Rhetorical Questions With Real Answers

Sometimes, when I sit down at my desk or stare at my blank daily checklist and ask myself what I hope to accomplish with my day, I have a pretty good idea of what the answer is. Most of my days are fairly routine, after all. The daily grind of exercise, work, and taking care of my needs (rest, food, etc) is the name of the game, most of the time. Some days bring a greater variety, of course, but not many. Those that do are rarely pleasant, these days, since variety frequently means needing to warp my schedule in one way or another, or needing to do something else that warps my day in a way I had not anticipated nor will I enjoy. Still, most of the time I know what’s going to happen in a day and most of my questions about what my goals are or what I am trying to do are rhetorical.

Today, though, as I sat and stared at this blank post, it was not a rhetorical question. I’m three nights in to a disturbed sleep schedule (one very anxious night of little sleep is sending aftershocks through my week as I attempt to address the cause without letting the problem become a new source of anxiety) and four nights in to the new year as I write this, so I’m feeling more off-kilter than I usually do. I’m at the tail-end of a two-week break from work, looking at a future full of uncertain plans with certain due dates, a whole host of changes looming on the horizon, and my neighbors seem to have decided that this is the week to let their dogs run amok, to move heavy furniture around their apartments in the evenings, and to otherwise stomp or bang around the apartments adjacent to mine.

I think the recent email about rent increases being higher than originally mentioned has probably stirred up my neighbors as much as it has stirred me up, so I’m not really surprised. I’m just anxious. I have a good deal of trauma associated with periods of thumping and banging in places above or around me, so I have a difficult time reacting in moderation to endless noise from my neighbors. These days, it’s a lot easier to handle when it’s in the same house or dwelling I’m in since I can usually go identify what made the noise and reassure myself that everything is fine. I can’t really do that with my neighbors. It’s worse than usual when it’s late or when I’m trying to get ready for bed, since that starts to more closely mirror my experiences. Thumping is easier to ignore when the sun’s out or it is a more reasonable hour for people to be harmlessly active in their homes.

I look forward to a time when I won’t need to share a wall with anyone. That future feels incredibly distant, though, as I look at the first six months before me and all the change that might happen during that time. Six months is both an incredibly long time and also no time at all. Whatever I do right here and now, today, isn’t going to impact any of it. I have some small things I can and should do, to start making progress on the big to-do items so that none of the due-dates sneak up on me, but nothing that’s really going to impact my future. I actually stopped writing this post between that least sentence and this one, so I could start some balls rolling. I already feel the anxiety knot in my chest loosening.

There’s a lot I can’t do anything about, though. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that most of the stuff I can’t control or change is the stuff that I’d most like to be able to act on. I can’t do anything about my neighbors (past efforts have all failed and I’m absolutely not calling the cops to file a noise complaint for obvious reasons [the obvious reasons are ACAB, in case they aren’t obvious to you somehow]), so I mostly work on reducing my other stress so I can handle this stuff when it comes up. Everything else is stuff controlled by other people, so the only action I can take is to wait. Which feels incredibly anti-climatic, given some of this stuff’s potential to change my life, but that’s just how things work sometimes.

Now that I’ve typed out all my anxieties and answered my “what do I hope to accomplish right now” question, I’m going to give up on any further productivity today other than putting together a grocery list with some extra goodies for me now that I’m giving up coffee. You’d think I’d feel less anxious now that most of the caffeine that used to course through my veins has drained out. Instead, I just feel more depressed. That might be from how disturbed and poor my sleep has been recently, though, so maybe I’m handling the caffeine reduction just fine. Only time will tell.

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