Thoughts on My Upcoming 40th Birthday

I’ll be turning 40 years old in two weeks.  I guess the days drag slowly but the years go fast.  I sometimes lose track of time during the day to day grind.  I’ve been a bit more nostalgic than usual lately.  Been listening more to the music I liked back in college and high school.  While I don’t buy into the whole ‘older music is better than new’, I do like a lot of the things that came out in the late 90s and early 2000s.  But, then again those years were real significant to me.  It was when I was growing into the man I would eventually become.  In those years, I had my first dates, my first kiss, travelled to Mexico for a couple weeks, actually had good physical health, could stay up all night and still do a full day of classes with little more than a couple Pop Tarts and a cup of coffee.

It seems the only true constant in life is change.  I risk sounding like an old man when I say I’m amazed at all the changes I’ve seen just in my lifetime.  I’m old enough I remember the last few years of the Cold War.  Even as a nine year old growing up in rural Nebraska, I knew that the Berlin Wall coming down was significant.  I was in fourth grade when my elementary school got a bunch of Apple II GS computers.  I felt like I joined the future right then and there.  Now those are ancient relics compared to what we have now.  I may sometimes give my elders a hard time for not being comfortable with computers, but my nephews would give me the exact same hard time for being uncomfortable with VR programs and 3D printers.  My thirteen year old nephew set up a VR flying program for my father, a licensed pilot and former Air Force pilot.  I don’t know how to do this.  Maybe I could after watching a few tutorials on youtube, but not until then.

Just in my forty years, I’ve seen computers go from clunky desk tops to fit in your coat pocket supercomputers that happen to make phone calls.  I’ve seen the electric car become reliable.  I’ve seen the internet become as much as a game changer as the printing press and steam engine in previous eras.  Saw 9/11 and the subsequent wars.  Saw China become a world power.  Saw the European Union and Brexit both.  Saw the rise of Populist politics on all sides in many countries.  I’m seeing the Covid 19 pandemic play out in real time.  Saw the rise of robotics and the beginnings of AI.  Saw the Human Genome Project get completed.  Saw the rise of social media and tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.  Saw Apple’s renaissance.  Saw the decline of video rental stores.  I’m witnessing the decline of traditional retail (and many of my previous jobs were in retail).  I’m seeing the beginning of driverless cars (I imagine our grandkids will find that term as quaint as ‘horseless carriage’ was in the early 1900s).  Heck I’m even seeing researchers trying to slow down the aging process.  And these are just the things that are in the headlines everyday.

I don’t know if I have another forty years left in this life, but it has been an exciting ride so far.  I would love to make it to 2060, if for no other reason than to just see what else plays out.  We do live in troubling times, with the pandemic and protests turning violent on an almost daily basis.  I remain hopeful that these are the birth pains of a changed for the better civilization that makes more efforts to not repeat the wrongs of past eras.  Granted, some days it isn’t easy.

April 2 2020

Went to bed right after sunset last night.  Must have slept for over 10 hours.  I had some groceries and medications delivered yesterday.  I have some more groceries coming on Friday morning.  So far I haven’t had a problem getting food.  Cleaning supplies, especially Lysol spray is a different story.

There are now at least a few cases in my town.  Don’t know much else about details.  As far as I know, no one in my complex has gotten ill.  I still haven’t gone out in public since mid March.  I check in on my neighbors every day.  I usually just call them or knock on their door and chat for a minute or two.  I still lift weights.  I can feel the old strength starting to come back.

Been watching an ancient history series on Netflix the last couple days.  Halfway through the series right now.  I think I’m going to watch The Men Who Built America this weekend.  History Channel put out some pretty good series about 8 to 10 years ago.

I have my cleaner coming this afternoon.  Even during a crisis, the place has to stay cleaned up.  I usually just sit in my recliner just to stay out of her way.  She seems to enjoy chatting while she works.

I still talk to my mom and dad every day, usually in the mornings.  My brother and his wife often work from home now.  A friend of mine and her husband are both working from home now in Omaha.

I saw that like six million people in the US alone have filed for unemployment.  Certainly tough times for lots of families.  None of my friends have had to file yet.  A friend of mine in Lincoln has been having coughing and fever for a few days now.  Since she works at a pharmacy she has been taking sick leave.  She was wearing face masks and gloves in public weeks before it became a thing here in the US, especially as she takes public transit to work.

One of my neighbors is planning on planting a vegetable garden once the weather warms up for good.  My mom has already put in a vegetable and flower garden at her house in Oklahoma City.  Most homeowners I personally know are doing this.

Been kind of lazy about reading traditional books this week.  I am reading a lot of online articles even though I try to avoid the news.  Not much I can do besides stay home and wash my hands several times a day.  Been buying groceries more often but in smaller batches.  I don’t buy for two weeks at a time anymore.  I have plenty of non perishables already.  About all I need to buy any more is fresh meat and vegetables.

I saw that the feds approved a stimulus check for most US citizens.  I don’t know if I’ll get a check.  But as I’m debt free and can do alright on my disability pension, I have no clue what I’m doing with it.  Won’t get much letting it sit in a savings account.

April 1 2020 Social Distancing

Got my social security payment this morning.  I ordered a few groceries and supplies.  Mostly meat and cleaning agents.  I should have those delivered this afternoon.  I have to drop off my rent check and do laundry today.  I do my laundry at least once a week.

Still doing well mentally.  I haven’t had a breakdown in over a month now.  I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m holding it together in spite the stressful time we’re in.  I think it helped that I got prepared earlier than most people.  I haven’t even had to leave my apartment complex in over two weeks.  I sleep a lot now.  I usually sleep at least ten hours a day.  I’ve heard sleep helps boost immune defenses and, for me, reduces stress.  I was doing breathing exercises in bed yesterday and was relaxed enough I fell asleep for over three hours.

I actually don’t have much problems with aches and pains except for when I wake up in the mornings.  I make a point of standing up at least once an hour no matter what I’m doing.  I haven’t read much other than online articles this week.  I still watch some youtube videos.  Much of what I watch are videos on the line of what positives will come from this pandemic and what tech will advance faster because of covid 19.  One thing I do see happening is that more companies will allow more work from home options.  Another is that grocery and medication home delivery services will become real popular.  I also see that fewer people will harass others via social media interactions.  I was starting to see this already.  It isn’t as bad now as it was three to five years ago.

I started lifting weights every day.  I just don’t work the same muscles two days in a row.  When I was seriously lifting in high school and college, I usually lifted five to six days a week but worked individual muscles no more than three times a week.

The days are starting to go quicker now.  For the first week of the self quarantine, the days felt like weeks.  It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t leaving my apartment complex, it was that even that option went away.  But, like many things, I adapted within several days.  I do still have some minor maintenance issues in my place that could be taken care of quickly.  But, for now, only vitally necessary maintenance is getting done.  So glad I got my new floor and paint before all this mess hit.

March 18 2020

Been back home for a week now.  Got all the necessary things in the remodel done.  Haven’t left my apartment in two days.  So far I’m doing alright.  Renewed my Netflix subscription and watching some movies and comedy shows I had always wanted to see.  Saw some Monty Python this morning.  Watched some George Carlin skits on St. Patrick’s Day.  I try not to watch the news much.  Sometimes it can get too discouraging.  The best I can do right now is keep my hands washed and avoid large crowds.

I talk to my family at least once a day.  Contact friends on a near daily basis too.  I keep hydrated and take a vitamin C pill every morning.  I started lifting weights again.  I took the previous two weeks off while the remodel was in progress.  I am so glad I got that done when I did.

Overall I’m just preparing to settle in and bunker down for the time being.  Have some money saved up for emergencies.  Hopefully won’t have to go anywhere anytime soon.  Sounds like things are getting crazy out there.  Stay safe and stay calm.

Emergency Preparation and Disability

A few years ago I wrote a couple articles about emergency preparations.  Now that COVID 19 has been officially declared a pandemic, now is a good time to review this.

Some musts people must have include several days worth of emergency food, mainly non perishables that require little to no preparation.  Things like beans, rice, canned foods, jerky, peanut butter (if you are not allergic), honey, several days worth of bottled water in case the water goes out are a good place to start.  The best are things that don’t need to be kept cold and or won’t spoil for a long time.

Other things that will be needed are extra over the counter medications like pain pills, cold medicines, flu medicines, nasal spray, and a first aid kit.  With as overwhelmed as hospitals could become, you may have to rely on yourself, family, and neighbors for anything that isn’t life threatening.

Prescription medications are a problem.  Most places won’t allow you to fill several months worth of medications at once.  It’s simply against the law.  Prescription meds are a tough call.  As for me, I have a set up where I get my meds filled for 90 days at a time.  I also had some samples from doctor’s appointments.  Do not go off your meds, especially anti psych meds.  We’re all already under stress as is.  Going off psych meds during a crisis like we are facing will make things even worse.

Having cash on you may be a good idea, especially if the power goes down or there are bank runs or ATMs run out of cash.  Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when away from home.

Get on good terms with neighbors and family if you aren’t already.  If things get really bad, like survival type situations, you will be glad you have a close by network of neighbors, friends, and family to fall back on.  I am limited mobility now, but I am on good terms with most of my neighbors and my land lady.  It helps that I helped out lots of people when I was still healthy and very mobile.

Also, wash your hands with soap and water.  I can’t stress this enough.  Avoid going out in public if you feel like you have a fever or are getting sick.  Stay home if you have to.  Wearing a face mask is not going to keep you from getting sick.  What it can do is, if you are sick, reduce the spread of germs from you to everyone else.

Finally, we are living in a time and place where history is being made on a daily basis.  Our descendants will be talking about these days years after all of us are gone.  Stay calm and avoid large crowds as much as possible.  Don’t be touching other people unless necessary.  We are living during stressful times.  But most will make it through.

Returning To Stability

It’s been a good day.  Talked to my landlady and I’m going to be having some maintenance work done in my apartment within the next couple days.  I’ll have to be out for a few hours while the work is done.  My neighbors said I could stay with them for the day.  It is work I have been needing done for a few weeks and it is finally being worked on.  One of the reasons I’m glad the holidays are over is that I can now get things accomplished that have been on the back burner for a few weeks.  Holidays are a stressful time for me, partly because almost nothing can get done during the holidays.  This is especially bad in the case of emergencies.

With some of my Christmas money I bought a few cheap games. I also subscribed to Disney +.  Yet most of what I watch is NatGeo.  I did watch Avatar a few days ago.  Hard to believe that movie has been out for over ten years already.

Been sleeping better since I received my new bed.  I also read more too.  I’m currently working on some of the classics I read in my early twenties.  I am keeping myself occupied in spite of the colder weather.  One of the things I like about winter is that I can get a lot of reading done during the long and cold nights.  I’m adapting well to the winter.  Winter and spring have always been my happiest times of year.  Late summers and early fall are usually my toughest times of year.

I’m still lifting weights three times a week.  I definitely feel stronger than I did when I started this routine last March.  I may have not lost weight in 2019 but I didn’t gain any either.  It looks like I have to adjust my eating activities to lose weight.  I want to lose weight, but for health reasons.  I really don’t care about impressing other people that much.  I can do most of my socializing at home anymore.  And my blog I can do from anywhere I can take a laptop and find a wireless internet connection.  I couldn’t have imagined doing what I am doing as a blogger even ten years ago.  Back in the mid 2000s I was still trying to get into writing through literary magazines and traditional publishing.  I probably couldn’t have gotten the audience and platform I have now except via dumb luck before blogging became big.

I still don’t know what this blog can become ultimately.  As it is I try to treat it like a job, even though I don’t make much money at it.  I didn’t know I had much of a talent for writing and story telling until I was in college.  I wouldn’t have figured this out had I never went to college.

Once I get these maintenance issues resolved within the next day or two, I’ll be set for awhile.  Just right in time for the next cold spell to come in.  I enjoy the cold weather.  I love reading with a cup of coffee and reading while under a fleece blanket.  I can hardly wait.

Dealing With Loss, Isolation, and Declining Health

Haven’t written for a few days.  I’m only now recovered from the holidays.  I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that it’s 2020.  I am understanding why my grandmother said that time only goes faster the older you get.  I’m going to be 40 this summer.  Mentally I don’t feel any decline.  If anything, I feel mentally sharper and stronger than ever.  Physically, my body can no longer keep up with my mind.  It’s been this way for a couple years now.  I would love to be able to road trip and visit friends in person and go to concerts and ballgames at a moment’s notice like I did in my late 20s and early 30s.  But the body can no longer keep up.  I don’t know how much of it is aging, how much of it is the toll of two decades fighting a severe mental illness, how much of it is being overweight, etc.  At this point I guess it doesn’t matter either way.  I am pretty much content to stay home, chat with my old friends online, read my books, mess with my computers, and watch the events of our time and place unfold from my apartment.

Found out right before Christmas one of my college classmates died.  He was only 40.  He worked at a mental health hospital and was a compassionate man.  I hadn’t talked to him much since graduation.  I’m glad we found each other on facebook and were able to reestablish contact shortly before he died.  And then just yesterday I found out another college friend’s cancer has come back.  This time it’s terminal.  The doctors told her she has two to five years at most.  Starting to lose my own friends now.

Seeing most of my friends struggle financially has taken a toll on me.  And now that most of them are in declining physical and mental health and even starting to die is making this only worse.  It has gotten me to think about my own mortality far more than ever.  At my last doctor’s appointment, I was relieved to find I was not diabetic.  The only real problem they found was high blood pressure.  I no longer have much for stamina.  That’s one of the reasons I stay home so much.  Going out in public is now enough of an ordeal that I no longer enjoy it.  Add to this that most people I know are more stressed and short tempered than ever, I have no want to leave my apartment.  I have enough problems of my own to catch an ear full from my neighbors and landlord.  Sometimes I get in trouble even just staying at home.  Most people in my complex think I’m moving out or getting evicted because I never go out in public anymore.  Naturally, lots of rumors are going around.  No I’m not moving.  As far as I know, I’m not in danger of being evicted.  Though for the last few years I’ve lived in near constant paranoia that I was.  It’s mainly because most people are just so angry and short tempered constantly.  It didn’t used to be this way.  I actually used to enjoy socializing.  Then three of my best friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other in 2014 and 2015.  From there my social life fell apart.  Other than a few neighbors, I literally have no friends within a fifty mile radius.  I don’t think most people know or care how tough socializing is for a middle aged man with a disability and no immediate family nearby.  I just keep to myself anymore.  I would rather be alone than have to fight with neighbors, coworkers, and complete strangers all the time.

Flare Ups During The Holidays

I’m not doing well today.  I just feel irritable, paranoid, and short tempered.  I cancelled all my plans for the rest of the week.  I am no longer doing well.  I think the stress of the holidays and my home health aide work has gotten to me.  My home health aide things didn’t go well.  I had people dropping in my apartment several times a day.  It got to be too much.  I have accepted that I’m not going to get better, physically or mentally.  I don’t know why no one else can accept this.  I don’t know how much longer I have in this life, I may die of a heart attack in my forties or I may just keep limping along until old age.  I don’t know.  I’m at the point I just want to enjoy whatever time I have left.  I don’t really enjoy the company of most people.  I never have and it has only gotten worse the older I get.  I know most people think I live a terrible life or “below my potential”, but I no longer care.  I have spent most of my life worrying about what other people think and their expectations.  I am sick of it.  I have come to the conclusion that nothing I do or say will ever be good enough for anyone.  It never seems to have been before.  Hell, I can’t remember anyone ever telling me they were proud of me.  I remember many of the compliments because, well, I rarely get them.  I am tired of having to plug away all the time, day after day, year after year, and not only not make progress but not even please anyone.  It burns me to no end.  If I don’t please you or anyone else, keep it to yourself.  I no longer care.  I’m tired of fighting a fight that, even if I win, the victory won’t be good enough for anyone.

December 3 2019

Had my annual physical checkup this morning.  Sadly I haven’t lost any weight since last year, yet I didn’t gain any either.  The really strange thing is my clothing fits better than even last year.  I don’t know if it’s because I gained muscle or if I’m just delusional again.  I started on a blood pressure medication.  Not surprised as my dad has been taking blood pressure medications for over thirty years.  My lab results will be coming back in a day or two.  The big things I got taken care of was the new blood pressure medication, new prescription for a cpap machine, got the paperwork going to try to get some home health aide programs, and just getting everything up to speed again.

I had a physical back in summer 2018.  Shortly after I developed serious agrophobia.  I got to where I was fearful of driving.  I finally sold my car several weeks ago.  I heard it went to a good home.  I got to where I wouldn’t even leave my home most days.  I was just that fearful of being out in public.  And just spending time at home no doubt made my physical health worse and led to the paranoia and phobias just building on themselves.  When I was out in the parking lot waiting for my ride to the doctor’s office, I had two residents who thought I had moved out.  No I haven’t moved out.  I am just home bound most days.

Things have been going down hill for me for right on five years now.  I had three good friends die within six months of each other.  They all lived in my complex.  Then I had another friend die in 2016, also in my complex.  I had my car accident in 2015.  That was the beginning of the end of my road trips.  After that car accident, I went into a deep depression and gained well over 100 pounds in three years.  I had a few rounds of physical therapy.  But that car accident really took most of my confidence.  2016 and 2017 were even more depressing as I had falling outs with most of my family and friends, mostly over politics and religion.  I am still not on speaking terms with much of my family or some of my old college friends.  The whole thing has become a mess I am too overwhelmed to deal with.

I tried to talk to an old friend about toning it down some, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with it.  Told me it was my fault for being so sensitive and triggered.  Well, screw you!  If we as a civilization have gotten to where we no longer care about friends’ emotional health and generally don’t care about empathy, then I want no part of it.  I don’t understand people who care more about politics and religion than their oldest friends.  I never will.  Hell, I don’t want to understand people like that.  The only real positive that has come out of everything falling apart for me is that I got to find out what friends and family were genuine and which ones were frauds.  Sadly I lost most of my friends and don’t talk to most of my family besides my parents and a couple cousins.  Yes I said frauds.  If you care more about your precious damn politics than you do friends and family, you are a fraud.  End of discussion.  This is not open to debate.  You will not be responded to.  You were never a good person.  I’m glad you are out of my life.  Don’t ever come back.

Random Thoughts On A Saturday Night

Been snowing on and off the last few days.  So I have just stayed home and admired the snow while watching football or listening to music.  Haven’t read much the last few days, not even articles.  I have found that I actually remember what I hear in audiobooks more than what I read in regular books.  I don’t read very fast anymore.  And when I do, I find myself stopping every half hour or so just to think over what I’ve read.  It’s a terrible way to try to read novels, but it’s perfect for heavy reading like philosophy and science books.

I guess winter is here.  Not that it bothers me any.  Spring is usually my favorite time of year, followed by winter.  I love the chilly weather, long nights, and not feeling pressured to go out all the time.  I enjoy the holidays more as I don’t venture out into the stores and fight the crowds anymore.  What Christmas shopping I do is all online now.  I got too much sensory overload from going to stores.  Too many bright lights, too many people, and too much noise.

I haven’t had much for flare ups for a few weeks now.  I think it helps that I am spending more time with my neighbors.  I usually see them once a day, sometimes twice.  Last weekend they spent an entire afternoon at my place.  I think it’s helping ease some of my stress and anxiety about people.  I have become quite fearful of crowds the last several months.  And the fact that most of the time when people wanted to talk to me, they were angry or I was in trouble.  For awhile, this made me very paranoid.  Sometimes I would have panic attacks when I heard people talking in the hallway.  Sometimes I wouldn’t answer my phone even if it was a friend or family member.  I have gotten over that recently.  I still answer even if it’s an obvious telemarketer.  But rather than get upset, I just hang up after a few seconds.  It’s not the most polite thing to do, but it’s not as bad as yelling at the person or machine on the other end.  About the only time I don’t answer my phone is when I’m taking a bath or a nap.

I’m also having fewer aches and pains.  The worst are always when I first wake up in the morning.  And when I sit down for more than a couple hours, I can be kind of sore for the first minute I’m standing up.  Anymore I almost always make a point to stand up at least once every hour, even while I’m on serious projects.  I still lift weights three times a week.  I think I’ve lost weight.  I don’t know if I really have, but my clothes fit better, I recover from being out of breath faster, I recover from anxiety and irritability quicker, I sleep better, and my back doesn’t hurt as often.  I still stay seated most of time when I have guests or my cleaning lady is doing her work, but it’s just so I don’t get in the way now.  Even the shirts I bought a few months ago are now kind of baggy.  I still wear a lot of sweat pants and cargo shorts, but it’s mainly because they are so comfortable and I do most of my work and shopping from home.

I sold my car a few weeks ago.  I sold it to a friend of my parents who was needing more reliable transport.  And I wasn’t driving much as I have found I can do almost everything from home now.  I was also getting kind of unnerved about driving too.  It’s just too much going on all at once.  I admit to getting distracted and sensory overload easily.  It’s just best that I don’t be out on the road anymore.  And if I desperately really need to go anywhere, my town does have a few taxi cabs and a few Uber drivers now.  My brother and his wife live in Oklahoma City and they usually hire Uber drivers when they need to go to and from the airport to avoid paying for a parking space.  I have an account, but haven’t actually used it yet.  I don’t miss driving that much.  It was just becoming more of a hassle than it was worth.  I enjoyed going on road trips all the time when I was in my twenties and early thirties.  But as I have gotten a few years older, I pretty much enjoy spending most of my time at home in the company of family or friends.  I’m glad I travelled when I was young and in more stable health.

I don’t regret any of the travels I did.  Actually, there really isn’t much I regret about my life so far.  Sure I regret getting schizophrenia, but it’s not like I had any say in that.  But I’ve made my peace and adapted accordingly.  I know it’s popular right now to be nostalgic about the past and be convinced that the world is going to hell.  Yet, for me, there isn’t any time in history I would want to be at other than the here and now.  If I had been born in my grandparents’ generation, I wouldn’t have had decent medications and would have been lifelong institutionalized if I was lucky.  As it is, I can live more or less independent and on poverty level wages because of medications, social safety nets like disability insurance and Medicaid.  Thanks to computers and internet, I have easy access to almost any kind of information I want within reason.  That alone would make the scholars of any previous era jealous.  And I get access to this treasure trove of information for the cost of one dollar per day.  I find myself looking up things all the time, even useless information like when I’m talking football statistics with my friends or family.  I couldn’t have done this twenty five years ago.  And now that slightly over 50 percent of the world’s population now has internet access, it is starting to no longer be considered a luxury.  For me, it’s an absolute necessity for my current lifestyle.  I’ll take easy internet access over flying cars and meals in pill form any time.