Nearing The End of 2021

2021 will be fading into 2022 in a few weeks. It’s been a year of changes and challenges for myself. I spent three weeks in the hospital for blood pressure and heart problems. Will be on meds for these for the rest of my life. I’m continuing to lose weight. Most of my clothes fit loose enough on me now that I may have to buy a whole new wardrobe if the weight loss continues. Several of my neighbors have moved away. I don’t even recognize many of the newer faces in my complex. I haven’t driven a car in over 2 years. I just don’t trust myself on the road anymore. I get sensory overload even in my own apartment now. I more or less quit socializing with my neighbors with a few exceptions. I just don’t have much in common with my neighbors. I guess I’m content to keep to myself with my books and hobbies. I no longer have a stomach for drama and pettiness. I’m just too tired for that anymore.

Been warmer and drier than normal the last few weeks. Seems like every day I hear firetrucks going out to range fires. We’re supposed to get some snow by the end of the week. We’ll see about that. We certainly need it.

My sleep patterns are returning to more normal. I usually go to bed around 10pm and wake up for good by 6am. I’m experiencing less severe aches and stiffness in the mornings. I still have odd dreams, but they aren’t scary. Just odd.

Using audiobooks a lot lately. Probably use those 2 to 3 hours per day. Still working the Ray Dalio one that came out last week. Have some Yuval Harrari and Parag Khana going right now too. I don’t know why, I just prefer non fiction to fiction. I always have. I never did get into science fiction even though I think I would have loved Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series had I discovered it in my youth as opposed to my late thirties. The science fiction I grew up on were stories like Terminator, Matrix, and Judge Dread. Basically really lousy futures that aren’t worth living in. I had enough drama and horror in my own personal life, I didn’t need horror and drama as an escape. Hell, I needed an escape from the horror and drama of real life. I have actually never bought a comic book.

Canceled my cable service several months ago. I don’t miss it one bit. I don’t even watch ballgames much anymore. Just seems pointless and I no longer enjoy it. And I haven’t watched cable news in over ten years. How is cable news still a thing? Most of what I watch anymore is youtube and Amazon Prime. I don’t even have Netflix anymore. I used to follow the Castlevania, Borgia, and Altered Carbon series. But I guess I just have a lot of reading I want to catch up on these days. I find learning fun. That makes me weird, I know. Maybe I just went to a good school in that they didn’t beat the love of learning out of me. I think it helped that I had parents who always kept books in our house and I was walking distance to the local library. When I was a kid, I wanted to buy that library, work in their full time, and just live in the basement. That was one of my aspirations as a kid. Another was to be rich enough that me and my friends could play Monopoly with real money. But isn’t being a real estate tycoon Monopoly in real life?

Sickness, PS5 games, exercise, friends, family, and end of 2021

Been fighting off a cold for the last few days. Since I’m coughing up a lot of mucus and haven’t lost my sense of smell or taste, I’m sure it’s not covid. I mask up whenever I have guests or meet the delivery man out of common courtesy. My neighbor was sick for a few days. He thinks it was the flu. The cases of covid are starting to go up in my home state, I imagine it’s only a matter of time before we have masks in public places again. So glad I still have a box of masks and extra disinfectant.

Bought some PS5 games over the course of the autumn. Currently working on Cyberpunk 2077. I think it’s a cool game. But, if you aren’t into sci fi or violent games, I don’t recommend it. I recently bought the Skyrim 10th Anniversary update package. I hope they make a new college football game next year. It’s been several years since one was made by EA Sports.

Getting more physically active. I make a point to stand up at least once an hour for several minutes. Started getting serious about arm weights again. With the exception of Thanksgiving week, I’ve been pretty strict about my diet. Still avoiding carbs and sugar most days. I’m avoiding coffee too. It makes me too irritable anymore. Upsets my stomach too. Haven’t had coffee in over two weeks.

Sometimes I’ll sleep in my recliner. It seems to be easier on my back and knees. I still get my best sleep between 5 and 8 am. I still wake up with back and knee pain every morning. But it seems to be far more manageable when I sleep half of the night in my recliner and the other half in my bed.

I still hear from my close friends a few times a week. My friend in Denver is quite busy with her job and her arts and crafts. Recently made some sales. She has problems with getting enough sleep. She also has chronic joint pains. We tell each other it’s a pity that we started falling apart exactly when we figured out how to be adults. My friend in South Dakota is busy with his teaching job, marriage, and two daughters. I called him this morning. We talked mostly baseball. He has a few weeks until final exams right before Christmas.

My mom and dad are doing alright. Enjoying the retired life and spending time with grandkids. I try to call them a few times a week. I hosted them for Thanksgiving last weekend. They said they’d be back here before Christmas. I really need a new microwave. That’s all I ready need this year.

I don’t feel as negative about Christmas this year as most years. It’s good that I don’t have to venture out into the stores for shopping. I think surviving 2020 when large in person gatherings weren’t advisable before covid vaccines and treatments really made me appreciate in person gatherings more. And since I know some people who died from covid, it makes me appreciate life even more. Spending three weeks in the hospital this fall gave me better perspectives on everything. It allowed me to treat problems I couldn’t have treated on my own. I’m grateful to be on the road to recovery. I’m grateful to still be alive.

Holidays and Mental Illness

Hosted a non traditional Thanksgiving dinner over last weekend. My parents came back to Nebraska for a funeral, so they won’t be coming back this week. My cleaning lady, who does lots of cooking, said she’d bring me a plate of traditional Thanksgiving fare. I guess with many of my neighbors going to family and friends for the long weekend, I’ll be having a few quiet days in my apartment complex.

Holidays are tough for most people. For us with mental illness, it can sometimes be unbearable. While I enjoy the good food and Christmas decorations as much as anyone, I do have a hard time with the disruptions of my routines. I thrive on routines more than I care to admit. I don’t usually change my routines unless I have to. Some days I don’t even leave my apartment or have guests. I guess I’m really picky about what I do and don’t do, more than is healthy probably.

Christmas movies will begin playing soon. It’s A Wonderful Life and Christmas Story are my two favorites of all time. I think some of those ClayMation shows are kinda creepy. I definately will not participate in Black Friday. I mean, how did this even become a thing? Not only that, there are people who actually enjoy that madness. I can understand Cyber Monday, but in the case of internet shopping, I get what I need and the post man brings it right to my house. It’s so simple that the only time I need to put on pants is when I go meet the delivery man. I think kids waiting on the Amazon delivery service will be to them what getting the Sears Christmas catalog was to me growing up in the 1980s. On Black Friday, I’m just staying home and watching football.

While Thanksgiving and Christmas get most of the attention, my favorite end of the year holiday is New Year’s. When I was growing up, my church hosted a new year’s party every year. Played a lot of board games, had lots of good food, and we usually let out immediately after midnight in order to avoid drivers who had too much to drink. I’d wake up early the next morning and watch the Rose Bowl parade and football games all afternoon. Back then, my Huskers were good enough they were almost always playing in a New Year’s Day game. Sadly, some traditions wind up dying over the years. After I moved out on my own, I used to go to New Year’s Eve concerts hosted by the local bars. Quit going out on New Year’s around ten years ago after some girl chatted me up and I think she was trying to make her boyfriend jealous. Glad I was sober so I could talk my way out of a bad situation.

I didn’t do much for Halloween besides buy some peanut butter cups. They were always my favorite candy. First time in months I had candy. I try to avoid sugar as much as possible. Same goes for carbs. One year for Halloween, I watched the original Dracula movie from the 1930s.

While I do enjoy the chilly weather and possibility for snow, I don’t enjoy some aspects of the holidays. But they too shall pass.

Changes in Sleep Patterns

I haven’t been sleeping much lately. Yet it doesn’t seem to be effecting my mental health much. I usually go to sleep around 11pm, wake at 3am, stay up for a few hours, and then sleep from 6am to 9am. Far cry from the 12 hours a day I was sleeping just a month ago.

We’re having apartment inspections this week. I’m not really worried but I will be glad to have them done. I usually stay close to home. It’s starting to get kind of boring. But I’m still slightly afraid to socialize. Seems like many people are just irritable and on edge most of the time anymore.

Saw my home health nurse on Friday afternoon. I usually see her once a week. I have a Zoom call with my doctor in two weeks. The blood pressure is still borderline high. So I’ll be on these meds for the rest of my life. Perhaps the blood pressure meds have the side effect of making me want to sleep less.

Been kind of restless lately, especially in the middle of the night. Lying in bed while my mind races in the middle of the night is a new normal for me. I used to fall asleep real easily. Not anymore. Having weird dreams too. They aren’t scary, they’re just odd and make no sense.

Having Schizophrenia During Covid

We’re having apartment inspections next week. These always make me anxious. It’s always been my experience that someone can always find something wrong. I once joked that maybe I should move everything out of my apartment (furniture, clothing, dishes, utensils, even food) just to see what they would find wrong with my place. I think it would be a good practical joke except that very few people have a sense of humor anymore. But I simply no longer have the health or the patience to pull it off.

Weather has been chilly and overcast. I’m enjoying it. I enjoy the chilly days and the long nights. I’ve come to appreciate fall more in my middle age. Spring has always been my favorite season but fall is definately working it’s way up.

I see that covid cases are starting to pick up again. My friend in Denver told me that hospitals there were resorting to deciding who to and who not to admit because they were having so many sicknesses. I’ve heard that Germany is getting slammed again. So much for covid being gone with a few weeks of lockdowns. Thank God this thing isn’t worse than it already is and that it didn’t hit back in the 1980s.

I very rarely leave my apartment anymore. Dealing with people, for the most part, is too stressful. Several tenants I knew have moved out lately. One died shortly after going to assisted living. I no longer know most of my neighbors. I still hear from a couple of my friends who used to live here. One is now at a homeless shelter. Even rural America has homeless people now.

My grocery bills are going up, like everyone else’s. I can keep the damage to a minimum because I had some stored up in case something like this happened. So glad I built up a small supply when things were cheaper. Have been needing some new shirts and pants. Those are tough to find even on Amazon.

Haven’t been sleeping well lately. I usually wake up in the middle of the night and take a couple hours to get back to sleep. My best sleep is now between 5 am and 9am. Don’t usually nap during the afternoon most days anymore. My knees still give me problems, especially in the mornings. I’m finding myself eating less most days. But I still have a lot of weight I want to lose anyway.

Mentally I’m feeling stable most of the time. I still have a couple flare ups of paranoia and anxiety every day. But they don’t last long. I usually do better when I don’t read the news or spend much time dwelling on my physical health. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get out of bed, mainly because of the knee pains. I’m finding myself more sensitive to cold now. I’ve been sensitive to heat for years.

November 6 2021

Been back home for three weeks. Things have returned to normal. I’m used to the new medication routines. I’m used to having home health drop in on me a couple times a week. I’m used to hearing neighbors in my hallway again. I contact my family several times a week. I usually call my parents in the late mornings and my friends in the evenings. Sometimes my friend in Denver with Facebook Messenger me when she has down time at her job. I cancelled my cable several months ago. I’m not missing it that much. It was, more or less, another bill to pay for something I didn’t use enough to justify having.

My aches and pains depend on the day. I still get bad knee pains when the weather is about to change. But it’s nowhere near as bad as it was a few months ago. I don’t get the pain in my thighs anymore, just my knees. The worst is still getting out of bed in the mornings. I’m usually good after standing, walking a little, sitting down for a few minutes, and then standing again. I understand why stretching is so important, especially the older I get.

I don’t have as much of an appetite anymore. I don’t eat as much as I used to in one sitting. What I used to eat for lunch, I’ll now eat two thirds of and then eat on the rest throughout the rest of the day. I’m still working on keeping my fluid intake reduced.

My sleep has been kind of odd lately. I’m usually up until 11pm most nights. Wake up around 3am to go to the bathroom. I’ll stay awake until about 5 am and then sleep again until almost 9 am. Time change is this weekend, so I guess that will throw me off as well. But I am glad I no longer sleep 12 hours a day.

November 3 2021

We are well into fall right now. My town had it first’s snow of the season two days ago. I’ve adjusted to my new medication routine. I still occasionally get spikes in blood pressure. I still occasionally have moments of depression and anxiety. Been able to avoid paranoia since I got out of the hospital.

My best friend had covid in October. Had to miss some time from work. She’s recovered now. She said it was one of the worst sicknesses she ever had. I’m due for a booster shot sometime around Christmas.

Had an appointment with my general practice doctor via Zoom last week. The public transit in my town isn’t very easily accessible. So Zoom appointments, grocery delivery, and Amazon Prime are godsends for people like me.

I no longer sleep twelve hours a day. I’m now around 8 hours or so. Most nights I’m up in the middle of the night for a couple hours. I still get stiff and sore, especially in the mornings. That first get out bed and walk to the bathroom is always the worst. After I stood up a couple times, I’m usually pretty good to go. The stiffness comes back if I sit for more than a couple hours at a time.

September 18 2021

Last weekend of summer is officially here. I turned on my furnace for the first time a few days ago. It get chilly at night now. Corn harvest is beginning. It will be in full effect in a week or two.

Been having more aches and pains these last few days. Probably the constant change in weather. I’ve noticed I’ve been eating less the last few weeks. My clothes are looser now and I am a lot more flexible than even last spring. I’ve been having issues with bad sleep. I’ll fall asleep but won’t stay asleep for long. I usually get my best sleep now after 5 am. For most of the summer I woke at sunrise. I no longer keep a clock in my home as I have my phone, computer, and game console for that.

I like fall. It’s my second favorite season behind spring. I love being able to climb out of bed on Saturdays and catch college football games all day. Baseball playoffs will be starting in a couple weeks. Basketball and Hockey will be starting soon. I’m glad baseball season was able to go with fewer problems from covid than I thought. I still remember last year when most games were played in empty arenas. It not only wasn’t the same, it was eerie. So glad I got vaccinated a few months ago. I got the Johnson and Johnson one shot and done deal.

Been having issues with congestion in my lungs and throat. The throat congestion clears with a sip or two of apple cider vinegar. I usually mix it with a cup of water as it has a very strong bad taste and can be rough on my stomach. I think apple cider vinegar helps with lots of things, but I certainly don’t recommend it without a cup of water or tea. I still have my senses of taste and smell. When I do cough, I cough up gunk and not dry coughs. So I doubt it’s covid. Besides, the congestion, aches, and insomnia are the only issues I’ve had lately.

When I do have guests, I wear a face mask. The only regular guest I have is my cleaning lady once a week. It feels good to get my place scrubbed down and she doesn’t mind my conversation. While she works, I usually read science and news journals. I’m particularly fond of the free versions of the Washington Post, Financial Times, and FutureTimeline.net

Looks like another summer has come and passed. I’m ready for some autumn again..

The Only Constant Is Change

When I was young I was a high achiever. Did really well in school, was involved in school activities year round. Started helping out on my uncle’s farm during the summers when I was ten years old. Had a really good academic scholarship cover a good chunk of my college expenses. Graduated college debt free. May not have been overly popular but had excellent friends anyway.

But, the mental illness really ramped up shortly in the mid 2000s. The illness made it impossible to hold a job for long. Lost many of my friends and family. Had to go on disability. Have to take meds for the rest of my life. Will probably have a shorter life because of the illness. But it doesn’t bother me as much anymore, certainly not like fifteen years ago.

I’ve accepted that my career died before it got started. I’ve accepted that I’ll never have kids. I’m alright with that I’ll never have the big house, picket fence, SUV, and apple pie kind of life. I’ve accepted that I had question everything I took for granted in my youth. I’m even starting to accept that the pandemic isn’t going to end anytime soon.

In some ways I’m glad I have the life I do. I’m glad that I get to spend most of my days reading, writing, and learning things that most people simply don’t have the time for. I spend at least six hours a day reading online articles and journals. Spend a lot of time listening to science, economics, history, and philosophy talks on youtube. It’s almost like being a modern day monk.

I would say I accepted living in poverty, but let’s face it: even living below poverty level in modern America puts me ahead of most people alive today, let alone the past. Will Rodgers was right when he said America would be the first country in the world to go to the poor house in an automobile. Don’t even need to own said automobile anymore as long as you have a smartphone and an Uber account. Sold my car two years ago and my lifestyle hasn’t decreased at all. If anything, I feel less stress because I don’t have to worry about traffic, gas, and maintenance. Things like portable computers were science fiction when I growing up in the 1980s.

I think we tend to overestimate how much can change in only a year or two but vastly underestimate how much can change in ten to twenty years. Just looking in the living room of my apartment, most of the electronics didn’t exist in 2001. I don’t think even LED lighting was available back then. Even my memory foam mattress and shoes came about within the last twenty years I think. I don’t even subscribe to cable tv anymore. Can get all the tv I need on my laptop and game console. If only I didn’t have to buy a new phone or laptop every few years. Even in the movies and tv shows I watched in college in the early 2000s, I chuckle about some of the tech in those shows. Phone booths, land lines, and flip phones were extensively used even in The Matrix movies. Even today, we have many of the tech advances of the Star Trek series. We’re still not close to cracking Warp Drive though. But, what is a 3D printer if not an early version of a Replicator?

I will probably never have much money. But I really don’t need to. Certainly not like I would have 25 years ago. A person doesn’t really need much money anymore if they can stay out of debt. Granted that is a huge task. Housing, health care, and education have increased in cost far faster than inflation. But, even education can be real cheap if you play your cards right. There isn’t much I can’t learn with a few minutes of Google search or a few how to videos on youtube. And trade schools and community colleges don’t cost nearly as much as even public universities. I’ve heard of electricians and plumbers making more than even lawyers. In short, there are more options than even twenty years ago. If only people could stop fighting on social media.

Nostalgia and Regrets, Or Lack Of

One of my best friends from college died from cancer a few days ago. She was only a couple years older than I and had two teenage kids. I used to play trivia games all the time and she was one of the few who could actually beat me on our campus. After a couple years, she was the only one who would even play against me. Even though I hadn’t seen her in several years, I will always miss her. Easy socializing with people of similar interests is one of the things I miss about not being young anymore.

I’ve been thinking back on my younger years more than usual lately. I’m normally not nostalgic as I think nostalgia glosses over the bad parts of our past, overlooks what is going on that is good today, and leaves no vision for the future. Maybe it’s the time of year when school is back in session and my hometown, home to a small state university of about 8,000 students, comes back to life. Maybe it’s that after over a year and a half of pandemic and the end of two decades of war in the Middle East (at least for my country), I have found myself reflecting on how we got to the point in August 2021 were we currently reside.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I understand why so many people are nostalgic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have the health they had in their late teens coupled with the knowledge they have in their elder years? But, health is wasted on the young and inexperienced and wisdom and wealth are wasted on the elderly, frail, and cynical. I just hope I never find myself complaining about the younger generations and fantasizing about a past that never existed anywhere outside of my own mind.

I do have a few regrets about my younger years. Most of them are minor, but the big one I have is that I didn’t do more to care for my physical health while I was fighting my mental illness in my twenties. I don’t regret the road trips, the books read, the college degree earned, the dead end jobs abandoned, the toxic people I gave up on, the failed romances, not having gotten married, not having kids, the activities participated in, etc. I certainly don’t regret having survived to middle age with a serious mental illness. I don’t regret trying to make something good out of a bad situation. I don’t regret being involved in many activities in high school and college. I don’t regret the friends I’ve kept over the decades. I don’t regret staying on good terms with most of my family even if we don’t chat very often. I don’t regret the women I’ve asked out on dates in high school and college even if I got rejected by all but a few of them. I don’t regret going a year and a half into a worldwide pandemic without getting sick and spending most of my time isolated. I don’t even regret selling my car and giving up driving. I always thought driving was overrated anyway. The only reason I learned to drive is that my country has had garbage for public transit my entire life.

I don’t regret not socializing with toxic people. I don’t regret cutting rude people out of my life. I don’t regret giving up on my minimum wage career. I don’t regret not letting other people determine what I think of myself. I don’t regret having unpopular opinions. And I certainly don’t regret spotting trends years before most people I know. I guess I’m not as nostalgic as most people my age and older because I have fewer regrets. Sure it meant lots of heat aches, humiliation, failed jobs, being betrayed, and knowing I’ll never be prestigious, rich, or even a respected member of my community. But it was worth it to become the man I am today.