Day13: Baker’s Dozen, I Guess…

…Coming up with titles is hard.

So, Dear Readers™, many of you know I transitioned from a 15-year military career into a STEM career. After the interview, I searched the internet for advice about how to dress in a science/engineering setting, and found nothing. This was unsettling, I didn’t want to be inappropriately attired.

Because: Most engineers dress like crap. Dad jeans tapering to Dollar General tubesocks protruding from dingy white sneakers. Ill-fitting polo shirts, or those short-sleeved shirts not meant to be tucked in, like the ones Charlie Sheen wore on Two And A Half Men. Dorky-ass floppy hats.

hat

SRSLY, that is one dorky-ass hat.

I get it-everyone here’s a nerd, or at best, a wonk. Even the college interns are square.

I thought about it more: and it doesn’t matter. So many websites and magazines tell you to make a good first impression, to wear tailored clothes from good fabric, and so o. It’s no all bad advice, but unlike the military, the content of my character and capacity for performance is not judged solely by my appearance. I can wear jeans with a polo and a cardigan. I can wear baggy black jeans with loose-fitting hoodie. No one cares.

Just as in my post about sparring in Muay Thai, I ascribed more importance to it when I should have been comfortable being myself.

I need to slow down and not take things so seriously. I need to have fun. I need to be more Lil Yachty and less Lil Scrappy.

drake

So that’s the takeaway here. Be like Yachty.

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Day 12: Fear And Loathing In Muay Thai

fear

 

Last night I coached kid’s jiu jitsu, then made my way across the dojo to the in-progress Muay Thai class, as I usually do on Tuesday and Thursday. The bags were all in use, and there was no one left to work pads with, so I stationed myself a the wall pad for the duration of class. It was sufficient for working strikes, except knees, which I quickly learned to throw in air.

After class, I sparred for the first time. I’ve never sparred striking before, except a little boxing a long time ago. I did 2 rounds, and got banged up  a little. My neck and feet are stiff, but that’s okay. We weren’t going hard, and I had gracious training partners who took it easy on the new old guy. I’ve wanted to spar for a while. During advanced class, I’d usually work combos on a heavy bag in the corner, staying out of the danger zone of the sparrers, in awe of the ease at which they stalked, parried, counterpunched. I knew one day it would be me, but I was afraid.

I was afraid I wasn’t ready, I was afraid of getting hit. I wasn’t worried about looking silly or making mistakes, but I was afraid of pain-which never came.

I knew when I woke up on Monday morning that I would spar that night. I was overthinking it-fear was the mind-killer. Overthinking and being in my head gets me in trouble in martial arts as well as the rest of life, doubting my choices and thinking self-condemning thoughts  when I screw up. Like T-Swift says, I gotta shake it off.

I did it, and it was no big deal. I put so much value in it, put it on a pedestal, and in the end it was a fun exercise between teammates. My fear was bigger than the threat, but it was my beast, and I slayed it. Maybe next I can focus on something more challenging, like not getting so worked up by other motorist’s inability to use turn signals, which is also typically not a big deal.

Day 11: Revisiting My Do-Over

About 6 months ago I declared a do-over. I decided that the direction my life was going sucked, and I wanted to live differently. I think I’ve largely done so.

About a year ago I became interested in entrepreneurship. I listened to podcasts, read books, watched videos, and I was pumped. I never found an idea that was it, but I didn’t actively pursue it. I just trawled, hoping to stumble upon an innovative business concept. I think I’m ready to revisit that. I’d like to offer a good or service which is useful, and improves lives. I’ll make some time to sit down with a notebook to do some scrawling and plotting. I feel settled enough in life in Albuquerque to start doing stuff-making friends, trying new things, exploring. I am looking forward to being out more since the weather has cooled, and not merely surviving, which has been the major theme of my life for the past 3 years.

About 10 years ago, I almost left the military for culinary school. I love cooking, and I think it’s one of the few things I enjoy which I could do for a living without disliking it. I toyed with the idea of starting a food blog, and even attempted to have a logo commissioned by an artist. A friend in ABQ is starting a food truck. I feel as if I’m moving into a place where food is more of a focus of how I socialize, and with it, a healthier approach to and relationship with food than I’ve had in the past. I can do something related to food as a business. I had an idea for writing about truck stop/gas station/convenience store coffee. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the coffees in these unassuming venues. I haven’t encountered delicate floral notes, but strong “cowboy coffee” can be beautiful.

 

I would like to be involved in books, but not runnning a used bookstore-that sounds like a surefire way to hoarderdom. I did have an idea, but it seemed unoriginal and with low ROI.

I’ve intentionally avoided mixing money and jiu jitsu. I don’t want it to become a chore, I need bjj to be a positive part of my life. A lot of people start a gi company or something similar, I don’t want to do that.

This isn’t causing me anxiety- I have options, and space to explore them. My life is nowhere near perfect, and I am a deeply-flawed individual, but I am living the life I’ve planned. I am humbled and grateful.

Day 10: Nono to Nanowrimo

logo_of_national_novel_writing_month

I won’t be attempting Nanowrimo this year. My semester starts the week before, and I’ll be closing on a house/moving mid-month. It’s a wonderful project, but not for me this year.

Last year I started writing Siempre Gilbert, which has since become a (longer) short story, 20 pages or so, part of a story cycle. An unfinished short story, because I am writing several things at a time, and I haven’t yet figured out my workflow. I do not know what I am doing. I like the concept of “serial project monogamy” where a task is your focus until it is complete (as opposed to multitasking), but I can’t seem to make it work for projects like longer stories.

So if you’ll be grinding away next month, I salute. I look forward to reading about your journey, but I’m sitting this one out.

Day 8: Rest

 

rest

I went to sleep right after 8. I haven’t needed to go to bed that early in quite some time, but I don’t regret it. I had free time- I could have read or watched a movie, but I tapped out.

I don’t prioritize rest. I can’t; I must be in a constant state of hyper-vigillance, which is draining. I don’t know what else to do. Since transitioning to the civilian work force, some of the negative stressors of military service, such as working the weekend (unpaid) at the drop of a had, the ever-present threat of deploying to some violent craphole, having to answer your phone 24/7, have gone away.

Also, my anxiety about dying in a mass shooting is down 80%.

This has been good for me. I can sleep without troubling dreams, or the constant fear I was forgetting something.

Rest is important.

 

Day 6: Ouch

I’m reading Stephen Pressfield’s “The War of Art”. I’ve skimmed it before, and read a handful of his other stuff, but haven’t dug into this one until now. One of the main themes of the book is countering resistance- the negative energy, or inertia, limiting beliefs of excuses which get in the way of getting stuff done. In one section about resistance and trouble, he says “We get ourselves in trouble because it’s a cheap way to get attention. Trouble is a faux form of fame.”  He continues: “Ill health is a form of trouble, as are alcoholism and drug addiction, proneness to accidents, all neurosis including compulsive screwing-up, and such seemingly benign foibles as jealousy, chronic lateness, and the blasting of rap music at 110db from your smoked-glass ’95 Supra.”

“Proneness to accidents”? “Compulsive screwing-up”? Do you even know me?

Have I been clumsy my whole life because I’m undisciplined? I drop things and stuff when I’m by myself. I’ve always thought of it as wearing a body 2 sizes too big, which is why I’m always stubbing toes and bumping doorways.

I don’t know. This is something I have to process. It stung when I read it, which is not something I encounter often. I see myself in this description, and I want to do the work to fix it.

I am capable of being precise and graceful, but not as often as I would like. I want to live my life the best I can.

UPDATE: I wrote this post right before attending a mindfulness class. It was just what I needed. I still need to probe this proud flesh, though.

 

 

Day 5: Late to the party

Because my life is hella messy.

I just found out about the Write 31 Days Challenge , where people are committing to writing for each day in October, from the erstwhile Micah J. Murray. I thought it sounded like just the thing for me. I have been writing, but I haven’t been blogging much. I’ve meant to, but made excuses. Now the kids are all in bed, I have some tortilla chips and chile verde salsa, and I can unpack for a few minutes.

I’ve always had a stagnant period when I move to a new workplace; the endless orientation and training, getting your email set up, and so forth. Just lately I’ve started to feel productive at my new job. It feels good to have physical work done, and I did miss it.

Also of note, I’ve accepted the thought that I might not be doing this kind of work forever. I find it professionally fulfilling, and take pride in my workmanship, but I don’t have to stay in the same niche industry forever. In 10 years I might have another dream to follow, and that’s okay, as long as I have a plan, and have set myself up so I am in a place to take a risk.

I start school again n a few weeks. I was in a weird Limbo where I wasn’t yet able to use the GI Bill to go to school, plus I moved and started a new job. It would be nice to have knocked out a few more credits, but it made just as much sense to put it on pause for a bit. I am excited, but the term ends around the time I close on my new house. However, if I’ve learned anything over the past 6 years, it’s that life will never be convenient. If I want something, I need to make it happen. There will always be a good reason to not even try. I need to ignore this voice, and do foolish things, which usually end up having been awesome things.

I’ve finally gotten my oldest daughter involved in martial arts, in the form of Muay Thai and Eskrima. I’ve been trying for years, and she is enjoying it. I’m glad for this, she has the moody lack of confidence which plagues most 12-year-olds, and having just started a new school in a new city, she’s finding the social landscape less inviting than what she’s used to. I’m hoping that training will give her something structured, a continuity, a little discipline. I hope she learns that she can expect a lot of herself, and succeed if she really tries.

All told, though it seems at times we have more bad days than good, we are living well, and I’m thankful. I still struggle every day, but I am thankful.