Savoring Simple Domesticity

The part of my vacation I miss the most is the simple domesticity of living with people I care about. We took turns making meals, divvied up the chores a bit, and just generally took care of each other in a pattern of behavior my life has been missing for the last two years. Getting each other drinks, warning each other about bugs, comparing notes about discoveries on our walks, helping each other cook and clean, and the sometimes frustrating dance of having more people than bathrooms. Simple stuff, really. The daily whatnot of cohabitating. Not always peaceful, not always directly and purely positive, but involved in other peoples’ lives in a way I haven’t been in what feels like ages.

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Managing Vacation Anxiety

As I begin the careful calculus of packing and planning for my vacation, I’ve started weighing the various options I have for types of entertainment to bring with me to this isolated cabin. I have so many options that are portable enough to consider bringing with that I’m concerned I might be packing more tabletop and video games than everything else put together. It has been a long time since I’ve done anything to relax that didn’t center being at my apartment for an extended period of time, so I’ll admit I’m overly anxious about how to adequately prepare for my vacation. To be entirely fair to myself, something bad has happened every single time I’ve taken more than one or two days off of work for the past two years, so these anxieties aren’t entirely unfounded. Since one of the main strategies for processing anxieties involves acknowledging the parts that are actually reasonable or at least reasonable-adjacent and then taking steps to mitigate them, I’m giving myself space to over-plan and over-pack.

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Turns Out Writing These A Week Ahead Has Some Drawbacks

[I write all of these a week ahead of time and rarely have I felt so at-a-loss for how to shift this one to reflect the time between when I wrote this and when I edited it before it went up. For this post, I edited it on Friday and added a bunch of notes to reflect my mind frame a week later. All of those notes are in brackets like this one.]

In the first draft of this post, I wrote about feeling capable and like I’ll be able to manage everything I want to do this week without having to borrow from days later down the line or by sacrificing my well-being in the moment. I went on about it for a couple paragraphs before I realized that what I felt was “rested” and that what I was describing was just my first time in months starting the week without already being exhausted because a single weekend wasn’t enough recovery time from the stress of weeks past. As it turns out, this past weekend was exactly the recovery time I needed to finish resting up from the pair of stressful months I had (two months of days, not two months by the calendar) and now I finally feel ready for the week ahead. While it is possible that something stressful and exhausting could happen this week [which it totally did, since I write these a week ahead of time] since most of the stress and exhaustion of my past few months has been the unexpected nature of what has happened, I think I’ve finally gotten to a point where I have enough stored up resilience to bounce back from one bad thing [haha, NOPE].

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Rest May Be Productive (And Healthy), But I Earn Nothing Doing It

Over the past few years, I’ve observed a pattern in the way that I work and rest. Well, I’ve noticed a lot of patterns, but there is one in particular that I’ve been exploring more explicitly lately and want to write about today. When I have a lot to do and I’m either too stressed to do it or know I’ll need some extra time to get everything done, I take Fridays off of work. Even if it isn’t a personal vacation day but a federal holiday in the US, Friday days-off are always for being productive, getting things done, and making sure I’m prepared for whatever work needs doing. If I need to rest, if I need to actually recuperate, recover, and relax, I need a Monday without work. Mondays aren’t for rest in the same way that Fridays are for productivity, but they mean that I can spend my normal resting day (Sunday) without worrying about being ready for work the next day or combatting the urge to be productive.

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Beating The Heat Through Extreme Inactivity

As much as I hate humidity and struggle to sleep when it is warm out, I have to admit there is a certain appeal in the sort of languid relaxation I do after going for a hike or something similar on warm summer days. There is a degree of freedom that comes with knowing it doesn’t matter if you’re sweaty. When you know that you can just go change or cool off or rinse the sweat away whenever you like and yet you choose to just be still as the gentle, warm breeze slowly wicks the sweat away while you lay unmoving in the heat. It is more restful and comfortable if the breeze is cool and the sweat has already been cleaned away, but I still enjoy the moments of transition between the two when it is my choice to experience them.

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Imperfect Rest Is Better Than None

As I’ve been working on recovering from all the stress of the past few months and trying to find ways to still make progress on my goals without worsening my current degree of burnout, I’ve realized that my most restful days of late are days that include a mixture of actual rest, enjoyable activities, and moderate productivity. While I’ve always known this to some degree or another, I’ve never been able to nail down a formula for it. Experimentation over the last few weeks though, has had startlingly positive results. If I have enough rest and relaxation intermingled with a moderately busy day of self-directed activity, it is usually a net-restful day for me, even if I’m cleaning my apartment and doing all my laundry. If I can be a little productive on a day set aside to not need productivity while also engaging in restful occupation, it is usually quite restful.

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Reclaiming Home And Resting Peacefully

I haven’t been reading much lately. I have no problem finding books that sound interesting and I can afford to buy books I want (I also live a block away from a library so I could get access to books easily even if I couldn’t afford to buy them), but I still haven’t read much in the past couple years. Most of the reason for that ties back to the pandemic, my current living situation, and issues from my past coming together in a way that leaves me unable to relax enough to feel like I can get lost in a book. Any time I hear my neighbors thump around their apartment, any time I get stiff from sitting still from too long, or any time I start to lose track of time and feel a brief moment of panic that I’m breaking from the routines that have let me survive the stress of the pandemic, I get pulled out of the book.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but it is can easily be summed up by me admitting that I don’t feel “at home” in my apartment. Even as I attempt to address the stress and past issues, I still find myself thinking “I don’t have a home, I have a place I live.” It’s a difficult mental space for me to break out of because I grew up in a situation that made me feel the same way. Even with making a home at my college and in one of my apartments since then, I’ve spent so much more time in a living situation that feels like a place I merely occupy for now, rather than a place I feel safe and like I can control or own. Which is why I am having so many problems sleeping and why I can never seem to nap. It’s why my insomnia seemed to go away the instant I left the house I grew up in and didn’t return as an actual inability to sleep until my current living situation.

That’s the thing about rest. You can only do it if you don’t feel anxious about your safety. I didn’t ever feel safe in my parents’ house (and still don’t thanks to all that trauma) and one of my first experiences in my current apartment laid the groundwork for not feeling safe there. I got my wisdom teeth removed the summer I moved into that apartment and discovered that I have a bad reaction to oxycodone when I developed severe paranoia, had bad nightmares, and couldn’t sleep until the two doses I’d taken left my system because I kept instantly waking up thinking someone was trying to break down my door. It was probably just my upstairs neighbors being noisy as they continued to do until they moved out despite my requests that they quiet down during the late night hours, but it’s difficult to parse that information when you’re in a drug-addled sleep-state.

I stopped taking the oxycodone and made-do with Tylenol (which worked just fine since I have a pretty high pain tolerance) and it didn’t really come up again until late January of 2021 when my upstairs neighbors got even noisier than they had been, to the point of waking me up repeatedly in the middle of the night with their thumping and banging. It didn’t help that I was perhaps the most stressed and alone I’d ever been in my life, so I wasn’t in a good place going into that period. I got through it, though, and I’m doing a lot better now, but I’m still struggling with the feeling that my apartment of almost two years still doesn’t feel like a “home” to me.

As someone who definitely can’t afford to buy a house and the types of rentals that would allow me to live without noisy nieghbors banging on walls or floors are not something I could rent without roomates, there aren’t many good solutions to this problem. I could maybe move somewhere less expensive, find a better paying job, get a roommate or two, or move in with a friend who just bought a place despite how terrible a location it is for me and everything I’d do other than hangout with that friend (a minimum 45 minute commute in heavy local traffic, so I wouldn’t even enjoy the drive). None of these are guarenteed to succeed or even likely to happen before I have to renew my lease again. I could try moving, of course, to another rental with similar issues but fewer negative past associations, but rent is increasing so fast I’m not sure I can afford to live in a place of a similar quality to my current apartment (which, honestly, isn’t that high even if I ignore all factors other than the noisy neighbors).

There really aren’t a lot of great options, right now, which definitely isn’t helping my current stress levels. I’ve been trying to work on reclaiming my space and making my living space feel more like a “home” instead of just the location I sleep most nights, but that’s slow work. Slowed even more by my almosted0 recovered financial position, mounting stress as a Human in the world, and the increasing isolation of frequently feeling like one of the only people who is still taking on-going pandemic seriously. It’s not great, honestly, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. I’d hoped that writing my thoughts out here would provide a solution, that I’d come up with some kind of idea for what to do or at least feel a bit better about my slow but steady progress, but I just sort of feel tired. Which is all I’ve felt lately, if I’m being honest. Tired.

I’m going to do my best to relax a little bit, to try to reclaim my own space in a way that will help me work on my other goals, and I hope you make some progress on relaxing yourself. Or on personal goals. Whatever you’re working on, I hope it goes well.

Dorfromantik Is The Most Relaxing Game I’ve Ever Played

I don’t know if you have ever noticed, dear reader, but I have a difficult time cultivating peace. I am pretty much constantly stressed all the time and live most of my days in a state of (generally controlled) anxiety that keeps me on my grind and goal-oriented. Rare are the times when I can actually relax or unwind. Usually all I can manage is an adjustment of the tension that’s on me, not a decrease. There are a lot of reasons this is the case, many of which have to do with the difficulty of my life in general and the last three years especially, but I’ve also never really been good at it. I have a few things I can turn to for relaxation, depending on the scenario and how I’m feeling (puzzles, video games, and music), but they all typically wear out their welcome eventually.

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Puzzles Are Fun

I’ve always enjoyed puzzles (had a puzzle party when I was 4, because I loved them so much), but they represent a sort of one-and-done amount of entertainment that has made it difficult to justify the cost. The introduction of local programs that allow you to change out your used puzzles for someone else’s used puzzles (usually with a small fee to support the local business coordinating these efforts since you’re not buying a new puzzle, or using a store credit system similar to buying and selling old video games) has made it easier for me to get my hands on new puzzles and they’ve formed the backbone of my non-electric entertainment over the past year.

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I Might Have Escaped Too Hard

Once again, I am confronted by the weirdness of the time I write these posts versus the time I post them. It’s a bit different this time, though, since I’m writing this only two days before it goes up. There will be no gap in post coverage, but it has been almost a week since I wrote my last blog post. I respect the break I took because I do feel better rested, but I also don’t want to not have blog posts for six days. Also, I have a lot to say since I did that thing where I escaped with a variety of activities and did a lot of thinking in the background while I kept my fore-mind busy. I’ll skip this upcoming weekend, but I’m going to get a couple extra posts written this week to fill in the gaps I created while I rested.

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