I’m ready to start a new chapter of my life. One in which I am not depressed.
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(sometimes is implied, but now is one of those sometimes, so….. )
Is there any reason I really need to deal with people? Is there a law? Can I just be a hermit?
I know I’m not the only one. People are complaining about having to learn online, as if the way we taught before was ideal. People learn in different ways. So, the way it was couldn’t have been working for everyone. Some might like online better, but the ones who don’t are screaming the loudest. “So some people die,” they think or say, “but my child can’t adapt. He or she will fall behind. And also, I don’t know how to teach.” First, yes, we do have to put together some of that ingenuity we brag about in the US to solve the problem. There may be better ways to do online learning. But let’s also acknowledge that children are more resilient than adults. Kids can adapt. They weren’t learning the old way because it was best or because they like it better, they were doing it because that’s how adults told them to. They didn’t have a choice.
Socializing is important. Unless you want to be a hermit, like I do, but school isn’t the only place to socialize people, and certainly not the safest place, these days, and not everyone’s socialization experience in school is positive. What if they aren’t popular? What if they don’t have friends?
I’m reminded of that Lewis Black routine where he’s talking about this lifesized Barbie doll they were selling that was designed so that your kid could wear Barbie’s clothes. “That is,” he says, “Unless your kid is too fat!”
Or what if they’re bullied? What if they just hate school for any other reason?
They are trapped in something they didn’t design. Now they’re trapped in something different that they didn’t design. What’s the big deal? Can we just go with the flow. The pandemic has thrown us a curve.
It could work better for some that’s all I’m saying. And the others can adjust their swing.
We could stand to re-evaluate how we teach and learn, and maybe this is just the push that we need.
Why complain about having to learn online, when often we weren’t even learning in person (and spending a hell of a lot of time in school to not learn). We push STEM on people who are going to quit it at the first opportunity, and meanwhile those with potential in STEM have to suffer through classes with those who couldn’t care less.
I hate school too. School sucks. It sucked when I was in it, and it sucked up until this pandemic. We spend too much time learning things we could learn in less time and that we often don’t need. By the time we’re done, we go get a job that 73 times out of 100 doesn’t relate to what we studied.
I don’t know why all this means I hate people. I guess it’s cause most people don’t see it that way.
And that’s just one example of things that I see differently than other people. I’m tired of it.
I’m not saying people need to agree with me, I’m just saying I hate them if they don’t.
I’m sure some of the two of you who read my blog agree with me, or at least see my point or accept it without judgment*. And if you don’t, if you like me, for some reason, then I like you too. Especially when you’re out there in the cloud and I can’t be sure you’re real. That makes it easier.
*that said, it just occurs to me that one of my recent two readers used to teach in the NYC system – I read your posted bio. Please don’t take offense, I’m generalizing. I had some great teachers. Teachers are beautiful people. Mostly. I will say that the schools I liked the best were the ones with the worst reputations. Those were the schools where the teachers had more freedom to be innovative, I guess, because they had to. Necessity is the mother of invention don’t you know?
My biggest regret in life is that I didn’t nurture my idealism. I succumbed to the notion that idealism is naive, unrealistic and unachievable. But what is the point if that’s true? Might as well just die.
Maybe it is naive. Maybe you can’t have it all. But knowing what you want can guide you in your negotiations through life. If you at least try to shoot for the moon, you don’t always have to let those motherfuckers win. Those motherfuckers who want to ruin everything.
And I mean everything. I want the world to be a better place. I’m idealistic in that way. But I also, just personally, want what makes me happy. I’m idealistic in that way too.
For this, I need a simple life. I don’t want all the things that surround me to remind me only of what is now, and to block out what I may continue to forget. I want the space to discover, no to remember, to at least feel something of what I brought with me, what I was, as far back as I possibly existed, and I don’t know how long that is, but I suspect it is longer than we typically think.
It’s not that I don’t want to move on. I don’t want to get stuck in the past, it’s that I want to keep what I earned, and also to pay what I owe.
I want it all.
And I want that for everyone else too.
Is that so maladjusted?
Is so then maybe I should join the “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”
I took a vacation. I even took a plane to get there.
Was it great?
Is it great to be back?
You must answer yes to both questions or it wasn’t worth it.
I’m depressed as all fuck to be back. The vacation itself was ok, but I got out of my routine. I ate, I drank, I hiked, but I didn’t read or write or bike.
I was depressed enough before I left. Now I’m more depressed.
I hate vacations. I wouldn’t mind going someplace by myself though, especially if I can just stay as long as I want and do what I want. Because I hate my life too. I hate working. I hate spending money that I would prefer not to earn in the first place.When do I get to go home to something like I used to be or think or dream of?
Your story is the story of everyone who was alive when you were born. That’s the story you started with and that’s what you continue with. As life goes on more and more of the people that are a part of your story die off. If you’re the last one to die, you win.
And that’s the end of your story. nothing continues after that. New people were born, of course, and they continue, but you were part of their story, not the other way around. You were here already when they were born.
I work for a company that is accepting of diversity. They have good policy towards LGBTQIA+ and they are taking the right stance on Black Lives Matter and other issues that affect people of color. Whether it bears out in practice, I’m not the one to say. But leadership does push the right buttons to get people on board. They recognize, rightly so, that it’s not just the right thing to do, but that we won’t be at our best unless we can bring our whole selves to work, and they encourage us to do that, because it helps the business. Makes me wish that I could feel at home here too. But what if you don’t know who you are? What if the only thing you hide from your co-workers is how lazy you can be? Should you tell them that?
And if the underlying cause of laziness is depression? Or maybe you really do hate your job, and it’s not the depression talking. What if the job is the cause of your depression?
Should you bring that whole self to work?
When people say that they want to find themselves, most think that’s an excuse to indulge a sense of entitlement. Admittedly who among us knows how to go about it efficiently?
Here’s what I think. I think that when you set out to find yourself, all you really want to know is what makes you happy. To figure that out you need to forget convention, forget what other people think. Whether something is right for them or not, has nothing to do with you.
I imagine that if I ever found myself, I would no longer be jealous of other people. That’s how I’d know. I’m jealous of anyone with a cause, women, black people, native Americans. I’m jealous of retired people, and of anyone who looks happy, or has something I think would make me happy whether it makes them happy or not. I’m even jealous of people who have lost their parents, for the freedom and independence, and who are divorced, also for the freedom and independence. That’s the desperation of someone who hasn’t acted for himself and worries too much about what other people think.
I’ve had some cameras that I thought were top quality, an Olympus 35mm for awhile, when they thought a lot of themselves, like they were the top choice of the professionals, and they might have been, I don’t know. They used to brag about how many lenses they had. So many options. A lens for every situation. I only had one, the one that came with the camera, a nice 50mm lens that got as wide as, what was it, something ridiculous, like, 1.2 or something. I bought a couple more lenses, but they were third party, Sigma, Tokina, and I liked them too. Well rated by consumer’s report.
I took that camera on a cross country trip and shot a lot of film. It was mostly a manual camera, but it needed a small battery for metering that never lasted, so I sold it eventually. It would actually shoot without the battery only at 1/60th of a second, and without metering, so you’d have to guess – I should have learned to do that, though it could be expensive to experiment back in the film days.
Then I had a Canon Rebel for awhile. I took a lot of photos with it in the early years of family.
I look at my old pictures now and realize that there’s a soft focus about them. I took a lot of landscapes because when I travelled, I wanted to more than document my trip, I wanted art. I thought that an artsy photo would only include what I was there to see, and an amateurish photo would have us in it. I did also like to take pictures of people, just not us, but also the mountain wouldn’t look at you funny if you take a picture of it. I guess I could have asked a person, “is it ok to take your picture?” But then it’s posed, and I hate posed pictures, for the most part. I was with someone once who asked a guy whether she could take his picture, and he said no. She said, “no?” He repeated, “no.” And she didn’t take the picture. So, I took mostly landscapes.
Landscapes are where a professional’s technique shows, and I didn’t have all that. I really didn’t have the patience for it. I assume it was me and not my equipment, although I didn’t have the best money could buy either. You can tell the professionals; their pictures have unreal clarity. People have a lot to offer in terms of character, such that you can forgive some technical imperfection, or just be satisfied with a certain standard you don’t have to go beyond. Photojournalism even more so, because it’s the content that matters, and they’ll take the best they can get.
But I like my photos. To me that’s how I remember the places, just a little fuzzy. Memory is always a blur, amirite? and a photo like that reminds me that things aren’t so still. Time never stops like in a photo. No matter how perfectly a person can recreate with a photo everything you could possibly have seen (and couldn’t see), it’s always going to feel woefully incomplete. You’ll never hear that creak, feel that breeze, smell that grass (or manure). A perfect image reinforces that so much is missing. Why not go impressionistic in general? Something can be abstract and still representational. It can hint more effectively at all of it, if it also just hints at what you would see. We don’t want to focus so hard. You’ll miss it.
A thought just occurred to me. What am I supposed to do about biking when winter comes?
Also, my bike is making a noise dammit. Might need to be oiled somewhere. I should have kept up the maintenance, but you can’t get in to see anyone anymore. Also thinking about ordering new tires, just in case. And new brakes. They work, but they make a noise. I think it’s normal, but I haven’t replaced them in the 13 years I’ve had the bike. Thirteen years sounds like a lot, but in use, it’s much fewer years. What is the average that a person uses a bike in a year? I’m sure I’ve been below it, especially if you exclude people who don’t use their bikes at all and therefore effectively don’t have bikes. “A person who doesn’t read, holds no advantage over one who can’t,” as Mark Twain said.
They maintain airplanes based on miles flown, so how many miles have I flown? That’s what matters. My new app will tell me, at least going forward. My total miles 43.1. My longest single day ride was 10, since measurements began in the 2020s. And that happened yesterday.
My new stem makes a difference. I still think the crank is too big, but I am able to raise the seat a little. My knees feel a little less strained, though it still feels like that’s where the muscles are that I’m using most. And that doesn’t make sense to me.
Is this really a blog post? Interesting thoughts in it? More like a journal. I don’t want to post things that are boring. On the other hand, I’m not a good judge of that, and I don’t want to give up writing, and no one reads this anyway, so why do I care if it’s good, or how sure I am of it.
Yes, another biking post, three in a row now, that could get old. On the other hand, reasons. I could come up with dozens of reasons to give up writing. Dozens.
Weird way to measure isn’t it? I could give up for multiples of 12 reasons. Is that so many more than multiples of 10? Depends on how many multiples.
Scores of reasons. Are scores more than multiples of 10? Or Dozens? Well, if you know that a score is 20, then you might say yes, but I would argue that they are the same. Infinity plus one is still infinity. Multiples of any amount, if you don’t define the multiple can be anything, and two anythings are always equal. That could have been the thesis for my senior project if I had stayed at Bard College, and stayed in mathematics. It would have been hilarious, if not right. Maybe I would have failed and then gone on to use the story in a lucrative career doing stand up.
It may be the reason I have struggled with depression much of my life. Could it be that simple? That I didn’t ride my bike enough?
It might be a little bit too early to come to that conclusion, I only just recommitted myself to riding, but I’m going with it.
I hated myself early, too early to know exactly when, but I remember saying it into the mirror. “I hate myself.” Probably 4th or 5th grade. Jr High School had it’s ups and downs, the last year of it, 9th grade, was my favorite year of school. I made friends I still have (or again, thanks Facebook). I played drums. I smoked pot. High school was tough though, which I often attributed to my own choice of schools, In NYC we had some choices. I chose Music over Drama (Music and Art over Performing Arts – two schools which later merged into one. The latter was the subject of the movie Fame). I chose distance over proximity to home, so, sometimes I’ve blamed the commute, 45 minutes each way by subway. Sometimes I’ve just blamed myself, and my own insecurities.
But in the summers when I was dragged to Connecticut by my parents, someplace I didn’t want to go, my brothers and I rode our bikes all day every day. We would start with 6 miles to a park and rec program in the town, where we would play softball and soccer and other games until noon, then we would ride back, more often than not taking the “scenic” route. We explored, we discovered. We knew our way around better than our parents, every road. We would re-appear to take a dip in the Long Island sound when we got hot, and then back on our bikes. One year we decided to ride to an annual family weekend trip to Shelter Island. The rest of the family drove, but my brothers and I rode to New London, took a ferry, crossed long island, and took another ferry to Shelter Island. On the way back we averaged 20 mph for 20 miles to catch the ferry back to New London which left only once an hour. My older brother led the way, I was next as our younger brother disappeared from view. I tried to catch up to tell our older brother we needed to wait, but I couldn’t. So we arrived on time, and as the ferry was about to leave without us, here comes our younger brother around the curve. He rode right onto the boat, as we walked on to the applause from other passengers. I’m remembering it accurately. We were famous. And we were in really good shape.
I’d end those summers excited to return to school, a feeling which would last a week until I fell back into my more typical funk. I sometimes attributed my happiness during those summers to pot smoking, wondering if I would have been happy if I had smoked more consistently throughout my life, but now I see it was a combination of the two, with much more credit due to the exercise than I have typically ascribed.
I dreampt, back then, of biking across Europe or the US. I wanted to bike everywhere. I didn’t think that through, never made a plan, how I would climb the Rockies, or carry supplies, like a tent, a change of clothes, for example. But I believed. In those days I believed in possibilities.
So now I’m back, easing into a daily routine. I biked 10 miles today, not like the old days, but hell, that’s ok. I am also content to get through one Spanish lesson on duolingo and one on Mango each day and it’s doable. It will take me 2 years to get through them all, but what’s two years when I’ve spent decades in failure?
Even just that feels great. And I’m beginning to lose weight. Well, muscle weighs more than fat, but my stomach is shrinking. I even feel overmedicated for my thyroid, so I cut my dose. Regular exercise of one hour per day significantly improves thyroid function according to a study in India.
Was this all I needed to do to be my best self? All this time? Crazy right?
I don’t want to obsess about lost opportunities. Yes, it might have been nice to be happy for most of my life, but whatever. What else would have been different that I don’t want to be changed at this point? More importantly, it’s not too late. Does this mean I can actually be happy? Have I finally figured it all out?
I knew it would seem simple once it came to me.
So I checked the weather last night and it didn’t look like rain but you can’t believe weather people. I check every night, but I sometimes feel that when I start into a good routine, God throws obstacles in my way. It’s as if I’m not supposed to be happy, or maybe I’m supposed to learn to persevere, I don’t know. But I keep waking up, stretching, getting my water bottle ready, dressing up in my t shirt and shorts (I don’t wear “the uniform”) and socks and sneakers. I tie my shoes (I’m just trying to make this sound like a lot). And then I step outside to discover it’s raining. Today was one of those days. Once before I ran instead of biking, because I was scared to bike in the rain, but I hate running. I need to bike.
So, I did some internet research. Turns, out, you can ride in the rain. The skinny tires of road bikes actually don’t hydroplane. You just have to a little careful to brake slowly and not take turns too fast. So I went anyway!
It’s a little bit of an exaggeration to say it was raining. When I first stepped outside it was drizzling. Once I hit the road, it was wet, but it didn’t rain anymore. When I rode beneath trees, they dropped a little bit of rain they had been saving just for me, to reward me for my efforts (thank you, that was sweet), but other than that it’s not raining on me anymore.