The music that’s taking me back to Cringetown.

Music has a way of carrying me back sometimes. Today’s choice is from Paul Oakenfold’s Bunkka album – “Zoo York”. Back when I first heard this song, I had a boyfriend who was pretty snobby and I was desperate to fit in with him and his friends. His friends were (and probably still are) great people though; it was just him that lacked substance.

This song reminds me of that time. Being an unsophisticated 22/23 year old, feeling like I was seeing adulthood for the first time. It reminds me of drinking too many cosmopolitans (because that’s what one of the girlfriends drank and I wanted to be just like her) shopping, and strained family relationships. Reminds me of sadness and arguments. It reminds me about how I’ve never really fit in anywhere I’ve been and when that relationship ended, how I fell into darkness for years and then pulled myself out. I didn’t treat myself well because I didn’t realize I deserved the best. That took me until my 30’s to figure out.

What can I say, I’m a late bloomer. Better than not blooming at all.

Yet – I am choosing to stream the Paul Oakenfold channel today because I did grow to enjoy the ease of his music over the years. Plus, I like reminders of where I’ve come from because it makes where I am that much sweeter.

Wait – what day is it?

I must be sleeping pretty heavily lately because both days this weekend I’ve woken up thinking I was either late to work or feeling bummed that I had to work the next morning. It’s Sunday which means it’s BLOG DAY. I’m typing this outside on my picnic table, surrounded by cluttery bullshit that shows how much of a mover and a shaker my wife has been with the gardening stuff. Today we are going to get our plants in the ground but, first, she has to change the oil in the new 4-wheeler she got for Emma.

#JustSundayThings

It’s been a beautiful weekend. Yesterday I was out and about on my bike for well over an hour. I like to explore streets and neighborhoods I’ve not been in before and that’s what I did! Then I rode down by Rivers Casino a bit and then came up through the Hudson Mohawk bike path. I made a stop at The Boat House and met Bud and Sally, it’s retiring owners. I stopped in to see if they had any kayaks left and turns out they just had one! Because I’d be an asshole to just bring home one, I opted to get a Yakima roof rack installed on my car so I could get ready for our eventual kayaks. True story – I found out when I got home yesterday that my wife has already purchased kayaks for us for our first wedding anniversary. Talk about soulmates…we are just on the same damned page way too often.

I then had a lot of time to craft. I’m savoring these “empty” weekends before I start my bachelor’s program because that time will be eaten up by a lot of reading, studying, and paper-writing. That’s what I’m assuming. It has been a long time since I’ve been in college (17 years) and I don’t really know what to expect. I don’t remember studying a lot before but I also didn’t care back then.

So during my free time yesterday, I finished up some projects. I made this bee candle holder for my sister’s birthday next month, as she LOVES bees. I was going to sell it, but to be honest, the first intention with this piece WAS for my sister’s birthday. As I was working on it, I just felt that maybe she wouldn’t want another knickknack, but my mom convinced me yesterday to just give it to her. So I am 🙂

Made from a recycled wine bottle with hand-painted fat & happy little bees.

I am so happy with how this came out that I am copying the bee motif on to other projects, which I’ll share in the future.

I also finished up these two candles and, guess what? THEY ARE SCENTED! I found some amazing fragrance oils and am now using them in my candles. The scent of these are orchid and it’s so lovely and uplifting.

Made from recycled bouillon jars.

I also enjoyed one of my own candles late last night, as my wife was making dinner. I scented this candle with “Ocean Breeze” and, I won’t lie, there were some vacationy-vibes happening in my brain. We are headed (hopefully) to Wildwood, NJ, in August, and although we have no idea what August will look like, pandemic wise, we are still hopeful to go and visit the ocean. Bike ride. Just be somewhere different.

This was made out of a recycled jelly jar.

Anyway, that’s enough for me today. I am actually thinking of exchanging my shorts I was going to wear while gardening for pants! It’s a bit chillier today than it has been but I am NOT complaining. This week was ridiculous with the humidity so the fact that this weekend has been breathable is enough for me!

A new schedule is beginning!

I will be starting my bachelor’s program at Purdue University Global on June 10th. Due to that, I am going to have to reconsider my schedule and budget my time better so that I can still do things that I enjoy (this blog, for example!) but not stress myself out to the max trying to do everything without some sort of timeframe barrier. So, starting next week, I will be blogging once per week on Sundays.

The other night I was working on my pre-orientation homework, as my live orientation takes place on Tuesday evening. I have to say, I’m a bit nervous about my education taking place solely online; when I graduated college in 2003, I was going to a school. I had school textbooks and an hour commute each way. Online learning is the way of the future – even if we weren’t under quarantine.

Thursday evening I was trying to get it all together and realized my Microsoft Office 365 wasn’t downloaded properly. That threw me for a loop after a very busy day and I should’ve called it quits after solving that problem (which honestly didn’t get resolved until today – “user error”), but I forged on for another two hours trying to review items and submit answers to quizzes…all while feeling more and more discouraged by the minute. I will need to be more mindful of my brain telling me its had enough because I was burnt out and I probably didn’t learn as much as I could have if I had started fresh.

I finished up my pre-orientation duties today and it felt much easier. I went into it not frustrated, not exhausted, not feeling like I was in a hurry to be anywhere. The school’s website seemed intuitive instead of confusing. Basically, it was the total opposite experience that I had the other night. It left me feeling like “Okay, I got this!” instead of “What the fuck did I sign myself up for?!”

So, I get to relax the rest of this 3-day weekend and I’m so grateful for that! I am working on boosting up my macramĂ© plant hangers for my Mercari shop, as I’ve sold 6 this week, leaving only 1 left in my online shop. I have made 5 between yesterday and today and will be making a few more. Then it will be the measuring, picture taking, and listing of each one.

Although I love making them, I don’t know how I will make them and do my school work. So I’m going to finish up with all of the cording I have and then see what I can do. I have made a nice little chunk of change by making these and selling unneeded items online and I will miss that little extra income. That little extra income is helping put an invisible fence around our yard for our dogs.

Anyway, I am happy that I waited so long to go back to school. When I went to school the first time, right out of high school, I didn’t give two shits about it. I was tired of 13 years of school already. I’m ready to give it my all this time. So that will be my priority, behind my family and my current job as a paralegal.

On another note, which doesn’t really have anything directly to do with the above, I realized something this morning: Depression and anxiety haven’t reared their ugly heads in a while. I don’t know if it’s the beautiful weather, a better eating and exercise routine, a caffeine-free lifestyle, or a mixture of all of the above. I feel like I am embarking on this new adventure in the best mind-space I could possible be in.

I’m on my way…limping along a bit, but still on my way!

As of this evening, I am registered into my two first classes at college – Ethics and Interpersonal Communication. They fit best into the time frames I need for my live online seminars. I am excited and a tiny, tiny bit nervous because I haven’t been to school since 2003…do the math. Do I even know how to student anymore?

So every day I’ve been chipping away at the getting ready to go back to college thing. Whether it’s applying for financial aide, discussing my current credits and what I need to do in order to get my bachelor’s, to scheduling classes, to applying for scholarships, getting supplies (I LOVE NOTEBOOKS!) – I’ve been taking it one task at a time; spreading it all out so it’s not lumped into one stressful day. I mean, day to day live without school can be hard enough. I am ridiculously busy at work ~ there is not enough time in the day to make it all happen but I continue to try.

At home, I feel like I haven’t been as mentally present. Too many moving parts on my end and on Theresa’s. My wife’s been kicking some serious ASS in getting our garden together this year. She built this amazing strawberry stand out of 2×6 wood and gutters so that the strawberries grow in the gutters and hang over the sides for easy picking. She’s put together, with the help of her brother and dad, a greenhouse. She’s purchased a bed for our spare bedroom, making it ready for guests when the COVID is over (or for our own nap times). We’ve sold things, decluttered, re-organized…when I say “we”, more “her”. So while I’ve been focused on preparing for school and maintaining healthy eating habits (for the most part), an exercise routine, and a busy Mercari shop…she’s been working on things that will better and benefit our family. I have been more focused on, I guess, bettering me. Which I hope, in turn, will better all of us.

Life, man. I was telling a co-worker – a kooky dude named Stefan – that I feel like I’ve lived a number of lifetimes to get to where I am today. He can relate and has had some interesting parts of his life, too, before becoming an attorney. He used to test snowboards, make ice cream, count the money in those armored trucks…maybe that’s why I am beginning to like him. He doesn’t seem like someone who knew what he wanted to do from the moment he could walk – I like people who have done different and weird things to get to where they are today. Although I haven’t strayed too far from the law (a two year stint at a gym), my style of life has changed a lot since leaving high school. I can relate, you know? To people who dabbled in this or that before settling into something adultish. Even thought I think the people who dabble forever are just as interesting. I guess people who are HAPPY with who they are and what they are doing are just super interesting to me.

There is no more free time in quarantine.

At least for me. It’s been a hot second since I’ve taken the time to blog ~ I’ve been SO busy with various things.

I am blessed that I continue to work full time without issue. On top of that, I’ve had steady sales from my Mercari shop and have even expanded to depop. Success has been with Mercari so far this quarantine-season and I’m grateful for it. The goal is to sell $1,200 of excess items and handmade goods so I can purchase a new shower for our downstairs bathroom, as that bathroom is declining pretty rapidly.

Affording a contractor may be out of our budget at this point so we will likely try to do as much of things as we can – but will obviously be saving the plumbing work and electrical work for the experts. But knocking down walls, tearing things out, putting a new tile floor in and the tile on the shower walls? We got that.

Plus the goal is just to keep busy and not fall into a funk.

So there is no additional time for me – I do not have hours of time that is suddenly undelegated. That’s also just my personality; I like to be moving forward.

In the spirit of moving forward, I am also in the process of getting ready to go back to college and obtain my bachelor’s degree. I am going to continue my legal education, ya’ll! I might as well, I mean, I’m good at it and I’ve seen some of these attorneys out there…some don’t give a shit, some fall asleep in meetings…I can do better. I will do better, years from now.

Something real.

I haven’t spent a lot of time writing about the real things. I’ve dipped into it, dodged it…but I think I’m ready to today, on this lovely Saturday afternoon in Quarantineville, New York, to write about some real shit.

I haven’t found this mandatory quarantine thing to be too difficult. I’ve settled into somewhat of a routine with working from home, still needing to run into the office to exchange files out, but for the most part, feeling pretty productive without the frequent interruptions of the phone ringing and conversations with my co-workers. I do find myself missing the atmosphere of the office though – I’ve found that I sit a long time at home, as I’m not getting up to go make copies, scan documents, use the restroom which is halfway across the building from me. So, without all of that and the interruptions, I feel like I’ve really been ahead of the game, as opposed to behind. I was pretty worried with the attorney I worked directly with resigned and left; I felt like I was going to be under a lot of pressure and then when this pandemic hit, I was even more nervous. It’s all good though – everything’s fine on my end and I’m happy to be working. Right now my wife is not; she was furloughed just over a week ago and had the joy of applying for unemployment this week in a system that’s completely overloaded and in need of a procedural overhaul.

The hardest thing, at first, was knowing that my parents were still in NYC. If you’re new to my blog, my mom was diagnosed with mesothelioma just over a year ago and has undergone chemotherapy and is now going through immunotherapy coupled with chemotherapy. All of her treatment has been at Sloan Kettering in Manhattan, so when the coronavirus showed up in Manhattan, my parents had already been living there for almost a month. In early March, my wife and I traveled down to see them and the number of cases jumped from just a handful to almost a hundred, overnight. My dad was getting nervous because besides attending my mom’s treatments and going for walks, he spends a lot of time online, reading and listening to the news. As things got worse, I just wished that they were back home, in the country. With their things, with their space, in an area that isn’t festering with the sickly when my mom’s immune system is so compromised. Home – where mountains are seen outside of the kitchen and living room windows. Where there’s a yard to walk around in, quite roads to travel on.

By the grace of God, my mom’s cancer doctors in the city decided that she’d be safer back home so my sister went down on a renegade mission to smuggle my parents out of Manhattan. They’ve been back now for just over 2 weeks and it is a relief. While I have not see them (they are quarantined – my mom remains at home and my dad only leaves when he absolutely has to), it’s just nice (to say the least) to know that they are home – for their physical health and mental health. They were renting a studio apartment that was about as big as our kitchen and dining room combined; while there are plenty of places to walk around in the city, the fact of the matter is everyone’s on top of one another, even when they are trying not to be. Hell, the people that have lived there their whole lives probably don’t even realize how sardine-like their lives are on a daily basis compared to living in a very rural setting upstate.

While tomorrow is Easter and normally the families would be getting together for meals, obviously, that is not happening. It’s going to be a very different holiday, indeed.

The most major effect the quarantine has had on me, personally, is (1) the fact that the other night, when I had a MAJOR craving for Chinese take-out, NO PLACE WAS OPEN. ZERO. ZIP. A big cup of go fuck myself was offered instead. My wife persevered, as I was having a horrible day, and we settled on Thai take-out which was lovely, but I really wanted some old school, greasy, take-out Chinese. My wife tends to cook dinner every night; we don’t do a lot of ordering out or going out to eat, so the fact that the restaurants are all closed for seated business has not affected me too much. I will say though that when life goes back to normal, I am really looking forward to brunching so damned hard at Perecca’s in Schenectady with friends and endless mimosas.

The second effect is the fact that since the kids aren’t in school, with no return date really set in stone, they are home with us all day long. They need to be occupied…all day long. Because I am working, they know not to bother/interrupt me unless it’s absolutely necessary, but they also cannot be on their ipads or on other internet-related devices all day because my VPN isn’t super strong and when they are both gaming on their ipads, I get bumped frequently. Kids really shouldn’t be on electronics all day anyway and if you disagree, well, good for you. I’m a firm believer that kids need to run, play, go outside and get dirty…they need to exercise those demons OUT of their bodies, I feel like, MORE SO, when there are two kids. Emma and Jake bicker a LOT, even more so now that they are together 24/7. I’ve noticed that on the rainy days when they are inside, they bicker more. Jake becomes a huge pest (cue the “boys will be boys” adage) if he isn’t getting his adolescent energy out. They are not the type of kids to occupy themselves for very long unless you give them an electronic device and I struggle with that. A lot.

When I was a kid, I remember playing in my homemade sandbox under the big pine tree that’s no longer there. (My parents had it removed last year – it was HUGE and such a pain in the ass because it dropped so many needles, sap, and pinecones.) I remember bouncing a soccer ball like a basketball (because my dad had run over the basketball) up and down the driveway, telling myself stories because I wanted to be an author someday. I remember swinging on my homemade swing set, conquering the monkey bars, and then listening to my Rite Aid brand Walkman for HOURS, waiting to hit “record” when my favorite songs came on the radio station. Long bike rides with my dad, where he’d grab my handlebars on hills that felt steep on my childhood legs to help me up. Sledding at the hill next to the retirement home uptown, where if you didn’t dismount on your sled quick enough, you were taking an unpleasant dip into the stream at the bottom. As an early teenager, my best friend and I would take off on our bicycles ALL DAY LONG, sometimes even crossing state lines and…get this…we didn’t have cell phones! Our parents had no idea where we were exactly and what time we’d be home, just as long as we were home before dark. Walks through the paths in the mountain across the way from my home, my dad carving initials into the side of a tree. Tubing down the Battenkill river on rafts made out of discarded tire tubes; making an entire day out of being lazy on the water.

I want that and more for Emma and Jake – not this childhood full of T.V. shows without a point or any real conversations and certainly not the gaming trend. I am not in charge though. My personality type is to BE IN CHARGE and there are some chapters in time where it really bothers me that I don’t have the ultimate control. Then that chapter ends and a new one begins where I’m fine with being a teammate instead of a leader. I feel like that’s the role a step-parent should ideally be in; a teammate – not the leader. The kids have parents who are very active in their lives – I’m not necessarily needed as a leader on a day to day basis. But I have control issues and I admit that much of the time with things, I feel like I know best. I think that stems from having to make my own way so much through adulthood – I come to an obstacle and I think of a hundred ways around it, not realizing that it isn’t always my job to be the one to come up with the answers. Other people might have answers and that’s okay, too. Their answers can be just as valid.

Back to the quarantine thing – I like home. I like BEING home. I like taking care of projects, doing chores, cleaning. A fun fact about me: every Saturday morning, I look forward to getting up whenever I naturally wake up, and puttering around my house CLEANING. Today, I got up and vacuumed the living room and completely wiped down all surfaces, including the windows. I then cleaned and mopped the kitchen floor. Did my laundry (the last of it is drying outside on the laundry line as I type!), added two more listings to my Mercari shop. My wife and I have sold some items taking up space in our home locally and online. I cleaned and organized the holiday decorations in our basement so now there’s more space to roam free. I’ve taken advantage of the nice days and gone on small hikes, walks, runs, bike rides. I even biked to the office one day this past week in order to change out files. We had topsoil delivered and have added a layer to our garden. So, being forced to be home isn’t a big deal to me and, with the wife home, we are getting some shit done.

Our home has never been cleaner. With me working from home, I have extra time to give heavily-used surfaces some disinfectant love. I have time to do a quick mid-day sweep of the floor, dishes, organizing, fetch with Adam outside for a minute or two. I am hoping that, jokes aside, people are using this at-home time to their advantage. To take care of their shit, to better themselves, to become closer to their family and re-evaluate their purpose and priorities.

This time of quiet can be a blessing, if you choose to see it as such.

Now, I’ve droned on and on. Although the pictures I’m going to share don’t really fit in with all I’ve written, I still want to share. 🙂

My wife and I took a nice, 1.5 hour bike ride today on the Hudson Mohawk bike path. The path took us under the Twin Bridges, which is cool to see from a different angle. It’s also really awesome to see so many people OUTSIDE, as if they are discovering nature for the very first time.

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I’ve also spent some time (not as much as you’d think), creating new artwork. I recently finished up a gift basket as a donation for the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless silent auction which is being done virtually in May.

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I’ve also made and sold some macramĂ© plant hangers in various colors, this one being my latest addition to my Mercari shop (where I go by “DavisAtHome”):

When the wife was furloughed, my first reaction was to stress. “How am I going to support all of us?” “How can we keep this lifestyle, this house? Will I have to turn in my car?” Legit. I had just nearly emptied my savings due to our NYC trip and spending related thereto…all of this hit at a time where I didn’t have a sufficient nest-egg set aside. I can appreciate the importance of ensuring that emergency fund now. Theresa says we will be fine and well, when you’re in a relationship, you have to trust the person. So while I’ve continued to make things to sell, as well as work toward decluttering our home with items we do not use or need, it’s been more of a distraction from the stress and worry for me; it’s giving me a sense of purpose. Seeing the few dollars roll on in from sales gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. One more thing gone to someone who wants or needs it; one less thing taking up space here.

So that’s the real REAL, folks, from Niskayuna, New York. Not the center of the pandemic, but a few hours north of it. It’ll be bad here soon, too, given the fact that the city is now shipping up COVID-19 patients to Albany Medical Center for treatment. Already, someone local that I used to know, has died from it. There’s no getting around it, but in the meantime, we continue to work, take mental-health breaks, and persevere.

Edgy and Tired

If the title of this blog gives any sort of indication as to what the tone will be – I’ll give you two guesses.

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s really “Monday” for me. I am beyond aggravated, annoyed, frustrated, and fed the fuck up. This fed-upness started yesterday after various conversations with people that just left me feeling mentally and emotionally drained. Maybe I’m getting too used to this work-from-home atmosphere where the annoyances are my stepkids and their constant bickering and messiness – that’s the only drama I’ve been dealing with for going on two and a half weeks. I spend even less time on social media and entertaining conversations online because I just can’t take it.

I normally have a very low tolerance for blatant attention-seeking and drama but right now? Trying to fit even a little bit of that in under the circumstances is not even possible.

I’m not in the mood to have any sort of “deep” or “meaningful” conversations because it feels draining to me. I don’t want to talk COVID-19 24/7, nor read the news or other various articles about it. I don’t want to talk about my feelings about everything or make up scenarios in order to put meaning into things that may have none.

Guess what? I’m over here, grateful to have my job but unsure if I will even have it a week from now because everything changes so quickly – it’s like a dance that nobody knows the choreography to – and get my typical spring shit going (a/k/a garden!). I guess I am more focused on slogging through the muck that seems to be the state of life right now, hopeful for a return of a back-to-normal soon. Although I will tell you what – once things do go back to some sort of normal, I will be saving my money a lot more diligently.