Time is What You Make It

The internet is a buzz with hate for 2016. It was a challenging year for our household personally as well as the world at large on the political and cultural fronts. I started early with spending December and January soothing myself with Deadpool comics. I didn’t even bother to add a page on the blog to track my reading for the year that later gets abandoned (Is it laziness or tradition at this point? I don’t know.)

I remained in a funk for a long time, simply getting myself to the next event to look forward to on the calendar. The Deadpool movie in February, my brother meeting us in Atlanta for Treklanta in April, Kate driving out for a visit before Memorial day and ConCarolinas afterward. One foot in front of the other, because what else do you do?

At some point, I became restless with a steady diet of work, junk food and sofa-sitting until bedtime. I started meditating again over the summer. I also completed a prescribed course of physical therapy for shoulder pain and have used the exercises daily take the edge off a problem which had become increasingly worse.

When Chris decided to give the diet plan Penn Jillette lost 100 pounds in 90 days on as detailed in his book Presto. We started after DragonCon, on September 8th. To date, I’ve lost 52 pounds and Chris has lost 100. We had some planned “off diet” meals over the holidays so the rate of loss had slowed down since Thanksgiving, but we are incredibly motivated by our success.

There is one more leg to the stool I’ve built in the back half of the year.

By happenstance, a Facebook friend who I’ve never met in person, posted about Stoic Week. I’d learned about Stoicism and begun to adopt the thinking as a underlying principle after reading The Obstacle is the Way, but I have recommitted and refocused to practicing stoic living. I am looking forward to starting 2017 with The Daily Stoic as a devotional practice.

I’ve always considered the calendar rather arbitrary, especially deciding something magical happens between 11:59 pm, December 31st and 12:00 am, January 1st. Both stoicism and mindfulness cultivate a focus on the present with stoicism calling for virtuous action and mindfulness proving the peace of mind to carry out that action. Self-determination as well as acceptance of things beyond our control. This is what I wish for myself in 2017 as well as for others.

JOBS AND CAREERS

I started training at a new job on Monday. It’s a call center, not my first one by a long shot. After almost two years working retail, I’m ready to go back to taking calls. Part of me never quite got used to only working part time. Or at least the part about not having anywhere to go hang out with people five days a week.

As is my habit online, I don’t tend to disclose the details of my employment. I can say I’m excited at this opportunity. Unlike my previous call center jobs, this is a small company with plenty of room to grow. A friend who has been there six months loves the company culture.

What I can’t seem to decide for the life of me is wither I’m content in the long run to be an hourly wage cog or if I have the ambition and drive to pursue promotion. I find companies place more focus on people looking to climb the ladder, but a really good employee who wants to stay on the bottom rung, meets goals and has a positive outlook can be just as much an asset.

My thoughts on the matter flip-flop more than I care to admit. Both approaches have appeal. Advancement means greater job satisfaction, closer relationships with colleagues and influence over my work environment. Of course, money has appeal, but not enough for it’s own sake to decide the issue. Staying put and focusing on being the best possible agent, a valuable member of the team and a resource for my teammates, has it’s rewards. It’s less stressful, certainly, and I can leave work at work. Gainful employment for the purpose of making a living is perfectly honorable. I am not lacking in passions outside of my job. My personal life and hobbies overflow with goodness. My identity isn’t based on my career.

Of course, these concerns are merely theoretical seeing it’s my first week in a new job. I cannot help thinking on it as I picture my role as trainee morphing into a care agent and possibly what lays beyond.

Worse still, I have struggled with this dichotomy pretty much since the beginning of my professional life.

I do realize I’m not alone in these distinctly first world problems.

I’ve been blessed with a solid employment record and a personality interviewers like, so I’ve never spent more than a month looking for a job. And, realistically, even if I fell on hard times, I’ve got so many people – first and foremost Chris – who wouldn’t let me go without the basic necessities of life, I don’t worry about keeping body and soul together.

Plenty of humor lives in the idea that only those of us who are sufficiently well-off are able to worry about things like fulfilling potential and aspirations. I’m 98% sure Douglas Adams commented on the irony on a galactic scale, but the details escape me at the moment.

A YEAR IN SOUTH CAROLINA

A year ago today, I set foot in South Carolina for the first time and moved to South Carolina all at the same time. I’d signed a lease by mail and made plans to stay as much as a lifelong nomad such as myself ever makes such plans. A couple suitcases and two months living expenses were all I brought with me.

It was a leap of faith at best. At worst, an insane risk doomed to failure. I figured somewhere in the middle to be closest to the truth. Following my gut and my heart (after running ideas past my brain) is usually the way I make the best decisions. My prayer during the planning phase was simple, “If I’m not supposed to do this, throw up roadblocks. If I’m supposed to be there, clear the way.”

My reasons for coming aren’t the same reasons I’m happy to stay, but I’m where I meant to be. Again, saying a lot for someone who has lived as many places as I have. I could easily make this post about my relationship with Chris – we meet the Thursday after Dragon*Con (Labor Day weekend, for the non-geeks) – and other people with whom I cannot imagine my life without as they are central to why I am here. Location has never been as important to me as people. Everywhere I’ve ever lived has it’s good and bad points, but mostly you go about the business of life similarly regardless of where you live.

Still, my new hometown deserves some love. I live in Simpsonville, South Carolina. It’s a good sized berg, home to over 18,000 people. It’s right up against Greenville, the largest city in Upstate South Carolina. Along with Spartanburg, it makes for a pretty impressive metropolitan area. After my last two long term hometowns, Farmington, Missouri and Sheridan, NY, being extremely small and rural, it’s a treat to have a plethora of shopping, dinning and cultural events within twenty minutes of my doorstep.

I have found the area to be less of a culture shock than I anticipated. It is, after all, The South. I have found four years in the rural Midwest to have cushioned the effect. Plus, the area is full of people who came from all over seeking jobs, low taxes and a mild climate. I have learned to call a shopping cart a “buggy” or at least not giggle when other people do. I am fascinated by the wide range of accents I hear from people born and raised here. Those who appear to be without, those who hit certain words and show their roots, and a few people I can hardly understand. People are friendly and polite in a genuine way.

The climate was my biggest worry. I do poorly in the heat. But, you know what? I’m a geek. I stay inside as much as possible anyway. I’ve spent the summer in air conditioning and it’s all good. The pool at our apartment complex is open until 10 pm, so I get my swim in without getting overheated or sunburned. I have enough sense to stay hydrated and I’m perfectly fine. Now, if I was the outdoor type, the transition may have been harder. Winter was a breeze. We had snow on Christmas – just enough to be pretty – and a week of icy, snowy crud in January. If it got colder than 30 or so degrees, I didn’t notice.

So, South Carolina, on this date – our first anniversary – I’ve got to say, I’m liking you a whole lot. Even though I’m heading out the door momentarily for Atlanta, I’ll be home right after Dragon*Con.

CUTTING THE CABLE

I canceled my cable in November.

 

I wasn’t trying to cut back on my television consumption. Nor do I deny the value of the programming available. It’s popular to talk about how bad, shallow and devoid of intellect the old boob tube is. I’ve said for years, it all depends on what you watch. I admit my enjoyment of all sorts of random programs. History Channel or Discovery Health in the middle of the night? Yes, please.

 

Here’s the thing: I moved into my apartment the first of September and started cable service within a week. I opted not to get a DVR since I was living alone and my schedule, at the time, was wide open. I set a reminder on my Blackberry for the two first run shows I cared about seeing. Big Bang Theory, of course, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

 

After watching the first episodes of the new season of SVU, I found I simply didn’t care. It is impossible to say if the change was me or the show. The Law & Order franchises where something I’d always watched with my ex making it a part of a different time in my life. Plus,  I’ve seen so many episodes of the various incarnations the stories had begun to run together.  I’ll always think of myself as an Law & Order person, but it was clear I needed a break.

 

I went along for a while watching Big Bang Theory on Thursday night. It was an event. I’d typically bake off some refrigerated cookie dough and brew tea to enjoy while I watched in bed because I didn’t own living room furniture. Even with all the excitement in my life lately, that half hour was a highlight of my week.

 

One Thursday night in October, I turned on my modestly sized flat screen to the realization it was tuned to CBS. I racked my brain to figure out what I’d been watching when it hit me: Big Bang Theory is the only CBS show I’ve ever watched on a regular basis. I hadn’t so much as turned on the TV in an entire week.

 

It was strange to come to this place from television as my primary source of entertainment for years. Man, I’d loved my DVR.

 

I struggled with the decision to give up Big Bang Theory. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much. But Sheldon’s love for Spock makes my love for Spock seem normal and proportionate.

 

Lucky for me, CBS.com began streaming episodes of Big Bang Theory a few days after airing on the network. Problem solved!

BAZINGA!

PLANS FOR 2011

I have not resolved to reform my procrastination this year, clearly, or I would have written about New Year’s resolutions, plans and goals sometime before the middle of January.

Even now I struggle to explain where I am in relation to where I was a year ago to anyone who hasn’t shared the journey with me. I spent a few minutes reading over what I wrote about plans for 2010 on my old blog. So much has changed. It is disorienting to attempt to see life from through the eyes of the woman I was twelve short months ago. If she only knew what goodness waited for her, maybe the transition wouldn’t have been so hard.

What I planned last year got preempted by life altering events I could not have predicted when I sat down to blog my yearly “looking back” and “looking forward” year end posts. I tend to do similar reflection around my birthday. I wasn’t blogging much when I turned thirty in August, but rest assured by August 2011, I will have much to reflect upon.

I don’t reflect much these days as I am busy living. When I do it is with a thankful heart. I have survived much and have a life I never imagined. It’s not without challenges, but perfection isn’t a requirement for happiness.

Over the last few months of 2010, the puzzle pieces of my life have come together in a shape they will likely hold to through 2011. I spend as much time as possible with my beloved Chris.  I am working two jobs, neither of which I intend to discuss on this blog. I have great friends, some who have been with me for years and some who have joined my life recently. They are invaluable. Life moves on day by day in predictable pattern.

I do have a handful of goals for the year.

First, I’ll be getting my driver’s license as soon as possible. My typical explanation, as with so much in my life, as to why I’ve never had one is “it’s complicated.”

After that, I will be considering the merits of replacing two jobs with one full-time gig. Again, will likely not discuss job situations on the blog. I’ve never had trouble finding work, but I do not know if there is anything I desire for a career beyond working whatever job comes to hand. Unlike last year, when I was determined to go to college at great personal sacrifice, I am unsure if formal education is necessary or practical for me.

My overall goal – the one I would dub a resolution – is to cook actual meals. Wrapped up in cooking is eating healthy stuff in portions appropriate to allow continued progress on the weight loss I managed in 2010. I don’t want to have to “diet” but rather would like to develop healthy eating habits. It’s easier for me to motivate myself to cook for two, so I including feeding Chris in this resolution. It will be easier to accomplish when we are living under the same roof (we’re working on details), but even now I can and do put together meals. I’d like to do some batch cooking with portioned out left overs to avoid the trap of eating out or eating badly when life gets busy. And life is always busy.

So far, I can report some success in the kitchen. I ordered spices online to made Indian food, the followed through and cooked something. I made Chicken Tikka Masala. It was so good. Even better, Chris loved it. I’d never considered myself the domestic type, but given the chance, it appears I am. As I get more confident in the kitchen, I intend to launch my food blog, OgleFood. I’ve owned the domain for, maybe, three years. I love the idea of lots of pictures and a celebration of good food.

While I joke about procrastination, I am working on my time management skills. Blast and darn you interwebs with all your goodness. I can waste infinite amounts of time – the only asset I haven’t found a way to stretch. I have piles of books I want to read, unwritten blog posts, and hundreds of hours in movies and tv shows to watch. If only I could quit sleep. Short of that, I can only do my dead level best to put every minute toward something worthwhile. I expect mixed results. Realistic expectations are a key to happiness, after all.

I learned enough in 2010 to know I can’t plan for everything, so I’m content to otherwise let 2011 happen as it happens. We’ll meet back here in a eleven months to discuss, okay?