Trying Not to Lose It
Yes, I know I haven't been writing much lately. I've been getting all tied up in knots inside over this apartment thing, and have generally felt that sitting down to spend time on-line is not the best way to keep myself calm and sane.
Yes, it was another difficult weekend for me. Saturday I did indeed make time to go out looking for apartments with For Rent signs out. I drove around downtown Menlo Park and jotted down a few numbers, but, really, none of them felt like places I wanted to live just from the area. I'm not certain I want to live in Menlo Park. I'm not really certain where I want to live, which makes looking very hard.
I did drive around one section of the town near downtown Palo Alto, and drove down a lovely street with houses along either side, nice yards, and (best of all) big, old trees which had turned yellow and were losing their leaves. And I thought, "Gosh, this is nice." Then I went down the next street which was lined with apartments, and bam!: All of the tree magically disappeared, and the place just seemed utterly sterile, and I just went, "Ewww." It was quite depressing.
I did drive around downtown Palo Alto a bit, but predictably I didn't see any For Rent signs at all. That area is the one I would most be willing to just grab a place in, since it's got that small town, pedestrian mall feel which was so nice about Madison. Although, truly, Menlo Park has some of that as well.
So, I'm not sure what I want. I just feel glum about it all. Sunday I was a total basket case. I was at home watching football and baking a cake for a dinner party, and just obsessing about the apartment thing. I finally couldn't stand it and phoned Mom, and she gave me a pep talk. You know, pointing out things I basically know already but which I need pointed out for me sometimes, like that mentally I've already 'checked out' of this apartment, and since (as she put it) I'm a 'nest builder', I naturally feel very out-of-sorts, like I don't really have a home.
And, of course, the fact that if I don't go out and look at apartments, then I'll never find one.
It's occurred to me that my perfectionist streak (or something like it) has gotten in the way of looking for a place. I feel like I should be able to 'prepare' and find a place by only seeing two or three apartments, which is really pretty ridiculous unless I get lucky, although I've gotten luck in the past. (I've never really done the phone-and-see-fifteen-different-apartments thing before.) So I feel paralyzed by the variety of places in the newspaper that I could call and go see (losing nothing but the time I takes to see them), and am having real trouble getting up the courage to call places where I realize there's a real chance that they'll just be terrible. It's insane. And it's driving me insane.
I've spent most of today feeling mildly stressed about the whole thing, as it's been running through my mind all day. I need to do something about it. I'm no longer just procrastinating about it, I'm actually scared to go look at apartments.
Worse, I found a Web site where people could register comments about various apartment buildings they lived in in the Bay Area, and by-and-large the comments were negative, which of course made me think, "Geez, maybe there isn't anything out there worth renting!" More stress. It's hard to keep that optimistic, "there's a place out there for me if I just do the legwork" attitude.
But I need to remember that I know multiple people who live in perfectly good places at prices I'd be willing to pay, so I just need to start looking.
Really, I do. I will. I hope.
Driving around looking for apartments like that is a really lonely business. I think a lot of my unhappiness these days can be traced to loneliness of one variety or another. Loneliness that no one ever comes to visit me, and people rarely call (I can't remember the last time I had a message on my answering machine from someone other than a marketer). Loneliness because I haven't really developed a Karen-caliber friend out here, someone I can call and whine to and even get together with on the spur of the moment when I really need to. Homesickness for Madison, or Boston, or somewhere. Loneliness because it's been four years since my last relationship ended and three years since I last went on a date, and a general feeling of dread that there isn't a life partner out there for me.
I'm trying to think of ways I can improve on this situation. I'd like to find a science fiction (or even mystery) book discussion group I could join, though I'm not sure how to go about that. Maybe canvass a few of the book stores in the area. The regional SF group here seemed okay, but I didn't feel a strong affinity for it (possibly because at the big party I went to, I was pretty much the youngest person there).
I'm joining the South Bay Ultimate League, and I'm going around looking for cleats for it. That should be fun. If nothing else, I'll get to run around for a few hours once a week in a social setting and release some endorphins, if you believe in such things.
I might investigate taking a course somewhere, though where and in what I'm not sure. Taking something to increase my practical knowledge - like economics - has some attraction, but isn't very social. Taking creative writing or painting or drawing or even (gasp!) some musical instrument has a different allure, but I'd have to get past my self-consciousness about my art skills, which have largely atrophied over the past eight years. (I should scan some of my old drawings. I was not too bad, though hardly professional caliber. If I felt really ambitious I could follow Al Schroeder's example and do a little sketch for some of my journal entries.)
So I don't know. I am, however, checking the FM dial for a good rock/pop station, since I think that jazz music is just not something I can listen to all the time, and public talk radio definitely isn't. I need something punchier, where I can listen to newer music in a rock vein. I think that will help improve my mood at home generally.
I need to figure out what to do for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as I'm not going away for the holidays - mainly because I'm not sure what I'd do with my cats. I could potentially board them at the vet, though I'm not sure how they - or I - would feel about that. I'm hoping I can track down some other holiday orphans to spend time with, as spending long holidays in my apartment by myself is a recipe for complete and total disaster. (Although, maybe I could spend the whole of Apple's Christmas shutdown looking at apartments...) The winter holidays and my birthday are always hard ones for me to spend by myself, since they're the only ones my family really paid much attention to, so they always feel like family times for me.
Yes, I did go to those two parties this weekend that I'd mentioned. The first one was Saturday night up in San Francisco. The wife of a friend of mine was throwing it, and he invited the Bridge crowd, I think in part because he doesn't like big crowded parties and wanted an escape route. It was very crowded, but was basically pretty fun. It just got very hot and difficult to talk with people because of the sardine-like environment.
I'm also not a very gregarious person, so I only talked to a few people I didn't know. After a couple of lines of small talk, I just think, "Okay, what else can we talk about?" Anything that comes into my mind seems either geeky or banal. Any hope I have of meeting a woman to date that way seems rather misplaced.
I actually had three drinks at the party, which is way more than I've had in an evening in a long time, and I was thoroughly buzzed by the time we retreated to play Bridge. It was kind of amusing, but overall I don't really like not being able to think straight like that. The White Russians were very tasty, however.
We left the party after 3 am, so I didn't get to bed until after 4:30. And then, the cats woke me up at the usual time of 9:30, so I was quite exhausted all day (which probably contributed to my general state of apartment-panic). I went to a dinner party in the evening, with the chocolate cake I'd baked. It was well-received, although it had to compete with an apparently yummy apple pie. John made some very tasty meat loaf for the main course, which was wrapped in bacon, so you know it was good.
I had to get up and walk around outside part-way through dinner as I was starting to get really tired, and also was being hit with another little panic attack. I think I lost some of my appetite as a result, which is why I didn't try the pie. It was all-in-all a somewhat weird dinner for me due to that. I guess I wasn't quite up for it as I might have been.
Good grief, Michael, don't you have any good news? Well, I did go up to Cafe Borrone on Friday and started reading Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night, which seems to be the longest of her celebrated mystery novels. I read Murder Must Advertise about a year ago and picked up several of her other novels, but haven't yet assaulted them. After watching Mystery! last week, I decided I was in the mood for a mystery. This is one of the later Peter Wimsey novels, I think, and perhaps I should have grabbed Whose Body? instead, but since Alexandria Digital Literature has been relentlessly recommending this one to me, I figured I'd try it.
About a quarter of the way through, I think I can codify my dissatisfaction with Murder Must Advertise: Sayers writes extremely dense prose, with lengthy digressions and very detailed descriptions, and not particularly to the advantage of the mystery or the characterization. Indeed, in some ways it reminds me of no one so much as Umberto Eco. This makes drilling through her books rather tough going, though she does have a flair for that 20s-era British dialogue that seems so characteristic of, well, of Mystery!.
So, it's an okay book so far, but slow.
The only solidly good news has to do with my running: I finally crossed a dreaded ten-pound barrier, falling below 230 lbs for the first time in quite a while (probably since graduate school). I weighed just under that mark Friday morning, and then took the weekend off from jogging (sore shin on Saturday, total exhaustion Sunday and today), yet this morning I had again fallen below that mark.
So I'm losing real weight at last, and should try to stay motivated. I've moved down to some old jeans - same waist size, but cut more narrowly, and I've tightened my belt another notch. (It's amazing how many notches you can tighten your belt and still not go down a waist size.) Physically, I'm in better shape than I have been in quite a while, and I'm really proud of that.
Now, if I can find the apartment of my dreams, get a good performance review at work, and start dating someone, then I'll be all set...
Links du jour:
- Goats is an off-the-wall Web comic strip which I discovered a few days ago and am enjoying a lot. Apparently the creator builds some frivolous Web sites spinning off from the strip, the recent - and very funny - one being Brains4zombies.com.
- Longbox is a comic book archive which seems to be building an index of characters, series, covers, and so forth. They have the bare bones of a structure for their database, but most of the useful information is not yet there. Perhaps worth keeping an eye on. (A "longbox" is a 4-foot-long box commonly used for comic book storage. It holds just enough comics to potentially cause back injuries if you're not careful, and "short boxes" are now becoming more common.)
- Lois McMaster Bujold has her own Web site.
- Charles de Lint and local fan Jeanne Gomoll will be guests of honor at WisCon 24, Memorial Day weekend of 2000 in my former home of Madison. I probably will have vacation time stored up to make one significant trip next summer, so I'll have to decide if I want to do that, or visit my folks, or attend Worldcon, or the San Diego Comicon.
- If you're into Weblogs, here's a good 'Blog index. I decided that this journal is in part a Weblog (hey, readers have been saying they like "this little webloggy thing in the right-hand column") and I added it to the list.