Montreal

Montreal

Just got back from Montreal. Was there on a very aspirational sort of trip. I attended an international conference sponsored by a Canadian science organization. It’s an area of science I aspired to work in. I loved it in my undergrad. I was almost publishable.

On the flight over, I sat next to a postdoc who was going to a different conference. When I overheard him talking of their research topic, I assumed it was my conference, because it uses similar technology. Had quite a nice conversation with him on the plane, and he encouraged me and go back and finish my undergrad research. I stopped because my prof left to another university, but also because I didn’t really believe in either myself or what I was doing, not sure which. Maybe both.

Sadly, on the way back I sat next to some wanker who though twig-skinny had to hog the armrest and the foot-area divider. He repeatedly put his foot on top of mine and elbowed me in the side. Eventually I put a thick airline magazine between my side and the armrest and the jabbing ceased. This person sat and watched lame movies and as far as I know was a complete waste of space. Or at least I felt like killing him 2/3 way into the flight. Why the fuck did he need to keep elbowing me and brushing my skin with his hairy arm? I hate people touching me. I really, really hate people touching me.

So I wasted over $1000 to find out that yet again I don’t belong and to get numerous WTF-looks from people who know damn well I don’t belong. But  I don’t want to retire into a world of shinyhappy lunches, trips, outings, and classes. On the way home I sat and read a python textbook on my laptop for several hours. Those are the classes, method and tools I’m interested in. I want a real job, not an easy wind-down. I’m not finished! I haven’t even started. I never had a life. I want a real life, not delusion. I’d rather not kill myself right now, logical as that direction may seem.

I was also sick the whole time, hacking into my kleenex and taking antihistamines, pseudoephedrine and cough syrup day and night, bolstered by cough drops as needed. Yet another detail to make my old, grey, undereducated and overweight ass yet more unappealing to anyone there.

And I didn’t even make it to Schwartz’ Deli for the ultimate Montreal smoked meat sandwich. I was just too sick and tired. Instead I grabbed a beef shawarma pita thing that was nasty because it tasted like mustard. Is mustard an Arabic thing? I doubt it. So much for getting it with “everything” when you dk what “everything” is.

Friends

Friends

Over the past year or so, I started to make the friends I should have been making during my ill-fated marriage. We had no other friends. I wanted to, but he was so clingy it was nearly impossible. I accepted that as a temporary state. I didn’t realize the marriage was also temporary.  Imagine growling sounds here.

So I have various friends. And I have also started to cultivate connections with people in my field. The dreaded “networking.” Or as I learned from a course on Lynda.com by Lauren Bacon, “building community and connecting with others” rather than “networking.” It’s about meeting different people, not just people like oneself. But it’s about being authentic, real, genuine. Of course the conferences I went to probably had some facade-ish aspects to them – or my behaviour did. But I’m gonna keep trying. My networking is turbo-charged and it’s gonna be a lifelong habit. No more will I rely on who or what I have, not like I stupidly did in my marriage.

But in some ways, a facade is needed even in friendships. One in particular is a relatively new friend that seems to really like me, or so she has said more than once in the few months she’s known me. She wants me to come to her place, she says. I have been twice. I’m not crazy about going there or being there, even though she has a cat, and I love cats. I liked our conversations at first, when they were kind of intense, but now she’s relaxed into prattling about mundane things that are of no interest to me, and she doesn’t see that. I mention things of interest to me, and she never ever delves into them. She moves on to another mundane thing. What does one do in this situation? I don’t know! The facade is needed because I donno what to do with my frustration when that happens. It’s a mismatch.

I realized it was a mismatch one time when I really needed someone to talk to and my truth got too intense for  her. I’m sorry, but I have lived a dark life and I can’t say “Yeehah!” to your platitudes. Basically the implication is to hide the darkness, don’t acknowledge it, so she can prattle on about how wonderful all the mundane things are, like typical landscaping and so on. She’s told me more than once to lower my standards, as she has. That is not my way.

This is going nowhere, because we are going in different directions. I want a new career and she just wants to enjoy her retirement as much as possible. Her brain has slowed down, and I am honing mine to compete in a new career, in a job market full of mostly younger people. Or maybe really it’s nowhere because I don’t want to listen to what she wants to talk about and she apparently is the same way about what I want to talk about.

We are taking a dance class together. I’m not crazy about the dance class. The teacher is a bit disorganized. She gives instructions and then doesn’t follow what she said, so we can’t follow here. And when she’s winging it, she doesn’t have a method that allows you to follow. I liked the other dance teacher, the Latin one, much more high energy. An actual workout. This one is bellydance, and she spends way too long on one isolation, and I tend to feel cramped in whatever area we’re working on. Twenty minutes or a third of the class on one isolation is too much. More than 10 sets of 8 beats of just chest slides or hip drops is too much. Especially when followed by another 10.

This friend has another friend with a hobby farm, something I would dearly love to have, at least half an acre, preferably four acres. And this friend gave my friend some composted manure, and she offered it to me, since I’m a rabid gardener.  I appreciate it very much. Very thoughtful and apropos to my interests. I feel like a bit of a jerk that I don’t want to go to her place and that I am bored of her, but I accepted her gift. I don’t like playing board games unless there is really good conversation to go along with it.

And I really don’t like the smell of spilled wine gone mouldy and cat pee. I guess she can’t smell it, but I can. The compost had no particular smell, but she was suspicious about it, as if it was dirty. “It hasn’t been processed” and “I don’t really know what composting is.” Well, JFGI. There were worms living in it. It was basically very broken down and soil-like, with some bits of straw or grass fibres left.

I hope her health problems work out for the best and she enjoys her retirement, but she’s too low energy and unthinking for me to really connect with. How to ease out of it without burning bridges.

Triumph in the night

Triumph in the night

So, of course nighttime is when the desperate emotional eating happens. After I’ve waded and pushed through the day, often without much self-awareness, sometimes with emotional walls so I can focus on what needs doing, and often with a growing sense of dissatisfaction. And at the end of the day, when there’s no more energy of motion, I collapse in a needy lump. Can’t get what I need, but sometimes food can take the edge off. Habitually, it has. Alcohol could do the same thing. But whatever thing it is, it’s not the thing I need. I need peace, joy, and connection.

I’ve been cultivating those, and wanna talk about the connection – the self-connection, now. Because I don’t expect to have a partner again. I don’t expect any friend to be there for me. Rarely they are. Would be nice, but I clearly can’t count on anyone. Not like in the movies. I watched a movie like that tonight, “Friends with Kids.” A nice fantasy, love with a twist or two. But another thing I did tonight was my triumph, my new idea.

A project the last couple weeks has been doing a time study, just tracking my major activities on a spreadsheet. They’re also colour coded into four categories – pink for emotional crap, yellow for maintenance, blue for fun times, and green for go-go stuff related to my needed career change. So I’ve increased the amount of green time. Four hours today. And still working on decreasing the nasty pink emotional time.

Having noticed how the nighttimes lead to eating and movies, just as for probably a lot of people in this world, I felt dissatisfied. Then today I got the brill idea of a potential new habit: working into the night. See, when I’m absorbed in work, I’m fairly content. I forget to eat. And then there’s the payoff of figuring out some puzzle, as I did yesterday, or learning something new. And I can see myself doing this as a habit, crazy as it sounds. Counter-intuitive, I mean, this kind of self-connection. But that’s what it is, self-connection.

With sharpening my skills, I should be able to get a job in this field. Hit the ground running. Keep a fast pace on deliverables with knowledgeable and optimized approaches, just as I do in my current dead-end gig that I only do for money. Tonight after the movie, I sat and did a GIS tutorial for an hour. I can see this working for me. Because I’m doing something both constructive and gratifying, instead of late-night eating, this is triumph.