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.

Things I Wish I Knew At Age 18

I’m going to be celebrating my 41st birthday next week. A lot has changed over just the course of my life. The fact that I can send out my random rants into something called The Internet and have them available to anyone who has what is essentially a pocket sized super computer that happens to make phone calls is still mind boggling. The subject of this post is the things I wish I knew about life when I was 18 rather than having to learn them through hard experience. So here goes

Things I Wish I Knew At Age 18

In many ways, work is easier than school. At least with work, you get paid for your trouble. And you don’t have to deal with the completely random assortment of jerks, losers, morons, and bullies that you are assigned to just because of your age and where you live. At work, most people are there because they have skills the job demands. And, no, you aren’t expected to make friends at work.

You don’t have to get married and have children to have a fulfilling life. You don’t even have to have a successful career to be fulfilled.

It’s probably best if you don’t get all of your fulfillment from your job. The most interesting people I’ve ever known hate their jobs but made up for it with their hobbies, church groups, community activities, etc.

It isn’t necessary to have a high paying job to make lots of money, especially if you are smart about things like debts and investing. Lots of people make six figures yet are only a missed paycheck away from being behind in their lease or rent. Some of the richest people I ever knew never owned expensive houses, took vacations to foreign countries, or drove anything more luxurious than a new Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Take care of your joints, especially your knees. You’ll miss those when they go bad.

Routine maintenance on EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter if it’s your house, your car, your physical and mental health, your friendships, your marriage, etc. It will allow you to correct minor problems before they become major crises.

You can tell the truth all the time and some people will still think you’re a liar.

Many people stopped developing mentally and emotionally as teenagers. In fact, I know many adults who have worse morals and make worse decisions then teenagers and college students.

Elders will always complain about the “damn kids.” The only way to avoid doing this when you become an elder yourself is to consciously fight against it on a daily basis. The same people complaining about Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande where the same people rocking out to Rage Against The Machine and Marilyn Manson back in the 90s.

If you want to find out what someone is really like, give them power and money.

Some people will always fight against change. They are usually only delaying the inevitable.

Some people will never be pleased.

Some of your worst critics will be family members, friends, and neighbors.

The only real constant in life is change.

Finding Happiness in 2020

Even though I don’t socialize much in person anymore, I try my best to stay connected to family and friends. Talked with my parents over FaceTime this morning. My dad had a check up on his heart and he does not need stints or surgery. He is joining a neighborhood gym as he wants to get more active again. I started lifting weights again on a regular basis last week. Even after a few sessions I can feel the strength and endurance starting to return.

In bad news, two of my friends in Omaha tested positive for covid. They are under quarantine for the next two weeks. They aren’t able to work and they sleep most of the time. One friend is a delivery man so he obviously can’t be going anywhere until this clears. Fortunately they seem to be doing better now than a few days ago. I imagine eventually I’ll catch this too. I just hope it’s mild. Even though I’m only 40, I am overweight and mentally ill.

Got some groceries coming this morning. I’m rebuilding my winter supplies. The leaves are starting to change in my hometown. I usually have my windows open during the day but run the furnace at night as it’s starting to get chilly after dark.

I’ve been forcing myself out of my apartment a couple times a day for almost a week now. Sometimes it is as simple as just standing in the hallway for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll even set up a chair in my doorway so I can sit and try to chat with whomever shows up.

I nap more during the days. I am usually my most active in late mornings and overnights these days. My sleep patterns can change with the seasons and they change if my illness changes too. Haven’t had any serious breakdowns for a few weeks. I still have minor flare ups at least once or twice per day. They don’t usually last long. I have gotten to where I can just let them pass and not feel bad they happen.

I have a couple packages from amazon coming this afternoon. I imagine kids growing up today look forward to the amazon delivery man as much as I did going to the mall when I was growing up.

Changed the parts on my cpap machine yesterday. Slept really well last night. I try to change out the parts a few times a year just to keep the machine properly working.

I don’t have much else planned for the rest of the week. My cleaning lady arrives on Thursday afternoon. I like her. She engages me in conversation while she works. I usually just stay sat down and out of her way while she cleans. I supply the cleaning agents and she does the rest. And she at least tolerates my eccentric sense of humor ūüôā

Transition from Summer to Fall

It’s the first day of September and I’m looking forward to cooler weather, getting to wear sweatshirts, the changing of the leaves, corn harvest, and all the other trappings of fall. While I am disappointed that my Nebraska Huskers’ fall sports season is cancelled due to coronavirus, I understand why. I just hope we can mass produce a vaccine and that enough people can safely use it soon. I am concerned about the flu season being extra rough with coronavirus going around at the same time. It’s one of the reasons I volunteer to stay home. One of my relatives said to the effect our grandparents were asked to fight wars halfway across the world, we are asked to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing. This isn’t the first pandemic we have dealt with. Won’t be the last either. I hope we learn from this one and manage the next one better.

Besides a short lived breakdown a couple weeks ago, I am doing alright. I’m not needing as much sleep anymore. I wake up with fewer aches and pains, and even those are more manageable. I see my psych doctor by teleconference again in a month. I haven’t had to have a change in my meds for over a year. I also think I’m losing weight.

I talk to my parents on an almost daily basis. They are doing alright. They don’t go out much besides running errands and visiting my brother’s family. My nephews and niece started school again a couple weeks ago. They seem to be doing alright considering everything. My brother and his wife work from home part of the time.

I have been lazy about reading for a couple weeks. I’ll probably pick that up again soon. I haven’t been watching the news lately. Too depressing these days. I want to know what’s going right, not everything that is going wrong. The information on what is going well is out there, you got to look for it though.

Plugging Along Through Summer With A Mental Illness

Mentally I’m still stable for the most part.¬† I sometimes have moments of irritability and anxiety.¬† They usually last for only a few minutes.¬† I’m glad I haven’t lashed out at anyone because of these bouts.¬† I fear with as on edge as most people are these days, my lashing out at even family wouldn’t go over well.¬† So far I’ve been able to fit and fume to myself and keep these flare ups from blowing up into breakdowns.

My cleaning lady is back on the job.  She comes back in a couple days.  I miss my neighbors.  I was sad to see them leave.  But I am coping alright.

The college football season is all but cancelled in the US.¬† I’m sad to see this happen but I hope it can come back next fall and we have a mass produced vaccine before long.¬† I have heard that Russia already has one that they are trying to mass produce.¬† Reports like this give me hope that the rest of the world can have vaccines soon.¬† Several other countries, including the US, already have vaccines in human trials.¬† A hospital in my state was looking for volunteers to test out a possible vaccine.¬† If I didn’t have a mental illness, I probably would have signed up.

Been sleeping well lately.¬† I usually sleep four or five hours at a time in the night.¬† I usually wake at least once to visit the restroom.¬† If I pace myself and stretch before I get out of bed, I can avoid the worst of the morning aches and pains.¬† It does take a few minutes, but if I stretch my legs and back before I get out of bed I can get around alright in the mornings.¬† I still take some advil with breakfast every morning.¬† I usually take it only once a day.¬† The daily aches and pains are about the only part of being middle age I don’t care for.¬† I do miss my easy mobility but I do like the idea of becoming a wise elder. Maybe I can put my knowledge to work afterall.

 

Thoughts on My Upcoming Birthday

My birthday is this Sunday.¬† I will be forty years old.¬† I guess the thing I’ve noticed about getting older is that I do have more aches and pains, especially in the mornings.¬† I have to be more careful about what I eat too.¬† I’ve noticed that too much caffeine makes me irritable and short tempered.¬† Too much carb rich food like bread and pastas will make me lethargic and sleepy.¬† Too much milk will unsettle my guts.¬† It’s also easier for me to fall asleep.¬† I do wake up at least once a night to visit the bathroom.¬† I don’t desire sugar as often.¬† I have little to no interest in sex, certainly not enough to start dating again.¬† I have come to be more accepting of my weaknesses and drawbacks.¬† I’ve learned to compensate and work around those weaknesses and drawbacks.¬† Instead of looking for what’s going wrong in the world, I spend much of my time trying to figure out what’s going right.¬† Even though I’m middle aged, I have more empathy for kids and young adults.¬† I didn’t have much empathy for kids and young adults when I was a kid and a young adult.¬† I’ve come to accept that everyone has their own struggles and problems, so it’s best to go easier on people overall.¬† I’ve developed more of an appreciation for customer service workers like waitresses, cashiers, delivery drivers, shelf stockers, gas station clerks, etc.¬† I have found that a good cup of coffee and a home cooked meal will give me more joy than going to clubs and chasing women ever did.¬† And I learned that we as humans are far more adaptable and able to change than we realize, especially in the long term.

Quarantine Journal: April 22 2020

Got my lease renewed for another year this afternoon.¬† The land lady knew I was paranoid to be out and about during this pandemic and was kind enough to bring the necessary paper work to my apartment.¬† Took about fifteen minutes to fill everything out.¬† I should be finding out my new rent rate by June 1st.¬† One of the things I like about my current apartment complex is that, since we have mostly disabled and senior citizens here, most people understand why I don’t get out as much as I used to.

My neighbors hosted a cookout yesterday.¬† While I didn’t attend, they were kind enough to save me some smoked chicken.¬† It was exactly what I needed.¬† Having good neighbors and understanding management at my complex has made this pandemic easier to navigate than it would have been in most places.

Bought two pairs of sweat pants through amazon yesterday.  They should be here within a few days.  Probably should order some facemasks soon.  I hope those are available.

Been having a hard time finding frozen meat lately.¬† I’m glad I can still find soup mixes, oatmeal, peanut butter, etc.¬† I’ll be real happy when this pandemic burns out.¬† Talked to an old friend last night.¬† I think the quarantine is starting to get to him.¬† I understand.¬† It got to me and I had a short lived breakdown last week.¬† So glad it got over quickly.¬† It is annoying I can’t be out and about.¬† But, as I’m immune compromised with my mental illness and weight problems already, I have to leave that to a different time and place.¬† I understand the quarantine recommendations.¬† I just hope this mess passes soon.¬† It is encouraging that places hit hard early in the winter like China are starting to reopen.¬† I think most places here in USA are right in the middle of it right now.¬† Could be rough sailing for another couple months.

Saw on the news feeds this afternoon that human trials of a covid 19 vaccine are supposed to start in a few days over in Germany.¬† Sure hope it works.¬† It is good to know there are already a few possible candidates for a vaccine even after only a few months of this outbreak.¬† If I heard the term covid 19 a year ago, I would have guessed it was the name of some obscure punk rock band.¬† I wouldn’t have guessed it was a new virus that would infect a few million people by April 2020.

So far I haven’t shown any of the symptoms.¬† I did have a bad cold back in December that made me feel rough and sluggish for a few days.¬† So far, staying home, washing my hands several times a day, avoiding touching my face, and doing what I can to boost my immune system seem to be working.¬† We’ve had at least a few dozen cases in my hometown already.¬† But I think Nebraska is going to hit it’s peak later than most cases.

I’ve been on quarantine for almost six weeks already.¬† I have lost track of the days.¬† I don’t usually socialize in person much besides my neighbors.¬† I still talk to family and friends almost every day.¬† This pandemic is easier to bear as I have easy access to communication and internet.

End of the Year

Been a bit of an up and down year for me.¬† I’ve had several positives like finding a new general practice doctor and restarting my weight lifting routine.¬† Even though my lungs are still weak, my physical strength is almost as good as it was when I was in my late twenties.¬† I have employed a cleaning lady for a year.¬† The apartment feels more like a home than a hide out.¬† I redecorated my apartment.¬† I put up some art work done by friends and a few classic battle flags.¬† My personal favorites are the old U.S. Betsy Ross flag and the Pirate Ship flag.¬† I ordered several through amazon as they were on sale. While the flags look excellent, they are also bigger than I expected.¬† I currently have three on my walls. I’d love to hang all of them but I don’t think I have enough wall room.

As far as drawbacks go, I lost confidence in myself to drive my car.¬† So I sold my car to one of my dad’s friends.¬† It was an older, but lower mileage, car.¬† I no longer drove enough to justify having it.¬† And it was doing no one any good just sitting in a parking space.¬† I still isolate some, but I have reestablished contact with some of my old college friends and extended family I had lost contact with over the last few years.¬† I suppose after being a regular on social media for a few years, I have figured out what to post and what not to mention.¬† I think most people are at least starting to adapt.¬† I’ve noticed I’ve been involved in fewer online arguments than even three years ago.

I almost never have back pain anymore.¬† But I still get short of breath if I’m really active.¬† My physical therapist said I retained most of my physical strength even if I lost a lot of my lung capacity and my heart needed to get stronger.¬† In addition to lifting weights, I also make a point of walking around and doing stretches in my apartment every couple hours.¬† I am now on a blood pressure medication.¬† I have noticed I don’t need as much sleep as I did before I started the medication.¬† I’m also regaining stamina more quickly than before.

As far as science news goes for 2019, there were some really cool happenings.¬† A probe was landed on the dark side of the moon by the Chinese.¬† A few more probes were sent to Mars.¬† Self landing and reusable rockets are becoming almost common occurrences.¬† The world now has almost five billion people with access to the internet.¬† Strides in life extension medicine have been made.¬† There is now at least one company, started by a young man in his twenties, that is now removing garbage from the Pacific Ocean.¬† Plans are being made to start cleaning up orbital space garbage.¬† I bet my grandparents when they were watching the USA vs USSR space race back in the 1960s didn’t think this would become a problem so soon.¬† And now private companies and small countries are sending up probes.¬† Definitely not my parents’ space race anymore.

Even an electric powered pickup truck is now in development by the guys at Tesla.¬† I joked about that a few years ago.¬† Maybe my joke about custom making a fishing pole on a 3D printer or buying camping supplies with Bitcoins aren’t far behind.¬† And I’m sure there are already people who can build computers and moon shine stills from scratch (see my Nerdy Redneck posts).¬† Now it looks like it is starting to happen.¬† I also saw that a cross country self driving truck delivery was made here in USA a few weeks ago.¬† There was a driver present but the only time he took over was for things like refueling and maybe road construction.¬† Ten years ago this was science fiction.¬† Looks like I’ll be telling my brother’s kids to not consider being a truck driver or taxi cab driver.¬† Even the small college town I live in has a few Uber drivers now.¬† Before my car accident I applied to Uber, thinking I could make a few dollars ferrying around college kids on the weekends.¬† I was turned down because my car was too old.¬† One of my friend’s, her husband works for an Uber like company.¬† Made decent money but worked long hours and was rarely home.

2019 has been an eventful year overall.¬† Much of it has been good news, some of it bad.¬† The bad news is going to get more attention simply because that is what the human mind notices first.¬† Brilliant survival strategy in the Stone Age but can drive us insane when most of the basics are already met for most people in our world.¬† According to a scholar named Yuval Noah Harrai, our world now has more people suffering health problems from eating too much as opposed to not getting enough food.¬† Our great grandparents would have never imagined that.¬† As much as I enjoy futurism and tech predictions, I would be foolish to say what isn’t possible for the citizens of 2120, especially after how much change I’ve personally witnessed since I graduated high school in 1999.¬† My best friend and I were among the first families in our small farming town to subscribe to internet.¬† I didn’t have my own email address until I was 18.¬† And it was my friend who taught me how to get free music (which I never did) and free dirty pics (guilty as charged).¬† My eight year old nephew is enamored with my mother’s old mechanical type writer.¬† I never used one myself but learned how to type on an electric type writer when I was in junior high.¬† The change over to computers was easy in comparison.¬† Maybe my nephew’s kids will be surprised that we had to type on computers, rather then just think and communicate that way.¬† Or it could be something completely out of the blue we can’t imagine yet.¬† If the 2010s are any indication, the 2020s will be even more eventful and sometimes chaotic.¬† It’s only going to get more interesting and eventful.

December 9 2019

Been on my new meds routine for almost a week now.¬† I’m beginning to notice some positive differences.¬† I need less sleep, it takes more to become irritated, I move about more, and I even have better concentration.

My lab results came back too.  I am not diabetic (thank goodness), and all my other vitals checked out within normal ranges.  My cholesterol was in the 220s, so I will have to watch that closer.  I picked up replacement parts for my cpap machine.  I also started the paper work to try to get a home health aide to drop in on me every few days.  Overall, things are beginning to look brighter.

2019 has been both a good and a tough year for me.¬† I gave up most fast food and sugary foods.¬† I lift weights three times a week.¬† I’m less tolerant of people who try to mistreat me.¬† But I’ve also had some tough times too.¬† I isolate a lot more.¬† I no longer want to socialize with most people.¬† I go through bouts of hopelessness and depression more.¬† Somedays all I want to do is sleep.¬† I sold my car.¬† I gave up driving, just too much sensory overload and too stressful.¬† I guess I have gotten to a point in my life where I have almost zero tolerance for stupidity and rudeness.¬† And I have a lot of these the last few years, more so than usual.

2019 was a tough year in some respects.¬† I fear 2020 won’t be any better, at least not as far as socializing goes.

Taking Care of Physical Health With Mental Illness

Had a couple doctor appointments the last several days. ¬†I’ve decided I need more help getting back on top of my physical health. ¬†So I now have a regular general practice doctor at a clinic only a few blocks from my home. ¬†For the last few years I had been going to doctors only for emergencies. ¬†But now that I’m not as young as I once was, I imagine I’ll have to make regular appointments more often. ¬†I just don’t bounce back physically as fast now as I did even five years ago. ¬†One of the changes we made was to the blood pressure medication. ¬†As blood pressure issues run in my family, I always knew it was only a matter of time before I started having problems. ¬†I get that new regiment started today and check back in two weeks to see exactly where I stand.

Mentally I feel stable even though some times all I want to do is sleep. ¬†And when I don’t want to sleep, I usually want to stay home. ¬†Since I’ve been home the last few days, I’ve been watching some of the World Cup games. ¬†I readily admit to knowing little about soccer, but I can see how much of the world can like it. ¬†And I constantly have to remind myself that in soccer, there are no television timeouts like in baseball or basketball. ¬†More than once I have been in the restroom or getting something to eat in my kitchen only to miss a goal. ¬†One of our family friends is an immigrant from Mexico and they are doing quite well in the early going. ¬†I was happy to hear that the USA, Canada, and Mexico will be hosting the World Cup in 2026. ¬†I would love to get back in good enough health to attend one of those games or at least one of the festivals in a host city. ¬†Hopefully a city near me, like Kansas City or Denver gets to host a game or two. ¬†I got to see a World Series baseball game in person in 2007. ¬†That was one of the highlights of my mid 20s. ¬†I’m so glad one of my college buddies was able to score a couple tickets.

Other than watching the World Cup tournament and getting back on top of my health, I really haven’t been up to much else. ¬†But with Independence Day coming in a little over a week, I’m sure I’ll be seeing (and hearing) fireworks any day now.