Thursday, June 23, 2011

Feeling Better...

To start with, I should probably apologize for the previous post, and all the whiney posts I've made in the past. It happens. I started to delete them, but in a way, I think it would be dishonest. So I'm one of those people who has a blog that occasionally gets self-pitying and whiney. So what? C'est la vie. People can't be perfect, and trying to be perfect is what causes my eventual descent into that kind of crap. I'll try to avoid it in the future. :>

I'm back on top of the world, today. I had a visit from a cousin (second cousin? One removed? Have no idea, actually.) last week. We went out to the lake and took photographs, and we ate cheese crackers and sausages, and we sat around talking about crazy spiritual theories that may or may not be true, but sure make life a lot more interesting. Basically, we had a blast. I'd forgotten what it's like to have family that you don't have to guard against, so it helped tremendously.

One thing that came to my attention while he was visiting is that I was completely unaware of how much energy I was spending on other people. I think that's part of what drags me down. I mean, I knew I was one of those people who occasionally wastes energy, but this is kind of the equivalent of a starving person giving away the last of their food. It doesn't help me, and it probably doesn't help the other person, either, because it leaves me in a position where I can't help /myself/, much less other people.

So I'm working on that. Today I made some money writing. I have the potential to make a lot more, so I'm going to spend the afternoon writing. It's not the most "fun" writing job...but heck, I'm getting paid to write! That's pretty wonderful. (Actually, just getting paid is pretty wonderful...)

I also have another internet writing project in the works that will be much more fun, but I'll probably make a more official announcement later through Facebook, where more people will see it. For now, it's a secret. :>

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Anybody out there?

I don't feel like me.

I look back on recent events, and I feel like someone else has been living my life, lately. I'm not sure I like her very much.

I've always roller coasted between extremely productive highs and self-destructive lows. A couple of years or so ago, I accepted this about myself and made a decision to do something about it.

I won't say it's been easy, but I was improving. I've worked hard. Some people may not realize how hard I was working because I've had to refuse certain opportunities. I was busy with 'behind the scenes' work, much of which I kept to myself. It's been a struggle. However, it's been worth it. I could see progress being made, slowly but surely, and at the beginning of this year I started trying to improve more than just my psychological health. I really felt ready to get my life back on track, and I started making plans and taking actions to do so.

Lately, though, things have been different. I don't really know how to describe it.

It's not a 'low' as I traditionally have experienced them. Or at least, not what /I/ mean when I say I'm on a 'downswing'. I don't know if you could call it depression. It's not pessimism. It's not really an emotion at all, so much as an absence of emotion. It's like a vacuum has opened up somewhere in my brain and I can't quite figure out how to fill it with air again.

One part of my brain tells me that if I don't get that article in or get that project done or go hunting for another part-time job, I won't be able to pay whatever bill or buy groceries, etc... But the part of my brain that's in control just goes, 'Meh. Whatever.' The scariest part about this is that I catch myself doing this when there are some pretty serious consequences for it, that I /should/ care about.

It's been affecting my work ethic more and more, and by degrees, I feel like I'm losing myself. I've experienced this before, but only in short spells. It's rarely affected the quality of my work to the degree that it is affecting it now. (The worst that I can remember was a poorly written article for Wendy Lee, and she let/made me rewrite it.)

Today, I'm a bit distressed to see how little I've accomplished lately, but I'm scared that by tomorrow I may fall right back into the same apathy.

How does one work to overcome a lack of desire to work at /anything/?

I've rewritten this article more times than I can count, and it still feels like hollow whining. I don't know if my perception is screwy or it really is that way, but regardless, I've got to figure out a way to recharge my willpower and desire to climb out of this hole.

Any thoughts?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Myth Busted: Cars = Freedom

As of tomorrow, I will have been car-free for about two weeks, with two exceptions (both visits from a family member who needed my assistance driving around town). I've gone to the hardware store, the music store, grocery shopping, the library... The truth is, I've been all over town.

In the space of two weeks, I've realized that I really want to get rid of my car entirely, and I don't want to be in a situation where I'm forced to own a car again. Perhaps when I get old and infirm I will change my mind, but in a town this size (which I think is just the right size for me) I can't see myself missing my car. Perhaps inclement weather will change my mind, but so far I've had no troubles. Those who warned me about the heat will be happy to know that not only have I not suffered a heat stroke, but it's actually been quite pleasant, as long as I avoid riding in the heat of the day.

In fact, I did some calculations and came up with some surprising numbers.

$1,310 = Minimum amount that I spend just to own a car each year (even if it's mostly sitting in the parking lot). This is including gas, oil changes, registration, inspection, etc. I own my car outright, so this does not include car payments, which most people would have. It also does not include brake pads, or occasional expenses for things that may crop up, like broken O2 sensors, oil leaks, cosmetic touch ups, fixing of broken door handles, etc. The number also would go up dramatically if I had been driving more, due to the price of gas.

$660 = The amount I will have spent on bike travel by the end of this year. This includes the entire cost of the bike (which is a Trek that I bought new, so I could have probably brought this figure down a bit), as well as a generous budget for chain grease, tubes, and miscellaneous equipment that I have added or plan to add to the bike (pannier, trunk, kick stand, etc).

$250 = The approximate amount that I will spend on bike travel each year without including the cost of a new bike. (This does include things like water and a savings account to buy a new bike once this one wears out.)

15 minutes = The amount of time it took me to get to the grocery store in the car (including the time it took to get in the car, drive there, park, and get into the store).

15 minutes = The amount of time it took me to get to the grocery store on my bike (including time to carry my bike down the front stairs, ride to the store, find a place to lock up, and get into the store).

2 weeks = The amount of time it has taken me to get so used to biking that I don't even get tired on the hills or when I'm facing a headwind.

0 = The number of times I have felt a lack of freedom for not having a car in the past 2 weeks.

So someone tell me... How does it make you more free to spend 5 times as much money on transportation, just so that you can drive a glorified umbrella? How does it make sense to continue designing our lives around a system that is expensive, unhealthy, and ultimately unsustainable?

Think about the state of the USA right now. The obesity epidemic, the budget crises (both at the federal and local levels), environmental crises... How does it make sense to continue spending billions of dollars maintaining motor vehicle infrastructure (and some people contend that even this isn't enough) when a fraction of this expenditure could create all the infrastructure we'd ever need to create a viable community based around bike, pedestrian, and public transportation?