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It’s really a shame I don’t like coffee

I’m tired. Are you tired? Me, I’m tired.

It’s strange to think we’re only three months into the new year and I am already flat-out exhausted.

Maybe it’s something to do with getting old. Or being a parent. Or the current political climate. Or suffering from high levels of stress. Or anxiety.

Maybe it’s a little bit of all those things and then the concerning stuff I know is out there but have yet to identify.

(Or does that last one just fall under anxiety?)

Whatever the cause, I am done tuckered out.

Out of gas.

Kaput.

I’m so lethargic even my fitbit is starting to worry about me.

Fitbit: Hey, you OK? You haven’t moved much lately. Have you fallen down and you can’t get up?

Me: Urggggh. So tired…

Fitbit: If you let me Bluetooth into your phone, I can call 911 for you.

Me: No way in hell! I’d rather die that reveal my private health data to your master’s servers!

Now the conventional wisdom is I should take some time off, find a quiet place, and relax.

Soak in a hot bath.

Sleep in a bit.

Meditate.

Conventional wisdom is a cruel harpy, jabbing me hard in the side every night just as I’m about to nod off.

(Though that might be one of the kiddos, scared awake yet again in the wee hours by a nightmare and seeking comfort in the most inconvenient of places. I mean, their mom is right next to me! Bug her instead!)

In other words, conventional wisdom is useless.

Why do I say that?

Aside from the fact that being a parent and a full-time employee and having bills to pay doesn’t lend itself to such an exercise, it’s because I spent most of the last weekend in bed, sleeping.

And all it got me was a boat-load of dreams where I was so utterly spent I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

In. The. Dreams.

And not the pleasant, relaxing sort of dreams where you can keep your eyes closed and just lazily drift off, calm and content and filled with inner peace.

Nope.

I’m talking one-on-one meetings with my boss sorts of dreams.

Trying to cross busy streets sorts of dreams.

Biking on winding, downhill trails with no helmet sorts of dreams.

Driving on twisty roads with sheer drops to either side sorts of dreams.

Dreams where, even in the confused logic of the dream state, you know you really ought to have your eyes open.

Despite feeling like there’s wet cement pushing down on your eyelids.

So yeah, conventional wisdom’s approach to getting re-energized ain’t working for me.

I’m kinda at a loss what to do now. Clearly staying awake isn’t helping, and equally clearly, sleeping isn’t helping.

So what can I do?

It seems like I have two options, neither of which appeals all that much.

1) Double down on the coffee intake and damn the eventual withdrawal when I’m through this tough patch!

2) Keep pushing through until I have a physical collapse and then hope I get lots of happy, sleepy drugs while I’m in the hospital that will help me forget that the co-pay is really high and oh, there I go again, getting stressed about bills. Crap.

Come to think of it, those two options don’t sound all that different.

So coffee it is. I hope.

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Posted by on 25 March 2019 in Angst, Life

 

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The Mueller Report Release, Or Why I Finally Have A Reason To Keep On Living (For A While, Anyway)

He sees and knows all

Those eyes. Those dreamy, dreamy eyes!

I recently heard a news report about elderly and terminally ill people trying to hang on long enough to see the Mueller Report come out.

My first reaction was to feel sorry for the folks who have (and who will) die before getting that wish granted. I can understand their desire to see how this pans out and where it leads next.

Getting old doesn’t just suck, it is sometimes incredibly unfair!

This reaction lasted less than a split second. In fact, if you take the smallest amount of time that we can accurately measure with today’s technology, my first reaction came and went in less time than that.

Maybe half a Planck Unit? The point is, I didn’t dwell on the old fogies that long. I had something more important to dwell on.

My second reaction was more visceral, and in all honesty, more meaningful to me. While I am not, by most definitions, ‘elderly’ and while I am not, as far as I know, suffering from any fatal illnesses (beyond the aging process itself), I too could die before the Mueller Report comes out!

This worries me.

A lot, it turns out.

First of all, we don’t know when the report is coming. Could be this month, could be next year. Who knows? I sure don’t. If I did know, I’d probably be less worried.

But now every action I take is fraught with unimaginable peril because of the chance, no matter how slim, that I could get offed before seeing the outcome of Mueller’s investigation.

Driving to work, a spider could drop down in front of me, causing me to shriek, jump back, lose control of my vehicle, shoot off the overpass, and fall to the train tracks below said overpass where an oncoming train strikes me dead.

Before the Mueller Report comes out.

Eating my lunch, a spasm of pain in my arm due to carpal tunnel syndrome could result in me shoving my sandwich unexpectedly hard into my mouth, which causes me to choke, and seeing this, a well-meaning coworker who is actually shockingly clumsy attempts the Heimlich Maneuver, screws up and shatters a rib, a fragment of which rips into my heart and kills me.

Before the Mueller Report comes out.

North Korea launches an intercontinental ballistic missile as part of a test for its nuclear program, but an error causes the missile to fly over the ocean all the way to the continental United States where, fuel finally spent, it falls down on my house and crushes me.

Before the Mueller Report comes out.

Lying in bed, reading the long-awaited and just released Mueller Report, the freshly printed paper still warm to the touch, I turn the title page but my hands, shaky from excitement and anticipation, drop the (no doubt incredibly thick) packet and a page edge brushes against my wrist, slicing a paper cut that opens an artery and leads to me bleeding out.

Before I can read the Mueller Report.

I think you get my drift. Suddenly, everything is out to kill me.

Crossing the street? Are you paying attention to the idiots on the roads these days?? Totally unacceptable risk.

Eating dinner? Have you seen the recent reports of tainted food??? Even lettuce can kill you now!

Tying my shoes? I can’t risk shoe laces – they could come undone and trip me at the worst possible moment! Nope, I’m off to the shoe store to get Velcro shoes.

Shopping at a shoe store or anywhere else? There’s the risk of stampedes, a mass shooting, a gas leak, a roof collapse, skin cancer from sun exposure, catching some nasty disease from the crowd because an anti-vaxxer just triggered an epidemic, slipping on a freshly mopped floor in the mall bathroom and cracking my head open, and I shudder to think what else is lurking out there, lying in wait, eager to deny me the satisfaction and relief of seeing that report come out.

So yeah, now I’ve finally got a compelling reason to be careful so I can keep on breathing.

At least until the report finally comes out.

And, assuming it isn’t too long, I actually bother to read it.

If I make it to that promised day, if I survive to see the final outcome, after that I guess I’ll need to find another reason to go on living.

If I’m smart, it will be something more long-term than the popcorn show of an impeachment.

Like my wife and kids.

Or something.

 
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Posted by on 9 March 2019 in Angst, Life

 

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Scheduling Success? Over My Dead Body (Seriously, Your Plan Will Kill Me)

It’s a new day, and I’m going to make some changes.

OK, more accurately, it’s two months in from the new day specifically known as New Year’s Day, and I’ve been thinking about all the changes I should have made then to ensure a successful new year by now.

Here are the goals:

  • Stop being so tired all the time
  • Get back into writing
  • Exercise the doggos with regular walks so the backyard doesn’t look like a poorly planned out but nonetheless enthusiastic reenactment of World War I trench warfare
  • Spend more quality time with the kiddos and Missus before they grow up/old and hate me

Note: goals not necessarily in order of priority.

So I chugged down a few (iced!) espressos and turned the ol’ noodle loose on the problem of how to make my dreams come true.

Here’s what’s gonna happen:

Every night, kiddos in bed by 8, me by 8:30.

Get my minimum eight hours sleep in, wake at 4:30am. Shower, breakfast, and the like.

5am: Write for two hours.

7am: Scream at kiddos to wake up and get ready for school. Leave for work, dumping aftermath of screaming on the Missus.

5pm: Leave from work.

6pm: Arrive home.

6:30pm: Dinner. Missus, strangely enough, still annoyed about the morning scream despite the passage of nearly twelve hours. Dinner is cold and moderately poisoned.

7:00pm: Still apologizing to Missus, trying to smooth things over with now-terrified-of-me kiddos.

7:30pm: Dogs, picking up on the others’ feelings, may be turning on me. Take them for a walk in attempt to win them back over / tire them out so they can’t dig up the yard tomorrow.

Note to self: Walk in the front yard, not the back. Too many trip hazards in the backyard due to last two months of not properly exercising the muddy mutts.

8:00pm: Kiddos in bed, each clutching an improvised weapon as they are concerned I will snap in the middle of the night.

Repeat daily.

By following this simple formula, I will not only be refreshed, productive, able to mow the lawn without taking my life in my hands, and a better father/husband, but I will also set a shining example for my family, friends, and you, dear readers, on how to succeed.

It’s a good plan. Too bad it’s also a load of crap.

Even if I cajole the kiddos into their beds by 8, they won’t be quiet, let alone asleep, by 8:30. The whining at the announcement of bedtime alone has triggered multiple complaints from the neighbors and two, yes two! welfare checks by the police.

On top of that, I’m a night person, so even if I was in bed by 8:30, no way I’m asleep before 11.

And sure as shooting I ain’t getting up at 4:30 (at least, not 4:30 in the AM). Oh, I might wake up for a moment, but then I’m rolling over and going back to sleep. Not to mention the beating the Missus might inflict on me when my alarm wakes her at 4:30.

That’s not the least of the problems with this ‘brilliant’ scheme. I wish I could plan regularly scheduled quality family time, but that’s not how it works. People have bad days, freak out, need to be hugged / restrained, all unscheduled.

And that’s just me!

The rest of the family (and those bloody, digging dogs) will need me for indeterminate periods at random times as well plus help with homework and listening patiently to the terrible things that happened at school and the horrible things the kiddos did when they got home from school not to mention the most minute details about how the latest Minecraft mini-game works and why it’s hilarious kill me now the kiddos alone can go off for hours on video games and [INSERT YOUR DEITY HERE] help me if I’m not paying attention and can’t answer a spot check question failure to do so triggering another hours long lecture about the importance of listening to your kids. Ugh.

So really, I don’t just not have a plan for a successful new year, I can’t possibly come up with one.

Instead, I have a plan to survive the new year:

Do the best I can. Be there for my family. Squeeze in fun and writing and relaxation where I can. Nap in the car at lunch if need be.

And, most importantly, drink a lot of coffee.

 
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Posted by on 3 March 2019 in Angst, Life, Parenting

 

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You Want Me To Be Funny? Then Tell Me Where My ‘Effin Pajama Pants Are!

So I’ve been taking improv classes for the last several months. I’m in my third class now, and we’re doing a show in two weeks.

Three rounds of classes, and I still suck at it.

One of the things I’ve learned from the class is that it’s hard to be funny when you’re tired.

Another is it’s hard to be energetic when you can’t sleep.

Finally, I’ve figured out that it’s hard to sleep when you’re dealing with anxiety.

This anxiety thing is fairly new for me. I’ve touched on it here in recent posts, but touching on it hasn’t really done squat to help.

At first the anxiety was over finances. I used to think I was brilliant and lucky to be a homeowner rather than a renter, especially since my mortgage is less than half what it costs to rent small apartments here.

But then pipes started bursting. And toilets leaking. And of course, right after blowing the Xmas gift budget on the kiddos, the first installment on our crazy high property taxes came due.

Suddenly I had moments when I wished I was renting.

(They don’t last long – rents here are worse than the property tax bills.)

That was the start of the anxiety.

But then the dog got sick and triggered an expensive vet bill.

The car needed some repairs. Expensive repairs.

After the repairs, the car still needs repairs. Because apparently the first round of repairs weren’t expensive enough.

Oh, and the dryer sounds like someone has taken a power grinder to a bald eagle. Which is not only seriously unpatriotic, but means I need to buy a new one of those too.

(New dryer, that is, not a new bald eagle. One bald eagle is expensive enough to keep as a pet.)

The water and sewer lines to quite a few of the houses on my street, which were all built at the same time as my house, have over the last few months started failing in spectacular ways that require digging up lawns and jack-hammering sidewalks. And, no doubt, shelling out lots of dough.

To add to my potential cash flow problems, I’m now haunted by the fear that the changes to the tax code mean I will end up owing money I don’t have this April instead of getting a much-needed cash infusion in the form of a refund that will allow me to (partially) cover the second property tax installment that, of course, is also due in April.

But that’s just the worst stuff that’s keeping me up at night. The thing with anxiety is, you also start being kept up by stupid things.

Is that weird intermittent smell that I may or may not be imagining a gas leak?

Does the dog’s constant farting mean the latest batch of dog food is tainted and we somehow missed the recall notice?

Is my boss going to suddenly realize I have no idea what I’m doing and fire me, which would, of course, make it impossible to pay my income taxes, property taxes, and oh-so-many bills (insurance, car repairs, vet, plumber, etc., etc., etc. to name but a few!)

Once I lose the house after being unable to pay my mortgage, where will I live? It can’t be my car – the mechanic is still working on it. Will I lose custody of the kids? Will I get saddled with an impossible alimony payment when my wife decides I’m a loser who can’t provide for his family?

Yes, that’s right. Now I’m anxious my wife going to leave me. Is it a realistic fear? I don’t think so, but realism has nothing to do with anxiety.

In a similarly unrealistic vein, is that bump on my hand cancer? Are the tiles in my shower on the verge of popping off the wall, forcing me into a remodel I can’t afford? Will the screeching sound that dryer/bald eagle torture device is making cause a fire? Is the toilet seal I spent half my weekend installing actually leaking even though I don’t see any water on the floor and eventually going to soften the ground under the house so much the foundation settles and cracks, inevitably leading to a partial collapse of the house?

Speaking of collapses, what about those trees in the front and back yards? We’ve had some windy weather lately – is one or more on the verge of toppling over into the house?

And where the hell did my ‘effin pajama pants go? I can’t find them. Anywhere. I need them to sleep!

I mean, what am I going to do? Sleep in the nude? What would the Missus, who is, in all honesty, almost certainly contemplating divorce at this point, think about that? Would it push her over the edge and into the sweet, tender arms of a divorce lawyer?

And when that tree does fall into the house in the middle of the night and I run out front to see what happened, forgetting I’m naked, will the neighbors point and laugh? And post a video of the whole thing on YouTube?

But then again, the pattern on those pajama pants is pretty bright and wild. If I do find them and put them on, would they be so distracting they keep the Missus up at night, predisposing her more towards dumping me just so she can get some damn sleep???

Because right now I’d consider divorcing her if it meant I could fall asleep at a reasonable hour and stay asleep through the night.

Damn those pajama pants!

Any now you know why I’m struggling with the improv class. And life in general. I’m tired, I’m vacillating between the edge of and deep in the throes of panic, and just not focused or relaxed enough to be funny and entertaining.

The icing on that anxiety cake? I have a show in two freakin’ weeks!

Not that I’m stressing out about that or anything.

 

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I Kept Screaming For Peace And Quiet, And Now I’m Deaf In One Ear

When you’re dealing with a high stress job, kiddos at that certain age where they are loud and boisterous (approximately 0 to 21-years old), dealing with a dog suffering from the canine equivalent of Tourette’s Syndrome (bark bark BARK nonstop!!!), and abnormally high levels of anxiety, you tend to find yourself wishing you couldn’t be found.

Wanting some solitude, that is.

Peace.

Quiet.

Freedom from ominous crashing sounds in the next room.

A distinct lack of audible vibrations and sudden movement.

But it never works out that way, and you (and by you, I mean me) start yelling and screaming every time someone generates a sound louder than a matchstick slowly settling to the bottom of a glass of water.

A glass that’s actually made from wax-coated paper.

Soft, flexible, sound-absorbing wax-coated paper.

(You know what also doesn’t help? The computer you’re using crashing three times while you attempt to write this blog post, requiring you to disassemble it, vacuum out all the dust inside, reassemble it, turn it on, then wait ten minutes for the OS to scan and repair the disk. Seriously doesn’t help.)

Eventually, the people (and dog) around you figure out they better turn it down to -11 if they want to keep their skins attached to their bodies and you can finally relax a bit.

Ha ha, just kidding. They never figure this out.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

People (and this particular dog) are stupid.

So you yell and scream some more and then that pesky ear infection gets worse and after waiting a week and a half for an appointment the doctor looks in your ear, makes a very disquieting “Hmm, that’s interesting” sound, followed by him squeezing a thick ointment into said misbehaving ear canal.

An ointment that effectively leaves you deaf on one side for two weeks while your body slowly absorbs the infection-killing goo that’s all up in your ears.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this would reduce your wall-of-noise-that-won’t-go-away problem by 50%.

Forgiven, but still wrong.

Because now you can’t hear people when they’re talking to you (and you want/need to hear them), you can still hear the unwanted noise through the other ear, you can no longer accurately gauge the direction said annoying noise is coming from¹, and on top of that, your brain decides, “Hey, it’s waaay too quiet on that side of my head. Far more quiet than I’m accustomed to. I better generate a never-ending ringing sound to compensate. Ah yeah, that’s it. That’s the stuff. Oh yeah. Ring-a-ding-ding.”

Because, and I’ve said this before, many times, my brain is a jerk.

So if you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because I’ve gotten over my financial anxiety long enough to buy an isolation tank with built-in white noise generator.

Or I’ve filled both ears with caulk and then super-glued noise-canceling headphones over that sticky mess.

Either way, I’m probably miserable and, unable to hear my phone, won’t be returning your calls.

¹ This is a seriously disturbing side effect of being deaf in one ear. At night, I can still hear the Missus breathing (and snoring…ahem), but because the ear closest to her is blocked, it sounds like someone is breathing on the other side of me! Yes, I bought the larger isolation tank, but after that first night, I had to kick her out.

 
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Posted by on 21 January 2019 in 3D sound, Angst, Life

 

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I decided to be more creative this year and all I got was a lousy ear infection.

Turns out I’m not just super smart, I’m too super smart for my own good.

I know, I’m as shocked as you are. It never occurred to me that one could be too smart, though all modesty aside, if anyone ever was, I would be an obvious candidate for that label.

Now just how did I come to this epiphany?

The usual way:

A long period of inexplicable bubbling, hissing sounds with no obvious source but that came off as the blob from that 50’s horror movie sneaking up on me, followed by the psych ward, and then, after a psych referral, by a visit to my increasingly long-suffering doctor.

But first, you know how too much traipsing about at high-speed in running shoes can lead to fungal infections on your feet?

No, apparently it’s true! I may not have much direct experience with this ‘exercise’ thing or its common side effects, but I’m reliably informed the above is a real thing. Something to do with heat, sweat, moisture, itchiness, and stench-ridden shoes.

We live in a strange, cruel world.

Also, one where healthy people need to buy new shoes more often than they’d like.

Or do.

Seriously. I’m looking at you, Leo! Either buy a new pair of shoes or stop standing so close to me! That smell? Hurting me!

Jeez!

Well, after my little tête-à-tête with a non-psychiatric representative of the medical establishment, I am forced to conclude that the same thing is true from running your brain too much.

Yes, that’s right, I have an ear infection. Confirmed by a doctor, no less. An actual doctor! Of medicine!

I have been struck, in the prime of my life, just on the downward side of the flower of my youth, with Athlete’s Ear.

Tragedy of the highest order.

Now my doctor didn’t call it Athelete’s Ear. Possibly because diagnosis of the disease is so dreaded, but more likely because he wanted to impress me with his expertise, he went with the medical term for it: a fungal infection.

Actually, he used an even more medical-ly term, Otto-is-my-psychosis or something along those lines, but hey, I had an ear crammed full of fungus when he said it, so it was hard to hear properly.

That’s right. The fungus gets all up in your ear canal, blocks things up, and causes pressure differentials that lead to fluid hissing and bubbling from your Eustachian tube, in, through, and beyond the ear drum, and into the ear canal.

These are not the magic mushrooms you are looking for

Athlete’s Ear looks like this, only with the ants deeper in the ear and being immobile white fuzz instead of ants. Not shown: disgusting yellow gobs of ear wax.

So my fears about an invisible blob stalking me turned out to be unfounded. Ha ha, I was only committed for three days for believing that. Good times…

Here’s the important bit, the proof I’m too smart part: the medication prescribed for me to drip into my ear to stop the fungus and return me to a decent quality of life? Normally used to treat Athlete’s Foot. But in extreme cases when the lives of important people such as myself are on the line, it can also be used “off label” in a last-ditch effort to treat what I like to call “extreme academic illnesses” such as mine.

(There was also some tiny-vacuum-cleaner-in-the-ear-so-don’t-move-your-head-at-all moments, but they were unpleasant and I don’t like to talk about them.)

What this all boils down to is that either my return to writing has been exercising my brain too much or I’ve strained my hearing muscles due to indulging a little too much in a repast of loud, fast noise.

Since my ear muscles aren’t bulging with newfound bulk, and as it is a well established fact that I only sample speed metal while encased in a sound proof cask a minimum of two kilometers from the source¹, I’ve clearly been thinking too hard of late.

Ergo, it is my brain that is overworking, leading me to be super smart while generating enough heat and moisture and shoe-stench to encourage fungus to grow inside my ear.²

Ah, the fruits of my mental labors.³

¹ Citation needed (other than this one)
² I suppose another likely explanation is that an invisible alien blob sprayed its spores in my ear, and those spores grew tendrils which reached into and networked with my brain, increasing my thinking power, but as that would mean I’ll go back to being stupid once the infection is clear, I choose not to embrace this theory.
³ Not actual fruits. While (probably) non-toxic, do not attempt to eat ear fungus! Also, do not taunt ear fungus!

 
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Posted by on 14 January 2019 in Other Blogs

 

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