Harrisburg is Being Hot RN

It’s been approximately three years and six weeks since the last time I blew my life up. I was recovering from the initial shock of leaving my marriage and for the first time in over a decade, living with a roommate, with most of my things strewn between my new space (a tiny bedroom where the cat box was a mere four feet away from my bed), at work, and a storage unit, all in different parts of the county, when I applied for a new job and got it. Then COVID and some other things happened, not least the fact that I am writing this from a lovely, cozy place of my very own, as the cat stares at me with a mixture of awe, love, murder, and judgement. In summary, I have a great home in an idyllic town with endless views and outdoor recreation, an interesting job that allows me to live here, some friends, some bikes and skis, and my health, so I would say that I’m comfortable. Too comfortable, if you will.

The idea that I could love living somewhere other than here has floated in and out of my mind over the last few years, and has been mostly rhetorical. I mean, people live elsewhere all the time. While initially contemplating divorce, or even before that, while existing in denial of how dissatisfied I was with my life in general, I thought elsewhere simply meant a different mountain town in Colorado, but quieter and less played out than the one where I currently live, and it would maybe include the husband, if I could convince him. The following separation process reignited the love for my current community with all the unexpected support that I had received, and then it became kind of my mission to reclaim this place as my own, not just somewhere I had moved to because of him. And reclaim I did, from keeping my head high and smiling as I saw him at the bike races we used to do together, to buying my own place, just a half a mile away from where we used to live, where he still lives (it’s weird, but I hardly run into him, so it’s fine). My friend circle has expanded to people I would have never known if we had stayed together, and I truly began to feel embedded here.

Then people started leaving. Suddenly I was going to work-sponsored goodbye happy hours every week for yet another someone who was about to “start their new adventure/journey”. I started thinking that I kind of want a new adventure too. And it hasn’t really stopped. The Great Resignation, or as I like to call it, the Great Reassessment, encroached upon my inner circle, to include the guy I was dating last winter who moved out of state, and I knew he was leaving but chose to date him anyway and got temporarily attached. I helped him move, and as we were driving east, I was vicariously missing the mountains for him, even though I would be back in a few days. When we arrived to his new house, I recall the slight pang of longing, if not a bit of jealousy I felt because he gets to start a new life. Even if it was in Iowa.

It was when I returned to Colorado that I really started thinking about where else I could exist. The winters are long here, after all. I began researching places like Bentonville, a Midwest mountain bike and Walmart mecca, which happened to be the new home of a good friend who had left Colorado the year prior. I applied for work in the area as well as remote work, but nothing took hold. I visited, and it was cool, but it didn’t quite feel like the place for me. When I returned, another friend moved away. But by then, winter loosened its grip, and I had bike races and trips planned, and the summer is fabulous, so I dropped the issue for a while. By early September three more friends had left. Over the course of the past year, I started noticing how my drive for training and racing was waning until mostly disappeared, how time was passing at an increasingly alarming rate, how quickly things change, and how afraid I am to miss out on something crucial (not sure what that is though). I also realized that I want to see my family in Philly more often, something that’s pretty hard to do from here.

I began to realize that I love where I live, and I could love living somewhere else for different reasons. I have so many more life skills, hobbies, and coping strategies and tools than I did when I first left home that would empower me to create a life that I love just about anywhere. I also have the freedom to try being somewhere different without having to convince anyone else to come with me. I don’t have to choose between a life with someone here and a life where going to see my family is just as casual as driving down to Boulder on a warm winter day for a bike ride.

As I’ve been researching potential places to live in south/central PA, I find myself getting more excited about gravel roads with old stone barns and lush green trails to ride, about seeing friends that I’ve known since before puberty on both sides of the state, about helping my mom around the house here and there, and adopting a new favorite coffee shop somewhere, and hopefully meeting new people, hopefully at some stupid bike race or something.

I still have my doubts. A cross-country move is a huge undertaking, and the logistics alone are enough to scare me. Like how does one move an indoor cat, who is not accustomed to travel, across the whole damn country without stressing him to death? How do I get my car there if I will already be driving a rental van? Would my car even make it there? Holy crap, do I need to buy a new car? How do I manage my condo, that I don’t plan on selling just yet, from Back East? Also, I would need a new job or something to make all of this happen.

We often make decisions based on how we think we will feel in the future. Big decisions feel threatening because we are afraid we won’t be able to handle how we will feel if we’re wrong, or if we change our minds after the fact.

I would miss the big mountains and the natural beauty in Colorado and all the cool things I get to do when it snows, even though I’m scared of driving in the snow. I would miss the friends that I have here, as well as the many people I know who are aren’t quite friends, but I would miss them anyway. I would miss the frequent, hyper-radiant sunshine and bluebird skies, and the comfort and familiarity of my routine and my home, and knowing where everything is and how to exist here. I would miss big climbs on my big bike rides, and the small-town feel, and the dry western climate.

What if I won’t be able to handle all this missing? What if all these things I think will be cool about moving will be completely overridden by the dreary Pennsylvania winters, and by being on the constant lookout for ticks and snakes in the summer? What if this just another example of the happiness horizon, which I will reach only to realize that I am 100% back on my bullshit? What if my hermit habits prevent me from meeting new people and making the effort to go see my family? Then would I be doing all this moving and missing for no reason? 

The good news is that there have been numerous times I have left people, passions, places, and situations I thought I could never live without, that now I simply remember fondly, or might dip my toe into again, or am glad they are gone, or hardly think about at all, as I’ve embraced or become enamored with whatever replaced them. While I have not made any decisions, or come across any job offers just yet, I feel more grounded in who I am than I ever have before, and I know that I will make the best out whatever direction I choose to go.

Awesome of the Day #8

My goal is to keep posting awesome things that I experienced on any given day, or just awesome things that exist. How this started and the inspiration behind it is explained in my first Awesome of the Day post.

Spent time with a friend today who I haven’t seen in months! Great skiing, conversations, and food. Here’s what else is awesome:

24. My digital holiday card to the world is pretty awesome. It got 50 likes on Facebook.

25. Cityscapes can sometimes be awesome.

24. The sky. Awesome.

Awesome of the Day #7

My goal is to keep posting awesome things that I experienced on any given day, or just awesome things that exist. How this started and the inspiration behind it is explained in my first Awesome of the Day post.

It’s Christmas Eve, and I feel surprisingly good for spending it alone. Yes, I’m Jewish, so I didn’t grow up with any poignant memories of the holiday, but it’s a big holiday nonetheless, so no one is supposed to be alone, everyone is supposed to be doing something. Any other year prior I would have struggled with my lack of plans- even if I didn’t actually want to do anything, I would make my alone-ness mean something awful about me. I could go into stories about not having a life and how nobody likes me, but I know that’s simply not true. I just notice that as time goes on, I want to keep spending more of it alone. I’m not sure if it’s depression, or just a growing comfort in my solitude, but here I am. So here is what’s awesome.

21. I taught my first lesson today! I had this adorable 5-year-old who has never skied before and we had so much fun! And now I’m officially just like this South Park guy!

22. This Christmas Even meal I made for myself. It’s even Christmas colored! I should have placed my arugula around the plate and distributed the tomatoes to make it look like a wreath. Well too bad it’s gone. Also, I just ate a whole bar of chocolate for dessert. It’s Christmas, bitches!

23. I understand I post a lot of pictures of my cat. Like I think he’s made it into almost every post so far, but look at him! Also, the awesome part…he snores! I didn’t know little guys like that can snore so loud, but they do!

Awesome of the Day #6

My goal is to keep posting awesome things that I experienced on any given day, or just awesome things that exist. How this started and the inspiration behind it is explained in my first Awesome of the Day post.

18. Moving through fresh snow, however slowly. Bonus awesome: This is one of the busiest times of the year here in the Summit County, and I saw no one for two hours. More awesome, the sunshine, and the fresh air, and the warming temps. Today was a bit rough emotionally, and I feel like I haven’t been outside much lately. I needed this.

19. Sun Cat. Look, I’m not sure how much manifestation or law of attraction or visualization actually works, but for a most of 2020, I was living in a basement lock-off with no natural light. While I was grateful for the space I had to myself, I was dreaming nonstop of getting a place of my own so that had windows and sunlight that Edwin could sleep in. Watching him in the sunshine is absolutely one of my favorite things.

20. Coming home after a long day. Coming home after a short outing. Staying home. Staying home when I thought I had to be somewhere but it was cancelled. Just being home, and at peace in my own space.

Awesome of the Day #5

My goal is to keep posting awesome things that I experienced on any given day, or just awesome things that exist. How this started and the inspiration behind it is explained in my first Awesome of the Day post.

Going into the holiday weekend, here are some more things that are pretty awesome:

15. New socks. Also, reaching the level of cat lady where people automatically get you cat-themed gifts.

16. Dogs at work. There are so many. I fully support this type of workplace drama.

17. Sunlight through trees. It’s never NOT beautiful. Also walks and bike rides where I get to see the sunlight through trees.

Awesome of the Day #4

My goal is to keep posting awesome things that I experienced on any given day, or just awesome things that exist. How this started and the inspiration behind it is explained in my first Awesome of the Day post.

I have no idea where the day went, but I am proud to bring you today’s list of awesome things. But first, some moments of actual-ass gratitude:

  • Work flew by today and I enjoyed myself.
  • Edwin’s bloodwork came back and he was dehydrated for some reason…and just fat. So he’s ok.
  • I’m home and warm and cozy right now.

Here’s the awesome:

12. Friggin’ holiday lights! I don’t consider myself a holiday person, but dang, I love pretty shiny things. This is in Breckenridge. When I first split with my ex-husband, I moved a few miles out of town had to go through Breckenridge to get to work, often in the middle of the night. It was so dark on either side of town, and I was feeling like emotional dogshit, but these lights always made me feel better. Going to see them with friends years later created new memories…Awesome!

13. Wildlife encounters where no one gets hurt. I was driving back from a mountain bike ride with a good friend the day after Thanksgiving and got to see a whole bunch of elk crossing in little groups. Happy to be a part of this awesome traffic jam!

14. I didn’t want to work out today, but I worked out anyway.

Awesome of the Day #3

My goal is to keep posting awesome things that I experienced on any given day, or just awesome things that exist. How this started and the inspiration for it is explained in my first Awesome of the Day post.

Runner-up: I am neither a photographer or an artist, but Photoshop lets me pretend I am both.

9. Dogs in Christmas sweaters. I got to see these last Friday. Everyone was happy, and it was awesome.

10. Being invited. Even if you don’t want to go. Today I went, but I often don’t want to, but it is still really awesome when someone thinks of you and thinks your company would be pretty ok.

11. Truffle tater tots. Please enjoy this very accurate image of how truffle tots are made, as much as I enjoyed eating them because I went somewhere I was invited. They were pretty awesome.

Awesome of the Day #2

My goal is to keep posting awesome things that I experienced on any given day, or just awesome things that exist. How this started and the inspiration for it is explained in my first Awesome of the Day post.

I will get right to it today. It was a pretty uneventful day aside from taking Edwin to the vet because I haven’t burned any money lately (I signed up for the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival a few hours earlier). In all seriousness, he has been drinking and peeing a lot lately, so we are waiting on some lab work to come in on Wednesday. Crossing my fingers that his only problem is that he is fat.

5. We cuddled so hard this morning. My favorite thing when I get up is to make some English Breakfast tea with some sugar and cream, and sit on the couch, and listen to podcasts while this dude snuggles with me. I’m a lot more proud of myself when I get a workout in first, but either way, this early morning time to myself while my mood is still positive…ish, is invaluable.

6. Facebook’s recognition of my new Photoshop obsession through targeted ads. They are calling what I am doing “art”.

7. This awesome comic a friend sent me after reading my previous post. Sounds like I’m in pretty good company in the Just OK Corral. Pretty much anything that makes me laugh will end up on the awesome list at one point or another.

8. Tracks in snow from very good boys or girls. I made myself leave the house and go for a walk yesterday.

Some runners-up on the awesome list for today are pictured above. I actually made myself a real dinner today- I haven’t been motivated to cook much lately, so that was pretty neat. The awesomeness of that donut is a bit dubious, but if I was new to earth and someone handed me some chocolate-covered fried dough to try, I don’t think I would regret it. Also, it was free.

Awesome of the Day (the OG)

It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything here, but the way I’ve been feeling this year could be best summarized by a grocery store encounter I had earlier this morning (hooray, I left the house today) with an old coworker from years ago. Like 99% of all grocery store encounters, the niceties were forced after doing the pretending-not-to-see-each-other-until-you-can’t-keep-looking-at-shredded-cheese-you-don’t-even-need-any-longer dance.  To the “how ya been” question, he replied that he’s trying to get in and out of there just as I am, and I replied “I’ve been” before we awkwardly parted ways and again continued to pretend we didn’t see each other as we were cruising the aisles on our respective missions.

I, in fact, have been. That was the most honest answer I could come up with (though I could have said anything, no one cares), feeling like I’m neither here nor there. This year (and the past few) have been really rough…for other people. My family back east has collectively been dealing with some health issues. I’ve had friends go through rough breakups, blow up their lives and move (more than once). I’ve had friends and colleagues who have lost people important to them. Some good things have also happened to my friends. Some of these same friends have landed dream jobs, got married, and started building new lives elsewhere.

I’ve been holding steady. Yes, it’s been hard having some of my closest friends move away, it’s been hard grappling with loss of my perceived “badass” identity as I’ve lost the motivation for any consistent training on the bike. It’s become increasingly harder for me to live so far away from my family, to a point that I’m questioning whether I should just move. It’s been frustrating hoping I would meet someone by now so that I could have a do-over on the whole partnership thing, in the landscape (dumpster fire) of modern dating, where it feels like everyone is jaded (emotionally unavailable), “ethically non-monogamous” (probably lying about the ethical part- also why do you need like nine girlfriends!?), or just downright creepy. I also have been doing a lot of inner work to enjoy and appreciate my singlehood, yet the thought that I may never meet someone, because I may or may not – that’s just fact, is still pretty painful.

At the same time, I am comfortable where I am, in my cozy home, in a beautiful place with unlimited outdoor access, and in a job where I am engaged and feel appreciated. I love my family, I have good friends here, and I have good friends far away. I’m dealing with a cold right now and frustrated because I was sick last month, but I am otherwise healthy and active. There is lots to appreciate in the face of feeling stuck between staying to continue building my life here, or starting over somewhere closer to family; between wanting love, while refusing to settle or give up my time and my independence. This all leads me to my next point:

While I have so much gratitude for how my life looks, and the perspective that things could be so much worse (I don’t live in a war zone), neither gratitude nor perspective exist to invalidate our feelings. I am fine, but there is no doubt that I’ve been feeling pretty “meh” these days. Maybe I’m struggling to fully feel gratitude because I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I guess that’s the anxiety talking. Maybe I’m just struggling to see where my growth is. Maybe I’ve been seeing so many people move on in life, I’m feeling a bit left behind. Maybe I’ve just been more attuned to the passage of time, and how little of it we actually have, and I’m freaking out that I’m not creating enough meaning to my life, but I’m also kind of tired and love hanging out at home with my cat. I dunno, but I feel like I’m in some sort of holding pattern and in need of inspiration.

What gratitude and perspective CAN do is widen our lens, and allow for the sadness, or emptiness, and hurt, or whatever we’re feeling to exist at the same time and in the same space as all that is neat or awesome in this weird-ass short life. I’ve been attending the University of Podcasts for a few years now, mostly personal growth type stuff, in addition to going to therapy. I am a big proponent of surrounding myself with people, things, and ideas that I aspire to emulate, do, and pursue. Some of my most life-changing moves have come directly from podcasts, such as quitting drinking (Rich Roll Podcast), giving meditation a try (Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris), and opening up to the fact that singlehood, no matter how long-lasting, is not a failure or a mark on my worthiness (A Single Serving Podcast with Shani Silver). This leads me to my latest pod-spiration (see what I did there?). A recent episode of the Psychology Podcast with Scott Barry Kaufman featured author and blogger Neil Pasricha, who wrote the Happiness Equation and Book of Awesome series, which started from his blog. I have not read them. Neil started his blog as way to dig himself out of an emotional hole, and the blog just happened to take off. I want to do the same thing- notice the awesome on a daily basis, so that it can co-exist with the “meh” and the harder stuff that will inevitably happen when life does life things. Who knows, maybe this can inspire whatever my next step in life will be.

So without further ado, here is what was awesome on the morning of December 18, 2022:

Not a day goes by where I don’t marvel at how awesome Edwin is. He’s just a little guy that follows me around the house most waking moments, takes his cuddling very seriously, purrs like a motor, hunts bottle caps and is simply cute and fuzzy. Edwin is also toothless as of October 2022. He had all his teeth removed due to an autoimmune thing some cats get where the bacteria attacks his teeth, so no teeth = no problem. Still prefers dry food.

I made this awesome open-faced breakfast sandwich today with freshly purchased sourdough (I don’t bake), some soft stinky cheese (it was on sale), arugula, cherry tomatoes and eggs. Inspired by an Instagram post- I follow a nutrition coach that I worked with when I was racing hard, and this was super easy to make.

Are you friggin’ kidding me? I love butter, and bread and butter, and bread butts with butter. But almost as much, I love the way that butter is packaged. It really looks like a little present- thank you for the shiny butter box, and thank you for the perfect creases on the butter wrapping paper. I got to unwrap a stick of butter today.

My Chrisma-Kwanza-Kah Blob. Let me explain. This started out as a little $10 tree from Wal-Mart that I bought late last year. I always wanted a small tree (no space for a big tree), the problem is the cat won’t leave it alone. There is nowhere in my condo that I can put it where he won’t knock it down or tear it apart, so I had to hang it up on my curtain rod. I removed the plastic base because that looked stupid and made it hang weird, so now it really is just fuzzy blob with lights. But there is something so soothing about the soft white lights, especially in the evenings, so I will still put this in the awesome category.

That’s it for now. Shorter post tomorrow.

End of an Era

I sold my motorcycle back to my ex the other night after two or so years of deliberating whether or not I could actually part with it. While it no longer made sense to keep it (there really isn’t much about a motorcycle that’s practical to begin with), I had to unpack a lot of attachments associated with that hunk of metal and plastic, like all the memories, my perception that I was a lot cooler with a motorcycle, and my tendency to anthropomorphize inanimate objects, especially of the two-wheeled variety, before I could let it go.

That bike and I survived each other against odds that never seemed to be that great for rolling explosive devices in the first place. I dropped it countless times on loose, jagged rocks, I often neglected things like checking oil, or chain lube applications, or making sure fuel overflow lines were fit to do their job. On a very related note, one time, it caught fire in the desert, and I had many near-misses in traffic, some that I was very aware of, and likely many more that I was unaware of at all. Together we rumbled over high mountain passes here in Colorado, or just to work and back in the middle of the night. We skidded through sandy washes in Utah, and bucked some gnarly crosswinds on the plains through South Dakota. The bike carried everything I needed to eat and sleep for a few days, and quietly beared witness to nights of drinking around the campfire, recalling our misadventures of the day, and talking shit before we all finally wore ourselves down enough to go to sleep.

With the help of friends, I made sure the motorcycle came with me when I ended my decade-long volatile relationship, but with the exception of one weekend trip in the fall of 2020, the bike became nothing more than an occasional work commuter during the three or four months of our achingly short summer in the mountains. I no longer had anyone to ride with, as life did what life does – the moves, broken motorcycles, new relationships, and work had made it hard to get our old group together, even before my divorce. I held on to the bike because I held on to the hope that I would someday take it on more adventures, maybe with old friends, or new friends, or even by myself. I held on because it still made me smile during those 15 minute commutes, and sometimes, I would take the long way home. Eventually, I had to face some realities. I had no place of my own to store it for the winters, and had my tail between my legs when the ex offered to store it for me and I accepted. I didn’t have the workspace, or time, or skillset, for that matter, to do even basic maintenance. I couldn’t change my own tube when I had a flat tire, and almost got myself stranded.  

While I feel bad for giving up on the motorbike, I decided that I can love the memories the bike has given me, and still let it go. Over the last few years, I have been dedicating most of my free time to riding bikes of the non-motorized flavor. These I can pick up by myself when I crash and I can load them in the car if I need to take them in for maintenance. This alone has given me the confidence and freedom to regain my sense of self, and to go places I didn’t quite have the skills for on the motorbike, whether I am with friends or alone. And I usually go alone. While riding and racing mountain bikes has brought new friends into my orbit, and I am looking forward to someday having a built-in riding buddy, there is nothing more empowering than passing other bikers and hikers on the trail, and as we give each other a courtesy roll-call of how many people to expect in each party, I get to tell them “it’s just me”.