhh… after a year of not working, adjusting, and recovering, I feel good. A couple of thoughts hit me after taking a “morning shower” at 2:30pm.

I perceive “boredom” as a quick way to express the desire for someone else to entertain oneself. My parents taught me this wonderful game when I was a kid called, “Go entertain yourself,” so, at this point, I’m rarely — dare I say never — bored.

Why has that struck me at this moment? I just texted a buddy to ask about his weekend plans are. I’m hoping to catch up with him to play some frisbee golf or go kayaking. Last night Dana and I went kayaking with Kelly, a former colleague of mine and Dana’s current colleague. Kelly also took over the department chair position from me.

As I run down a list of things I want to do — note that I say “want”, not “need” — there’s, of course, the default play some video games. There’s also some projects I’m in the middle of doing that I’d like to finish: an arigurumi turtle for Dana, some more glass pieces, painting a few miniatures, and the VHS and Blu-Rays have been waiting for me to finish. There’s a couple of projects I’d like to start: upcycling a patio table and set of chairs with a mosaic, weed through some boxes of old clothes. There’s some other things I’d like to get done: putting up peg board in the basement, finish organizing the garage after the final dump from the Racine house at this time last year. There’s also some straightening, dusting, vacuuming that could be done. Now that I’ve gotten a taste of frisbee golf, I’d like to do that a bit more, and I’ve already been out paddling more this year than all of last year (I think). I’d like to do some camping and take care of some yard work. I’m striving to write more. I want to shed about 40 pounds. Books to be read.

Never bored. My long-term “to do” list is still active. My short-term “to do” list fluctuates. My daily “to do” list ends up muddled.

Toward the end of summer break during the years of 2010 – 2013, I actually didn’t mind going back to work too much. I termed the feeling as “needing a break from myself”. Now, as Dana is finishing up the school year, and having summer break on my mind, I had a revelation of sorts.

One good thing that going to work did for me those years was reset my muddled “to do” list. The past couple of months I’ve been feeling lethargic and unproductive even though I’m getting stuff accomplished. I’m just not getting stuff accomplished at a manic pace (other than maybe the hours put into Xbox). I’m dawdling in a procrastinating manner, getting sucked into the Internet or staring at the walls for far too long working up the will to do something. When I start doing something, I feel like I should really be doing something higher on the constantly shifting priority list.

The days go by, and I spend more and more time procrastinating because the list of things to entertain myself is long, and the priority scale keeps shifting.

Going back to work at the end of August rebooted the system. Suddenly, that self produced list and scale of priorities got erased and replaced by “the beginning of the school year.” A couple of weeks of the only thing on the list and the only priority was setting the pace of the classroom. Anytime I thought of something I wanted to do, it was immediately dismissed as not being able to be considered until October. As October rolled around, I’d start adding things that I wanted to do in an order of priority of which thoughts popped up most frequently during September. By February, I needed a different sort of reset: restoring some balance of me time with the abundunt amount of socialization. I’d typically be mentally checked out of work at some point during May and focused on my personal “to dos” and priorities.

I think that’s what I’ve been facing over the last couple of months. I need a break from myself in order to reset my “want to do” list. But, without the external “need to do” focus and obsessing over to keep me actively engaged with something, I’m floundering, albeit comfortably, in a state of ennui. Anything accomplished is overshadowed by the ever growing unprioritized “to do” list that has blended “wants” and “needs” into a never ending bowl of soup. The taste of the individual ingredients are blended, muted, sufficient, comfortable, and somewhat unsatisfying.

Recognizing this poses an interesting, but now definable, challenge. How to reset the “to do” list without any external mechanism. I’m most productive when I obsess about something. So, I just need to pick something to obsess about to the point that I dismiss any other thoughts of “want to do” that pop up. One obstacle in doing that is the perception that the thing I choose will be viewed as “work.” “Work,” to me, is a perception of something that needs to be done, and, given the choice, I’d prefer to be doing something else.

That perception, of course, isn’t useful. I don’t want to prefer doing something else, and everything on my “to do” list is a want rather than a need. It’s difficult to pick something off of the list to fill that role. I suppose I could put household chores and yardwork into that category, but, here’s the thing: when I was working, those tasks would be dismissed as easily as any other. Not that I lived in filth, but the dusting, vacuuming, etc., would be pushed off until October. Giving a room a “good clean” is as much of a project to me as working on a cross-stitch, beading, or going to a movie.

Working out seems like an ideal task to fill that space; however, part of the “reset” was that there was a somewhat definable end. I won’t be able to accomplish losing 40 pounds in a month or two, then wean off of it. Exercising and changing my physical lifestyle is a whole different category of lifestyle change because it will be an entire shift of habit. A pattern that I can’t… that I can’t… that I can’t get into until I sort this other thing out. Why not? Why can’t I? I’m holding on to familiar patterns when I have the opportunity for a total paradigm shift.

Except that the demons I’m battling need to be defeated or caged up in a way that’s known to me. And that’s how another “want” gets added to my “to do” list. Okay… dismiss it right away. Paradigm shifts are not going to be successful at this point.

I was having a moderate level of success when I would give myself a list of things to accomplish for the week. I even found a phone app that keeps that list front and center in my view. But, for some reason, I’ve let it slide. I’d put somethings on it with a due date of “tomorrow” and others a couple of months out… why? Why? WHY?

There it is.

I’m scanning that to do list right now:

  1. Fixing license plate light — procrastinating it because — no good reason.
  2. Hooking up Wii — procrastinating it because — have to dig through a lot of boxes, not sure if we’ll actually use it to the extent it’s worth the effort.
  3. Imperial guard/e-web (painting miniatures) — procrastinating it because — want to be doing other things.
  4. Call Golden Hills — procrastinating it because — it’s hard, and I’m not sure what I expect as a resolution.
  5. Ice Maker — procrastinating it because — I don’t really know what I’m doing.
  6. Peg Board — procrastinating it because — laborous.

Now I’m seeing some issues with my thought. Some of those tasks will only take hours, some a day, others are multiple day endeavors. My proclivity to obsess on a task until completion or date isn’t well served by that incongruence.

Also, there are tasks that I do to keep my hands busy and unwind, so they aren’t really “projects” so to speak. They’re just something to do while watching TV. But, given the lack of need to unwind, I haven’t been absorbing as much television over the past couple of months. In fact, watching television and working on something has just become a project in its own right.

I have appreciated the long-term to do list that I came up with while suffering through the teaching, organizing, moving, adapting phase. I look at it every now and then. I tried to come up with a three-week schedule of a routine, but that was unsuccessful. I both like and despise routines. I like the routine of waking up and taking a shower; making sure I leave the house with keys, wallet, e-cig, nicotine gum, and carmex (and now manbag and water); taco salad made a certain way; movies viewed with popcorn and pink lemonade. I despise the routine of Monday doing X, Tuesday doing Y (or X again), Wednesday doing Z (or X again), etc. I’m not even too hip on the idea of Tacos every Tuesday, despite the fact that Tacos could be everyday.

I need a short term list to make sure the little things get accomplished. Trivial things that I’ll forget about without it being visible (like fixing the license plate light or swapping the laundry). For some reason, even though my brain is a swirl of “to dos,” there are some things that just don’t register as a priority in the least.

Yet, if I check off tasks on a short term to do list, that breaks the obsessive engagement I need in order to reset.

An idea of lessening the entropy is starting to form. I’m fairly certain that I can only have two active “projects” going on at a time. Currently, I have around six (glass work, miniatures, crochet, mosaic thoughts, two books, movie inventory). Along with that, I have things I want to do that break into project time (video games, kayaking, whatever Dana and I decide to do together). Sometimes those things get classified as a project themselves (such as playing the campaign of a video game or going camping). Other times they just pull me out of whatever I’m obsessing about depending on another person’s availability.

Considerations

  1. Two major projects.
    1. Chair projects sometimes count as a project, other times they don’t.
  2. No routine like Tuesday is video game night, but allow for those type of sessions.
  3. A period of obsession when nothing else is a priority.
    1. How long?
    2. Is this where the two major project limit applies…
    3. Is this when I should impose the two major project limit and obsess until completion?
    4. How can I allow for new “to dos” if I commit myself?
      1. That’s why I need the period of obsession. New “to dos” get dismissed unless they continuously arise during the obsession period, then they get considered afterward.
        1. But that’s how my backlog has gotten created.
          1. And that’s what we’re trying to solve.

Ugh. I’m going in circles here and have successfully procrastinated away another day by writing this all out.

Start small. Clean up the short-term to do list on the phone by moving things I know I’m not going to accomplish in the next week to the long term list. Anything remaining on that short-term list MUST get done by the end of next week. That will be this upcoming week’s obsession. Worry about after that — after that.

4:37pm

 

Day 360

I’ve done a 360. Hah! That works. 

In five days it will have been a year since I ended employment. I didn’t want the anniversary of that day slip by unacknowledged. 

It was not a mistake to leave when I did. It has been a very good year. 

Day 338 in Erie, PA

I checked in at this Red Roof Inn, grabbed some food, and took a nap around 6:30pm. So, of course, I’m laying in this not so comfortable bed tossing and turning at 2am. It’s cool. I’ll ramble a bit. 

The good news is I’ve got white noise in the form of Interstate traffic that’s rolling by like 50 feet outside my door. I wouldn’t stay here again. The Super 8 I stayed at in Maumee, OH was much more comfortable despite the pretzel, random pill, and quarter I found on the floor. None of which came from me. I took the quarter, but left the pretzel and pill. The pill was a gel cap of some sort. Maybe a Nyquil. Maybe Ibuprofen. No biggie. 

This Red Roof in was a bit confusing to get into. Go to the gas station, into the McDonald’s parking lot, then the parking lot for the motel appears. I had no desire trying to navigate around after parking, so I strolled over to a Country Bar and Grill to grab a burger. I left my e-cig back in the room, which slightly bummed me out because the place allowed smoking. I have no idea the last time I was in a place that allowed smoking. It made me want to get a pack of Reds and kick back with some rum and Coke for a few hours. But, I resisted the urge. Country music and bar flies are not my scene. Although… it was tempting. 

Driving is going well. Instead of using Google Maps to navigate, I’m using an old GPS thingy my parents had. It’s maps haven’t been updated since 2008, but it gets the job done. Okay, I did have to use Google Maps to figure out how to get into this Red Roof Inn, but that was it. 

Oh! Yesterday I found a Schlotzsky’s Deli. I miss having one of those nearby. Hmmm. Schlotzsky’s Deli and a place that allows smoking: small pleasures that show I really am not that hard to please. 

Today a stroller through the Glass Pavilion, which is part of the Toledo Museum. I saw some pretty cool glass art that got me more interested in working with glass. Of course, a lot of it was blown glass, which I don’t have the equipment for or know how to do — yet. Nonetheless, I’m inspired and have been thinking of stuff to try with the kiln. I really need to order some casting investment. 

There was a pretty neat stretch of I-90 going through Cleveland as it ran alongside Lake Erie. Part of me was thinking about driving down to the lakefront before continuing on my way, but I want to put in a lot of hours driving tomorrow, and I can’t imagine it’s much different than the lakefront at home. However there is a State Park here in Erie that looks like someplace I wouldn’t mind checking out at some point in time. Maybe if Dana and I drove out to Niagara Falls we could camp there or something… there and the Indiana Dune National Lakefront. Just some head gears spinning there. 

Tolls. Wow. I’ve burned through around $15 in tolls so far. Fortunately the IPass works with EZPass, so it doesn’t inconvenience the drive. Still, in Indiana and Ohio there are still gates to stop at. Those things used to bug me. There ya are going 70 mph; the lane lines disappear; a high speed scramble into a toll stall ensures: exact change? cash? where the fuck is that truck going? Window down; scrounge for change; the gate goes up; and it’s off to the races! Bada dum, Bada dum, Bada dum dum bum… still no lanes; zero to seventy in hopefully faster than that blue car; window up; hah truck’s too slow; lane lines appear; and back to smooth sailing. 

I downloaded a few audio books to listen to on the road, but I haven’t started listening to any of them yet. I also brought along an SD card with my entire 20,000 song library on it. But, the CDs in my 4 disk changer have served me just fine the past two days. Driving through Chicago/Gary are just too attention demanding for me. And much of the rest of Indiana was down to one lane due to road construction. I was looking forward to a nap while driving today, so that kept my brain occupied. 

I’m imagining the drive tomorrow should be pretty straight forward. It’ll be mostly one State: upper New York after a short jaunt through Pennsylvania. So, after I wake up, I’ll check out, stop for some eggamuffins at that McDonald’s, and gas up (all without leaving the parking lot). Then it’ll be time for an audio book and driving either until I hit Vermont or don’t feel much like driving anymore. I think I’ve got about six and a half hours to go. Doable. But, my knee is also starting to stiffen up, so there’s that. 

Eons ago when I was commuting to Racine from Watertown, my right knee was pretty much in constant pain. I went to a doctor. She was East Indian. While holding on to my feet she instructed me, “Push me in. Push me in.” It was a weird visit. I learned that maybe it was bursitis. She gave me a prescription for physical therapy and Ibuprofen. I just went with the Ibuprofen and moved closer to Racine. That knee has always given me grief, well since I was sixteen… too much activity (namely volleyball, running, or dancing marathons) and I’d spend the next little while limping. During that stupid commute, there ended up being days I could barely climb the stairs. I have long since discovered that being a couch potato is the best solution for keeping that knee pain free. Good thing that’s my default mode. 

Anyway, that and the fact that it’s nearing 3am has me thinking I probably won’t make it all the way to Vermont tomorrow. But I had a decent nap, and it’s still 8 or 9 hours until checkout time. We’ll just have to see what morning Justin decides. 

I should have just got back on the road when I woke up from my nap. But that’s okay. Being well rested and antsy is a good combination for getting back on the road. 

Thanks to Marvel Unlimited and my tablet, I was able to mindlessly peruse some comic books, oh and I also web surfed for awhile to learn about refractive indexes and optically clear epoxy adhesive. In other words, pretty much the same thing I do at home. 

Two days in, and I’m really happy I’ve taken this road trip. While I haven’t experienced any epiphanies or had a soul-finding revelation, I feel like some cobwebs are getting dusted away. It’s not so much a reboot, recharge, or fulfilled desire to get away. It’s just something about a road trip for the sake of a road trip: Mountain Dew, Payday bars, and rest stops. 

3:02am

334

In a couple of hours it will be the third anniversary of the day I learned of my parents’ tragedy. 

Although I think about them and that day fairly constantly, I don’t have any new reflections to share to mark the occasion. Three years later and 334 days since I last “worked,” however, I am ready to spend more time looking forward. 

I like the ambiguity of that last sentence. I’m not saying “more time looking forward than caught in the past,” but I’m also not not saying that. It is comfortable and feels right to simply say I’m ready to spend more time looking forward. 

One way I’m doing that is to finally hit the road with only the most basic agenda of destination. Back in February I wrote about a road trip to Council Bluffs,  Iowa I took back in June 1999 (whoa… before the turn of the century). I’d link to that post, but I’m not quite sure how to do that easily on this here mobile app. 

I’ll be setting forth on a new road trip two more sleeps from now on Wednesday. Maybe three or four more sleeps, technically, since I tend to nap more than I sleep. Instead of Iowa, this trip will be to Vermont, but the trips are spiritually linked. 

The trip will be a solo venture. No Dana. No dog. That feels awkward to me for a few reasons: primarily because it seems Dana, as my wife and life partner, should be included on any adventures I embark upon. Second, the fact that I have the liberty to pick up and go whereas she does not causes me a bit of guilt. Third, I’m pretty used to having Maddux shadow me damn near everywhere I go, so I’m afraid I might start telling random people to go lay down if I think they’re looking at me for longer than a casual glance. 

But, I need to push those hesitations to the back of my mind and learn that partners need not be joined at the hip. Dana has been incredibly supportive and encouraging regarding this trip. I am fortunate to have her in my life. 

When I took the trip to Iowa 18 years ago, it was at the onset of a new chapter of my life: one full of hope and potential. I was finishing up my teacher education program and looking forward to student teaching, and the inevitable start to a professional career. It also marked the beginning of the roughly two year period of what I’ve come to view as a behavioral anomaly — when I was exceedingly social, upbeat, energetic, and carefree. 

I have long since returned to the much more natural state of lethargic, selective-social pragmatism that I wrap myself comfortably, if darkly, within. Fortunately, age and circumstance allow me to recognize carefree and reckless irresponsibility need not go hand in hand. 

Now I have left the teaching profession I was looking forward to starting, and I’m again optimistic about the future’s potential in the way only unknown anticipation can allow. It’s a bit like standing at the front of the queue as the cars pull up for a roller coaster you’ve never ridden before. You don’t know what to expect, but are pretty sure it will be exciting and enjoyable. 

So, that gleeful anticipation of life in general thematically link these two road trips. And as one came a tad before I started teaching while the other comes a tad afterward, the two road trips also seem to serve as bookends of that chapter of my life. Nice. 

That also makes this road trip an end as well as a beginning, and I so appreciate paradoxes when they occur in my life. 

Finally, these two trips are linked in terms of destination. Not geographical destination, obviously, since Iowa and Vermont don’t even have me going in the same direction from my Wisconsin base. Instead, the destination is the summons of a person first met at a Renaissance Faire in St. Louis oh so long ago, and been physically in the presence of less than a handful of times. But, that’s the way kindred spirits work, I suppose. 

The trip to Iowa was to sample a weekend Renaissance Faire in shared company. This trip to Vermont is to share a few cups of coffee in the same company. 

I will leave on Wednesday, approximately 30-36 hours from now. I have set a maximum deadline of being back on or before May 19th, although Injustice 2 becomes playable on Xbox May 16th, so I’ll probably strive to be back before then. 

10:41pm