Our kids will be back in school in one week. For the first time in a long time, I’ll be able to see them off and welcome them home on day #1 without having to burn vacation time. Sonia will be working for one of the elementary schools this fall, and she’s excited because she gets to LEAVE home for her work. I’m two months out from (hopefully) running my first ultra marathon. I’m now engrossed in working with a career coach in order to put together the pieces of making career #2, and so far, so good, with the goal of actually beginning said career in early 2018. We are a different household than one year ago. And it feels right; it’s a great thing.
I’m trying to piece together how I’m different. I’ve been free for a little over seven months, and I know each day I’m getting closer to my second career. I joked in my last blog that most of my writing has been mostly serious oriented, with a little humor infused. I wouldn’t have guessed that when this year started. So I started thinking about what’s changed about me, and what hasn’t. What follows is the best list that I can come up with.
I’m now 6’2”. My voice is two octaves lower. I have a six figure modeling contract. I’m running in the 15K masters division national championships. I’ve taken first place in Memphis in May, brisket division. And my carpentry skills are now top notch, so much so that I’ve built a granny unit next to our house for my parents. And while I’m hallucinating, I’m in a new, hush-hush ownership group to help St. Louis land an MLS team. Don’t know about you, but I’m hearing crickets.
For starters, I’m still a terrible sleeper. That’s permanent. I haven’t had to check windows and blinds for snipers at 2 A.M., but I still sleep poorly. I’ve had a lot of dreams about protecting my family in fights. At least I haven’t died in my own dreams recently. But my head hits the pillow, and I still wind up thinking about the last day, week, months, ten decisions, and other things that are easy to over analyze at 11:30 P.M. I’m envious of good sleepers.
I’m still scatter brained. I used to tell my patients that I’m very well intentioned, but every now and then, it was a good idea to redirect me in a conversation so I stayed on point. We’ve started running an online resale business in the last few months, and at a minimum, it will stay as a part time endeavor for our family when career #2 starts. I can be listing an item on-line, and then I start thinking about my long run, and Allison’s soccer practice, and how badly I should write again, and ten minutes later, I realize that I haven’t finished job number one. I still get distracted by shiny things. I always come back to task, but taking a few mental detours is pretty common.
I still have my sense of humor (it’s still pretty dark), but I find fewer things to be humorous. If anything, I’m a little more earnest than I was one year ago. I’m not sure why this is. If anything, I would have thought it would have been the other way around. Maybe it’s the political climate. Maybe now that I’ve stepped back, I have the time to analyze more of what’s going on in the world (and as an aside, what awful timing on my part to become more aware and versed of non-healthcare happenings). Maybe I’ve always been serious and humor is just there to keep me sane. Or maybe it’s just getting older. Whatever the case, I find it odd that I’ve became more serious as I’ve had a chance to relax.
I’m really enjoying training for my ultra. I’m hoping I can stay healthy to make it to the event. I don’t know if this will be a one time thing or a regular occurrence. It takes a lot of energy. I’ve mostly enjoyed the alone time on my long training runs. But it is like having a part time job. A very low paying part time job. A below minimum wage part time job that leaves you tired and hungry for two days. And chaffing; I keep a tube of Butt Paste at home for me, and yes, it works. I should be ashamed, but I’m not. I also get cracked nipples; it’s hell if I forget my two band-aids before my run (technical fabric and three hour runs are a bad combination for that region if the body). So while I’m excited about running 50K, it is tempered against future practicality, and the fact I’d like to take a comfortable shower again without feeling like I’ve been breast feeding (and in all seriousness, women, you have my undying respect if you breastfed your children).
I still enjoy sports, but even that has changed. Up through mid 2015, I have always been a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. But I became so stressed out and busy, I lost interest in baseball as a sport. I’ll read a Cardinals box score, and I still want them to do well. But we haven’t been to a game in 2+ years; it just doesn’t bring me the same joy that it used to. I’ve watched maybe an inning of a game here and there on TV (like once every two months). Even the Cubs winning the World Series didn’t bother me. Largely, I just don’t care. Other things have taken its place. I really enjoy soccer as a primary sport (I like watching college football just because I like most things associated with the fall, except pumpkin spice lattes, I’m not a 35 year old white woman; sorry, that stereotype is TRUE.) I really enjoy watching my kids play soccer, and I really love helping them practice. And I now have time to help Allison prepare for Girls on the Run. And don’t get me started on sports talk radio. If you gave me a choice between four hours of Alex Jones and four hours of sports talk radio, I think I’d find a way to damage both of my ear drums just to avoid either option.
I’ve enjoyed reading again, although it comes in fits and spurts. After vacation, I’m taking a short break from books. But I’m getting the itch again. I still don’t have an interest in watching many movies. After 30 minutes, I get antsy and I need to do something. Stand up comedians fit my attention span much better at present, and I really need the laughs. Andrew and I really like Alternate History Hub on YouTube; it’s a great primer for a lot of issues, both historical and current. My favorite installment is the one on Operation Downfall – what could have happened had the United States not dropped atomic bombs on Japan (and Japan kept fighting). It’s strange to think about the possibility of a North Japan and a South Japan.
I’ve really enjoyed working with Sonia on our little business. She always thought we could run a small business together, and I was pretty sure she was right. Now I’m 100% sure. I know most people joke about not wanting to work their spouse, but if this became full time, we could a) do it, b) excel at it, and c) thoroughly enjoy working with each other. She’s great at the things I’m bad at (or don’t enjoy) and vice versa. I hope that someday we can actually work together.
Starting in early 2016, I started listening to jazz before bedtime as a way to unwind. It’s now probably my favorite musical genre. I don’t have a particular favorite performer, and I’m nowhere near well versed enough to tell you differences between eras or styles. But I really enjoy it; it’s my go to anytime I’m at home. Louie, our parakeet is a fan; I’m trying to teach her to say “Hello, Dolly!” Most people don’t know this, but in high school or when I was home on breaks in college, if I was out with friends on Saturday night, one of the AM stations in St. Louis would play jazz around 11PM. I would come home, read part of a book, and listen to jazz for hours. I was 60 years old before I was even 20. Playing ultimate frisbee in the dark (with a glow stick taped to the disc) and listening to Duke Ellington at 2 AM. I’m a fireball of fun, if nothing else.
As a contrast to this, I have a hard time listening to any “angry” music, whether it is punk rock, or metal, or other forms that feed off anger. I can’t lather up that much rage and frustration anymore. I lived it for a while, and that was enough for me. Getting that worked up just feels awful. I’m not saying those artists aren’t talented, and kudos to you if you genuinely like it. I just can’t do it; there’s no enjoyment. I’m trying my best to leave all those emotions as far in the past as possible.
I’m more patient with Andrew and Allison. Now that I’m not under the gun, fewer things need to go according to plan. It’s easier to just let them be kids and have them dictate more of the schedule. We don’t have to fit in all the family “fun” things in one go. There’s just less pressure all around, and all of us are better for it. This will be on my mind as a choose my next career path. We function so much smoother with the tension gone.
I’m sure there are other things that have changed; these jumped to mind most readily. I wonder what I’ll be like one year from now. I’m not great at the waiting part. I want to know these things in advance, whenever possible. I am getting more comfortable with uncertainty and a little bit of flexibility. It is out of character, but better to deal with it now than later.
I’m not better, I’m not worse. I’m still very similar at my core. But I definitely note that I’m a bit different than I was even 12 months ago. Whether this has any long term significance or not is to be determined. I guess that last growth spurt isn’t happening. That modeling contract keeps missing my mailbox (and I’d need A LOT of waxing). That rich, deep, baritone voice will elude me. I’ll settle for an endless supply of band-aids and show myself the door.