The last few weeks have been somewhat emotionally rough for me. I’ve been feeling generally unhappy. I know I’m not supposed to be happy all the time (jeez, what kind of empty life would that be?), but I know I’m not supposed to feel so down in the dumps that everything feels like I’m seeing it through a haze either.
(I’ve tried to write about this several times, but I haven’t been able to. It may be that I’m finally feeling stable enough that I can without degenerating into hopeless blathering and a general woe-is-me-so-feel-sorry-for-me.)
But yes, I’m feeling especially grateful today, on this last Friday in July. Time hurtles forward, with or without my consent, and I’ve had a bit of a hard time accepting this recently. O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brahhhh. We just have to live and learn and maybe figure out how to handle things a bit better the next time. Always forward, yes?
This past week, I’ve been grateful that:
1. I was able to donate blood this week
I’ve donated (or attempted to donate) blood steadily over the past 2 years. About half the time, I get rejected, usually for low-iron. I’m very happy to say that I marginally passed all the tests this past week and was able to donate a nice pint.
2. The Presidio makes for a great evening bike ride
Had a chance to finally take a mostly solo ride through the Presidio this week. It’s been a while since I’ve had the time and energy to take a ride there. A little solitude in a quiet place is good for me.
3. Frannie and I continue to consciously make time to be together
The past week has been busy for both of us and we’ve not had much time together in the evenings or the mornings. I typically leave for work when he’s still sleeping, and sometimes I’ll go to bed before he comes home at night if he has a late hockey game. We’re both aware that we haven’t spent much time catching up with each other, so we both make an effort to have a dedicated date night where we have dinner together and maybe do something fun. Sometimes I want to spend all my free time with him, but I know that our relationship is better when our lives are balanced, when we’re spending a good chunk of our time apart developing our individual lives. We love each other and love to be together, but we also know how to stand on our own two feet.
4. I’ve been able to enjoy some time alone
When I’m feeling down in the dumps, all I want is to not spread my doom and gloom around my friends or have to deal with trying to be socially acceptable. Also, listening to whiny friends is extra draining when I’m not feeling so hot myself, so I tend to cut myself off for a little bit while I work on feeling better. It’s been so great that I haven’t had to attend many social events these past few weeks, and the ones I’ve chosen to attend have been nothing but good for me and everyone else. I feel so grateful for having the option to choose to spend my time with people who are positive, fun, and supportive. I don’t always have the option to make choices like that (obligations to family and friends), so I am especially grateful that I’ve had that freedom these past few weeks.
5. Creative outlets have become enjoyable again
For me, being depressed means not enjoying my usual creative outlets, namely reading, writing, and photography. I don’t sit around and bemoan, "If only I spent more of my time doing such-and-such." Instead, I just sit around and not do it, and then when I feel like doing it, I make time and do it. No use complaining about not having time to do something, when you obviously have other more pressing concerns that are taking priority. I’m finally starting to feel more excited about making photographs, reading books, and writing my own short vignettes again. Basically, I have enough surplus energy to do these things, instead of all the energy being taken up by feeling depressed or anxious (and yes, it’s a serious energy-suck), and I am so very grateful to feel more even-tempered.
Well that wraps it up for me. What have you been happy about this past week?
More often, I’m the type of writer who has way too many words than the type who gets stopped up (I’d call it word diarrhea even). Therefore, it’s almost a godsend that I’ve become a bit more picky about what I’d like to publish on this blog. Seriously, this internal censor is quite a good trait that I’ve developed. I used to blog endlessly about anything and everything, but these days, I’ve become more selective, trying to structure my entries around a single topic (with requisite divergences of course). It doesn’t always work, hence the ridiculous amount of partly finished drafts, but I hope I’m sounding more cohesive than I used to.
(Now, if only I could centre an entire blog about a single topic, I might be getting somewhere… Alas, I’m happy with sticking to a single topic per entry for now.)
To take care of all the word-overflow that’s not made it onto this blog, I’ve been writing more in my private journals that I keep at my bedside. Since I’m so lackadaisical when it comes to using paper journals, I currently have two partially filled journals that I’m working on finishing. One of them was started back in the late 90s. The other was started more recently, at least early 2000s. I don’t have any idea what I’ll do with them when I’m done other than stick them with the rest of my paper journals, but I do like starting a new journal and then (eventually) finishing it. Part of me wishes to burn my old journals, but then part of me likes to flip through them every so often so I can laugh at how silly or melancholy or overly dramatic I was in some entries.
(Some of my teenage journals are so appropriately angst-ridden that they are very interesting to re-read and see how I’ve changed, hopefully for the better, over the years.)
Of course, there is very little censoring happening in these paper journals, so I get to read all the really stupid stuff, e.g., petty complaints about people in my life, small (basically minuscule) accomplishments, and highly embarrassing unabashed bragging. Apparently, I’m pretty awesome, and I’m not shy about it. In the same breath, I should mention that I’m a psychotic maniac prone to crying fits and screaming rages. And I get excited really easily. Really easily.
[Warning: Tangent Ahead!]
I’m not sure if I’ll ever grow out of that kind of stuff, but I’m okay with that. I used to wish that I could change my personality. Ideally, I’d love to become calmer and less excitable in general, but I’m not sure if it’s possible. One month, I tried to be less excitable and honest, it was one of the worst personal goals I’ve ever come up with, almost as bad as the time when I tried to become more introverted. I’m a firm believer that people have some very basic personality traits and while other things about the person may change, those very basic traits may remain the same for their entire lives.
And yes, this means that I think being easily excitable is one of my basic personality traits. What I become excited about might change, but when I am focused on something in particular, everything about that topic gets me riled up. That even includes people! I still get very much overly excited when I get to meet up with friends that I am very fond of but don’t see often. Often after meeting with them, I’ll ride on a high of happiness, causing me to tell Frannie all about our meeting in sometimes excruciating detail. The boy is a saint for putting up with me.
[And this is where we doe-see-doe and hopefully promenade it back to the original topic with a thoroughly ungraceful transition phrase…]
But anyway, I may continue to be easily excitable for the rest of my conscious life (until my brain turns to mush and I become a vegetable), and I’ve come to terms with that. It’s probably the reason why I like to write so much. There are way too many words and stories stuck in my brain and I feel like no matter if I wrote for hours and hours, I still wouldn’t be able to get them all out!
Now if only I could devote as much time to proofreading and structure as I do to spewing raw writing and maybe I could actually get somewhere with this. Until then, I’ll satisfy myself with the meandering blog entries and random paper journal entries instead.
Yesterday, the last day in June, I had the wonderful fortune of meeting with a rarely-seen friend. We seem to like each other just fine, but we just don’t see each other often. In between visits, we have very little contact, preferring to do all our catching up in person rather than maintaining steady virtual contact. The odd thing is that we seem to be able to pick up just where we left off whenever we do get a chance to meet.
I have very few friends with whom I can do this, but they do exist. Some friends require constant contact, and if either of us lags, it feels a little weird the next time we see each other. I’ve even had a few friends that required daily contact, people who reply to my emails within a few hours, sometimes replying multiple times a day. What I really dislike is when people shoot email replies back to me and reply to my sometimes carefully written dissertations (ha, but I must admit that not all my emails to friends are so long and well thought out) with bullet points or in-line quoted replies. I think sometimes other people don’t understand that I actually care about well-crafted responses from people, preferring to not feel like "yet another business email reply." Sometimes it’s the in-line quoted replies that irk me the most because that really feels like a forum post reply or a business email. You wouldn’t write a hand-written letter to someone and insert quotes from the other person’s letter. You’d more likely say, "To answer your questions about…" to preface your paragraph.
Just a personal quirk of mine. I may not be a writer anymore, but I still care about writing form.
But anyway, I find these constant-contact friends are quite difficult to keep in touch, and often the friendship will deteriorate to the point where we are no longer friends. In fact, I find these friendships so tiring that I’ll sometimes sabotage them by lagging with my responses until contact is lost. Yes. Sabotage. I’ll admit that I do it. All the person needs to do is shoot off a few quoted-in-line emails to turn me off.
Ok, enough of the ranting and raving about email penpal etiquette, or rather my own very rigid ideas about ‘acceptable’ letter writing anyway.
Now that June has come to an end, I’ve come to a few conclusions that I feel the very selfish need to share.
- Keeping your nails manicured is difficult (see point #2 below).
- Learning guitar is really difficult. Also, it mucks up your manicure.
- I can ride my bike for long distances, but I think my enjoyment goes down after 5 hours of riding, so I’ll try to stick to <5 hr bikerides in the future.
- Being honest with someone can be very helpful, but it can also be very hurtful. Choose wisely.
- Keep a variety of friends close to you, including the one that makes you laugh or distracts you when you’re down, the one who understands and doesn’t need to say anything, and the one who’ll hug you when you cry. Also, make sure you turn to the right one when you want a certain reaction. It can be disappointing when you ask someone for something they can’t give you.
And just because I like making lists, here are 5 things I am very grateful for this month, just to remind myself of some good things in my world. In June, I was grateful for:
- The library for having interesting books on the display shelf.
- My girlfriend making plans to visit us.
- The generosity and good will of people I don’t know well.
- Supportive friends who are excited for change and new beginnings.
- The freedom to choose how I spend my free time.
There are so many things I loved about that girl with the sharp eyes. I don’t even know if I could count the ways she infiltrated into my life, seeping into the nooks and crannies before I noticed. I kept finding pieces of her there long after she was gone.
So of course this is where you ask me, what kind of girl was she? And this is where I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes out, because there’s no way I could possibly focus on one thing at a time. She was a swirl of everything, and I can never remember one specific thing about her before I’m pelted with all kinds of memories of her. So let me just tell you about my memories of her and maybe you’ll catch some sort of the essence of who she was, now that she’s gone.
Her feet were smaller than mine, but she was still quite tall; I could just see over the top of her head. We measured ourselves against each other once, our backs pressed against each other, our feet bared on the blonde wood floor with the heels pressed against each other. I remember the way the back of her calves pressed against the back of mine, how her elbows jutted into my side as she tried to pull herself up to be taller.
She was stubborn and single-minded. Once, she and I walked home from the ocean, across an entire city, because she refused to have to take a bus to get home. "Why do I want to pay $2 to get home so quickly, when I can walk and see everything around me," she would ask me. I didn’t have an answer for her so we walked and walked, our feet becoming sore, our shoulders tiring from holding our bags.
This girl that I loved, she had a lot of favourite things. She had a favourite handkerchief that she washed every other day in the sink after she got home, squeezing all the water out of it so it would dry in time to use the next day. I still remember her pulling it out of her handbag to dab at the edge of her mouth or to wipe the corner of her eye. She had a favourite bench at the park and a favourite drinking glass at home. Actually, she had one glass she preferred for water, a different mug for coffee, another glass for drinking beer, and a stemless glass for wine and liquor. She had a favourite dress that was slightly torn, but she didn’t think anyone noticed, so she kept wearing it until the material became so thin it started to tear. Always a creature of habit, once she decided to love something, she used it until she broke it or it was lost.
She told me once that she thought the way my left eye crinkled when I laughed was nicer than the right eye. I wasn’t sure if I should feel happy for my left eye, or sad for my right. I suppose it all cancelled out in the end though, so I felt ambiguous about it, but every time I laughed, I tried to see if her smile favoured my left side over my right.
She let me worry about the small things like that, the details of our lives, like the way our hands folded together, her cool fingers nestled between my warm ones. Her palms and fingertips were always calloused from some reason or another. She played the guitar for a while and built up a thick set of callouses on her left fingertips. I liked to feel them scratch against the back of my knuckles.
When I close my eyes, I think about the feel of those rough little fingers pressing into the valleys between my knuckles. I think about how her neck always smelled like a mixture of skin and lavender conditioner, how her hair was unruly and curled in only one direction. She used to bake cookies on a whim, humming along while she scooped out the dough onto the sheet. Rushing through our flat, she’d leave behind the faint smell of her perfume, bunched up socks under the coffee table, a few hairs shaking loose from her hairbrush and collecting on the bathroom floor.
I miss her loud laugh, the soft padding of her feet running down the hallway, the way she shook her hair and hips to music, the way she kept her torn stockings just in case they’d be useful. I even miss the way she rolled over in bed immediately upon waking and reached over to rub on my hair. It was always the first thing she did each morning, her legs stretching under the covers. And I remember rolling my head towards her and cracking open my eyes to look at her face. The first thing I see is her hair spread against the pillow, sticking up in funny ways from sleep, but even now, I can’t remember her face entirely. I think I see her, but then she disappears, replaced by all the snippets of my memories. I remember her, and yet I never had her. She was never mine.
Where have you gone, my love? Come back to me.
It’s not a good idea to abbreviate "Vice President of Sales & Marketing" to "VP of S&M."
Some people (including myself) will think you mean something else entirely.
I sure do love my RSS feeds, using them to follow a bunch of personal blogs and specific content from large sites as well. As you can probably guess, a lot of my feeds have to do with bicycles, food, or photography. I can’t possibly keep up with all these feeds, so I tend to click through a lot of stuff and mark them all as read. Why do I even keep them, then? I suppose I keep them there as bookmarks so I don’t forget about those sites.
But wait, keeping sites I never read bookmarked in my RSS feeds isn’t very efficient.
So this is the part where I admit that I clean them up every so often and where I realised something quite strange: I have a thing for daily lunch blogs.
For example, I browse the following sites:
Obviously, I love reading about lunches. Really, I’m just curious about what people eat for lunch everyday since my lunch is rather boring and predictable (most days it’s a sandwich). Truth be told, I actually dislike going out for lunch and would rather eat my own food everyday, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to know what other people are eating out!
It’s been a while since I’ve done a gratitude list, but here are five things I’ve been grateful for this past week:
1. It’s so warm and sunny down the Peninsula lately. It’s usually chilly up in SF, so it’s nice to have a nice warm bikeride to/from work and then cool off up in SF at home. So much rather have it this way than to have to deal with the heat at home (the cat prefers it this way too!).
2. I adore how small San Francisco really is. Randomly ran into a close friend riding around last night, which was a very nice way to close end the day.
3. Everyday I’m grateful for this, but I am especially glad this past week to feel integrated and trusted at work. It always takes a while to get to know the people you work with and for them to trust that you’re trying to do good engineering, but once you feel it start to take hold, it’s a wonderful feeling. It really does make you feel like part of a team, not just people vying to make the loudest judgment call.
4. I am so grateful for being healthy and happy, and being able to take the time to work towards this. There are so many things to do, things that need to get done, that when you have some time for yourself, it’s so important to make sure that you’re spending that free-time doing what you love. On the physical end, I make sure that I’m eating healthy, home-cooked food and ride my bike for some daily exercise. I may not be the fittest person, but I I feel capable and physically strong enough to handle what I need to do from day to day. In other aspects, I’ve made extra efforts to ensure that I’m doing what I find fulfilling. It means making time for people I love and also for hobbies that I love. I make time to read to stimulate my imagination, listen to music that makes me tap my feet, and try to make time to write and be creative (I’m still struggling with this). What little time I have to spend with friends is so precious to me that I try to only spend it on the ones I love.
5. And last but not least, I’m grateful for Frannie. We’re not picture perfect all the time (nor would I want to be!), but somehow we make it work and we’re building big plans for our future together. I love that we talk about where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we’re going. I think talking about it a lot makes a difference for us, helps us find a common ground for the future, to understand that no matter what happens to us individually (or what we might individually want for ourselves), we can still see ourselves together. I wouldn’t want us to have an entirely unified future (we each have our hobbies and personal goals), but there has to be some kind of overall thread linking us together. I’d never want us to be just like the other, to want what the other person wants. We don’t have to be together all the time, we can have separate lives and still work together. No matter what happens, I feel like we’ll be standing upright facing the future together, and that’s exactly what I want out of our relationship.