Life and Its Little Ironies

Ironies, contradictions, incongruities, disparities, call them what you like life is full of these amusing little gems. Recently some of the small contradictions of life have been in the forefront of my brain.

For instance, I recently took my family out for a late Sunday breakfast. I wouldn’t call it a brunch because of the setting. It was one of those twenty-four hour, breakfast all day that I so love. Upon walking in, while I was day dreaming about the prospects of a country fried steak and two eggs over easy with a side of home fries and a buttermilk biscuit, we passed an innocent little gumball machine. My daughter took immediate note of this, because it apparently dispensed what was apparently the cadilac of bubble gum. By the time our order was taken I found myself explaining to my child that she couldn’t have any candy unless she ate her pancakes first.

2417434820_1cc7e9c0cb_mIn other words I was telling her, “No, I won’t let you have this wad of bubblegum, wrapped in a candy shell and impregnated with dozens of crunchy sugar bits. But, if you’re good and eat your plate of fried batter smothered in strawberry syrup, maybe you can have some later.” Apparently good parenting is about putting your foot down about what type of glucose delivery vehicle is acceptable at a given hour of the day.

One day I was going through the motions at work when it finally dawned on me; I was hired to do a job based on skills and experience that I rarely if at all use in any capacity that I have held during my tenure there.  Oddly I left a position which fueled my passion and creativity, because this one seemed to offer a wider range of experience and Bracethe prospect of better pay. While this has been marginally true I now seem trapped in monotony to ensure a modicum of financial security.

This startling revelation was probably induced by the bitterness I feel due to having resorted to wearing a brace on my wrist for repetitive strain. In other words I have started using a device to enable me to continue working in a field which is injurious to myself. I mean beyond the cuts, burns, and bruises that I have long since accepted as being part of putting in an honest day’s work.

Did I mention I sold my truck. That evil, foul-smelling, expensive mode of conveyance. That one and a half ton monument to my laziness. Yes well, I foisted it off on someone else. Doing so I bid farewell (though most likely not goodbye) to the constant expense of pouring gasoline down into an ever thirstier hole. I also am now rid of its ample cargo bed. See I have to move soon. I sold the damned thing to cover my moving expenses, but I sure as hell could use it when the day comes and I have to haul all my families crap across town.

I do suppose it is for the best in the long run. I have no excuses left about whether I am going to ride my bike for my daily commute. Ninety degree heat or thunderstorms be damned. I could use the exercise, I know that for sure. I might even lose some of the excess baggage around the waist that’s been pissing me off lately too

On a final note only a bit of fairly shallow introspection is needed to see I use my writing in a cathartic way. It remains the cheapest and most effective way I have for staving off my depression. Life gets in the way sometimes, and my little fits spiral outward. The tricky part is that if I fly too far from my center I become nearly paralyzed with fear, sadness and self doubt. Hover too close and I become complacent, lazy and unmotivated. It would lead me to the foregone conclusion that in order for me to accomplish something that makes me happy, the universe first requires that I partake in a certain amount of prescribed misery.

I suspect that life quite enjoys its little ironies. I have to admit it can be amusing if you look at from the right angles.

At any rate, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately

Happy Monday.

Top left image: Strawberry Pancakes @ IHOP by Ankur Gulati (CC BY-ND 2.0)
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Expectations of the Day

There are always certain expectations we have in our lives.

I can expect today that I will  leave my house to go to a job that I have long since lost all passion for. It would not be unusual for my daughter to get angry or upset because I am leaving so soon after bringing her home from school, my getting a bit frustrated about this would be about par for the course, from here the prospects for my day will only get grimmer.

When I arrive at work I can assume that my boss will greet me and ask me how I am doing. I am expected to say, “Fine.” I am fairly certain that if I were to say anything difference would change his , we’ve been going through this routine for years and I can tell that he’s not really paying any attention. I’ll draw some coffee from the air pot, in all likelihood it will be luke warm and taste of old pencil shavings.

At some point, probably late, the rest of the staff will begin to trickle in, various levels of excess from last night all too readable on their faces. I can anticipate an exasperating string of hours watching them drag themselves through the paces of the day.  It is only a matter of time before they get started, probably early, on tomorrow’s hangover.

In all probability the mediocrity of my employment, the drudgery and thankless nature of my work will further embitter me, and throughout the night I can safely expect to seriously consider quitting my job about four times, at least one of those times I will come close to just walking out. It won’t be worth it, I’ve got too much sense and too much responsibility, but it would be a damned satisfying thing to do.

After some many years I would suppose I might be inured to the feeling bleakness when examining my prospects for an evening.  It is within all reasonable expectations that I will struggle with the urge to drink. At the end of it all it will probably be best if I go home eat a pint of ice cream, and stare at my computer in mild annoyance. These short bouts of depression really get to me sometimes.

I expect…

Well, I expect I’ll feel better tomorrow.

This was written in response to a Weekly Challenge.

No Such Thing

“There is No Such Thing As Quit.”

That is what my father told me a few years before he died of lung cancer. He smoked for the entire time I knew him even while he was sick and dying, with breathing oxygen through a tube in his nose. He smoked right up until his breathing was too shallow to make it worth the effort, but by then he had morphine to help prevent him from caring to much about that.

It’s been almost two years since I stopped smoking; I had tried several time in the previous  25 years but it just never took. Quitting smoking seemed to get harder with every attempt. Tired, angry, and confused, became the normal state and I’m not sure how I made past the first few days. On day one I got to work and there was no coffee. Nicotine withdrawal, no caffeine and there I was surrounded by razor-sharp knives, lot’s of open flame,  what might have been (given the circumstances) the largest collection of aggravating people you could find without dealing directly with the government. Fortunately no one went to the hospital or jail so I was willing to mark it as a success.

Failure is an option

One of the hardest things is, that it is almost considered acceptable to cheat about it. In fact no one will hold it against you if you just start smoking again. People are so supportive of your decision, even most other smokers; but they all understand how hard it is to quit and if you “fall off the wagon”, well that’s OK at least you tried. 

“How long did you make it? Well that was a great try.”

“I’d have never lasted that long.”

“Aw, you were doing so well, what happened?” 

“Better luck next time man. Hey, can I bum one of those.”

All of the above is a bunch of bovine dung.

I’ve never told anyone but my wife this, I once bought one of those electronic cigarettes. I felt like such a coward for using it. Really if your going to breath in an addictive chemical, you might as well have some kind of health risk attached to it. Besides, now you have two groups of people who think you look like a schmuck, smokers and nonsmokers.

Finally There

The long haul of not smoking has been very easy, after the first few weeks. I got to a point where people don’t annoy me, more than they used to. However, even today I have little moments. I’ll be standing in a check out line and I’ll realize I am staring absent mindedly at cigarette display, or I’ll step out onto the side-walk and start searching my pockets for a pack of smokes that aren’t there.

I think I became a nonsmoker on the day that these small behaviors no longer bothered me. I’d like to think that this was what my dad meant about there not being such a thing as quit, that there are just things that stick with you no matter what. After all it was something I did for over half my life, it’s just a bit normal to miss having the habit. Now there are times I look at myself and wonder, how many toothpicks I go through each day.

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 I’m betting it’s a lot.

This post was inspired by a daily prompt.

Simply Over It

I want a beer. Once again I have hit a wall where I just am frustrated and pissed and I want a god damn drink.

I am over the holidays. I know I have only a couple of more days to get through but I am tired of this bullshit already. I am tired of rushing from place to place for that one more last-minute thing to grab, I am tired of the gaudy decorations and crappy music everywhere I go, and yes it is crappy; before you say anything let me just point out that if, holiday music wasn’t horrible people would listen to it all year round. I am fed up with constant nagging upkeep of this house. I was very happy with apartment life; where other people mowed the lawn and did the rest of the yard work. I am sick in general of the never-ending stream of tasks, and errands that always seem to eat up just enough time that I am always rushing to get to work on time.

I am not even going to get started about work right now.

I have had it with the periodic bouts of sleeplessness followed by several days of constant exhaustion and over sleeping. I can also do with out the consistent worry about the finances, my family’s health and what will happen if I get injured again, or what will we do if the car breaks down. I am weary from anxiety filled days when if I am left too long by myself I can’t quite tell if I am going to cry or just pitch a fit of anger.

In short I am tired of being a grown up, who has grown up responsibility and concerns. A bit over a year ago I’d just drink myself stupid and hopefully passing out before i started an argument with my wife.However, I have committed to a sober life and so I am fighting my urge to drink.

I know I am just going through a bad spot in my sobriety and I know it will pass but, this one has been going on for a while now and I just need a damned break from it.It’s okay that I want a beer, it’s fine really. I am allowed to want one. I just know that I shouldn’t have one. I’m not going to have one. I am just going to sit here and breath and write and eventually I will be alright again, at least for a while.

Commuting and Fitness | December’s Horribly Lazy Start

Excuses, excuses, excuses

I know that I have gone over some of this in a previous post but, for the first several days of this month my job has required me to get in about 11 hours earlier than normal. This meant that I had to be up at three in the morning, which was not at all conducive to me making quality decisions about my mode of transportation for getting to work; in short I have been using the truck far too much this first week. When that was over with and my day off came I was supposed to go on a ride with the Missus, but I let the overall lack of sleep from the brief schedule change get the better of me and I was crashed out when it came time to do that. I planned to ride later that evening but, I then conveniently remembered a couple of maintenance issues I needed to address with the bike and was able to put it off once more. This allowed me to rack up a total of five days of being an absolute turd about being a cyclist so far this month.

I could also point out here that at the end of last month I decided that I was going to not take December all that seriously, and that I went into this month knowing how crazy things were going to get, but would be beside the point.

Back on the crank

I finally got back on the bike late Friday morning, after finally taking a pair of pliers to the quick release on my front brakes to keep them from flying open every third or fourth time I used them, as well as fixing the clips on my panniers to keep them from trying to bounce free from the cargo rack. It wasn’t much, just a four mile little errand to run with my wife but it felt good to be on the saddle again. The ride pointed out a small problem with my shifter and I think I got that sorted but I am not one hundred percent on that; I’ll find tomorrow as I plan to take a route in to town that has a few light hills to climb.

Since I have been so delinquent in my commitment to riding I decided not to take the short route into work today, even though it looked like it was going to be a little hairy trying to get there on time today. It worked out but I could definitely tell I had not been on the bike in nearly a week. My legs were very sore and the bum knee was griping at me just a little. Add a nine-hour shift of being on my feet in the mix and I was fairly tired by the end of the night, so I took it a bit easier on myself on the way home. Perhaps I can take that as lesson learned.

I am not going to beat myself up over being a bit lazy this week, I’m just not going to make it into a pattern.

Observations

I will say that there are two things that I have noticed this week. First is something that I already could have told you; If I don’t ride I generally find myself in a bad mood. I have been using the bike as a way of dealing with stress since I stopped drinking so if I spend too much time away from it I start to verge on being rotten to myself and others, thankfully I didn’t get much past the stage where I start to withdraw from everyone this week.

The other thing, I stopped writing all together. I didn’t just stop writing my bicycle journal but, I did not feel like writing a single damned word at all. Now this might have been exhaustion from my scheduling craziness, or burn out from attempting to write a post everyday in November; however, as shortly after I started pedaling I started to feel the urge again. Either way I think it is I good idea if I keep at the cranks.

Moving Forward

 I am not going to sit here and worry myself over weekly and monthly mileage right now; I am still keeping track on the app but I am just going wait and see how it goes if I don’t set concrete numbers for myself. Like I said this month is about having fun with the bike.

I still need to take some more time to help my little girl get riding without her training wheels and I think that is more of what I am going to focus on right now.

I would also like to thank Jean at Cycle Write Blog for pointing out last week that I might be getting a little to obsessed about my speed. After thinking about it she was definitely right. Her input helped me relax and not take my perceptions of lack of progress in stride this week

Still Coping

I left work the other night really wanting a drink. I had a bit of a tiff with one of my coworkers. The details are irrelevant as it would degenerate quickly into he said/ he said bullshit and besides that, this isn’t about him. It would be convenient if it were. It would all be nice and neat if I could just blame my want for a beer and a shot of bourbon on the actions of some one else. But that’s just a load of crap.

What it is about is coping mechanisms. For years I used drinking as mine. Well that and cigarettes, but I quit smoking as well, and that is another matter. It was very unsettling for me, as it seems like it really has been a while since I had struggle with it. That overwhelming, nerve jangling urge to go down the road to the liquor store and come out with a four pack and a pint of whiskey. Admittedly, I have the thought from time to time but, for the last few months it has been very easy to shake off. This time it hung around. I would normally have just biked it off but one thing and another led me to drive the truck to work. What I did instead was drive anxiously home, past the package store, the gas stations, and the all night pharmacies and, spent some time with my wife.

She happened to be still up, though I am not sure why. She sat and listened to me complain about work and the situation and then started steering the conversation elsewhere. It was nice, with me working nights and us having so much to do during the day, with moving and our daughters it felt like months since her and I were in the same room and awake enough to enjoy each others company. We have been making some time to go bike riding together but it hasn’t been as often as we like and when we do there is always real life that has to be jumped right back into. It was good to simply be together and talking and laughing for just a little while. Afterwards, when I had been thoroughly distracted from my problems, my wife went to bed and I typed out a few words for the blog, which pushed the problem further from my mind.

The next day there was still an issue to be dealt with at work, that wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, as well as the hum drum day to day stresses that being a father, a husband, and a professional cook bring. That was okay because I had taken some time and gotten things back in to perspective, quite frankly it wasn’t that big of a deal.

It is important to all of us that we have healthy ways of managing our stress. Exercise, socialization, reading, blogging, or spending the evening talking intimately with the love of your life. What ever it is that works for you do more of it. Just don’t let ourselves fall into the traps of our old harmful habits.

As a final point I would like to mention that, if you have a drink or two to help manage your stress, this doesn’t make you an alcoholic, it is a lot more complicated than that.

If, however, you smoke… yeah don’t do that, quit, it’s stupid, it makes you look like an idiot. You’re not an idiot are you? So just stop already. M’kay thanks.