seventhe: (SAZH)

What the fuck happened to 2015.

I feel like I can capture 2015 in three stages:

  • Jan-April, where my life was dominated by work; I was working (solo!, since it was confidential, rather than in the team of 8-10 the project should have had) on the engineering work to produce the first draft-stage of my new pilot plant
  • May-September, where my life was nothing but work: this was the site shutdown, which happened for some very serious reasons I won't blog about, in which I was given a strict budget and a strict deadline and told that if we didn't have the plant running by X our ability to, well, stay here in Akron as a place of employment would be severely hampered, and had to work a miracle with only one other co-project-leader and some contractors. Literally I did nothing but work during this time period, 60-80 hours per week maybe, evenings and weekends all morphed into additional office hours. Health suffered; house suffered; I drank a lot, picked up a life partner almost by accident, and in the end we saved the site. It's 20% of what it used to be and lumping along slowly on broken rims and superglue, but it's running.
  • October-December, during which I realized just how much my own health - physical, mental, spatial (my well-being is severely affected by the state of my own home), emotional - had suffered from the previous 9 months and started the long slow job of digging myself out of a black hole. Also, child care, as my second niece was born and both she and my two-year-old niece (and their parents) needed my help and love and time. Have you ever had a two-year-old as your best friend ever? It's quite nice, she's fucking hilarious.

2015 was also an odd year personally;

  • My grandmother passed away in August. She was the greatest. She was my best friend. I miss her so much. We all knew her health was failing - it had been for 5 years, acutely in the most recent year - but it's still a Hell of a Thing when someone goes. She and I had a special bond: she was what I will be like when I am 92; I was what she would have been like born into a different generation; as the sole grandparent and the sole single grandchild we spent most family gatherings together, and she was just my favorite. She was horribly tactless, incredibly impatient, occasionally directly rude, insatiably stubborn, very demanding, overbearing, sometimes overemotional: and I fucking loved her for it, because she was me in so many ways, and also because she just didn't give any more fucks. I'm still reeling from the loss.
  • As I said, my second niece was born late this year. In the process of helping out there I've become much closer to my first niece, and I like it; I love all my aunts, but wasn't ever really close to them in this way, and I've realized that I really do need to be in her life (their life). Family comes first. Our relationship is something special, because I'm not a parent or a grandparent, so I'm... exempt from a lot of the expectations there, so I just get to be whatever I want to her and with her. I'll do the same for the younger one as well. Realizing how important this is was surprising, but shouldn't have been. I'm quite keen on kids even if it seems cooler to hate them these days; they're more honest than adults and usually more fun. (What I hate, I'm finding, are shit parents, but that's neither here nor there.)
  • relationship - hmmmm. Not sure if the word applies. I have a something. It's complicated. And private. But there. Something very odd happened during the Shutdown Months and I found someone I quite like and enjoy who feels the same about me -- and that's enough for me, for right now.

Every year I say "this is the year I got my ass kicked by work" but this is the year it really truly happened: I hit my limit, I found the edge, I have located rock-bottom and I have absolutely no intention of ever going back there again. Working in a 72-year-old chemical facility doesn't make this easy, or a thing I have control over; but I do have control over my own energies and I have always been very. very good at saying no.

I'm looking at this year as a real learning experience: a lot of it was, frankly, awful as fuck, but I know I've learnt and grown from it. I like who I am right now, even if I'm still working on portions of my life that aren't great (social life, for example, what the fuck is that and who has time for one with all the working and the sleeping). I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that fibromyalgia, immunodeficiency, arthritis, asthma, anxiety, OCD, depression - that these things need to be considered, that I can't ignore them and plod stubbornly forward: so instead I'll stubbornly deal with them and balance my life better as I go.

That was a very, very odd year. I'm proud of what I've done, but I miss my life.

seventhe: (Ondore: he lies)

So over my brief microsabbatical I decided on a list of things I want to get done by the end of the year: thus, New Year's Resolutions, in reverse, ie my resolution is to have this done before the new year. See? Get it? It's like I'm clever instead of backwards and wrong!

  1. Get Healthy [metric: exercise 3+/wk; lose 10+ lb]
    Content note / Note this: being healthy and losing weight are not always the same thing! Health has a unique meaning to every individual body!
    That being said: for me getting healthy and knocking off weight go hand-in-hand at this point in time. From May-September I ate poorly, rested poorly, drank too much, drowned in stress, and had no time or motivation to work out at all. That plus medication changes has resulted in what is, for my body, unhealthy poundage.
    I miss swimming. I miss yoga. I don't miss running, fuck running, but I miss being able to run I guess? I miss punching my bag. I want to have Korra arms. And I have, quite reasonably, 10-20 lb I could lose before being even close to "danger". (Trust me, I'm a Taurus; we don't diet.)
    This is something I can make happen by 01 Jan 2016.

  2. Inhabitable basement [metric: obvious]
    Right now the basement is storage, which is part of what basements are for, but mine opens up to my patio (and grill, and fire chimney) and has a nice little area by the windows where friends could sit and drink wine and grill things. I've two drum sets in my basement and my keyboard, all of which I have been missing desperately. (I miss music! I dream about pianos.) My workout area is functional, but not at all welcoming. My laundry area could use some sprucing.
    Much of the storage is related to the above, which means I just need to sort it and work through it. A good part, however, is my grandmother's stuff. She finally passed away in August (I am not sure I even mentioned it here; I was too broken by it to do so) and I do not mind storing her things forever but need to go through them and decide which way makes sense.
    This is, also, quite doable by 2016, and having those areas back in my life will please me immensely.

  3. Shame room --> Craft room [metric: obvious]
    I want to turn my spare bedroom into a crafting room, to house sewing / knitting / beading / anything else I may start doing. Right now it's a shameful repository of clothes-to-be-donated and a few boxes from moving (not original boxes - these were empty boxes that were repacked with "shit i do not want to deal with rn" and hidden).

  4. Plan for the greatroom [metric: having an estimate / loan]
    I have plans in my head to redo my entire greatroom, which started with my neverending desire to replace the horribly stained carpet in there and grew into a really, really epic floor plan. I need to get it from my head onto the page, then find a contractor who can give me estimates on time / cost to make it happen. Why not? Houses are investments, and my cafe-bar thing will be incredible.

  5. Work-Life Balance [metric: ???]
    I need to prove to myself that I can, in fact, work the kind of job that pushes all of my success buttons without killing myself. The next 3 months will be busy, as always, but not deadly, so it's time to fucking do it. I still don't know how to make a metric for this; maybe I can use success on the other Resolution points, because they won't happen if I continue to use my energy on work.

  6. Mental Peace [metric: ???]
    I went back through some journal entries and I've been in a massive depression funk since early 2014. That's too long. It has started to severely affect my health and my job. I need to attack this. I realize depressions don't "go away" but I haven't tried anything really and I at least deserve an effort.

  7. Write Again [metric: get some word count] No real comments. I just miss writing.

I stopped there, since there are really only 3 months left in the year, and they will contain not only the major hols of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but also the birth of my newest niece or nephew, so I'm well aware that this is a lot to do in that time frame. (Obviously they won't need to be complete, but I work better with deadlines, even self-imposed ones. Better to not let myself cheat.)

There. Public posting makes it real, right?

seventhe: (Quistis: Bad Day)
I am fighting a losing battle to make this entry about something other than work.

I had a tiny, tiny bit of a breather in October in which I realized I have forgotten what it's like to have hobbies. I consider hobbies something I'm actively involved in, even if it's minimal: things like sewing, knitting, writing, those are hobbies; watching Netflix, reading Tumblr, browsing Pinterest, those are not. (Gaming is an interesting crossover, because sometimes it actively involves me like a hobby and sometimes it tunes my brain out like a relaxing non-hobby - depends on the evening, my mood, and what I'm doing in the game.) I have - or I had - many things I considered hobbies: writing, knitting, and sewing being the ones I've been attempting to pick back up, but one can also toss in drawing, photography, blogging, house projects, even running and swimming in some lights.

I've forgotten how to have hobbies. I've lost the ability - the energy - to come home and relax via activity: my relaxing time comes strictly from inactivity, ie watching Criminal Minds reruns on Netflix, or lying on the floor. Part of this is the chronic pain, the exhaustion, the fibro fog -- when playing a video game feels like a chore, I'm pretty sure that's rock bottom. But part of it is just being so overwhelmed and overstimulated by my job that I don't have even 1% of battery left to engage in any kind of creative pursuit.

The realization came, as they do, right on the back of a mental epiphany for the future universe I have planned in which I write a series of horribly trash novels about lesbian werewolves in space. I was driving home from the seminar I gave at OU and my brain just randomly decided to figure out how the magic works in the universe, which was the push I needed to sit down at my desktop for something other than Dragon Age.

It was a very confusing feeling. I have the memory of wanting to write, of having an idea, of sitting down and generating notes and plot outlines and sometimes just spilling words, sentences, strings of thoughts and ideas filling up the screen (in abundance, sometimes, because let's face it, I can be the tl;dr of abundant wordcount) --but I had forgotten how to - saying "how to write" isn't exactly it, because sentences and ideas were still coming to mind. I had forgotten how to reach the mindset of "hobby".

I've since then been trying to reclaim it, in the interest of the genderqueer vampires who want to fly spaceships, but it's a slow process. The weirdest bit has been realizing I lost it in the first place.

When you forget how to have a hobby, I think that's a pretty good sign you need to reevaluate your life choices.
seventhe: (chocobo: hey bb)
- with a delightfully complimentary assortment of the family I love, the family they've chosen (my sister-in-law and her parents), and the family I've chosen (my close friends)

- making everyone - extended family and friends included - take the Myers-Briggs test and getting to pontificate wildly and very nerdily about what everyone's results mean all night long

- continuously eating and drinking far too much, including the green bean casserole I made from scratch after a shame grocery pilgrimage that's really its own sordid tale

- playing two very, very drunk games of Settlers of Catan

- doing three Tarot readings that were so scarily accurate and meaningful that everyone in the room was substantially freaked out and I'm actually a little afraid to touch my deck right now

- sitting outside in a graveyard looking at the sky and drinking Dark & Stormy from a flask while being snowed on and shooting the shit with an important friend, until we couldn't feel our butts, before coming home at 5am to cuddle for warmth with my roomie

- meeting my parents at Taco Bell before we all went our separate ways because holiday traditions are important, yo

- coming home through the snow and cold to the most gratuitous bagel-egg-cheese sandwich in the world, a warm bath, and a bed covered in blankets and cats who missed me and can't wait to sit on my feet




I'm not always the happiest / most optimistic / most upbeat person, especially recently. But even with everything else going on, I'm officially thankful that this is my life.
seventhe: (Internet)
” I don’t agree with [that]--“

”It’s just how I was raised.” “That’s how I grew up.” “That's what I was taught.”


So, I have a bit of a problem with this defense, this concept!

I don’t have a problem with values and beliefs – we all have them; I think in a lot of ways a lot of them are similar if not the same. Most human beings just want the same things out of life, anyway. Our values and beliefs help to shape us, help us make conscious and unconscious choices, guide our words and actions. They are important.

And in many ways, they’re definitely formed by the way we’re brought up. Our parents have values and beliefs we either emulate or reject; our schools and teachers and friends have their own. Experience becomes a part of us (LEVEL UP!), and frankly, that’s what experience is for: to bring us lessons and data that become a part of our inner selves, one more building block in the fabulous construction of me or you, the complicated monstrosity that is us.

My problem with saying “Well, that’s just what I was taught” is that it suggests that you have stopped learning.

It is a way for people to discard and disregard beliefs, facts, assumptions they’re uncomfortable with. It is a way to dodge a self-examination and reassessment, a way to avoid a challenge. It implies a person has stopped learning, stopped growing; as if life’s valuable lessons stop at the age of [x]teen and anything that happens afterwards should and can be processed through that very first series of filters one built at a time too young to really know anything. It implies you know everything you need. It implies you’re learned it all. It implies you’re done.

And are you really? Have you really? I mean really?

“I was taught that [that] was wrong.” I believe that; I’m not even infringing on your right to believe that. What I’m asking is, have you really never re-evaluated that? Thought about it? Attacked the belief a little bit to see what unfolds?

When I was young, I was taught that touching the stove was wrong, but now I make a mad mean chili and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I know that comparing chili to a deeply intimate personal belief is a pretty big step and Fuck that noise, my chili is awesome.

Is the thought of re-evaluating that belief so very scary that you’re going to put it behind that protective fence, keeping the mad dogs out, never even letting the inquisitive little kitten in?

I learned a lot of things growing up. I was taught a lot of things too – some right, some wrong. And I was exposed to a bunch of values. But you know what? I am still learning, still growing, still seeing. I’m expanding my horizons and breaking down my walls, I’m identifying my strengths and acknowledging my weaknesses, I’m examining my privileges and challenging my worldview. I’m making observations, I’m taking new data, I’m recording freak occurrences and tracking the results. I am a student of this gigantic fucking thing called life and I’m not sure I’m ever going to stop learning – learning how right I was, how wrong I am, how smart I can be and how dumb I can feel.

No one person knows everything. This is obvious! But you also don’t develop a life’s-worth of answers until, well, until you’ve lived a life. Is your life done? Are you done collecting treasures and memories and lessons? Are you done defeating enemies and gaining experience? Is that your maximum level? Are you really going to stop there?

Because I’m not. I continue to grow. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop learning. I hope I never stop changing.

And if I believe something, if I’m going to put the weight of this fantastic sparkly obnoxious brain of mine behind something, I want it to be because I really do believe it, not just because I grew up hearing or seeing or learning things one way. I’d like to be sure; I’ve been wrong before.

I have a deep problem with people who just stop learning. And I don’t mean learning like school; I’m talking about learning from life, learning from things around you, watching shit go down and new things come up and asking questions and changing your mind. We’re allowed to change our minds; it’s one of the most beautiful and difficult things about being human.

It doesn’t make your beliefs any less, at this very moment: it simply makes them modifiable. They are transmutable, transient; apply enough heat and force and pressure and maybe something else will come out. Maybe not; maybe you’re right, and you’ll get diamonds. But I want people to own their beliefs. Give yourself agency.

Make those beliefs your own. Think them through; stand by them, put your name on them in (semi-)permanent marker and glitter paint, tuck them in the pocket of your favorite jeans. Wear them out. Make them fit.

If you disagree with me and it’s because you truly believe it and can explain, defend, can honestly tell me with your heart’s-soul: – man, that’s awesome, that’s incredible, and I respect you. If you disagree with me because you’ve stopped learning, stopped thinking, stopped looking – if you disagree because of a belief you haven’t stopped to challenge and own and make yours? – I won’t argue, but I am not sure I can respect that, either.

Now come have some chili and let’s talk about [this].

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