“Vacation” Just Means You Have To Work More Later

It has been a week since my close scrapes with having my car run over by a truck, running out of gas on the highway, and having a mental breakdown at my workplace. I got some rest, tried to unwind, spent some time taking care of the issues I could resolve on my own, and now I’m back at work. It is, unfortunately, like I never left. Yesterday was so busy that I had a stress headache and an overstimulated migraine at the same time, and wound up spending my evening sitting in a comfortable position on my couch while drinking plenty of water with all the lights off except the dim light of my television and my always-on christmas lights. All of which normally helps but didn’t this time (probably because of how long the combo migrache had been going on), so I would up turning to painkillers and eventually those helped. Sleep eventually killed the lingering effects of the migrache so I was ready to tackle today. Except this horrible combination of brain pains is already back because today is busy as well and it’s not like I magically got used to my new underclothes in twenty-four hours.

I recognize that I’m trapped in a cycle of effort, exhaustion, and personal drain which is largely self-inflicted. I have a series of goals I wish to accomplish and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to accomplish them before I settled on this method. It really sucks that it is as soul-crushing as it is, but that’s the price of trying to dig yourself out of the hole that late-stage capitalism put you in, baby. Gotta push harder if you ever want to escape the soul crushing machine. I recognize that I’m not built to do this in the long term (which is funny since I’ve been at this since early July and four months is a pretty dang long time). I’m sustained by engagement with things I enjoy like stories and games, but not even those can sustain me past the point where they have also become work I have to do every day. My only real hope right now is to continue doing this in the short term, juggle my other projects until I can put something down, and then toss “job hunting” into the mix so that maybe I can find a job that gets me the income to cost ratio that is currently requiring me to work forty-eight hours a week.

Everything else I’m doing is something that either makes my life better (this blog, social activity, and tabletop games), helps me maintain my health and well-being (storytelling, exercise, and limited engagement in pleasant activities that don’t cost me anything but my time such as continuing to play through Fire Emblem: Three Houses), or provides me with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment (storytelling, tabletop games, and this blog) since I haven’t quite escaped from the ingrained need to feel productive that capitalism relies on. As you can see from the repeats on the list, I’ve done a lot of work to find ways to be efficient about this process, so there isn’t really anything I can trim from the system. I’ve already removed everything else, like sitting around watching the wind blow through the trees or watching the clouds move across the sky or sitting and letting my mind wander, so there’s not much more I can do without making myself feel worse about my life, myself, or my ability to eventually escape from this system of debt and effort.

It is a fine line to be walking these days. I could probably run fewer tabletop games, but the infrequency of most of them means I need this many most months just to have at least one happen every week. I should probably find a way to reduce the amount of effort that goes into this blog every day, but it’s already fairly minimal effort that feels more like ritual and structure for the sake of ritual and structure at this point. There’s not much less I can do other than not update my blog as much and I’m pretty sure this blog is the only source of the “I did a thing today!” feeling that lets me ignore the parts of my mind that are convinced I’m wasting however much time I’ve got on this planet. I know for a fact that this blog is less effort than dealing with those intrusive thoughts, anxieties, and whatnot since I literally started this blog up again in 2021 as an experiment to figure that out. I maybe need to have fewer social obligations or to find ways to take some of the stress out of them, but we still live in a pandemic so online stuff is pretty much all I’ve got and the in-person stuff pretty much means either driving multiple hours to see people or risking my health by going out in public.

The problem I’m running into right now is that I don’t have any good answers. All the answers I’ve found so far are bad. I’m not entirely convinced good or at least neutral answers don’t exist, so I’m going to keep pondering this problem, but it has not escaped my notice that putting this much time and efforting into thinking all this stuff through is also a thing I’m doing that takes time and energy. It’s the same vicious cycle as my sleep times and work hours. I wouldn’t be waking up late and getting to work late if I wasn’t staying at work so late and staying up so late as a result (gotta eat dinner, unwind for a little bit, and then get ready for bed, all of which takes at least a couple hours). Unfortunately, I gotta get up early and then push through a rough day without needing extra time to unwind at night or running into any of my usual sleep issues around doing something that feels like going to bed early. Then I have to do that enough times in a row that it becomes a proper habit without slipping back into my current unfortunate daily patterns. It’s a difficult cycle to end from the inside. Once I don’t need to work as much, then maybe I can break free. Until then, I’ve just gotta keep doing my best and pull the emergency release level as the need arises. I’ve planned for two more such occurrences before next summer and two planned events that should release pressure without being an emergency eject sort of situation like last week was. As long as things don’t get worse, I should be okay.

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