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Too short for a proper blog post, here's a blurb about what's going on with me right now.

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2023-12-01 Status

The good:

  • Had a really nice time at Thanksgiving at my parents' in LA. Chase met them for the first time, and everybody seemed to get along well.
  • While in LA, Chase and I had breakfast with the oldest of my younger sisters, Jacqueline, from whom I'd been estranged for almost two decades. While it was a bit odd to feel guarded and to be avoiding many elephants in the room, it was pleasant, and it was a good step in the direction of healing our relationship. I'm cautiously optimistic.
  • I finished my cut, though with mixed results.
  • Chase continues to enjoy The Next Generation, even though it's season 1, and it hasn't even hit its stride yet!
  • Overall, my health continues to be on an upward trajectory.
  • I'm continuing to make progress on my parenthood journey.
  • My plants are doing well overall.

The bad:

  • I came home from Thanksgiving feeling a bit under the weather. I had a bad headache for several days and a tickle in my throat. (Thankfully, it passed by the middle of the next week.)
  • It got too cold in my house while I was gone (my Nest Thermostat is busted), and that wasn't great for my plants.
  • The fungus gnat situation with my plants is totally out of control and getting really irritating.
  • Max has had some behavioral issues.
  • I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed with everything I need to finish by the end of the year.
  • Even though my caloric intake on the bulk I started has ramped up to just under my maintenance range, I've been gaining a lot of weight back. It's not terrible, but it's frustrating, since it's not accompanied by any strength gains or much reduction in fatigue or hunger.
  • My 96-year-old grandfather fell and broke his leg in the last week (requiring surgery), and given his declining health, that's worrisome.
  • It took 5 hours of my effort for AT&T to port an existing line in from another carrier into my account, despite all the proper unlocking etc on the other carrier's side in advance.

The ugly:

  • Despite numerous attempts to clean it with various enzymatic agents and methods, my entryway still smells like a urinal because of Murrby's desire to pee on the floor there.
  • I'm super frustrated with numerous issues with a lot of technology in my life:
    • Google Nest Hub / Google Assistant, and their inability to control the correct lights
    • Pixel Watch
    • Pixel Buds Pro
    • Nest Thermostat
    • Google Headlines in Discover (always showing me "news" about murder, war, death, rape, violence, etc, as well as sports for some reason)
    • Fi Collar
    • Intuit Mint
    • just random bugs across tons of apps and websites

2023-11-13 Status

The good:

  • I'm succeeding at tricking my plants (tomatoes, jalapeños, spearmint, chives, onion, basil) into thinking it's a different season than it actually is by keeping my house quite warm and putting a humidifier on them.
  • I'm feeling a little bit better with respect to my motivation levels and my suspected Long COVID.
  • I feel like I have a handle on my never-ending to-do list, and I'm more organized in Workflowy.
  • I've been doing really well with getting to bed early (often around 20:00) and waking up early (often around 04:30) to get more personal/routine stuff done earlier in the day so that I have more headspace throughout the day to focus on work and other priorities.
  • In the last week of my 16-week cut (fat-loss phase), I'm down roughly 35 lbs from 222 lbs after my bulk (muscle-gain phase).
  • I got my new, custom-designed snowboard.
  • No new incidences in the last few weeks of Murrby's peeing in the entryway.
  • Making progress on deciding on a fertility clinic.
  • Really enjoyed watching all of Avatar: The Last Airbender with Chase.
  • Started Chase on a more-than-900-episode voyage to watch all of Star Trek, and so far, he's really enjoying the beginning of The Next Generation.
  • My family and friends in Israel are physically safe for now.
  • While Robert Sapolsky's Determined has been somewhat infuriating in many respects, it's also led me to consider a few new angles on the topic of determinism and volition, as well as how to articulate certain ideas more clearly.

The bad:

  • Billy (my dog with Adam) died in early October.
  • I've resigned myself to the conclusion that Murray is probably dead, but gone for good, in any case.
  • My maternal grandmother died in August, and that's brought up a lot of difficult, complex emotions, given our challenging family dynamics over the years.
  • I'm irritable as all fuck, largely magnified by my hanger and caloric deficit.
  • I remain nervous about my job security and some worrisome dynamics at work.
  • Max and Murrby are largely feeling like a burden right now.
  • Relatedly, I haven't been devoting enough time to training Max.
  • I haven't yet gotten a canine companion for Max.
  • Since starting on Phenobarbital in July and only evidence of one seizure in early September, Murrby has had two epileptic seizures in the last two weeks.
  • I'm wrestling with Cigna's discriminatory coverage policies, which wouldn't be such a huge problem if they didn't insist that they weren't discriminating.

The ugly:

  • Despite numerous attempts to clean it with various enzymatic agents and methods, my entryway still smells like a urinal because of Murrby's desire to pee on the floor there.
  • I'm super frustrated with numerous issues with a lot of technology in my life:
    • Google Nest Hub / Google Assistant, and their inability to control the correct lights
    • Pixel Watch
    • Pixel Buds Pro
    • Nest Thermostat
    • Google Headlines in Discover (always showing me "news" about murder, war, death, rape, violence, etc, as well as sports for some reason)
    • Fi Collar
    • Roomba
    • Anova Sous Vide
    • Intuit Mint
    • Ubiquiti UniFi access points providing poor coverage in Cades' home
    • just random bugs across tons of apps and websites
  • I'm disappointed with the quality of much of the cultural discourse (and the individual attitudes and dispositions that people hold) around the recent intensification of conflict in the Middle East. I understand that people are frustrated and angry (and with good reason), and yet it seems that many of their approaches (mostly manifesting a sort of us-themming) often reflect a certain level of hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness. I can see so clearly how it leads to the continuation and intensification of conflict and division, all because it lacks compassion, understanding, and genuine human connection.

2021-09-08 Status

I'm exhausted. I'm putting out what feels like a million fires:

  • Movers were incompetent (and rude, to boot), so they couldn't get everything from my apartment, let alone anything from the storage unit. I need to file a claim about the whole experience and also for all the damage they caused.
  • The guy taking over my lease generously helped me with moving my squat rack form my apartment to the new house, but it scratched up his truck in the process, and now that's a $600-$700 expense for the paint job.
  • I still need to get everything from my storage unit.
  • Rise Broadband has been difficult in terms of my service and the billing, and I'm having to sink 30-60 minutes daily into that.
  • 24 Hour Fitness continues to fraudulently charge my card, and Citi Bank isn't protecting me, so I need to pursue that.
  • Fidelity is dragging their feet on sending a reimbursement check for an overcontribution (which was my employer's fault).
  • MetaBank has been failing to reissue a $70 Visa gift card for over a month, because they keep sending to the wrong address.
  • Aetna reconciliation of one particular claim required 4 re-processing attempts, but at least that's resolved now. Now I need to get them to reissue expired checks and figure out the checks whose amounts I don't understand.
  • I have a million things on my to-do list with respect to the house.
  • Work life has been very frustrating, especially of late.

2021-08-27 Status

I've been remiss in providing relevant status updates here, but today, I closed on a house in Bailey, CO. I'm a homeowner for the very first time. The closing process took 3.5 hours, and it was a frustrating ordeal, with lots of baits and switches in the 11th hour and a lot of creative accounting on the Closing Disclosure. A fuller writeup is forthcoming, but meanwhile, I have to finish packing for the movers this Sunday!

2021-03-26 Status

I still haven't heard back from Adam, but after almost a week, I was feeling less preoccupied by the whole situation. It helped that the following weekend, I went out of town to help a friend move. Aside from the joy of seeing my friend (whom I hadn't seen in person in some time, but with whom I had grown especially close in the last year or so), it was a great opportunity to get in some more physical activity, and it was a good distraction from my problems. I dreaded getting back to "normal life" when the trip was ending.

But a few days ago, yet another thing went wrong. At a meta level, I find myself wondering a few things:

  • Are these just normal blips in life, actually no more frequent or disruptive than regular life and what most people go through, and am I just attributing metaphysical significance to all these things by having the attitude of "Well, of course this is going to go wrong, too--my life is just a disaster, and I can expect even more shit to go sideways.", in the spirit of a malevolent universe premise? Trying to be objective, it's really hard to regard these things as less significant than how I'm experiencing them. Sure, I don't necessarily know the details of others' lives, but this does not seem like the sort of mountain of hellfuckery that ordinary people deal with in the ordinary course of their lives. I certainly can't remember another time in my life when I felt so overwhelmed and had so many things going wrong, one after the other, and in seemingly disconnected and unpredictable ways.
  • Assuming that I don't bear responsibility for these outcomes through my own choices and actions, is there still some way in which, at least for some of these problems, I'm inviting them into my life? Is my dysregulation, for instance, creating dynamics that increase the risk of these disasters? What about undermining my resilience and magnifying the effect of each problem?
  • However much I try so hard to differentiate my own responsibility for a given disaster from the sense in which I'm a victim of uncontrollable external factors, at a certain point, I still find myself questioning, at a more abstract level, "Is there something about me that's the problem here?". I can look at the individual situations and (I think) objectively conclude that, while I might have been able to do some things better, I certainly didn't deserve the outcome; indeed, it's the good things about me that prevented it from potentially being much worse. I'm good, and it's everything else that's fucked up. But--if you're an egoist--"good" is judged by the standard of whether it leads to practical success in life. Yes, accidents are possible, and bad things occasionally happen to good people, but if being a certain way regularly leads to bad outcomes, is it time to reevaluate whether being that way is actually "good"? Now, I don't think I truly believe that what I've come to regard as good (and how I've correlatively chosen to be) is mistaken; I can't throw away three and a half decades of induction because of a few years of misery. But if the way that I am is part of the causality of so many of these problems, even if, from a moral accountability perspective, that's not what's responsible for the problems, it sure leads me to wanting to withdraw from society and human relationships.

I don't want to get into the details of this last disaster a few days ago, but it follows a familiar outline:

  • I judged someone to be kind, caring, compassionate, and supportive.
  • I was open, transparent, and vulnerable with them.
  • They gave me ongoing positive feedback about their own evaluation of me. I thought we had a good, strong relationship.
  • Out of the blue, they delivered a biting condemnation in a way that severely damages my reputation and undermines my career prospects/trajectory, attempting to justify with "non-examples" to rationalize the conclusion.
  • Among other things, I find myself wondering what might be going on with this person to have led to this outcome and what incentives might be at play to explain the situation.

This further undermines my confidence in being able to trust people. This is turning into a pretty strong pattern:

  • I trust someone (sometimes being "all in").
  • On the basis of that level of trust, I have reasonable expectations.
  • Those expectations are not met, sometimes in very painful or destructive ways.
  • I'm severely disappointed and dysregulated.

In this situation, it's not the substance of what I was open about that I think was used against me in some fashion. However, the person's response to that openness certainly led me to feel closer to them, which magnified my feelings of disappointment in what landed with me as a betrayal. But it's the fact that I don't know, even now, what I should have seen as a "red flag", telling me that maybe I shouldn't trust this person as much as I did. How could I have seen this as a possibility, and what could I have done to protect myself? Am I supposed to be suspicious of and guarded with everybody until I develop better judgment? Should I regard everybody as a potential "snake in the grass"? And how can I reconcile that with my firm belief that people are generally doing the best that they can?

2021-03-14 Status

I got a text message from Adam yesterday for the first time since I reached out to him in December on the anniversary of our meeting. He needed some tax documents and commented on a few other things I don't want to get into here. I responded later that evening, and the whole experience was horrifically dysregulating, involving lots of crying and grief and confusion. I'm hoping we can talk (which he indicated an openness to), but I don't know what I'd want to get out of it. I don't know that it's wise for us to try again or that a relationship between us is likely to work out. I don't know that there's anything that I can say or do that would be useful. I don't know that in what will likely be a tense and anxiety-inducing experience, I can learn anything explicitly that I will be able to take at face value. So maybe I'm just craving reconnection, to know that he's okay, maybe to get some indication that he still values what we had and is grieving its loss (because it fucking means something, damn it). But I also can't shake the feeling that if we really try and really do the work, we can capitalize on our love for one another and recreate all the joy and happiness that we experienced and found so easily, once upon a time. I just find myself feeling that I don't accept the logic of any argument that says it's impossible for things to work out or that we're inherently a bad match. Yes, there would be difficulties to overcome, but to say it's impossible seems like maintaining a fixed mindset and writing people off. I can say something is unlikely (or that the effort is not worth it), but I really feel like if we could just go through the logic of it--the logic of our love for one another and what it would take to make things work--we could absolutely find a way. We just have to be willing. The irony is that, on the one hand, I'm rejecting psychological determinism by maintaining a growth mindset about him and us; on the other hand, I'm maintaining psychological determinism by believing that someone's mind can be changed if only they heard exactly the right argument or combination of words. All the while, It's hard to think that the Adam I fell in love with doesn't exist, and maybe I'm chasing a ghost. I don't know. So I'm trying to get a grip so that it doesn't completely derail things I need to get done. Fuck.

2021-03-08 Status

"Sucking it up" and "pulling it together", despite still feeling a bit like repression, seems to have helped get me out of a funk. I've been more enthusiastic about stuff at work (a really cool project I'm working on that's also critically important for my career growth and success). And my sex drive has increased again, and I'm feeling more myself in that regard.

I have noticed, however, that my "repression experiment" is approaching the limits of its sustainability. I'm feeling how my grief about losing Adam and Billy (and fucking everything else) is vying for my attention at the periphery of my awareness. And I'm increasingly easily triggered by themes in TV shows and certain kinds of music. (Without giving away any spoilers, s01e08 of WandaVision had me desperately wanting to drive out to Fairplay and sit on the property where Adam and I were going to build our future home, and just cry my guts out.) I have more of a sense of everything will be okay, but I still find myself breaking down a few times a week, weepy, and then I have to "suck it up" again. I'm wondering whether just making sure that I have some space for that is good enough of a pressure valve for releasing the grief.

Meanwhile, I'm working on overcoming my severe sense of feeling overwhelmed, drowning in administrative overhead that's really the result of irresponsibility and failure to adult effectively. Thanks to the support of my friend Vicki, we're now doing "parallel play" as often as our schedules allow, where Vicki comes over to my house, and we just knock out otherwise-hateful administrative tasks. Surprisingly, these tasks felt less hateful in this context, and I found myself looking forward to the time together, getting things done. It helped me to feel less anxious about the mountain of crap I keep putting off leading up to the session, and then I got into a state of quasi-flow even after she left, allowing me to maintain the momentum of the productivity. So that's pretty good.

I also find myself a little bit more resilient to "micro-disasters", including some unpleasantness that's been gnawing at me in the last few days, where someone in a training/support group I'm in is unintentionally and unknowingly trying to drag me into drama. I don't think she has a single malicious bone in her body, but the way she has been approaching me about things she finds unpleasant about our interactions reflects a deep wound and severe emotional and behavioral dysregulation, all of which is ultimately very unpleasant for me. And after numerous attempts at getting on better footing, I already see how there's nothing I can do within the bounds of truth and authenticity to help improve the situation or her experience. And so I just have to let it go (and I'm definitely disengaging), but I still find myself easily distracted by ruminating over all the hypocrisy and unfairness and tragedy of the situation.

In more pleasant news, I'm starting a new mesocycle today, and I just hope that I can muster up the discipline to consistently go to bed ridiculously early, so that I have enough time for stretching, too, before I start my workdays.

2021-02-06 Status

For the last week, thanks to a suggestion in a cocounseling session, I've been trying an experiment that I'm feeling nervous and cautious about: I'm intentionally directing my focus away from "all my problems" (that I referred to on January 20 and in my 2020 Retrospective) and trying to connect with the feeling of "I'm too good for all this shit, and I refuse to waste my life on it.". This feels risky to me because it smacks of repression and runs counter to all the reasons that wallowing has been very good for me as a way of working through things. Stuffing down unpleasant feelings and not leaning into discomfort when it arises risks angry outbursts. But it's an experiment, and I'm willing to try. The gods know I can't continue the way I have been. And maybe, just maybe, my willingness to try this experiment is itself a reflection of having done enough work and processing, so it's possibly more of an organic evolution of my journey than an artificial interference in the working of my emotional immune system.

So far, the results have been pretty okay. I feel more even-keeled and less desirous of alcohol as a numbing agent. There's still a lot on my to-do list that's creating subconscious psychological pressure, so I'm still feeling overwhelmed at times, but pushing that away has had the counterintuitive result of feeling freer to have the energy and enthusiasm for other important things, like a work project demanding a lot of cognitive and emotional labor. And I feel more excited about the prospect of getting things done, even though many of the nagging items remain on my to-do list.

We'll see how this goes...

2021-01-20 Status

Here's the short of it: I'm currently extremely emotionally dysregulated and depressed. A lot of really crummy shit has happened over the last few years, and it feels like it really intensified at the end of 2020 and is continuing into 2021. I'm not even talking about COVID or anything happening on a cultural/social/political level.

Yes, there are some good things, too, and I'm trying hard to lean into that. But really, I'm just trying to keep it together so that I can do well in my job and take care of my physical/emotional/spiritual health.

You're probably reading this because I sent you a link to explain why I've been so distant and disconnected. Well, I'm sorry about that.

Frankly, I'm just tired of being that guy for whom everything is always awful and doom and gloom. I've been really pessimistic of late. I don't care how much everybody assures me that of course they want to be there for me and they love me. It doesn't matter how much I'd be there for them--for you. This isn't a shame thing. I just don't like it. I feel worse unloading the same crappy story on every friend who's concerned about me, and I'm sure part of it is about how I end up feeling mired in my own drama...and that's really saying something, considering how in love I am with my own stories. I also know that once I start spilling, it turns into a torrent.

I'm feeling reclusive. It doesn't mean I don't want to hear from people. It doesn't mean I don't care about you. But I don't want to reach out and vomit my negativity on others. (Yes, I realize the irony of sending you this post, but at least that feels contained.)

And also, I'm sick to death of advice to focus on the positive, practice self-compassion, pursue distractions, stop wallowing, "fuck those people", stop using the techniques that have served me well for decades, and "have you considered anti-depressants"? It's not that these conversations are off the table, so I'm not discouraging you from offering your observations and judgments, since I don't want to presumptuously assume you have no new perspective to offer. But I'm exhausted by the same conversations over and again.

Part of me feels like the universe really did throw a ton of really awful shit at me in a highly concentrated time period; and what's worse, a lot of it has reopened wounds from previous years. So I feel like my sour disposition and misanthropy is somewhat calibrated. But then it's a vicious cycle, because then "minor upsets" feel a lot more magnified, and I feel less equipped to handle them emotionally.

Depending on whether you've interacted with me in the last handful of months, you might find the above somewhat surprising. I am able to enjoy individual activities, conversations, etc. Thank goodness I'm able to lean into moments of joy.

But here's a relatively short inventory of what's weighing me down:

  • continued grief and pain over losing Adam (and Billy) and the future we were building
  • burglary of my storage unit and loss of my life's memorabilia
  • continuing drama associated with State Farm's bad-faith reversal of a liability determination in which I was struck by a speeding vehicle while I was nearly stationary
  • end of my friendship with Diana, which happened in a deeply painful and frustrating way and which reopened some wounds from other lost friendships
  • my NAS crashing, with 18 TB of data hanging in the balance while I pursue recovery options (even though most of that is backed up to Dropbox)
  • Aetna's misprocessing of health care claims, sometimes to the tune of thousands of dollars in individual months, requiring an ongoing and large-scale auditing project on my part
  • starting on a new team at Amazon, which, while overall good, demands a lot of emotional energy, to say nothing of the emotional turmoil associated with leaving my previous team
  • still struggling to get my footing and feel settled, having moved to Denver in July
  • in general, trying to figure out what kind of life I even want to build (eg, having kids and moving to the mountains)

And if you know me at all, you know how much I hate change. And loss. And one-way doors. Fuck.

(I want to make this crystal clear about some of the bullets above: I regard Adam and Diana as fundamentally good people. I don't plan to say much publicly about the substance of our challenges, but please do not conclude that my pain and loss mean that I believe that they are bad people. Do I wish they would have done some things differently? Sure. I wish that I had done some things differently, too. Everybody was doing the best they could in these difficult situations.)

And then a million little things, like my key fob slipping off my key ring this week ($50 replacement cost), pulling my back a few weeks ago that interfered with snowboarding and lifting, intensification of chronic knee issues, ongoing sleep apnea issues, blah, blah, blah.

Yes, there are good things, too. But you know, I don't even feel motivated to list them out, even though I'm keeping a daily Three Good Things list. Under "normal" circumstances, I would feel more inclined to celebrate in my successes, but however good these things are (and yeah, some of them are pretty good), I'm just too exhausted and overwhelmed.

I started drafting a 2020 Retrospective, where I go more in depth on some of these things, but I'm struggling to find the emotional fortitude to make progress and complete it. But it might be of interest if you want more detail.

Coming back to the main point, I guess: I'm forcing myself to get out of bed in the morning because consciousness is agony, and I'm dreading falling asleep at night because I often have severe nightmares about things from real life (mostly about Adam). And so it's hard for me to even think about connecting with people. I do care about what's going on in your life, but I know that if I reach out, I'm just going to go on and on about all the negative stuff that's going on with me, even if you don't ask about it. (Fuck--look at what I just did here with what was supposed to be a short blurb.) It doesn't even matter much whether things are going well for you (which I hope they are) or if you're going through some similar struggles (which could maybe help me to feel like you really get me)--I'm tired of being a broken record. The context is different, but I like Brené Brown's framing of "not being fit for human consumption". That's how I feel right now, and that's closely tied to why I haven't posted or engaged on Facebook for nearly a year and a half. By and large, I feel like I need to get to some place of peace and stability and equanimity, largely on my own, and then I'll feel better equipped to connect with people more regularly. Please, spare me the lectures about how we're wired for connection and how we best heal together; I'm doing a lot of cocounseling, and I hope that that can help.

For now, things feel dark and dismal. You don't have to do anything differently with respect to quantity of communication, but please do be mindful of some of the ways in which I'm sensitive that I've given an indication of above. (Regardless, I promise I won't be upset with you if you're not "perfect" on that score.) More than anything, please know that my not reaching out does not reflect some lack of care or interest. I'm just worn out. Please be patient with me.