Weekend Coffee Share: In Which I May be on the Mend

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you this has been the best week I’ve had since I can remember. My stress level is as low as it’s been since May. I’ve had a bit more free time than usual, so I’ve done more blogging in the last seven days than I did in all of January and February.

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I don’t know how long it will last, but the words seem to be flowing for me again. I think the move into social commentary and politics helped with that, but I’m afraid it’s not done me much good in the way of audience.

If you’ve been following me since the days when this was a writing blog, and through all the ups and downs of the Sourcerer experiment, thanks for sticking with. I doubt I’ll ever get back to publishing three and four posts per week because the stuff I’m writing now is time-consuming and I don’t have that much time most weeks. But I have no plans to give up blogging. From here on out, I’m focusing on quality rather than quantity and working myself up to the point where I can start placing posts on blogs other than my own.

And I’d tell you I measured my little puppy today because she’s six months old next week. She’s almost 21 inches at the shoulder and weighs 45 lbs. So not that little any more, and she’s gotten bold. She’s still not mature enough to be outside off a leash because we have no fenced yard. But she thinks she is, and if we aren’t careful she bolts outside when we open the door.

She likes to sit to the left of my computer chair while I’m working at the desk because she’s figured out that if I’m surfing instead of typing, she can get lots of head scratches that way. And she’s learned to grin.

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If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m as concerned about the overall political climate in the U.S. as I’ve ever been. I’d try not to go on and on about it, because I’ve already thrown nearly 10K words at it and I’ve got more coming. But I would share with you, briefly, the two things about it which worry me the most.

First, we have a serious contender for President who’s been permissive of violence at his rallies. Much of this violence has been motivated by a combination of racism, nationalism, and anger at the economic stagnation we’ve suffered over the last decade. If you’ve read your history even a little, you know what a volatile combination that is. I hope we can find a way to rein it in before it spills over into the streets and into the policies of the next administration.

Second, I’m pretty sure U.S. foreign policy over the last 15 years or so has precipitated a full-scale regional re-alignment in the Middle East and it’s only going to get uglier for at least the next few years. That has consequences not only for the Americas and Central Asia, but for Europe, East Asia, Africa, and Australia as well. Because we’re all so interconnected, there’s no disentangling ourselves from one another.

There are more trigger points in Asia for serious conflicts between powerful countries than I can remember seeing in my lifetime. The next President will need to be smart about his diplomatic strategy. It’s as frightening a situation as anything I’ve experienced since the days when we were doing the nuclear tango with the Soviet Union.

I think it’s probable that the next President will need to decide whether to double down on the Middle East and make a serious long-term military commitment there, or to pull out completely and realign our forces so we can continue to meet our security obligations to our European and Asian allies without a significant presence in the Middle East. Because what we’re doing there now isn’t working or even helping.

These are treacherous waters, and I don’t fully trust any of the likely candidates to navigate them without making things worse. So I’m at a loss. It’s far too late to point fingers or place blame about the foreign policy errors we’ve committed over the past few years. We need to find a way forward, but I have no answers. Only questions.

And that’s all I’d say about the politics if we were having coffee today.

I’m back to the normal schedule next week, so I won’t have as much time to write and chatter as I’ve had these last few days. My goal remains to provide one post per week other than these coffee posts, and I’ve got next week’s almost done. Eventually I’ll work out a routine and post them at a consistent day and time, but for now, I’m just trying to meet the goal itself.

Happy Saturday! Don’t forget to add your post to the Weekend Coffee Share linkup at Part Time Monster, and to share it with #weekendcoffeeshare on Facebook and Twitter.

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Weekend Coffee Share: The Hard Year

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’ve missed these chats over the past couple of months. I’ve missed lots of other blogging things, too, but the #weekendcoffeeshare is my favorite regular blogging activity, and I feel as though I’ve been away too long.

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And I’d tell you I’m terribly out of practice. It’s amazing how quickly I get rusty when I stop doing a particular type of writing. So today, I’m just putting one word after another until I’m done, because I need to publish something before the weekend is out.

I’d tell you 2015 was one of the hardest years of my life. It was harder than the year I spent in Central Texas working for minimum wage plus tips and living like a monk because I didn’t have any friends there. Harder than the year I lost a good public sector job due to budget cuts — the only time I’ve ever been terminated from a job, and it took a toll.

The only year that was worse was the year Vicki broke her ankle, then was allowed to develop pneumonia due to poor medical care and spent 17 days at death’s door in ICU. That experience was so traumatic I ended up in therapy for PTSD for almost two years.

There are four things that are sure to disrupt the normal rhythm of a person’s life and bring on a ton of stress.

Getty stock image.

Getty stock image.

  1. Major lifestyle changes, especially when they’re involuntary.
  2. Loved ones dealing with life-threatening medical situations.
  3. Changes in professional responsibilities.
  4. Financial pressures.

I spent most of last year dealing with all of those at once. Since I’m a hypersensitive, anxiety- and depression-prone person, what I ended up with was a mental and emotional shitstorm that turned me into a functional basket case. I got to the point where I had to let go of something just to get through to the holiday break, and blogging turned out to be the thing I had to let go of. And not just the blogging. I pretty much left the entire Internet and withdrew from every part of social life except work and my immediate family.

I don’t even know when I last published a blog post, but I went from Oct. 20 to Dec. 15 without so much as posting a Facebook update. At one point Diana had to email me to get my attention and make sure I was ok. That should give you a clue as to what a bad way I was in.

In late November, I started thinking about how and when to come back, but I was overwhelmed trying to catch up on all the stuff I’d missed, beating myself up over several blogging commitments that I just didn’t show up for,  and the holidays were just around the corner. I was paralyzed. I felt like I had nothing to say and little to offer. And then, the week of Thanksgiving, this little girl showed up. Her name is Diesel.

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She’s probably got genes from a dozen or more breeds of dog. Here mother is a Golden Retriever mix and her father is a Lab mix, but we know she has some Chow in her ancestry several generations back and she seems to think she’s a German Shepherd. Having to care for her somewhat jarred me out of the funk I had fallen into, but she was only two months old when we got her, so taking care of her has pretty much been a full-time job until the last week or so.

Then on New Years’ Eve, this fella showed up. We found him on our back porch hiding from the fireworks. We fed him and gave him a blanket, and he’s barely left the yard since. He’s a big dog, but he’s less than 8 months old because he doesn’t have all his adult teeth yet. He’s much less work — hardly any trouble, really. He’s an outside dog who likes to come in after school and play with the boy and the little puppy.

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Anyway I’m somewhat better now, thanks in part to the doggies. I’m trying to figure out what I can do, blogging-wise, through the spring. I simply don’t have the time or the energy to get Sourcerer busy again right now, and that pains me. I put two years of my life into building that blog and dozens — if not scores — of people supported it, so it’s not something I can let go lightly.

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I’m publishing this here today because I don’t want to post over at Sourcerer until I decide what to do with it — I don’t just want to post a couple of times there and then have it go silent for two or three more weeks. And I’m not ready to shut it down, so silence is the best option until I figure out what I want to do with it.

I’m pretty much in a bind with the blogging. Keeping a blog humming the way Sourcerer was when it was firing on all cylinders last spring requires two things.

  1. The person who’s running it has to produce a lot of content and spend time on the blog at least every other day; and
  2. Posts have to be planned at least a week or two in advance, even if they are written at the last minute.

I’m not in a position to do either of those things at the moment. I’ve not been able to predict my schedule more than three days in advance since I started packing my apartment the last week of May, and that seems to be the “new normal” for me. But at the same time, I really must blog. So, I’m setting what I feel is a reasonable goal for myself for February and March, and I’ll re-evaluate the situation the week of spring break.

My blogging goal for the next couple of months is to produce a blog post per week, not counting the coffee share posts, which I’ll do here as often as I can. I’ll offer the one post per week to other bloggers. I have to give Part Time Monster and Comparative Geeks priority, because I doubt I would even be attempting this comeback if not for the support of Diana, David, and Holly. But I’m pretty much writing whatever I feel like writing, so it’s entirely possible that I’ll come up with some things to offer other friends, as well.

I also plan to get back to reading and sharing blogs at least one evening a week.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I’m back, but it will be awhile before I’m able to be all over the internet the way I was in 2014 and 2015. Honestly, I don’t know how I kept that up as long as I did. But it was fun, and it made me a lot of friends, so I hope I can get back there eventually.

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Weekend Coffee Share: In Which I Say, “Fine”

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that when my Saturday post publishes, I will be covered in bleach, because I am washing my house down today with the help of my Father.

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And I would tell you I am thinking about what is good for Gene’O — not what is good for Gene’O but is also good for everyone else. I would tell you, bluntly, that it is time for me to be selfish, and I don’t give a fuck whether anyone likes it or not.

I’d tell you I finished up with work very early in the day yesterday. I spent my commute dreaming up Sci-Fi Saturday things I could write for Sourcerer, and wondering if I should go ahead and do a coffee post over there.

I’m obviously NOT doing a coffee post over there this weekend. And I am also not doing a Sci-Fi Saturday there. I’m not doing anything at Sourcerer this weekend, unless I find a sliver of free time that I do not know about at this point.

My family, bless their southern hearts. Do not actually understand what I am doing here. This Internet thing, as far as they are concerned, is a hobby. I am trying to put us into a position to build something reselmbling a business here. But as far as some of the people in my life go? I might as well be building model airplanes. Or paper airplanes.

This is probably all, for the whole weekend, as far as the words posted on the blogs goes. It’s hard to do spur-of-the-moment writing when you’re surrounded on all sides by chaos and people with expectations. Especially if you want the spur-of-the-moment writing to be decent and have art.

I would not rule out interactions in other media, though. It only takes so long to wash a house, and as for dealing with the rest, well. I am accustomed to that.