Pessimistically optimistic at the seashore…

I’m in Florida this week with my family minus my two big girls, enjoying a resort with a pool, a bay side view, and a nice white, sandy beach. “Life is good” says my T-shirt, and it is. Thanks to a generous gift from my father-in-law, we can enjoy this time together while the kids have school break.

All would be blissful if everything had fallen into place on the Friday before we left. I had expected a call back about a job – one that I’d interviewed for on Wednesday and had a call back on Thursday for a second interview. The job, a 30 hr/week position which barely paid a living wage, was exciting and challenging, and would evoke all of my creative talents. I was optimistic that it seemed I was the only person called back for a second interview, as the director was headed out-of-town right after our 8am meeting. I was feeling good, thought we had a great rapport, and was eager to get going on the job. All I thought she had to do was to check my references, which I was confident would be superb. Friday came and went and still, knowing that she hadn’t reached them all, I was disappointed to not hear over the weekend, but excused that fact and then again for the Monday holiday. By Wednesday, I finally got a call and was shocked to hear that she had given it to someone else.

I could have gone spiraling into a downward mope of depression and self-pity, and even though I did feel sorry for myself for a moment, it just wouldn’t  last. What I felt predominantly, was anger- at myself(again)for letting any job get into my psyche that much before I got it! I think that I’m going to get it, and I know that if I don’t stay positive, it could affect my interview, and if I say to myself, “you probably won’t get it anyway,” or “that interview really sucked” for various reasons,” or if I keep telling myself  “if you get it, it’s a bonus!” then I am casting self-doubt. That will never get me a job. Either I’ll get it or I won’t. In one case, I’ll be happy(I think), and in the other case, I’ll be upset, sad, and depressed. How long will and can I stay that way? We’ll see.

Being a very visual person can be a curse, you see, because I can see myself projected into a role easily, complete with my work attire, organized desk area, daily routines, and even the lunch I’ll pack. When I ‘m called for an interview, I diligently research the job, finding out about everyone involved in the organization, policies, staff, website, publications, history, business trends, innovations in the industry-you name it, I know it! So when I don’t get a job, it’s like a nice dream I just awoke from and discovered it didn’t really exist. It’s a major let-down and hangs with me for days or weeks, during which time I also rationalize every possible reason I might have not succeeded: “Too old”, “over-qualified, will probably leave for a better job,” “too gay,” “too strong and self-assured,” “really wants to take my job,” “won’t fit in with our style,” and the list goes on.

Am I pessimistically optimistic or optimistically pessimistic? I used to believe that I was a perpetual optimist. I could find the good in anything and always believed that things would work out for the best. “Whatever will be, will be,” is my motto, and I truly believe in the will of my higher power, but lately, I’ve got this she-devil sitting on my shoulder, saying “I told you not to get excited over that job.” “No one wants to hire you,” “you’re a threat to them,” “you’re too eager and want it too much!”

So here I am, at the beach, knowing that instead of jumping feet first into a new, exciting job on Monday, I’m still searching, sending off resumes to jobs that I mostly don’t want at places I can’t imagine working. That rare special job has eluded me again and I just need to believe that a better one is waiting for me. It just needs to come soon!

I went out for a walk on the beach alone today, heading out for some exercise and thinking time. While I could have collected shells, admired the surging waves and water fowl, I kept to my intentions and tried to just keep up a good stride and think about my feelings. I thought about one of my favorite books, Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and the beauty and life lessons she extracted from the nature around her. I won’t pretend to have found anything as profound as that, but I did come to cherish the importance of my time here with my family and the memories that we’re creating. I picked out a few shells on my way back, snapped some interesting photos, and now am sharing them with you. Everything happens for a reason!

SAD Spring Smells

It’s no secret that this “winter” has been one of the warmest on record for us in Western MA so it didn’t surprise me at all to hear birds chirping outside and to see buds on our Rhododendron bushes this week. I should be happy that we haven’t been hit by any significant snow since Halloween, thus lowering our heating and plowing bills, which I am, but it comes with the black cloud of global warming hanging above me and the world.

I have been a bear this week, not only in my (non-employed) isolation, but also in my mood. I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but suffice it to say that my waning hormones and waxing moon have wrought havoc on my psyche in the last few days. I’ve been short with my loved ones, barely tolerant of any shortcomings (yes, even more than usual), and would like it if everyone would just leave me alone to do what I do best, which right now is to just take things as they come.

I know it’s getting bad when my wife has to ask me(not in a sweet, but in more of an obligatory way) before we go to bed “would you like a goodnight kiss?” Normally, there’s never a question, but after living through 16 years of my mood swings coupled with her cycles as well, we’re lucky if there’s one good week a month between us! If I say “no,” then I’m going to piss her off, and if I say “OK,” and lean over to give her a kiss, I can’t help the running narrative in my head that’s saying “why is it that I always have to be the one who has to sit up and give her a kiss?!”  Yes, I know it’s petty, and at the same time, it flickers through my mind like it usually does when I’m in a pissy mood and don’t really want to kiss, dammit! Kissing really shouldn’t need that much processing!

It’s doubtful that many men are reading my blog, except possibly a few relatives who are probably not learning anything new about me, so if hearing about hormones and cycles is distasteful, you guys can sign off now. For us women, by the time we start our periods as girls, we’ve already experienced raging hormones for a while even if it’s gone unnamed. My wife and I joke all the time and have for a year now that our 10 year-old daughter is raging hormonally when she gets on a rampage. At least we can recognize it!

All of my life, the women in my family have been credited for having an extraordinary sense of smell. That’s right, and we got it from our mother and I have passed it to my kids. It’s a curse really, because unless it’s served us to protect from fire or explosion, most other smells need not be heightened. Yet, as I teeter closer and closer to full-on menopause, my sense of smell has gone up 5 notches from “super sniffer”  to the level of unbearable. I can smell  cigarette smoke coming from a driver in a car 5 cars ahead of me at a stop light! Imagine how I react at a friend’s house who owns a dog that never gets a bath, or nasty smelling soccer shin guards as my daughter changes her clothes on the way to basketball practice, burnt popcorn at a game, that chemically smelling bad men’s cologne. I’m one big sponge to those sickening smells and unfortunately it makes me react in a way that feels like I’m trapped in a locked room with biting rats if I can’t get away from the smell!

Today, I woke up knowing that after I made 5 lunches and  took my 12-year-old to school, that I’d come home to an empty house. Yippee! I love to have the day alone in my house! Yesterday, my wife didn’t work, so we shared the space for 6 hours, and she had the nerve to ask me questions and disrupt my routine. You see, I don’t like to have to explain where I’m going, what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, etc. Unfortunately, when she’s around there’s much more of that dialogue and it messes with my day.

So, after my work-out buddy cancelled, I decided to brave the colder than the “new” normal temperatures and exercise outside. It was bright sunny, cold but not too harsh, and very invigorating! After about a half-mile, I realized that I already felt better. I’ve unofficially diagnosed myself with Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD), so I purposefully don’t wear sunglasses if I don’t have to, exposing my pineal gland to as much light as I can. I’m sure that physiologically, it doesn’t happen instantly, but nevertheless, my mood brightened sharply! I was ready to take on the day, knew what I wanted to make for dinner, planned my shopping excursion, mentally jotted my to-do list, played a couple of rounds of WWF’s and outlined my blog post-all before I got to my first mile. I was so ready to be done with it and get home that I almost turned around with excitement and energy and a renewed outlook on life! But I didn’t. I stuck it out, observed the nature around me and a lone gummy worm discarded on the bike path, and made it home an hour later.

Soup’s made, shopping is done, and I’m ready to take on life, and Spring? If it’s going to come early, I sure hope everything’s died off from winter because I count on that cleansing of the earth process. It’s like taking a shower and starting all over again with sweetness and regeneration, and I really need to smell some swell smells!

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