We will rise. Somehow

Photo by Rafael Rex Felisilda on Unsplash

She told me she was tired of living in and out of hotels. That she wants to work enough to find a more stable place, and to buy a car, cheap as it may be. She’s been living like this for too long, she says. I’m surprised she can be this upbeat still, but I don’t say anything.

He’s been living in a hotel for a couple of months with his girlfriend. Who has… issues. So if he’s going to drink he has to do it before he gets home. I think I now understand why he’s so dour most of the time, and yet when he’s not working he can actually be funny. To the point that I want to tell the others, who I know don’t like him, to give him a chance.

But of course, I say nothing. Because in my head, I have the right to complain about my own situation. So I let them complain about theirs. But here’s the thing: my co-workers have a right to complain. I don’t.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve discussed my worries about depression in this blog. Heck, you tell me what good is a personal blog if you can’t vent to the Internet about personal matters. But after a year in therapy, no diagnosis of depression, whole lotta tears shed, and many miles of soul searching, it would be almost disrespectful to think I have it. I’m anxious and worried. Still valid, yes, but not depressed. This means I have to reevaluate how I deal with things.

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Many times I’ve said that I lived so many years as a twentysomething trapped in a forty-year-old, I was afraid that coming out into the world would be a monumental clash. I was right; I left Caracas and landed in the States having to live as an actual adult. You know, pay rent, buy groceries, see a doctor, look out for my health and the ones that live with me. When I hit rough patches, I tend to crawl into myself, lock the door, and sometimes blow things up more than usual. My regular trigger is slow season at work; being unable to meet my debts is a constant scare. You’d think I’d prepare for these months and ride them out or something.

I still try to validate those feelings, don’t get me wrong. Many of the evils in the world are because men still struggle to show their true feelings. But I also try to see things in their fair proportions. Mostly, I remember I don’t have to deal with my stress alone. I have a wonderful, wonderful woman beside me that has given me so much, and is willing to help me no matter what. We have merged into a team to get each other out of dark places and support each other in every way you can imagine. That right there is a massive plus on my side.

Also, we have a roof over our heads. We both have jobs (hers a little more reliable, but still). I’m a US citizen, she’s a legal resident. We both speak the language. We are both considered good people.

So I go back to the complaining part. I read somewhere that I shouldn’t complain about anything I’m not willing to do take on. And it’s true. I just need to remember that this isn’t a sprint or a marathon. It’s a chess game. Because in a marathon there is only one track, one way. In a chess game, there is a vast number of moves that you can do to reach your objective. And even if you are defeated in one game, you can always learn, hone your skills, and try again. Until the final match, which we all play in the end. But death isn’t a defeat. Only the end. The real defeat is not having lived to your full potential, achieved your dreams, or reached your goals.

My coworkers are good people. I do hope their situation improves over time. And I am working to reach mine.

Tell Elsa she’s on in five

Syahmir, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Among the hundreds of t-shirts I own, I have two (and counting) that make fun of the adult life. My newest favorite shows a one-star review to “adulting”, with the mandatory “would not recommend”. And it’s become almost a mantra. Except when I can’t ignore it.

Do we go over again how hard this year has been? Nah, why would be. Heck, just by writing those words I’m risking to alienate most of you fine readers. So let’s just cap off and say, the last month has been kind of hard. Business has slowed down in the restaurant, and people have gotten cheap. Cheap-er, I should say, because Black Friday sapped their money like a lamprey on a salmon’s vein. So money has been tight in the house, like most Decembers. Add the stress that I talked about in my last post, and well, Holiday cheer is not abundant in Casa Rodriguez.

The solution would make my t-shirts cry: a little bit of “adulting”.

If there is one thing with which I have had problems, it’s letting go. Like any good man, I wear clothes till they either break or can’t be folded, or are coming apart like ancient papyrus exposed to the sun. That especially applies to things that entertain me or educate me. And magazines are a big part of that. I have always been a magazine reader, and still am. It’s a reason why my Pocket account is overrun with online magazine articles that I swear I’m going to get to any moment now. (A quick check into my account reveals that the oldest article I saved that i can still read is from 2012, thank you.)

So today I sat down and canceled my only two magazine subscriptions, Wired and National Geographic. They were not that expensive, and the NatGeo was digital only, but I haven’t read any issue of either magazine in detail since I started the subscription. It was money not well invested if I didn’t consume them in their entirety. So I finally grew up and hit “Cancel Subscription”.

I’m not gonna lie –it hurt. I felt like it was denying myself of the pleasure of knowledge, of reading excellent writing, of getting my brain challenged.

And then I got a ping on my phone. “Congratulations! You have paid back 14% of your debt!”

Fourteen percent? Doesn’t seem much. But hey, it means I’m 14% closer to having that debt off my back. It also means I haven’t missed a single payment. It also means I have treated this debt with the seriousness of… wait for it… an adult.

We always put ourselves under so much pressure. We need to be more productive, we fight against FOMO, we have to have better things, bigger things, shinier things. But why? To use a self-help cliché, nobody’s last words were ever “I wish I had worked harder”. Because, it turns out, we worked too hard.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t, as the late artist Amy Krouse Rosenthal once tweeted, pay attention to what we pay attention to. Life is all about that juggling act, and you have to pay attention to all those balls in the air. Your job, your family, your hobbies, your likes, your loves, your hates. They all have to stay up, somehow… until you realize that there’s another ball coming. Then you realize, with a little anguish, that you either try to juggle them all, going beyond your limits, and risk dropping them all… or you choose which one to let go.

That doesn’t mean that, down the line, you’ll get better and be able to juggle a massive amount of balls in the air. But that doesn’t come all at once. It comes after a lot of practice and patience. Of careful planning on when you’re going to practice. On how you’ll challenge yourself to do tricks, look more graceful.

But it all comes down to learning when to let go.

Goodbye, my beloved magazines. I’ll see you again down the road. (And in the meantime, if I want a single issue, there’s always Zinio.)