Sunday, November 23, 2014


    It has begun. I felt it today, that shadow that lurks just over my shoulder, just beyond my peripheral vision. I could feel it riding my shoulder, whispering of cold, grey days ahead. Taunting me with the looming Winter. It is odd how it manifests, a queer kind of stir-crazy. A restlessness that will not settle. An itch deep in my skull that cannot be scratched. I reach the point where tension in my chest feels as if all my insides are pressing to get outside. As if the squishy bits won't stay in the skin. Brain becomes scrambled and unfocused. Body becomes twitchy and hyper-sensitive. I knew that if I did not burn off the manic energy that was building in response to the melancholy manifesting in my soul I would pace the house like a caged beast, snapping at anything that came too near, devouring everything in my path including pets and small children. I fled to the gym, the safest recourse under these circumstances. Not my normal Sunday afternoon routine, but it may need to be added to the arsenal. I headed directly for the weight room and lifted hard for a solid 45 minutes, focusing strictly on upper-body. I realized I am still sore from the punishment I meted out on Thursday. After the quick and brutal strength training I headed for the pool, which was my main destination. I do love the soothing caress of the cool water. I knew I would swim hard, needed to swim hard. I did a tough but smooth warmup; 20 laps with hand paddles and pull buoy. Then I kicked it up a few gears and did 30 non-stop laps of strength/speed work, which jacked my cardio up higher than I normally go when I swim. It felt great, heart pounding, breathing deep and fast, shoulders burning. I actually had to pause for a minute, only a minute, then swam a mellow lap of breast stroke, letting the water cool my face. I finished with 20 laps at my "I-can-do-this-for-miles" race pace to cool down. Then I slipped into the hot tub, floating on my back, hot water covering everything but my face, and let the tension drain out of Body and Brain. It was what had to happen, what was needed to fend off the demons for another day.
    This winter has the potential to be devastating, knowing that my job is ending in a few short weeks, and my future is not nearly as secure as I would wish. But at the same time, I am excited for the coming changes, even though they are being forced upon me. Forced upon me, yes, but how I choose to deal with them is all on me. I can curl into a sniveling, whining ball and rage against the unfairness of the world, or I can stand up to it and decide that now is my chance to step forward into new opportunity. I have plans. Honestly, I have "A Plan." But it is alarming, daring, challenging, frightening. I am on a rollercoaster that that is hurtling me from elated to scared shitless, often in a matter of minutes. This is part of the energy behind today's episode of melancholic mania. I will have to be ever vigilant, catch it before it catches me, sweat it out of my system before it can turn toxic in my heart. It will be a tough winter.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Prepping For Winter

    Heading into winter I always have a foreshadowing of dread, not knowing if it will be relatively smooth sailing, or tempestuous and brutal. By this time of year I try to have my ducks in a row, a plan of action, the ways and means to confront and manage the inevitable melancholy. This year brings a few added challenges. I have had house guests since August, my son and his family, and their two dogs. As you might imagine this adds a bit of strain, since my house is small, and I am an introvert who craves silence, order, and solitude. We are managing. I am having to readjust a lot of my carefully structured, slightly neurotic, OCD routine that has kept me relatively sane the last two years or so. Knowing how easily I tread the edge of the abyss, especially in the dark of winter, has forced me to adopt a regimen that to outside eyes probably seems every bit as crazy as the inner turmoil such a regimen helps manage. It is a fine line, balancing inner crazy with outward neurosis. Right now is rather challenging, but I have done well, for the most part, and nutrition, exercise, and trying to maintain some order have helped me stay upright and moving forward.
    Last winter was one of the easiest winters I have had in over a decade, due largely in part to finally having a job that makes me happy, working with people who are upbeat, and being surrounded by the gleaming chrome of hundreds of motorcycles. I love my job. Last week my office mate and I were called into the owner's office for a meeting with him and the GM. Knowing this is never good I had a million scenarios play through my head in the few minutes it took to walk from my work area to the boss' office. We were informed that they are closing our department, and we will be out of jobs by the end of the year. I can't say I didn't see this coming, but it is a brutal blow nonetheless. We were told, in no uncertain terms, that after having reviewed our resumes, and already having laid off a number of other folks, there was no other positions we were qualified for. None. I can't say we didn't see this coming. We have had a string of problems with internet feeds, website issues, changes in corporate regulations about internet sales, all of which have effected out bottom line. We had finally managed to get everything smoothed out, about 10 days before the announced closure of our department. Of course, we were not given any opportunity to defend our jobs, it was a done deal before we even walked into the office. All things being equal, I think I am allowed to be a little pissy about the fact that I finally get out of a seven year stint at a miserable job, working with miserable people, for a company that was always on the verge of closing their doors, and start a fun job, with fun people, for decent pay, with a company that should be rock solid, and I get laid off after a year and a half. I want to throw a tantrum and scream at the universe, "This is just NOT FAIR!!" It has been a rough ten days, as we work through the shell shock of feeling pole-axed, while having to keep up our level of customer service, and wear a facade of cheer. I can't even imagine the rollercoaster of stress and emotion that I will be riding for the next eight weeks as we approach the closure of a department we have worked so hard to keep viable. Honestly, I am fucking pissed. I don't want to job hunt. I don't want to risk ending up in another office job with miserable people. I love my job, and hate that it is being taken away from me.
     Being me, the eternal optimist, I am trying to put a good spin on this, especially going into winter when I know I am one mis-step away from finding myself in the fetal position on the floor, feeling as if my world is in absolute tatters. I will be job hunting, of course, but not with any real vigor for now. I am getting paid decently well, and have full medical benefits until Christmas, at least. I will take full advantage of this. I am grateful to have an eight week head's up so I can be budgeting now, instead of hitting the end of the year broke and with bills to pay, and suddenly being on unemployment. My next few paychecks will allow me to get ahead on bills, and stock up some essential supplies. I had already started paying down the few debts I have, even paying off one credit card the week before I found out I will soon be jobless. If I can get to the end of the year with a little money set aside to offset the 40% decrease in income I will have on unemployment I will allow myself the luxury of a little down-time. Time to get caught up on home projects, my writing, and maybe start working towards a sideline business that can supplement my income. I have a lot of ideas swirling around in my skull. I know that as long as I have "A Plan" I am more likely to stay positive. No, I don't want to have to job hunt, it is a self-esteem killing, soul-sucking endeavor that can make anyone feel unwanted and worthless. If I allow myself to take my time, search for a job that will be less soul-sucking than most, all the while working on creative avenues that will have either monetary or spiritual benefits, I may just survive the winter. But it will be tough. Very tough. All I can do at this point is try to be prepared for what may come. It is going to be a rough winter.