Posts Tagged ‘panic’

Input Overload

1 September 2010

Dear J-

Some days I wake up in a blind panic, unable to even think of the next thing to be done until I take a few deep breaths and collect myself (these days are not coincidentally ones that I get up late, defined as the difference between how long it’s going to take me to get ready and how long I have left before the van leaves). Other days I wake up and it’s as if I’ve taken tranquilizers already: I see the numbers on the clock, but they don’t mean anything in particular. If the patterns hold true, I’m going to have one of those panics tomorrow after the calm of this morning.

The tone of the day is set by these things, and I don’t know if that’s the superstitions talking (“got up on the wrong side of the bed, huh?*”) or my immaturity dictating that I let emotions spill over from one box to the next. Why should I let the way my day went affect the way I see the world? I still remember when I hung up on my dad because I was mad at my brother once; we’d quarreled, as siblings do, and I thought I was making a point in the argument, which later resolved itself into my dad getting about as mad as I’d ever seen him.

I’m not saying that everything that happens should be boxed away in its own little compartment; it’s human nature to synthesize a reaction from multiple inputs, after all. It is, however, our responsibility to make sure we don’t lash out over perceived hurts; I have the bad habit of throwing out oh-yeah-but-you-do-this in arguments, which is just as inflamatory and provocative as sorry-but. Counterproductive: the new game that’s sweeping the nation, right? Only if we let it.

Mike

* I didn’t quite understand it the first time I heard it, as the bed I was sleeping in at the time was pushed against the wall: there was only one side of the bed to get out of. As trivia, that’s probably affected the way I sleep, which is on the left side of the bed on my right side — that was facing away from the wall.

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Milestone Goals

23 June 2009

Dear J-

Do you ever have one of those days, J-, when as soon as you get up it feels like the world is in slow motion?  I have certain milestones I shoot for in the morning — alarm at 3:30, out of bed by 3:45 (darn this ridiculously easy snooze button — a touch-sensitive rim of metal surrounding the radio face), walked & fed the dogs by 4:00, breakfast by 4:15, and out the door by 4:30.  It makes for a bit of panic when you start to see those deadlines slip by twenty minutes and sets a sour tone in my mouth for the rest of the day.

For what it’s worth, I seem to live in a superstitious life — I know that rationally I have the opportunites and abilities to effect changes in my attitude and actions, but sometimes I feel as though what I do either has too much (watching sports, here) or too little (nothing can lift my bad mood) effect on the remainder of my life.  Right now, I know I didn’t do a great job stowing the bike in the back of the van — something’s loose back there so it’s rattling AND squeaking at the same time; I worry about the unrest it’ll cause for the rest of the trip even though it’s impossible to tell how well it’s packed — or what’s loose — until the van’s in motion and I can do nothing about it, strapped into the front seat.

It’s about goals, then.  Do the things you can (I can change the way I react, I can bring or lend earplugs), don’t worry about the things you can’t (TV is not so magic that I can will a team to score or not at my insistence, and I’ll fix the bike when I get a chance), and figure out the right prioritizations.  Thus the goals inevitably seem to revolve around short-term fixes without much thought to the future; it’s part of the abundant immaturity and insecurity that keeps me from delaying the question of what I want to be when I grow up.  The man who persuaded me into working for the company asked me, those not-so-many years ago, whether I wanted a job or a career; lately there’s been a lot of job filling without much career fulfillment.

Mike

Transition Manager

16 June 2008

Dear J-

The debatable effects of training are starting to show their toll:  we’re all wandering around pretending we know what we know when in fact it’s clear that it’s all a game of bluffing:  we’re not interested in outrunning the bear, we’re just interested in getting enough knowledge to out run each other, prove that we can eke out a bit more work than the next fellow.  This impending change has brought about different sides of my coworkers:  some are interviewing for other slots, some seem out on sudden catastrophic vacation, and meanwhile it’s me stuck in class and trying to hold the bulging seams together on breaks, making sure that everything flows smoothly enough to keep the parts coming in.

I either had a moment of sheer blind panic sitting in class this afternoon, or something’s telling me to go see the doctor for a racing heart:  I zoned out for half a minute, as the instructor was going over stuff I’d probably never see, and suddenly, it was as if I’d walked into the wrong class altogether.  Any clue what’s going on?  Nope.  I suspect the moments of terror will only increase the closer we get to 1 July, and the petty fraud of foisting inadequate training company-wide in the six weeks prior is exposed.  Still, it’s funny, and I suspect Joe was right; I do enjoy being the go-to guy, the one with the answers and none of the questions.  Yeah, it’s a silly little power trip, but it’s less about feeling better and more about knowing that someone’s gotta get moving here, learning and hoping to make the transition a little easier.

Mike

Long and Short

11 June 2008

Dear J-

Woke up late this morning, probably saved only by the relatively thin cloud cover overnight — it was actually the dawn’s light that got me up and out.  Just like drowsing at the wheel, nothing quite gets you awake like a good shot of adrenalin and panic (did I really just drift over a whole lane without noticing?).  Still, not as bad as it could have been; there was at least one final in college I slept through the first hour of (then I was saved solely by my proximity to the test site, roughly half a block).

It may be the clock-radio’s fault; for the past few years I’ve been relying on an un-modern model, with a broken snooze function and a dial that turns off the alarm, on the theory that the greater the manual dexterity required, the less likely I am to be half-asleep when I have to manipulate it.  Sadly, this is often not the case, as I’ve since developed the skill of turning the alarm off and forgetting that I’ve managed to do so, although generally, my slumber gets broken up into five-minute chunks from there on out.

We continue our steady march, daily routines blending into weeks and years seamlessly.  The relentless progression of what feels like the same hour again and again makes me think that I’m not paying enough attention to the world.  Here’s figgy’s pictures from last month, seemingly no different from today, but there’s changes here beyond my imagining;  now steadier on two feet, now stringing together more syllables and longer babbles, now pointing and refusing and revealing ever more of who she is.  And three months ago?  The slow accretion of changes means that nothing’s visible on the micro scale.

Contrast your memory of how long summers were when you were ten with how long they are now.  How much longer is a year at 10% of your life versus now, a mere 3% of it?  Yet change is still everywhere, should you care to look for it.

Mike