New Year

Okay, so here I am at the coffee shop on my first day off of my vacation. So far my laptop has been fighting me every step of the way. I have my touch pad set to turn itself “off” by default IF THERE IS ANOTHER POINTING DEVICE ATTACHED. I have unplugged my mouse but my touch pad will not activate. I’ve tried using the button specified for activating the touch pad (FN + F3) and it does nothing. I can’t get to the control panel to adjust the setting because any time I attempt to use the Windows menu my session crashes and I have to log back in.

So far Windows 10 has been a huge disappointment. Actually, disappointment is too light a word. Aggravation might be a better word.

And the coffee shop environment on a Saturday afternoon is very nearly combative. The noise is incredible. I’ve actually dug through my backpack to find a set of earplugs, the kind I use to help me sleep, and shoved them in my ears as deep as I can. That cuts most of the noise but also serves to highlight the more annoying sounds, like the one idiot’s forced laughter in the corner and the constant high pitched whine of steam from the coffee maker. Still, the earplugs do dull the impact a bit.

Obviously I’ve become that old guy who’s hyper sensitive to noise. All the more joy to me.

It is the second day of the new year and the more logical day to sit down and set some goals for the rest of the year. New year’s eve and day are both too full of themselves to allow for quiet, sensible contemplation. That’s why people make grand plans impossible to achieve on New Year’s Day. They’re pumped with the adrenaline and dopamine of the holiday and convinced they can lose fifty pounds while learning Russian and Portuguese while simultaneously saving up for that world wide cruise.

Brace Yourself, New Year Resolutionists are coming to a gym near you.The second day is considerably more subdued. We’ve gone through the rush of partying (well, some of you have) and we’ve survived the following hangover. Now we can sit down with a bagel and coffee and take a realistic look back and a sensible look forward.

“I never look back, dahling, it detracts from the Now.” Edna Mode has some excellent philosophies to think about. However, while that’s an excellent sound byte it really isn’t practical. If we don’t keep mindful of the past then we will keep making the same mistakes in the future… like having capes on our costumes.

Looking back at 2015 I can honestly say it was a year of some significant change, and quite a bit for the better. It wasn’t a “good” year in the sense of having lots of pleasant memories and grand achievements, but there were definitive improvements and achievements to be proud of. And a lot of lessons. NO Capes!

I endured six months without a kitchen. It sucked hugely, and I hated it, but I managed. I admit I managed better with some help and advice, but I managed. I’m so very glad it’s over, and you’d be amazed how important something as simple as a kitchen sink can be. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look at that simple water tap and marvel at what a convenience it is. Water, cleaned and purified, delivered directly to my home in temperatures ranging from nearly freezing to nearly boiling. Miraculous. Incredibly miraculous.

I switched from a job where one person actively and aggressively hated me to another job where I deal with customers who are justifiably angry at how their services are being performed. This is an improvement in two significant ways: 1) the people I work with at my new job are all, without exception, fantastically wonderful people. No backstabbing or negative attitudes, a general willingness to help and get the work done, and support, support, support from every direction, even and perhaps ESPECIALLY from the top. 2) I have the potential to do something about those angry customers that will make them happy again. And I have. Repeatedly. I am constantly thrilled at the satisfaction I get from turning a angry, helpless feeling customer into a happy, satisfied, and GRATEFUL customer.

The previous job I had at the beginning of the year had good people in it too, and there were chances for achievement an reward, but that one poisonous viper intent on very deliberately ruining my day made it impossible to enjoy anything between the hours of 8 and 5. A few months after I left my former co-worker texted me and asked if there were any chance they could hire me back. The venom woman had caused two other shippers to quit in as many months. I replied that I would need more money and the assurance that I wouldn’t have to work with that woman again. He said he could work on one of those requirements. I asked if that meant he could keep that vile woman away from me. He said no. So I told him there was no way they could ever afford me.

And you have to wonder at a company that can keep a person on staff that makes every single subordinate quit within a year or less. From all accounts I lasted the longest of any of them. And I have to wonder how horrible that woman’s life must be for her to be so gleefully willing to ruin someone else’s day, every single day. I shudder to think of it.

But I digress.

I had also entered into therapy for depression and began trying out medication to modify my moods. My emotions had been out of control and led me to self harm and seriously suicidal thoughts. The medication helped keep the worst of these thoughts at bay and I was able to wake up in the morning without crying through my entire shower. The therapy sessions that went along with it served to highlight that, while I was going through some stressful points in my life (like not having a kitchen for six months) there really wasn’t anything worth dying over.

I ended a ten year long relationship in a fit of anger and spite. She suggested that my emotional reactions were ruining her days and that perhaps we should take a break. I agreed with vehemence, cutting her off from all forms of communication save e-mail. I feared I would regret such a rash action but, as it turns out, not only have I NOT regretted it, but everything in my life has since improved.

Gradually, my therapy sessions got brighter and my general demeanor lightened. I wasn’t happy with the weight gain I was fighting due to my medication and decided to try something else. All the other medications my doctor suggested, however, had the same potential side effects with a few worse tacked on: seizures, vertigo, blackout, and potential death. Since things had been going so much better I decided to find out if I still needed the medication at all. With my doctor’s instructions and my therapist’s support I reduced my dosage to half for two weeks, then a quarter for two weeks, just as Christmas was in full swing.

I have had a few moments of loneliness and tears, but nothing even approaching the self loathing that had me punching my own head and contemplating whether it would be more considerate to cut my wrists in the tub so that there would be a much easier way to clean up the blood.

In short, I’m doing much better and feel much more positive about the future. Without the drugs. Which is a significant improvement over not feeling I had any kind of possible future at all.

I’ve even gone so far as to clear off all my debts save my mortgage. A vast improvement in itself.

So, the second day of January and a calm, rational look at the year ahead.

It couldn’t get much worse, could it? And there’s every chance it could be so, so much better. If all I manage is to keep myself from going back into debt and get some weekends of riding in I’ll already be much ahead of the year before. Everything on top of that will be gravy.

Walking. This will not be a goal of weight loss, although it would be a nice side effect if it happens, but I do need to become more physically active. I’m not talking about working out at the gym. I’m talking about walking around my neighborhood.

Writing. Daily. Something, anything, to a minimum of 250 words. 250 would be rock bottom but would at least be more than a Facebook status update.

Getting out of the house. Daily. And not just for work. If I can get into a routine of walking this could solve itself.

Reading. I’ve immersed myself in the Internet far too much over the past few years and have forgotten the wonderful escape of a good, or adequate, book. I’ve rediscovered some of that literary joy over the past few months and I fully plan on continuing. Walking to the local used book shop should solve three criteria at once.

Budget. I have a working budget in place and I need to stick to it. The budget managed to dredge me out of a significant hole last year and I ful

Wonton rests her head on a pillow

Wonton getting comfortable in her new home.

l intend on staying above water from now on.

Pet. I have a cat now and her name is Wonton. She is demanding and loving and always there. She has given me someone to talk to when I need to talk out loud but not necessarily to myself. She’s also a lot of fun.

Friends. Combined with the insistence that I get out of my house more this is another goal that will effectively contribute to a few others along the way.

There, reasonable goals firmly set. If I manage to fit in a motorcycle ride down the coast this summer, that will be the massive cherry on top of it all. If I manage new relationships as well, even more cherry and chocolate sauce. But those aren’t goals. They’re opportunities I’m open to.

Happy New Year everyone.