12th Day – Exploring this blog’s purpose

I guess the numbering system won’t end up being so bad. As I typed “12th Day,” I didn’t think of it as the 12th day since ending something, but instead that it’s the 12th consecutive day I am writing an entry. Maybe I thought that because I almost decided to skip writing something today. Earlier I sent Dana a longish ramble that satiated my desire to type out thoughts. But, then, I decided… No. This is a goal. Stick to it until it becomes second nature.

I realize that I don’t have a theme for my blog, which won’t exactly help to build an audience. While it is both flattering and humbling to have accumulated a fairly impressive number of page views of my Day 10 entry just from sharing it on my Facebook wall, I’m not sure I want to measure my life’s ambition by page views.

I used to.

Many moons ago, before the Facebook era, I had a website devoted to images taken at Renaissance Faires sprinkled with some personal galleries. That, obviously had a theme. It also had a purpose. It was 1999, and I wanted to visit a Renaissance Faire. Bristol had about a month and half before its opening day for the season. After reading through usenet forums and doing some web searches (I think I was still using Yahoo! to search instead of Google), I found a page that listed a few faires that were going on. But, the closest ones were in Tennessee and St. Louis. I wanted to see some pictures of them to get an idea if it’d be worth the drive, but image galleries were scarce and digital cameras hadn’t quite hit the consumer level.

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Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire 1999

 

I opted to try out the St. Louis faire, and with a great friend, took a six hour drive.

 

Fortuitously, I had also recently purchased a digital camera — a Sony Mavica — one of those ones that used 3.5″ floppy disks. I think I could get 10 – 15 pictures on a disk at a resolution of 1024 x 768.

Dial-up connections were still the norm. Speedy users had 56.6kbps. T-1 lines were a dream and cost around $30,000 to have installed. I digress.

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Before teaching dragged me into adulthood

 

I made a simple web page, posted a link to the images on alt.fairs.renaissance.

A persona, and an obsession, was born.

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Friendships forged at Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire 1999

 

As I fight with the formatting here to get this to look just like I want it, I’m not sure if all this futzing is worth the effort. How do I crop the damn images? Why don’t I have more control over the caption boxes? Ugh. Why can’t I move the sumnabitch where I want it — move up one frickin’ line, would ya!? 

For the record, I am NOT happy with the way these images are laid out. But, I also just wanted to make a quick entry before playing some Star Wars: Battlefront, so screw it. I’ll just have to live with it. Besides, all this was just to drive home the point that I can get obsessive about interests. I already once was motivated by page views, and I don’t think I need to explore that again. I’m blogging simply to journal my days… largely for me. Hopefully others find them interesting or entertaining.

I sat in Racine while the windows were installed, and I charged the battery of a car that’s been sitting since September. I also contacted the DMV about some particulars regarding selling that car and drafted some paperwork for the impending sale. Once all that was done, I stopped at Rocky Rococo’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner, then headed home for a nap.

As I said before, after the nap, I composed a rambling message to Dana. She got home from her work/volleyball day around 8:00. We watched a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad (season three) before she decided to go romp around slumberland. And here we are.

12:15am

(Note: I just previewed this page — I am really unhappy with the presentation.)

 

Ninth Day of Evermore Fridays

I didn’t end up getting to bed until after 6am. That’s just how I roll.

Dana woke me up at about 2pm so we could go down to the City Clerk’s office to apply for our marriage license. After being told the clerk’s office wouldn’t take checks, and there would be a three dollar surcharge for using a debit/credit card, the lady said, “Is that okay? Well, I mean. I guess it’s not okay. It just is. I mean….”

“Nah. It’s alright,” I told her. I nodded my head toward Dana. “She’s worth the extra $3.”

Came home. Ate some more brats while watching another episoimagede of Superstore. Finished setting up the home gym. If I don’t lose 30 pounds by next summer, I’m going to have some ‘splaining to do.

Dana continued to organize her bedroom.

We ended the day by watching London Has Fallen. The movie got me in a tizzy. First, while watching, I decided to visualize President Ascher as President Trump. It made the movie more of a horror movie. Way too much ‘Murica… and having the hero be as much of an aggressor as a protector left a bad taste in my mouth. Twenty years ago, I’m sure I wouldn’t have given the movie a second thought beyond “cool explosions!” But, in light of the current state of affairs: a gung-ho, kill ’em where they stand presidential candidate, mass shootings triggered by the thought that, “dem fuckbags iz different than me,” and the mind boggling meme war that erupts on social media as a reaction, it’s not too hard to see the movie reflecting our culture.

No way would I ever argue that movies like it shouldn’t be made. I’d just prefer that the attitudes presented were hyperbolic and satirical rather than common enough to make a champion of those beliefs a legitimate presidential candidate.

We put on one more movie for Dana to fall asleep to: Total Recall (the remake, not the original). Dana has drifted off, and I’m finishing this entry while watching the rest of it. I got up to the scene where a chick shows off her three breasts, and started getting into a mental loop… something along the lines of, “Sheesh, just like the original. Classic movie moment, glad they included it again.”

I remember seeing remakes of older movies when I was younger. Movies that were made before I was born: Ocean’s 11, The Italian Job, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Fly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers… others. My thinking then was it was great to see these movies for the first time in a cinematic form that was more in line with my movie expectations.

Watching that scene in Total Recall, I thought, why bother making a remake? The first one is fine just the way it is. It’s not that old. It’s in color… crap… no… I’m just old enough that state-of-the-art that I’ve experienced is just old shit now.

I only have one minor thing on my todo list for tomorrow — restring some cords running around the basement workout area. That’s basically nothing. Oh, the paperwork routine needs doing. After that… we’ll just have to see which part of the chaos is irritating me the most.

12:36am

 

 

Seventh Day

Just a real quick one this evening (although it’s nearing 1:00am again):

I didn’t get nearly as much accomplished as I wanted to. The floor mats were laid out in the basement. The home gym bottom stabilizer was put in place along with the treadmill, bike, and shaking machine. The shaking machine was the only thing that got reassembled. The rest can wait until tomorrow… or the next day.

Dana and I got caught up with Gotham and watched an episode of Stitchers. Dana fell asleep while I watched Airplane! — a classic that’s requires re-watching every so often.

 

This is Day 6

At some point I may have to rethink this “Day” number title pattern. Not necessarily because it’s cliché, but because it somehow roots me to a specific point in time. Is it possible to truly move on if I continue counting the number of days since I stopped teaching at Horlick?

I started taking anti-depressants sometime around 2008, about eight years ago. Is talking about it weird? It really isn’t for me, especially in the past five or so years. Society seems to be recognizing the impact each individual’s chemical brain soup has on behavior and disposition. Sure, most of the time compositions that aren’t mixed within one standard deviation of the ideal balance are labeled “mental illnesses,” but that’s okay. Personally I think for the sake of consistency we should also claim people shorter or taller than the typical average range are suffering from a “height illness.”

I wish I would have started taking medication sooner, like when I was 16. No matter. I’m just glad I eventually started. Depression has ended up to be a central adversary in my life’s story. And, as a former educator, the expectations society has for egalitarian intellectual and emotional norms is beyond my understanding. Does anyone really expect that everyone can run a five minute mile? Why, then, do we expect that every 15 year old should be able to ace Algebra? These topics are a significant foundation of my daily reflections.

Today at dinner (Charcoal Grill) Dana and I talked a bit about medication doses in light of my meltdown on Sunday and some other factors. Proper medication makes a world of difference. I started with a dose of 75mg of Sertraline. Okay, I ramped up to that dose in a couple of weeks: 25mg the first week, 50mg the next couple of weeks, then finally settling with 75mg. How was that dose determined? Honestly, I could just feel it. Sometimes I describe it as a dark cloud. Sometimes I liken it to that feeling that someone is staring at you. That makes it sound more like paranoia than depression, but I don’t mean it like someone, as in an actual person, more like a personification of “Anti-Happiness.” Not necessarily Sadness, just someone waiting to point out that a cow had to die for that fancy steak dinner you’re eating on what might be a spectacular first date.

At 50mg, I could feel the storm clouds breaking, but the thickness in the air was still there. At 75mg, the clouds were gone. No, everything didn’t suddenly become sunshine and sparkles and unicorns farting rainbows everywhere. Things just became… normal? I could distinguish between feelings that were triggered by an external factor, even if that resulting feeling was still irrational, or if I was just having an case of the Monday blues. The pervasive gloom was lifted, even if the underlying darkness remained (see my very first blog entry).

A couple of years later, I felt the clouds forming again. My dosage was increased to 100mg. Maybe three years ago now when I sensed them again, my doctor gave me a prescription to figure out if I needed to be at 125mg or 150mg. I ended up going with the 150mg, and have stayed there through a damn challenging couple of years.

So many legitimate external factors have caused a raging storm, and that “someone” hasn’t just been staring at me, It has been stalking me through legal paperwork and costs and transitions and chaos. Nonetheless, I stuck with the same dose of Sertraline. Occasionally I’d augment that with a Alprazolam for a week or two here and there. Longer than that, though, I’d start to get irrationally agitated. Some say meds just don’t work, and yeah, the wrong dosage or wrong drug can do a person worse or not at all. Many, many years ago I tried Zyban to help me quit smoking. Three weeks in I was such a raging asshole. Everything was an irritant. That was my first experience with prescription behavior modifying drugs, and it wasn’t a good one. The importance of self-awareness, external stresses, and “normal” or “ideal” reactions to life events are extremely important when evaluating the effects of medication. I suppose that’s where psychiatrists, faith, or support groups help those more on the extroverted side of the spectrum. Me? I lean more introverted. Self reflection is usually pretty adequate for me to distinguish rational from irrational reactions to external factors.

Now that many of the major external factors have been removed, I’m almost able to rethink my dosage. It has been a few years since increasing my dosage, but I also don’t want to increase my dosage until it’s absolutely necessary. The literature says 200mg of Sertraline is the maximum dose. My tolerance/effectiveness for most drugs (like Ibuprofen, aspirin, cold medicine, sleeping pills, etc.) runs higher than the recommended dosage, so maybe I’ll be able to go higher than 200mg; but, if not, then what? If I up my dosage now, what am I going to do the next time the clouds build in a few more years?

See, therein lies that Someone looking over the shoulder. I recognize it’s an irrational reaction. That’s a sign that upping my dosage would be wise. Still, I can argue that it’s a logically sound concern. If I wasn’t getting tired, I’d construct a syllogism as proof. But, my point is I can acknowledge the irrationality of the feeling, but am still subject to those feelings… no farting unicorns here, but also not paralyzing despair driving me to either sleep or staring into the abyss.

I am going to try something with my current dosage though. I usually take the entire 150mg dose at once right when I wake up. This evening, after experiencing a mild agitation for no particular reason, I am curious what would happen if I took 100mg waking up and 50mg later in the afternoon or early evening. Yes, it is the first time in around eight years I’ve thought about that. Hell, now I’m wondering about taking 50mg every five to six hours. I’ll try the first thought for a couple of weeks first because, like I said, I’m not really at a consistent low point yet, and the external stresses have only just been laid to rest.

As far as today’s accomplishments go, Dana got the kitchen chaos whipped into shape. I disassembled a home gym and took some pictures of it to try to sell. Tomorrow’s goal is to reassemble the home gym transferred from the Racine house. I also set up my laptop from Racine to print in Kenosha, which should have been an easy and forgettable task, but took much longer than I really want to admit. More beading, too, but that’s such a habit, I don’t consider it an accomplishment. We finished up watching the current seasons of iZombie and Legends of Tomorrow. 

Look at that, 1:00am again. The sky is making some booms. I like that.

Day 4,5, maybe 6?

I had a bit of a meltdown the past couple of days, which means I slept quite a bit. Some unpacking/re-organizing got done. Some video games were played. Some beading was accomplished.

The truth is, I may have forgotten to take my anti-depressants Saturday and Sunday morning. The combination of frantic moving and changing my home base, lots of chaos, last week of work, and renting out the house I’ve lived in for thirteen years, probably wasn’t a good time to not be diligent about the medication routine.

Dana handled me well. And, currently, the storm clouds have seemed to pass. Whether or not it’s because of meds or that there is something specific to get done on my agenda today remains to be seen.

That is something rather important to determine. My biggest concern/fear about this early retirement gig is slipping into a state of melancholy due to a lack of external stress. It’s like that scene in The Matrix when Agent Smith explains why the simulation isn’t a perfect world. More than financial security, boredom, or failing to be a positive contribution to society, I worry that having so many options to choose from without a mandatory obligation to do anything in particular, I’ll run into some sort of broken loop of not being able to do everything at once, thereby freezing and doing nothing.

But, today that doesn’t matter. I do have something to accomplish: get the rest of the basement in Racine sorted out and transported.

Tomorrow I don’t have a dedicated task quite yet — gotta see what today brings. Hopefully Dana can get the stuff currently in the kitchen cleared up. That’ll give us a bit of order in a centralized location. If we can get the workout area in the basement set up on Wednesday, that will clear up some of the basement chaos and allow for the opportunity to hop on the treadmill the next time a woeful spell arises.

I haven’t written about my hobby projects in awhile. I have three items in my TV work zone. One that needs to just be clasped. The one that was occupying me in Kenosha. And the one that was occupying me in Racine.  That may very well be fodder for tomorrow’s entry.

Day 3

Commence sleep cycle shift. I really didn’t accomplish much today: organized paperwork and moved a dresser from the basement to Dana’s room. Watched a bit of the second season of Daredevil on Netflix; took a long nap.

These entries aren’t going to be a blast to follow. And, chances are life is going to become so routine that it won’t seem there’s much use to saying the same thing over and over again. But, I’d like to try to make this a daily habit if for no other reason than to force myself to reflect on the day’s accomplishments or lack thereof.

Dana headed to German Valley to spend time with her family. She should be back on Sunday. I’m going to force myself to set aside “work” tomorrow and just absorb myself in Fallout 4. Goal.

My tenant has posted some nice pictures of her settling into the Racine house. That makes me glad. Of course, it’ll take some getting used to seeing pictures of my house that’s not my home.

Looking ahead, I’m hoping to finish moving stuff out of the Racine basement on Monday/Tuesday and putting all that split living to rest (except for the garage, which is just going to wait for awhile). While it would be nice to completely de-clutter moved stuff from the living areas of the first floor next week, I wouldn’t mind getting out in the kayaks with Dana. In fact, I think we should make that a priority. The first floor de-clutter will get done, and I’ve got to transition from the “get it done asap” mentality to “sorting and organizing is going to be your job when Dana goes back to work. Start taking it easy.”

We’ve also got to get our marriage license applied for this upcoming week.

Two years and one month to the day. That’s how long it took to get under one roof. It took fourteen months and eight days to sort through 99% of the stuff in my parents house (there’s still one drawer in my father’s bedroom I need to work through).

I’m not feeling highly motivated at the moment. But, for the first time in a long time, that doesn’t bother me. With the weight of working in RUSD off my shoulders, I can handle the rest of what I’m carrying.

Oh, and I uncovered my chin. Dana wants me to shave the rest of it off, but I’m kind of digging the look. I’m going for the civil war era mutton chop at the moment.

Now for a couple more episodes of Daredevil (and beading. Although I say I’m watching TV, I’m really working on some sort of project.)