On Procrastination…

Holidailies 2012So, I’m leaving on a 7am bus to spend a few days in New Hampshire with my sister and her family.  I’m excited because as a Jew, I don’t usually get to spend Christmastime in a house that celebrates Christmas (my brother-in-law is Christian).  So, I can’t wait to be in a house with a tree and lights and all the fun Christmasy stuff that comes with it.

Did I mention I’m leaving at 7am?  It’s 11:51pm and I’m waiting for my second load of laundry to finish drying, so I can finish packing.  I still have to straighten up the apartment and make sure I have everything in order before I go.  Yes, I’ve been doing stuff all day today, (like make sure that gifts were finished being made, etc.) but at a rather leisurely pace and between naps.  And have I mentioned lately that I’m unemployed and have an overabundance of free time on my hands?  So, yep, right down to the wire.

I know logically that this is a side effect of ADD, that it is a form of self-medication, that waiting until the last minute is a way to increase the stimulation in my brain so that I can get organized enough to do everything, but it’s still annoying that this knowledge isn’t usually enough to change the cycle.

As these things go, though, I’m doing okay timing-wise.  I’ll probably be in bed by 1am, rather than 4am.  So, there’s that.  And I guess I should get back to it now, before I get distracted by something shiny…

 

Easy Money…

Holidailies 2012So, late this afternoon I went by the pottery studio to pick up the money I made in our holiday sale a couple of weeks ago.  I had my last class for the year tonight, but hadn’t intended to stay, because I wasn’t feeling great.  However, Kate, who runs the program, had asked me to bring some of my earrings and ornaments, because she still had a few more gifts to get, so I brought them along.

She gave me the cash from the sale (about what I expected  to make) and then she bought a couple more pieces from me.  More cash (yay!)  Then I was sitting and chatting with a couple other people in the studio, and they wanted to take a look at my earrings too, so before I knew it, all of my earrings were spread across the table, and they had each bought a pair.  Two more sales, thank you!

I figured that I’d at least stick around until Matt (my teacher) arrived, so I could wish him a happy holiday, and then before I knew it, the rest of my class was there and there was food and there was dessert and there was more looking at my jewelry and more sales were made.  Somewhere in there, I started to feel better — not sure if it was the food or the company (or the cash), but I rallied.  I ended the evening feeling pretty good.  Belly full, mood lightened, and $100 more in my pocket than I’d even expected.  Not a bad haul and not a bad way to spend a Friday evening.

Now, if I could just figure out how to make every day like this, I wouldn’t even have to look for a job.  A girl can dream, can’t she?

And I feel fine…

Holidailies 2012About the end of the world…

Some days are truly crappy and not worth getting out of bed for.  Some days it feels like it doesn’t really matter what lies on the other side of awake because, really, how is it going to make a difference?  But, some days are good.  And some days are even great.  Some days it doesn’t matter that I’ve been unemployed for ten months or that I’m not sure when things are going to change or that the days are stretching out in front of me without any sure steps because, despite all of that, I know that it’s going to be okay.  It has to be okay.  There is no other choice than for it to be okay.  For ME to be okay.

And even at my most panicked, even at my most miserable and hopeless, I wouldn’t wish for the end of the world or imagine the end of the world or even consider the end of the world.  Because as far as I’m concerned, the point of life is this.  The stuff we have here and now.  Friends and family and laughter and love and art and music and books and nature and small moments.  The way the air smells when it’s about to snow or how quiet the city is at 4am or an unexpected phone call from a friend that lasts for two hours or a delicious meal made from scratch.  And even the crappy stuff.  Heartache and panic and loss and a good long cry, because the good stuff can’t happen without the bad in the mix too, it’s just how it works.

So, no matter if things are bad, even when I’m at a moment that feels like it may never turn around, there’s a tiny little spark of something that tells me that it’s all going to be okay.  And it’s that spark that I hold onto when things get really dark and doubt starts to settle in for the long haul. So, today is an okay day.  Not a great day, not a horrible day, but good.  I’m here.  I can write and I can talk to friends and I can laugh and I can cry and I can contemplate tomorrow, because the world is not ending.

Not even close…

Lost in a good book (or twelve)…

Holidailies 2012After finishing the fantastic Gone Girl this morning, I went to the library today (something I do about once a week), and it got me thinking…

I’ve always been a voracious reader.  One of the best things my parents have given me is a love of reading and books.  Even as a kid, the bookshelves in my room were filled to overflowing.  And the rule in our house was if you could understand it, you could read it.  Which was truly a gift.  There were trips to the library and trips to the bookstore.  There were lots of discussions of what we were reading and lots of lazy afternoons spent reading.

As an adult, my father and I, in particular, have made many trips to bookstores that always result in stacks of new books to read.  And my father, a man who doesn’t really ever buy much for himself, has always indulged in books.  There were memberships in the Quality Paperback Book Club and the Book of the Month Club, a way to bring in a new haul of lots of books for not much money.  And his favorite place for discount books, Daedelus.  It’s where we’ve often found some of our family cult favorites, like Tom Mix and Pancho Villa and Checker and the Deraillers and Flicker.

And we are a family of book neurotics.  None of us can travel without plenty of reading material.  And that means books to spare.  It’s always necessary to calculate how long your trip will be and how far into the book you are currently reading, in order to know how many extra books you’ll need to bring with you.  My father always has at least one book in his car, along with several magazines.  I always have to make sure there’s something to read in my purse, whether commuting to work or going to the movies (need something to read while waiting for the movie to start!)  Though this has become somewhat easier in recent years with the Kindle app on my phone, having enough to read is still always a nagging concern.

The ability to buy books as I wish has been a luxury that didn’t feel so much like a luxury, but more like a necessity.  But, the reality of limited space, especially in a New York apartment, has over the years made it a challenge.  When I was working, it wasn’t really about curtailing purchases, it was more about deciding which books were worth keeping and which to donate, in order to conserve space.  Now, though, with my shelves still overflowing, it’s about the fact that books are expensive.

Thankfully, in the past 10 months I’ve rediscovered the New York Public Library and have made great use of my library card.  Amazingly, checking books out of the library or downloading them, pouring over my lists of holds and list of books to read later, has continued to feel like a luxury, but also, an absolute necessity. It’s an essential ingredient in keeping my head on my shoulders and my perspective intact.  When things are really bad, I can’t manage to read — and that just makes everything worse.

Which is why I know that right now, I’m doing okay.  I’m continuing to read.  I’m reading books and magazines and newspapers and online articles and I’m losing myself in fiction and educating myself with nonfiction and aggravating myself with fiction masquerading as journalism (a thought for another day), and I count myself lucky.  Another moment to be thankful for the time to read and the gift of access I have to just about any book I want.

Inside my head…

Holidailies 2012Tonight’s entry will be very short, because frankly, I forgot about it until the last minute, but also because a repeat of last night’s would be a snooze and sort of depressing to boot.  So, I’ll just say this…

Trying to find strength and inspiration where I can find it and that can often be from the most surprising places.  I’ve sung the praises of Facebook before, but I’m still amazed at how my virtual community manages to lift me up when I most need it and distract me from my own worst self.  From encouraging reminders to keep the fear at bay to private messages with job postings to pictures of kittens (who doesn’t love pictures of kittens) to fierce games of Words with Friends, sometimes it’s just one small thing that gets me out of my own head.

Today was pretty rough, maybe rougher than yesterday, but it ended okay.  It ended with a phone call from a friend (thanks, Sue), laughter, and cats playing patty cake.  Hopefully tomorrow won’t require the silly video, but it’s good to know that it’s there if I need it.

Ups and Downs…

Holidailies 2012Inevitably, after there are ups and ups, come the downs.  Today, after a weekend filled with activity and all kinds of good things, I woke up pretty down.  And then I found out I didn’t get the job that I had the interview for last Thursday.  Frankly, I wasn’t holding out a great deal of hope for that job, but it still hurt to know for certain, because the job itself would have been really great.

Unsurprisingly, I dealt with it in my usual way.  I napped.  And I woke up and felt a little better, and then my mood crashed again, and I started to feel hopeless.  I’ve been applying for jobs, I’ve been interviewing for jobs, I’ve been practically promised  jobs and nothing has panned out.  It beats you down each time it happens.  I’ve widened my search, I’ve lowered my expectations, and still, nothing doing.

I wallowed a little bit more and then I decided to go back to someplace familiar.  I had that interview in April in California, for that really promising job at a company that I really, really like.  It didn’t work out because they went with an internal candidate who they promoted.  I then interviewed for yet another job with them in August and that one didn’t pan out because hiring me would have frankly been a leap of faith, since there was some supervisory experience I was missing and they then found a candidate who had it.  But the VP told the recruiter that he didn’t want to let me go.  My response was, “If you don’t want to let me go, then find a job for me.”

So, tonight I went back to their website and saw another job for which I’m qualified.  I know it’s at a little bit of a lower level (and hence a lower salary) than the last one for which I interviewed, but I was really excited that there was a position available again and as I said, I’ve lowered my expectations.  I need to be working.  I would like to be working for a company that I like and I know that I really like the culture of this one.

So, I sent an email and I said as much.  And I asked them to consider me.  I put it out in the universe.  I’ll continue to apply for jobs and I’ll continue to hope that the perfect job, with the right salary, and the right people, comes along, but I’m trying very hard to keep myself open to possibilities that will at least get me back in the world of work.  This could be a good place to end up.  Since they knew where my salary was before, I’m hoping they’ll still consider me.  A good job, in a place with people I like, with a salary that isn’t what I wanted, but far more than my unemployment, would be a good place to start.  I’d just like to get in the door.  And then I’ll figure out the rest.

So that’s where I stand now.  I hope that it pans out.  I hope that I can keep my head up and keep fighting.  Otherwise, I’m just not sure where I go from here…

On a day well spent…

Holidailies 2012I’ve been spending an awful lot of time lately talking about how difficult it’s become to  fill up my days meaningfully while I’ve been unemployed.  Well, thank goodness for December.

Every year, the month of December becomes a headlong rush towards the new year, with too much to do and it often feels like I’m hurtling forward without the ability to slow down and enjoy it all.  But, I figured that this year, because I’m not working, I have more time in my days and therefore everything won’t feel so crazy rushed.  Only partially true.  I still am the mistress of procrastination and things get done at the last minute, so today happened…

Earlier this week, I was invited to participate in the Holiday Artist Market at 25CPW Gallery today, to be part of a table of four artists from the West Side YMCA Artworks program.  Of course, I felt like I needed to make some more earrings, to replenish my stock and so after I got home from the pottery studio last night (at about 10:30pm) I began to work.  The thing is, when I get into an ADHD hyperfocus groove, time seems to pass without my realizing it.  The next thing I know, I looked up at the clock and it was 5:30am.  By the time I got to bed it was 6am, so, I slept for a grand total of 3 1/2 hours.  Oops.

Got up, got dressed, ran over to the Artist Market and set up our table for a 12pm start.  Each of us took a shift (mine began at 6pm), so I ran home, ate a quick lunch, changed clothes and then met up with my friend Oona to go to the theater.  My wonderful bestie, Genevieve, bought tickets for us to go see Grace on Broadway at the matinee this afternoon (thank you, Gen!)  Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it to town this weekend, so Oona went with me.  It was truly wonderful, not just because the show was so great (it really, really was), but because after, we got to go backstage and spend some time with Ed Asner in his dressing room.  Ed and my mother have been friends since he was a young, unknown actor in New York City, and she was an assistant casting director at CBS.

He and my parents stay in touch and see each occasionally, usually when Ed is in Florida performing, but I hadn’t seen him since I was 18 years old and he was starring in the pre-Broadway run of Born Yesterday in Boston.  He got me a house seat and then took me out to dinner.  So it was truly lovely to see him 24 years later, after a wonderful performance in a great show and to have him be just as I remembered — funny and foulmouthed and effusive and feeling like family.

If that’s all the day had in store, it would have been enough, more than enough.  But the day continued on and after a quick coffee with Oona, I headed to my shift at the Artist Market and spent the evening talking to interesting people and looking at some fantastic art, and even selling a few things along the way (thanks Oona and Moe-Swe!)  It went longer than originally intended, but there was terrific live music and it felt like just the place I needed to be.

But the downside of so much good stuff in one day (and so little sleep) is that I am overtired and overstimulated, and decided to skip a friend’s holiday party in Park Slope (sorry, Liz, hopefully next year!) that I really wanted to go to, because I’m practically useless at this point.  This post is happening partially because I promised myself that I would not miss a single Holidailies this year, but also as a brain dump to help wind me down.  And it’s happening on fumes.  When it’s done, it will be lights out on the Upper West Side.  But before I end up unconscious, I just wanted to reflect on a very good day, after a strange and sometimes difficult week.

It’s good to be busy again…

Shaken and Stirred…

Holidailies 2012“When people show you who they are, believe them.”  I think I need that tattooed on my brain.

I’d say that in general I have pretty good instincts about people, but I have also been known to give some of them the benefit of the doubt far longer than I should and far longer than they deserve.

So, today, when someone who I spent several years making excuses for did something that I knew long ago he was capable of, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  But, even though as soon as he spoke to me, my gut knew what was coming next, I was still surprised when it happened.  Even after I called him on it and he completely and transparently lied to my face, I was surprised.  I was hurt.  I was angry. And I let it happen.  I didn’t do anything to protect myself.  And that made me even angrier and I turned it in on myself.  This person is no longer a significant presence in my life, he’s barely a blip on the radar anymore and yet I let him shake me up and upset the calm I’ve been cultivating.

In the aftermath, I shared the details with several people who it affected directly (actually, more directly than it affects me in the long run).  They too were outraged and not a bit surprised.   They reaffirmed my feelings and helped me diffuse them, but the episode left me shaking with rage and it took a good couple of hours to calm down and stop reeling from what had happened.  I think the lesson is finally learned.  I only hope I don’t ever have to face it in this particular way again.

Please excuse the vagaries of detail in this post.  It’s done to protect the innocent (as well as the guilty). I’ll just leave the guilty party with some advice:  When your job requires you to be Ethical, you sometimes have to act above simple self-preservation and do the right thing, even if it’s hard to do.  Maybe start with a dictionary and look up the definition of the word ethical, and then read a book or two about how to practice being ethical.  There are hundreds of them in the library down the hall from your office.

 

 

 

Setbacks…

Today the “I don’t feel like facing the world” voice won.  I had intended to go grocery shopping and get a couple of other errands done, but instead I never left the apartment.

On the other hand, I did apply for about a dozen jobs.  That’s a positive, though, and I count it a good day when I get that much done.  And I’ve been feeling pretty good about the job search, with some positive stuff coming up, including a job interview on Thursday for a job I’m really excited about (and hence terrified of the interview process).  But, there was this other job that I interviewed for last week for a pretty cool start up.  The salary was lower than I really want (or need), but it was a good opportunity and an interesting job.  I felt pretty good about the interview and the founder told me that she liked me, thought I’d be great, and wanted me to meet with their investors, probably this week.

And then today I got an email from the other person at that startup who interviewed me, and the news was crappy.  They are going with another candidate, thankyouverymuch for your time.  I handled it pretty well, I think.  I sent them a response, thanking them but telling them that I was surprised and disappointed because they had told me they wanted me to meet with their investors, and that I would have been an asset to their company, but I wished them well.  I was a grownup about it, which I think they probably need there, since, seriously, you don’t tell a candidate that you are going to have them meet with your investors and then have one of your underlings send a “thanks but no thanks” email.

And you know that unintentional napping I tend to do?  I did it.  Only, it wasn’t unintentional at all.  It was completely intentional.  It’s not because I’m just so tired (though sometimes I sleep poorly), it’s because it’s a coping mechanism.  I don’t often acknowledge that, but it is.  I shut down emotionally and I go to sleep.  I guess there are other, far worse ways to handle something like this, but there are certainly far better ways to handle it too, like say, for instance, taking a walk or going to the gym, but today that didn’t happen.

But, I’m going to forgive myself because as these things go, it’s a relatively gentle way to escape, I had gotten some good stuff done today, and I woke up feeling better.  Plus, tomorrow I have the opportunity to do it differently.  So, while I’ve had many a day that felt like one step forward and two steps back, today at least felt like two steps forward and one step back.  Net positive, at least as far as setbacks go…

Uphill Battles and Small Victories…

The conversation begins in my head before I’m barely aware I’m awake.

What am I going to do today?  Can I just sleep a little longer?  What if nothing at all happens?  I have to get x, y, and z done.  I don’t feel like it.  I’d rather sleep.  I’d rather surf the web.  I’d rather post on Facebook.  I’d rather do almost anything other than wake up and face the day.

I promised myself that today I would start exercising regularly again.  My friend Yalitza agreed to walk with me in the park, and I figured that having someone to walk with would be the outside pressure I needed to keep myself honest.  Of course my first instinct was to find a way out of going.  I’m nothing if not resourceful when it comes to making excuses and letting myself off of the hook.  I’m tired. My back hurts. The weather’s crappy.  I have nothing to wear.  I don’t feel like it.  Instead, though, before I lost my nerve I called and left a message to see if we were still going and what time.

When I got a text message back, asking if we could start on Wednesday, I was happy to be let off of the hook. But maybe because I’d eaten a sensible breakfast, and had gotten it in my head that today was the day, I thought maybe I’d still go.  And then I spent the next several hours changing my mind.  Back and forth.  I should go.  I’ll go tomorrow.  I really should go.  I don’t feel like going.  What path am I going to take if I go?  It would be better if I had some company.  No, I’ll go.  Nah, I’ll do something else now, and then go tomorrow.

I started to beat myself up for not following through.  And then I got a text message from my friend Julie in Florida that made me happy and sad all in a matter of minutes.  Happy to hear from her and sad because I won’t get to see her this month.  And I started to spiral, feeling sorry for myself, and I thought, nope, not going.  But, I realized that I had to put a couple of letters in the mail today.  It had to be today.  And if I had to go out anyway, I might as well go for a walk while I was out.  I knew it would make me feel better and stop the spiral or at least distract me for a little while.  And so I put on my workout clothes and my running shoes.  And while I was at it, I put some quinoa in the rice cooker, so I’d have something healthy to eat when I got back.  I grabbed my iPod and my keys and started heading for the door.  And then I heard the tink, tink, tink of the drizzle hitting my air conditioner and I knew the rain was coming.  But, I still had to get to the mailbox and I was still dressed for a workout.  So, I grabbed a bottle of water and my membership card, and I went to the YMCA after dropping off the mail.

I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes.  The first time I’d done that in many, many months.  The first five minutes were great.  The middle 15 minutes or so sucked (as they almost always do), since the conversation in my head continues unabated, even with some of my favorite music blasting (Barenaked Ladies).  I can stop now.  At least I did a little.  It hurts. I’m sweaty.  It’s hot.  I should just stop now.  But I didn’t.  I kept going, and the last five minutes (plus the cool down) were pretty great.

Afterward, I came home and felt really tired but in the best possible way.  And I felt proud of myself because despite the worst possible opposition (me), I did it.  I spent 30 minutes doing something that without fail makes me feel better, even as I fight against it tooth and nail.  And I didn’t need someone else to go with me or to keep me honest.  And I didn’t need for the situation to be perfect.  I just needed to go and do it and shut the hell up about it.

And so, on the other side of today’s war inside my head I’m thinking about how exhausting it is to have that ongoing conflict happening.  To let a thousand little things derail me at any moment and to give up and let myself spiral and wallow simply because I can.  It uses an extraordinary amount of mental energy to fight myself and my worst instincts.  It’s a ludicrous exercise that could simply be circumvented by waking up, getting dressed and going for a walk or going to the gym.  Or at least waking up, getting dressed and knowing that I’m going for a walk at a specific point in the day and not letting the argument even begin.  Because, fuck you negativity.

I consider it a minor miracle that I got out of my own way today and I’ll take it as a win.  And I need to continue reminding myself that arguing with someone irrational (especially when it’s me), is a surefire way to lose every single time.