Showing posts with label Anxiety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anxiety. Show all posts


Something Coming

It was just one of those things.

I never knew about it until almost the end. In hindsight I should have seen it coming. I was told about it, then it happened. Not so close as to wallop me over the head with obviousness, but still a close enough cause and effect I should have been able to together.

My grandmother passed away earlier this month. She lived a long life, but that never makes it easier for those left to live with the loss. She was my mom's tether to her childhood. My grandfather Hugh had passed away when my mom was a little girl and my mom was an only child. In many ways they were each other's connection to the world they once shared. Now my mom has her own family for support, but her sense of history has been thrown off balance. 

It was just old age, really. It wasn't cancer or heart disease or diabetes. She had grown old and her kidneys had completely shut down. When one essential thing goes, the rest of them start to fail. That's it. She was in surprisingly good health until the last week or so. I got to say goodbye when she was still her normal self, still sitting and eating lunch, waving me off because she wanted to get back to her routine. She didn't know, and I didn't want her to know, that I was saying goodbye. I had known her kidneys had failed and what it meant for her not to opt for dialysis, but she hadn't seemed to see the gravity of the situation.

Towards the end, my mom told me something that I haven't been able to stop thinking about. It's the kind of thing I would think about and dismiss as an over active imagination or seeking a pattern in the randomness of life, but here I am writing about it. There was a song that would serve as a harbinger. Not like a curse, but a sign of impending change or bad happenstance. Like an omen that arrives as a musical motif, several times over the course of her life.

I don't recall the specifics but I can't keep pestering my mom about it until more time has passed. Here's the long and short of it: when my grandmother had suffered a fall back in mid to late November, my mom had taken her to the doctor to make sure everything was okay. They had returned to her room at the home, with no bad news but no improvement on her health. As my mom helped her mom get out of the car a snippet of music drifted out of the window of another residents room at the assisted living facility. My mom said that her mom told her whenever she heard that song 'It Was Just One of Those Things' something bad would happen. It was never an immediate reaction, like a spring loaded trap. It had been more of a sign of impending change. She would hear the song in an incidental manner (someone's party, a passing car, an open window) and within a few days or a week something would happen. A serious illness. Losing a job. A bad accident. However she made the connection, she held it in her mind for decades. She recognized the song and off handedly explained it to my mom as though it was this harmless old superstition.

My mom had made note of it, and hoped it wasn't the sign it turned out to be.

I've thought about it constantly since my mom told me about it. The first connection I made was to 'Make Your Own Kind of Music' on LOST - an incidental motif that served as a larger sign of connection, a peppy number that clashes with the unpleasant thing it accompanies. I've been racking my brain to see if anything in my life has happened like that. I've been on a constant vigilance to see if anything happens like it. I know our brains seek to create a pattern out of random occurrences  similar to how we are hard wired to see faces even where there are none. Maybe that's what happened to her. I don't know. 

Almost every night, now, I've been having conversations with my grandmother in my dreams. Maybe it's just me processing things I haven't dealt with yet. Maybe I'm looking for answers I never got to ask about. She's never able to answer hard questions before I wake up, though. If I can, I'll see if I can remember to ask her about this in my dreams. It's just one of those things.



Everyone's faking.

That may sound like a broad stroke, but hear me out.

I was feeling frustrated today, after limping home from my run (knee is acting up again) and not feeling like I had accomplished much with the day. At the height of my frustration I was hunched over a tray loaded with paint, staring at the brush I continually fail to properly wash when done painting. As a distraction I was playing the latest episode of the podcast Harmontown, in which Dan Harmon (famously fired by NBC for running the thoroughly fantastic show Community in a manner they saw fit) invited two members onto stage. Dan and cohost/comptroller of Harmontown Jeff Davis talked to the two guests about why they were both feeling terrible. After chasing the varying issues around in their heads for a few minutes, Harmon and Davis realized that everyone on stage at that point was grappling with the idea that they had somehow either made the wrong choice, arrived at their current place by default or failed to act in the best manner. In a sense, they concluded, they all felt like failures and frauds. 

It was incredibly affirming to hear the notion articulated. 

In recent years I've talked with my better half and our mutual friends about a similar idea. We all feel, when sufficiently pressed to reveal it, that we are frauds or that we are somehow faking our way through the day. I read someone's explanation (in a book I can't seem to recall...) that they would get through the day and their head would hit the pillow and they'd think something along the lines of "I'm so glad no one found me out, today!" as though they had pulled some great con over on the world.

That is so much more common than we realize. I felt that reality sink in, in the house I bought with my wife, while painting a room in my free time. I am married. I am a home owner. I choose to work on home improvement projects in my free time. I have a strong 401(k). I was upset that I exercised so much that my knee was failing again. Despite all of these stupid, simple realities I was taking for granted, I still was feeling as though I was slacking or faking my way along. I joke about it with my wife when we come home from somewhere together or when we (guh) have to make yet another run to Home Depot on the weekend (instead of say, going to concerts or bars like when we lived in Uptown) - "Can you beleive some people think we're adults? Why do they trust us with all this? Who said we could buy a house?" 

It's absurd, but there it is - you're an adult. I may not have kids or gray hair or a PhD, but people trust me and think I know what I'm doing. That was what they were affirming in the podcast. You never feel like you're making the right move. You always feel like you're just improvising and constantly averting disaster. That's apparently what life is. You just get older and get more responsibility and if you don't make many mistakes you find yourself accumulating trust. 

Weird how that works.

You never realize it until you step back and look at it. It makes me feel better to have other people come to that same understanding through their own logic. I know I've certainly told it to my better half to calm her down during a crisis. Sometimes you just need to hear it from other people.

We're all fakers, but no one's faking anything.


Bad Mojo

How could I forget?

I struggled a bit with what to post on Halloween proper. I was afraid the magic was fading a bit. It's been hectic around here, there have been all sorts of obligations and things at the office and early colds/bugs...I wasn't really feeling it.

I know, I know.

Comparing the volumes of words last year to the scant posts this year, it's clear my head wasn't in the Halloween game. It felt like the intangible special air of the season hadn't appeared. But then I got home to my better half's chili and the giant bowl of candy to hand out. Suddenly it clicked. It was last minute but it was there. Spooky tunes on Pandora. Treehouse of Horror. Trick or treaters are coming for the first time! We've waited so long for this (and no more huge lines at bars and paying a cover and getting a cab and all the other adult Halloween misery)!

So I got jazzed here at the last minute.

To celebrate, I'll impart something I had forgotten (thankfully). In a recent post I mentioned how I don't believe in this mumbo jumbo about ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Supporting my steadfast adherence to science is the fact that nothing...paranormal...has ever happened to me.

Until I was house shopping.

My better half and I had looked at probably 30 houses and were growing frustrated. One day while out with our realtors we stopped at a bit of a fixer upper in the west metro area. Decent, but not great neighborhood. The house was in fine shape from the outside. Inside, though, it I don't know. It's still hard to put a finger on what did it. It had this funny salmon color all over, and I think it had been foreclosed on? Or maybe the owners were renting it out and the people that were there weren't taking care of it. Whatever it was, they weren't taking proper care of it on the inside and everything was kind of slap-dash and in disarray. Seemed like a guy and a little girl, from the toys strewn about. 

As soon as the door had closed behind us something was happening to me. As far as I can recall, no one else felt it. I sure did, though. It felt terrible, like I was drowning, or there was a gas leak and only I was getting the fumes. My head was heavy and throbbing. My eyes hurt and I wanted to lie down and die. My chest felt like it was being crushed. I took maybe five minutes to get my bearings in the house, all the while my better half is imperviously seeing promise. She and the realtors are walking around admiring the kitchen and I practically vomit the phrase "I'm leaving. Now. We're not interested." They were totally perplexed by my sudden change in demeanor, but since I had never exhibited any kind of displeasure on this level, they shrugged and went with it. 

By the time we were in the car and driving away, my head cleared out and I explained what happened. They were a bit surprised but they accepted my reaction with aplomb. My better half was a bit bummed to miss out on what she saw as a great kitchen, even if I felt so horrible. We moved on, they were all cool with it. I'm sure the realtors had seen weirder and worse in their time.

It was so strange. I've never had such a bad feeling, this sense of malevolence or foreboding space. It was as if the house had the strongest bad vibes I'd ever felt. I don't know what to chalk it up to. My religious childhood and paranormal pop culture obsession wants to knee-jerk to call it spirits. My logical mind wants to call it undetected electromagnetics and low-level sub-audible humming. Hey, maybe it was low blood sugar and high stress. I just know there was no way I was going to spend more than five minutes there, let alone buy the place. It gives me the creeps to think about it, so I was glad to put it behind me. Dredging it out for you guys is kind of therapeutic. 

So, there it is. My only spooky deal. Not fun. Like I said, I don't beleive in any of it, which when considering how it felt, is just fine with me. I'll stick with cartoon skeletons and candy and the Monster Mash. Werewolf Barmitzvahs and all that. No real haunts, just real thrills. 



Haircuts, man.

I just never get comfortable with them.

I've had a full head of hair my whole life. Providence providing, I'll continue to have one for years. As grateful as I am for a full head of hair, I continue to be exacerbated by it. No matter how I get it cut, or how often, it continues to grow and demands attention. I just want something that stays. As in "You - stay. Don't move. Don't go anywhere. No funny business." Instead, I find myself constantly in damage-control. I have to react and adapt and ugh I just don't wanna. Look, the deal is this - I've never really had a haircut I've liked. It's always been just finding one that works for the time and going for it. Every single time I go in for a cut there is NO PLAN whatsoever. It's always as if I surprise myself. "Oh, haircut? Uhhh...try...this? I don't know..." Sure, I've like some more than others, but mostly they've always been terrible and I look back and cringe. Let's look back at my poor choices, shall we?

Baby - doesn't count.

Toddler - here's where the trouble starts. Big side-swept thing that would set the stage for all future mistakes.

Childhood - epic side part that earned the moniker 'schoolie', a word that never looks properly spelled.

Adolescent - adopted a modified Duff. Parted down the middle and shaved(!) underneath the eaves. Gets worse.

Teen Alpha - long duff, down to shoulders. Tons of homophobic insults and ANGST. Loads of ANGST. Awful.

Teen Beta - crew cut. Copious amounts of gel and uptight micromanagement. A marked improvement.

Teen Gamma - emotional crisis results in razor-blade shearing. My head was smoooooth. Looked crazy, oddly good.

Teen Delta - no cut. grew everything out at once. Referred to by friends as a head cut.

College (Initial) - no more hair cuts, for a year. Super easy to deal with: wash, rinse, hat. Done. Awesome.

College (Variable) - series of long/buzz cuts. Blond dyes. Nothing looks right, due to exacerbating obesity.

Post College - pseudo crew. Becomes standard young man's cut. Evolves from fauxhawk into duckbutt/Philip Fry.

Current - greaser. Better half shakes head and calls me hipster. Look like maternal grandfather. Never met him.
You see? 
No matter what I do, it's a reactionary thing. I just wish it could be like a cartoon and I could wake up every day and it would stay the same. Alas, it grows and changes and betrays me. I feel like no other guy obsesses and worries about this like do, but then they're probably not as neurotic as me. 
I can look at this two ways:

One - it's never gonna be solved, and it's never gonna look great. Just deal with it and constantly perform triage. 
Two - lean into the spin. It'll be a fascinating look at back at my narcissism and self-modulation in the 21st century.
Of these two grim options, I'm splitting the difference. I'm going to try to find some illusive, as-of-yet unseen haircut that will arise from trial and error and finally say "Aha! Do this the rest of my life!"
Or until I lose my hair.


Irrational Fear

I'm an idiot. 

Not all of the time. 

Just some of the time. 

You see, last night before I went to sleep I was reading an article on the game Slender. It's a free-to-download PC game that has the player running around a park at night collecting pages of a book, avoiding the titular Slender Man, a meme that plays on our fear of the unknown and undefined. You look at him too much and you die. That's it. Sounds simple, right? It sure does, but according to almost all who have played it, it is supposed to be pants-fillingly terrifying. Something about the premise, setting and execution have made a simple yet disturbing game. Needless to say I'm stoked for it. It's sitting on my desktop but I'm waiting for Halloween. Or at the least, the month of October. My terror induced diarrhea must be timely. 

That's not why I'm an idiot, though. At least, not this time. 

No, the thing was that in the article was a link to this video from a series of YouTube clips about...something. I don't even know, really. However, that short clip was so effective in its use of framing timing that I was unnerved to the point of continuing anxiety. I had to put it out of my mind to sleep last night, and all during my run (in the dark, natch) this morning I would get these bolts of memory that would jar me and I honestly found myself looking back over my shoulder know? 

Look, I'm no scientist. But! I majored in Logic and Philosophy in college. I spend most of my brain power working out the rules and systems of the world around me. When given a game to play, I love looking for ways to break the system, to test the boundaries of a pre-established world. That we, as a species, have worked out the cosmos from the multiverse down to subatomic particles astounds me and makes me marvel at being alive. But I don't believe in the supernatural. I know a few people reading this will be disheartened to hear that as much as I love Mysterious Universe, I don't think of it as a journalistic endeavor - it's more a source of entertainment. Much of my ability to deal with the horrors of the world and the cruelty of fate stems from the cold, hard logic of science and how cause and effect operate, coupled with a good ol' dose of Chaos Theory. There's a lot of math I don't understand, but even cats can use an iPad even if they'll never build one. 
The point is - I know this stuff is pure, Grade A baloney. Noises in my house are the house settling or creaking in the wind or my cat being a little unhinged. No one chases me during my run except my thoughts and the local rabbits. Despite knowing these things...I still get the creeps. The willies. That little tingle up the spine that lingers from an evolutionary holdover in which was originally supposed to warn of large animals watching from the bushes. 
I'm not saying there's not danger in the world. Of course there is. Cancer. Car accidents. Random acts of violence. Super volcanoes. But I only control my own self and how I react to things. So why can't I control getting creeped out by stuff like that video late at night? Why do I love to torture myself, especially non-stop in October? Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment. Or maybe I like to pretend there's more out there. See how the other half lives. Who knows. 

I'll just glance over my shoulder every now and then to be sure. 


Social Situations

We give some people way too much power over us, don't we?

At the end of a fantastic week I found myself stalking the produce section of a grocery store I don't frequent. Rather, I used to haunt this one, but a closer one opened up to my better half's office and now we go to that one. Thing is, at the end of a pretty great week I was on the hunt for a couple key ingredients for some curry we planned to make as soon as I came home. I was a bit disheveled. Nothing drastic, just a bit rumpled and more than a bit greasy after a productive day. Tie loosened, collar unbuttoned. My alleged hipster hair flopping down into my eyes like the 11th Doctor. I turned the corner around the vidalia onions and there he was.

This dude I used to know.

He was a cool dude. We didn't know each other that well, but he had been a tangential social connection in college who had done me a few favors when I needed them. We always got along just fine but there was a clear social dynamic - he was cool. He was the alpha male. I was not cool. I was the clear beta. He still possesses this unspoken confidence and carries himself very well. I still slouch and second guess every single thing I do. I don't even know if he recognized me, but neither of us acknowledged the other. 

I pretended nothing clicked in my head and went about my business, keeping an eye peeled and watching for any recognition from him. None came. When he checked out and left before me, I relaxed a bit. There was no bad blood between us, so why the anxiety? Simply because it would be awkward to reintroduce myself to someone I knew, and I guess to explain who I was? That sort of makes sense, but it doesn't make me feel better about it. Just being surprised by him threw me off balance and the old dynamic reared into being. Years have passed since I even spoke to this dude, yet there I was, all nebbish and strange as though my years of personal growth and accomplishments vanished due to proximity. 

I've been thinking about this weird encounter all night. It shouldn't bother me, but it's going to linger like a bruise, I can tell. It's foolish. It's not like I'd send him a text and say "Hey! How's it going?" at this point. Waves in the ocean. I'll cross paths with people like this again. I need to remember not to let it sway me. I like who I am. Dynamics change. Relationships grow and wither. People don't care as much as we think they do. I'll shrug it off.

Ah, well.


Sir Limpalot

This machine will break down. 

This morning I got up way too early and pounded the pavement. It was the longest run in the last few years. I make myself do it three times a week at the least. The guilt is overwhelming if I can't carve some time to go running that often. The sad thing is I feel guilty even when I do hit the self prescribed minimum. Despite forcing myself from the comfort of bed when it's still dark, injecting relentless tunes into my skull and working up to a decent pace around a conveniently close-to-home loop, I feel guilty that I'm not doing more. My knees crack and my hips pop. I'm wearing through another pair of shoes. Still, there's a nagging feeling that I'm not doing enough. 

This machine is relentless. 

I chug on and on, huffing and puffing away for no discernible reason other than my own unending drive for more. More what? Punishment? I'm not trying to lose weight. I'm not training for a marathon. I'm not training for the military. It's as though there's some invisible meter in my body that builds up energy over time and I feel this urge to discharge it. When I finish, gasping as I punch in the code to raise the garage door, it feels like a pressure valve has been opened over the previous hour. It vents anxiety and frustration. I can feel the pressures of life easing as I run laps around the mile and a half loop in my neighborhood. 

This machine is working for me. 

The pressures on my mind ease as the wear and tear increases on my body. It's a tipping of scales. I used to take the amazing mechanics of my body for granted. I'd sit on the couch doing nothing, gorging on poison without a second thought. The tide turned a few years ago and now I'm bound and determined to run this thing right into the ground. I realized soon after the practice became habit that there was an energy exchange occurring. The higher the mental energy, the more I could burn while running. Stressed? Overwhelmed? Hard day? Give me an hour and my shoes and it's gone. It takes the starch out. It bleeds the poison from my mind as I wear out the joints and beams. It was made over the course of thousands and thousands of years of evolution and is the most elegant, efficient system we could have. I'm already wearing it out. 

This machine won't last forever. 

I'm already having to hack the system. I'm using a brace on one knee, and I can feel the other starting to creak. Special foods and recipes designed to make the most of the fuel burning process. Doing all the necessary stretches. Utilizing BPM tracking on music to push me. Running in loops around my home in case my bad knee suddenly locks up on me, out of the blue. My better half tries to find opportunities to talk me out of wearing myself down, finding reasons to sneak me a cookie or experiment with homemade ice cream. Telling me to sleep in, to take days off. She knows I'm running the machine too hard, too often. I hope she doesn't worry, but that probably won't stop me. 

I'm going to run this whole contraption right into the ground. Sooner or later, something will give. A ligament tearing. Heatstroke in the summer. Slipping on the ice in winter. Dodging distracted drivers at intersections. Maybe I'll trip over one of the countless startled rabbits that don't expect me at that ungodly hour. Back pains. Bad knees. I can't run forever. As long as the machine works, though, I'm not stopping. 


Drop In

This past weekend I attended my 10 year high school reunion. 

It was...enlightening. 

I had no idea what to expect, beyond the venue. It was at a place I had waited tables during my junior and senior years, working with a bunch of friends who all happened to be girls. All that afforded me, beyond the expectation of mediocre pizza and where exactly the restrooms were located, was the reminder that I was an odd duck. From what I gathered there, I think that same nature persists. At one point during the alcohol fueled festivities I looked around the room at how people had congregated and remarked to my better half "...nothing changes - dudes over there talking shop, girls over there kind of dancing, me watching and waiting for an appropriate time to leave." While that statement may have been more than a tad reductive and overly simplifying, I stand by it. 

This isn't some self-pity party, I should clarify. 

I wasn't the ostracized, beat-down outcast you see portrayed in the media, like a taped-horn-rim-glasses dweeb or some trench coat wearing demon. No, it was much more innocuous than that. My graduating class was under 70 people in a rather isolated area, socially and physically. It was a small town before the internet really grew roots. It's only natural that you pick a group of 60 to 70 strangers, lump 'em in together and subsequently fail to really connect with more than a few. I am not disparaging anyone for the fate of being born and raised in a scenic place like ours. Rather, I'm just expounding on the realization that I'm okay with understanding I really only connected with a handful of kids in high school. It's no fault of mine or anyone else's - do I take umbrage as an adult that not every single person in my office wants to go to a happy hour? Of course not. Nor should I have any long-since irrelevant feelings of rejection over not being one of the guys back then. I just wasn't my scene. We had nothing in common, and introducing a fair number of people to the love of my life I became more aware of this - I thought she was the bee's knees, where as most of these people would have no common ground over which to converse. Different circles, different lives. Had any of my close friends from this epoch of my life accompanied me, they most likely would have had a similar experience. 

To be fair, I also made little effort to be more like the typical dude. 

There were more than a handful of times it was apparent to me in high school (and earlier) that I didn't fit in, in that town. I was teased for being verbose, for dressing differently, for liking weird music, for playing the wrong music in my band, for not excelling at any sport besides (gasphorror) soccer. You name it. Did it stop me? Did it make me try to change myself to fit in? Nope, not a bit. I was stubborn. I also felt terrible about myself, but I didn't acquiesce - I just developed a healthy, mid-west WASPy sense of guilt about enjoying life and being happy. In their defense, though - I couldn't name a single other person I knew who liked Bjork or had seen Reservoir Dogs or loathed Bon Jovi. I was the statistical outlier, in this case, and I didn't make concerted efforts to find people around me who shared my tastes, although I did share some cultural overlap. There are still a number of albums that bring back memories of summertime road trips to cabins, a bunch of teenagers driving with the windows down, trying not to get ash on the car seats. These were the exception rather than the rule, though. I often questioned (and as a result, still do) my own taste. If I like something, does that mean it's terrible? 

Eh. Shrug. 

More than a handful of cats simply avoided the whole shebang. Even people who lived in town, less than a mile away, didn't attend the reunion. Some from spite, some from convenience. I don't know. I just know that any juvenile feelings of not belonging or being an outsider have long since dissolved. Not that they didn't influence me in a significant way, more so that they are vestigial, no longer needed in my life. High school was forever ago. I don't really care. There are people I stay in touch with and people I try to stay in touch with. It's on them just as much as on me to keep the connection. Similarly, when I walked in to the room I had a sense of heaviness. Not from dredged emotion or unresolved feelings, but from the realization I'd have to give the same story to about 40 people - I like who I am, I just get tired of the small talk. 

Maybe that's all it is, now. Realizing that even if you like yourself and are proud of who you are, you still have to grin and bear it. As I drove back to my real life, hours away and that whole part of my life in the rearview, I was surprisingly pleased with how I felt about the whole thing. It wasn't necessarily pleasant, but it wasn't torture. Getting older isn't always fun, but there are moments when you understand it's all for the best. Just play the hand you're dealt and try to smile as you do it. 


During, Go

Summer Vacation.

July's been nuts. I cannot be the only one to think so. The heat wave that's been oozing over the nation made a lovely, long stop here in the Middle West. It's had a diminishing effect on my ability to think. Not all hope is lost, though. To escape from the muggy misery of a 115 heat index, I accompanied my better half to Durango, CO for a wedding. It was, in a word, breathtaking. Durango, for those unfamiliar, is up in the mountains, far from...anything. It is wonderfully isolated, a serene place where the silence was broken only by the occasional train departing the station. While the wedding itself was in town, the reception was even higher up, roughly 7,000 feet above sea-level, at Blue Lake Lodge. It was even more isolated and astounding than Durango. Food, atmosphere and fellow guests were all fantastic, but like any trip I've come away with a short list of observations and lessons learned. Since this is my only trip this summer (due to the recent home-acquisition) let's jump in and break it down. Without further ado, here's what I learned on my Summer Vacation:
- The older I get, the more anxious I become while flying. I know the stats and how unsafe car travel is. I don't care. Rocketing through the sky in a a metal tube strikes me as defying man's place in the world, even if physics wants us to stay aloft.

- I abhor hotels. They are, in my neurotic mind, filthy places full of invisible evils that threaten to hitchhike home in my suitcase. I can't tell you the white knuckle neurosis I struggle with while checking in to a room.

- At some point since the development of the above-mentioned neurosis, I've also adopted the mind set that if I'm going to be miserable in a hotel, I'm going to console myself with indulgent food. This usually involves me sitting in bed, anxiously eating chocolate while poking my iPad like a lab rat.

- Weddings are immensely more enjoyable to attend once yours is out of the way. Being at a wedding and thinking about planning your own (or talking your better half off a ledge from planning it) is an exercise in long-form torture. Now that the pressure is off, the really are a celebration of love.
- No amount of corniness can conceal it. I love seeing two people in love get married. I don't care about your politics. Gay or straight, if they're in love, let's all celebrate the fact that two optimistic, idealistic people found each other in this cold universe. How can someone not marvel at that?
- Hipsters are apparently omnipresent and of a universal quality, not unlike hippies. There's always at least two at every wedding and the are as reliable in their expected behavior as I am in mine. Nice to see how I could be dressing or living, but usually it's an affirmation I'm happy with who I am. That being said, they are very nice if you know how to handle them.

- Durango, especially higher up the mountain, is serenely beautiful. Long stretches of unbroken quiet. Views like you wouldn't believe. Landscapes that seem impossible constructed. No mosquitoes! A very relaxed pace at which the citizens live, a with a bit of cowboy/granola ethos. Hard not to drink the Kool Aid in such a place.

- High altitudes are much easier to handle when you've quit smoking and gotten back down to an appropriate shape. Had I not kicked the habit and been running, it would have been a miserable weekend. I remember being exhausted and winded when I would visit Boulder as a smoldering tub. This way, I could actually see the sights.

- That being said, at 7,000 feet, I'm a cheap date. No amount of starches and water can alleviate that bloated, red in the face feeling of a couple high altitude drinks crawling right on top of you. Considering how wonky one feels in a plane (cabin pressure is roughly equivalent to 8,000 feet) it's no wonder I had to take it easy when imbibing.

- Why did no one tell me about putting hot sauce in beer? Are we that repressed in the Middle West? How has such a basic concept never made its way here? I am disappointed at how much I missed out on. Tabasco, here I come.

- Connecting flights are the worst. It's stressful enough to have to deal with security and the airlines, but giving them twice the opportunity to wreck your travel arrangements? I've learned to just avoid these situations altogether.
A fantastic trip to a breathtaking place. Good friends getting hitched. Good food, altitude hijinx and airline dramatics. I learned a lot, and had an amazing time. Here's to enjoying the rest of the summer.


Worlds End

I've been thinking about The End of The World. 

Not in the biblical sense, fire and brimstone. Although I suppose in this case it would apply. Moreover, it's in the sense of my life as I know it ending. 

Like any human in this modern age, I have too much imagination with too little to exert it against. I wake up, go through my work day and come home. During that time, things are always happening. At home, more stuff happens. Something is always going on. Decisions are being evaluated, plans are made and executed. Meals are prepared and eaten, chores and duties are dealt with. During all the usual stuff, I'm also writing, tweeting, consuming pop culture and doing the usual 20-something crap that seems important but in actuallity is frivolous. Also, I'll get up at offensively early hours and go running, sometimes in the dark but now there's at least a little sunlight. Despite all of this, that imagination never seems to run out. 

See where I'm going? 

There is no shortage of stuff to deal with in this modern life. You get an extra hour and it fills up with obligations. Indulging in relaxing activites usually has a subcurrent of guilt permeating it, as though worrying about what I ought to be accomplishing makes it acceptable that I'm otherwise supposedly wasting time playing a videogame or reading a book. It's become hard to simply relax. The mind is constantly fretting, worrying, anxiously creating scenarios in which things go wrong or disaster falls or who knows what else. Having no actual dangers to avoid (war, pervasive crime, large predatory animals), my mind is constantly presenting potential scenarios, no matter how unrealistic, in which my world and life as I know them cease to exist and All Goes Wrong. 

Who cares? 

No one. 

Should I worry about it? 

Absolutely not. 

But see, that's the problem. Try to convince yourself that you shouldn't worry about a thing in the future. There's a reflexive instinct to reassert the notion that by not being concerned about it, it will come to pass in a negative light. 

This is not true. 

Worry is not a talisman against bad fortune. 

There is a world of difference between being prepared for bad fortune and constantly being wary of it. One is intelligent and resourceful. The other is a needless waste of energy. "But what if this and what if this and this thing could happen and then all this would happen" but it hasn't. Not yet. Odds are it most likely won't. This is just a wishful direction of energy in the hopes that we can exert some sort of control on the universe. 

The world hasn't ended. It won't. Even if it does, what does that change the here and now? Say I go broke, get cancer and lose everyone I love. Okay. Done. Then what happens? Wailing and gnashing of teeth? Perhaps. But whatever the series of circumstances, my life will have to continue on. War could happen, more terrorist attacks. What good, what possible benefit is there to fretting about it? It simply expends energy I could use to tell my better half I love her, or cook a nice meal, or finish the same book I've been slowly writing. 

Enough worrying. Enough self-caused anxiety. 

I'm going to go enjoy my day. You do the same.