So That’s It, Then

I am now officially “retired”.

My co-workers and I used to dream about what it would be like to retire, and a few of us had even figured out how many months or even days left before that wonderful day. We joked about the trips we’d take, or the time we’d have to go to shows or concerts, or riding our motorcycles around. All the things we could finally accomplish without that 40-hour-a-week weight around our neck.

Well, here I am, and it sucks. Things have not turned out the way I’d hoped. Not even close. Twenty years of work flushed down the drain.

I don’t know what I’ll be able to do, or what I even CAN do anymore.

I don’t spend the day relaxing at home, doing whatever tickles my fancy at the moment. I wish. It sucks when I look at a bunch of things that I enjoy doing but have to grit my teeth and force myself to sit down and play with some electronics or start up the printer, instead of just going downstairs and sitting on the couch in the dim quiet.

Started thinking too much about this stuff a couple of hours ago and had a good cry. No panic attack, at least. So there’s that.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about today (or if I was going to care about it at all). I’m sad because life hasn’t gone how I’d hoped. I enjoyed working with WG, DA, and so many other people. I enjoyed solving problems, fixing things, and figuring out ways to provide new services to clients or improve existing ones. People across the country would ask me for help planning or troubleshooting. I was proud of the work I did. Whether it’s old-school or chauvinistic thinking (or if they’re the same thing), I wanted to be the rock so that J could do whatever she wanted. Go back to school, start a business… anything. That didn’t work out, and I feel terrible about it.

I’m angry at the people at work who moved me into another department without letting me know, and the management of that new department who, through incompetence and neglect, slowly degraded and ruined the services, systems, and relationships I’d worked so hard to build. Their indifference when I begged for help or parts. Their casual, uncaring disassembly of all the plans and agreements I had with previous management that allowed me to take university courses. The humiliation I felt when I had to look people I’d known for years in the eye and say that yes, I knew that I used to be able to do that stuff in an afternoon, and yes, I knew it’d been a year, and no, I couldn’t tell them when I’d be able to help them. The dread I felt (and still feel) whenever the phone rang, or when I heard footsteps approaching my door. All the time I spent hiding in the server room or another building because I couldn’t face people and tell them I couldn’t help them.

I also feel very guilty about all the stress I put my family and friends through both after I ended up in the hospital and the months or years before that where I was unwell and acting strangely but unable to see it for myself. I honestly didn’t know that I was being unpleasant or downright dickish. I should’ve listened to J when she first suggested I go talk to someone. Or when she suggested it the second time… or the fifth time, or the thirtieth time. I am so, so sorry to everyone I upset, stressed out, inconvenienced, or otherwise bothered. Thank you all so much for sticking around and supporting me. I don’t know why you did, but I am so incredibly grateful I don’t know how to express it properly.

So yeah. I’m 43 and “retired”. It’s not as much fun as you’d think.

Argh… I better go hide in the bathroom, I think another cry might be coming and the hot water tank guy is here.

Stay safe.

Feeling A Little Weird

[I don’t know what happened last night, I thought I’d posted this but when I just checked my computer this was sitting there, unposted. So… here’s last night’s post.]

Song: “Hello Blues” from SpongeBob SquarePants

Mood: 6.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

Blugh, my eyes are already starting to cross.

I didn’t sleep that well last night, and I don’t feel quite right. Took a long time to fall asleep and I woke up a lot. A couple of times I thought I’d heard something but everything was fine.

Feeling even more ‘off” right now but hopefully it will clear up in a day or two.

J has been hearing the increasingly loud and frequent noises from the water tank so someone is going to come by tomorrow afternoon and replace out the tank.

I actually BBQed some food for supper this evening. Not bad for the first try in years and years.

I’m sorry but Im too tired, need to head out. Talk to you later.

Stay safe.

Exhausted But Good

Song: “Dancing Queen” by Cher

Mood: 7.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

Another late day and I’m pooped, so here’s another set of bullet points. I promise I’ll get my act together soon…

  • Didn’t sleep well last night, got to bed too late and then kept waking up worrying.
  • Today’s visit went much better than I could’ve hoped for – it was wonderful to see my aunt and uncle and catch up a bit. Everybody seems to be doing well, which is fantastic.
  • The time went by far too quickly, though, and then they were heading off to their next destination and J and I headed off to my Dr W appointment.
  • Appointment went pretty well, Dr W was very pleased to hear that I’m keeping busy and wanted to know all the details. He also told me that I need to remember to not be hard on myself when things aren’t going well or when I’m having trouble getting motivated.
  • We decided to reduce the quetiapine again, now I’m down to 200mg, hopefully I won’t even notice it.
  • J dropped me off at the dollar store while she went to pick up burritos for supper. Things went well at first but before long I was twitching and sweating, feeling that inner tube tightening around my chest. Fortunately, J got back before I completely melted down.
  • Took a while to calm down after we got home.
  • No show tonight, but J and I had a really long, really good talk about all kinds of stuff. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m a very lucky fellow who has the best wife in the world. I don’t know why she sticks around, but I sure am glad she does.

No idea what’s happening tomorrow other than that I don’t have to be anywhere.

Stay safe.

Good Day But I’m Stressing Out

Song: N/A

Mood: 6

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

Okay, bullet points today, sorry:

  • Today was a good day
  • The BBQ still works
  • I got a bunch of stuff done around the house, like laundry and kitchen
  • The printer seems to still be behaving
  • J and I watched the last available episode of Stranger Things
  • My aunt and uncle should be arriving tomorrow shortly after lunch
  • I have a Dr W appointment later tomorrow afternoon
  • J has the day off, which I am very happy about
  • The news stuff is really bothering me now, I think I’ll have to avoid it entirely for a while again
  • I’m winding myself up like crazy for what will certainly be no reason at all but it SUCKS
  • J reminded me that this week marks two years since my last discharge from the psych ward

Stay safe.

Run, Fat Guy, Run

Song: “The Thing” by Phil Harris

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

Today was a decent day. I remember waking up three times last night but I didn’t need to get out of bed for any of them, which was nice. I got up pretty early today, too, and wandered around in a fog but managed to get some stuff done. I wonder if the extra sleep I got on the weekend helped, and if so, how I’d keep things going so I don’t get run down again.

One successful print does not a happy printer make, but I started one this morning and it came out wonderfully. Even came off the print bed without any fuss. I’ve got a bunch more stuff I want to print, so the printer will be put right back to work tomorrow morning so I’ll know tomorrow if today’s print was just lucky. I hope everything’s back in order – I have been really enjoying designing and making things, and whenever I have to take the printer apart, ye olde flop sweate roars in like a really disgusting greasy tsunami.

Speaking of sweat, I spent a lot of time outside today. I didn’t go for a walk, but I was fussing about in the back yard, puttering around with my garden electronics project, and having a battle of wills with the rabbit that keeps coming back no matter how often I chase it out of the yard. I’m starting to wonder if the rabbit sees it as a game, what with the fat sweaty guy lumbering by in a straight line when the rabbit darts off in a different direction. I’m pretty sure it knows I’ll never be able to catch it, and sometimes when I finally manage to slow down and turn, the rabbit is already comfortable enough to be sitting in the grass, eating. It may be mocking me. I’m not sure.

While I was outside, I was looking at the barbecue a bit and giving it some thought. It hasn’t been turned on in a few years, mostly because the grille is shot and at the time I couldn’t find a replacement. I had a couple of ideas today for things to try, though, and while the thought of standing outside in the heat doesn’t really appeal to me, it makes less sense to turn on the oven to cook things while the air conditioner is running. So, if I get the chance tomorrow, I may whip off the cover (which is about ready to crumble anyway) and see what’s left underneath. I think the propane tank is (was) pretty much full.

Mom called today and we talked for a little while. She’s very excited for my aunt (her sister) and uncle to arrive at their place tomorrow, and she’s also oddly excited that my aunt and uncle are coming over here on Wednesday. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again – Mom said today that it’s been 17 years since we all last hung out. I can’t believe that – 17 years! Jeebus.

There’s a lot more bad news leaking into the little circle I try to stay within, and it’s starting to bother me again. I know for my own sake that the best thing to do is do my best to avoid it, but it’s the kind of stuff that I feel very bad for ignoring and wish there was something I could do to help. There isn’t, of course, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

J and I watched another Stranger Things this evening. Only one more and we’re done the second season. I must admit, I have found quite a few of the actions that the characters have taken this season to be a little odd – both in ways that aren’t congruent with their behaviour from the first season, and in ways that defy any kind of logic. There’s a lot of exact timing that had to happen for things to work, too. Still, it’s a pretty great show and I think I’m going to have to go back and watch it from the start again when we’re done this season.

I’m not sure what’s happening tomorrow, I’ve got about eight squidjillion things on my list, including the stuff I was hoping to do today yesterday. Hopefully I will get a decent sleep and have another productive day (ideally with less sweating and rabbit chasing).

Stay safe.

Good Weekends Go By Too Quickly

Song: “Honeycomb” by Jimmie Rodgers

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

Just a quick post… this was a good weekend, and I’m a little sad that it’s over.

Both J and I got a ton of stuff done this weekend and still had time to fit in a few episodes of Stranger Things. I also (strangely) went back to bed after I got up yesterday and today and it made a big difference in how I feel. Even though my CPAP numbers are still good, I’m wondering if I’m not sleeping as well as I thought or maybe I’m waking up more often than I remember.

J helped me with some electronics stuff and we found that the new little radios I got easily cover the back yard. This bodes well for my garden project.

There’s a rabbit trying to dig a bunny hut right beside the garden, so I’ll need to keep an eye on that. I don’t mind the rabbits in the yard, I just don’t want them breeding here – it’s not safe for them.

I’ve been having some issues printing things. Lots of bumps and pits on the prints. Some of them are due to the slicer software, I updated to the latest version a little while ago and just went back to the earlier version this evening. The new version was doing a pretty terrible job. I also switched back to the 0.4mm nozzle. I’ve got something printing right now, hopefully it’ll look better.

My aunt and uncle are coming by on Wednesday afternoon. I haven’t seen them in forever, it will be good to sit and catch up a bit.

I have a Dr W appointment on Wednesday afternoon, too. There’s been a lot of things going on since I saw him last, and I wonder if he’ll be looking to lower some of the medications again. I’d certainly be willing to try the quetiapine again.

This coming Friday is going to be kind of weird. It’s my official retirement day. J was asking this evening how I felt about it, and I really don’t know – I’m dreading it in a way, but mostly it’s kind of a weird whirling cloud of emotions. I guess we’ll see what happens when it gets here.

If I feel well again tomorrow, I would like to get out in the truck, drive around a bit, and maybe go to the dollar store to pick up a couple of things. J told me that it’s supposed to get pretty hot as the week goes on, so I think I’m going to try and get the “out in the world” stuff that I want to do done early.

Stay safe.

Lots Of Time Outside Today

Song: “By The Light Of The Silvery Moon” by Little Richard

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

More of the same last night. I had to get out of bed twice to check whether the back door was closed and locked, but I think I only woke J up once (sorry).

It was very nice out today. More specifically, it was very nice in the shade. I went for my walk late in the morning and sat out on the deck stairs for a little while after I got back. I found it uncomfortable in the sun but as the afternoon went on, the shadows in the back yard started to lengthen so I went back outside and spent over two hours puttering around.

I’ve been looking at automating the garden. Yes, our garden is tiny, and no, it doesn’t take much time for watering or upkeep… I just think that it’d be neat. One of the things I’m trying to do is get water from the side of the house to the garden without using a hose. That’s where that laminar nozzle I was talking about a few days ago comes in. I finished printing it the other day and tried it out today. It was a spectacular, leaky failure. Instead of taking another three days to print another, I think I’ll go with some of the plans I saw on a few websites.

To run a little microcontroller in the garden means I need power, so I dug up and cleaned a couple of old solar panels that were under a pile of junk in the garage (I really need to get in there and tidy things up). I set up and tested my two reliable Arduino Leonardos (the one that FA gave me and the knockoff I got a little while ago), one as a transmitter with a soil moisture meter and the other as a receiver with a little display and they worked great inside. I brought them outside, intending to power them from the solar panels. I tried them with 9V batteries first, and everything worked perfectly – the one in the garden was sending a nice clear signal to the one by the side of the house.

When I hooked them up to solar panels, though, I couldn’t get a reading. I tried swapping panels, swapping wires, swapping transceivers, etc, etc, etc. The genuine Leonardo would power up and the display would show that it was waiting for a signal, but it never got past that. I played around with them for quite a while but couldn’t get the two of them talking.

I took a break and grabbed a lawn chair out of the garage and sat in the shade for a while, enjoying the breeze. Aside from the sound of distant lawnmowers all around, it was quite peaceful. I looked up at the giant elm tree that’s hanging over our yard and focused on it, watching the leaves and branches move in the breeze. It was quite nice.

Elm Tree

J got home a little while later and came outside to chat about our days. Before we went back inside, I gave the Arduinos another try but ended up with the same results.

I was supposed to have a Dr W appointment this afternoon but he called and left a voicemail asking to reschedule, so it’s been changed to next week. It wasn’t any problem, and J’s aunt got her afternoon back, so that was good.

J and I watched another episode of Stranger Things. We’re on the second season now, and… it’s great but I have some questions. They’re also introducing new characters and they’re still doing a great job of poking all the right 1980s buttons. Dig Dug, Regan/Mondale, Dragon’s Lair, and Baby Fae (the one who got the babboon heart) are just some of the memories sprinkled around the episode.

After we finished the show, I tinkered around with the Arduinos again and discovered (with that delightful burning electronics smell that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up) that the reason the receiver wasn’t showing any information was because the transmitter was dead, a victim of the solar panel. This was a first for me – I’ve hooked a lot of things up to a lot of solar panels over the years and this is the first time that I’ve ever burnt out electronics with a little 5W panel. I did some digging and discovered to my dismay that, while the genuine Arduino can accept power supplies up to 20V, the knockoff could only tolerate up to 12V (and it used pretty crappy components, too). I’m using a 12V solar panel but when there isn’t much of a load on them they can put out higher voltages. So… yeah. I guess that’s what I get for buying the cheapest one I could find.

I’m not sure what the weather is supposed to be like, but I’m hoping that tomorrow is a repeat of today (minus the burning electronics). I left the chair outside leaning against the house, so maybe I’ll get in some more tree-staring. Hopefully the neighbours don’t think I’m too weird.

Stay safe.

There’s Going To Be Some Whimpering

Song: N/A

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

I didn’t sleep all that great again last night. I don’t know if I’m waking up because I’m worrying or I’m worrying because I’m waking up. It’s not the end of the world, but it would be nice to be able to wake up in the morning, stretch, smile at the sunshine, and go about my day… instead of the usual trying to figure out where I am, stumbling around the house for a while, and slowly pull myself together.

My appointment with Dr C went pretty well. I had some concerns about moving our appointments to every second week but I asked her my little list of questions and her answers have me feeling a little better. No, she’s not shuffling me out the door. No, she’s not shutting down her practice. No, she’s not moving. Yes, it’s normal for the interval between appointments to increase as time goes on. Yes, there is a risk of the appointments themselves becoming part of my habit/routine and feeding into my anxiety.

She reassured me that even if I was coming in for appointments once a month or once every couple of months, I could still call or email her and get in for an appointment at any time if I was having trouble. She also said, “You’re not going to be coming here forever,” which, when I think about it, is an interesting (and very true) point. There will hopefully come a point where I won’t need to see Dr C anymore, and there’s always the chance that things will change as life tends to do – she may move or retire or any number of things, and I may move or decide to see a different therapist or any number of things. Who knows. At any rate, I felt better leaving the appointment than I did going in.

I kept quite busy this afternoon. When I got home there was a message from my mom on the answering machine so I gave her a call back and we had a short chat. My aunt and uncle are coming through town next week and they were wondering if I was interested in a quick visit. I haven’t seen them in… 12 years? 15? I’m a little hesitant about seeing them but after talking with J I called Mom back this evening and told her that it’d be fine. It will be good to see them and catch up!

I watched part of Bumblebee this afternoon. I like it quite a bit so far, particularly because it’s not entirely about explosions and laser beams like the recent Transformers movies have become, and I really like Bumblebee’s design. It’s a lot more like what I remember from watching the cartoons and the toy I still have somewhere. Plus, Bumblebee is supposed to be a VW Beetle (not a Camaro). The original, not the reinvention from 20 years ago or whatever. Actually, now that I think about it, all of the robots in the movie so far look a lot more like they folded out from whatever vehicle they drove/swooped in as. Plus, the last movie I watched with Hailee Steinfeld in it was True Grit (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it), and it’s odd to see the difference in the characters she plays.

I also got some real, genuine 3M electrode pads to use with my little EKG Arduino module. The ones that came with the module felt like slices of processed cheese, and they stuck about as well as a slice of cheese, too. I put those 3M suckers on a couple of hours ago and I tell you – I am REALLY not looking forward to taking them off. The signal I get from them is much more reliable and strong than the original pads, so I guess losing some chest hair (and possibly skin) is the price I must pay.

J and I watched another episode of Stranger Things this evening, and it tied up most of the loose ends but not all, and it set up some more paths that the show can take. I am surprised by how well it’s written and how good the cast is (although it’s weird seeing Winona Ryder play a crazy mom), but there seems to be some inconsistencies with the monster’s abilities/powers/etc. Still, a great show!

Tomorrow I have an appointment with Dr W. J is going to be stuck at work but her aunt is willing to take me to the appointment. She’s so nice – it’s a fair drive from home to Dr W’s office, and I really appreciate all of her time and help.

Stay safe.