Alaska countdown

Started packing, sort of. Less than two weeks until the trip, and I am getting more and more excited. Yet staying busy as ever.

I pulled the suitcases I’ll be using for this trip down. It’s weird not packing my either of my backpacks. One went with me to Europe, twice, for over a month each time. The other was for a quick week trip down to Costa Rica.

But this isn’t a backpacking trip. This is some exploring, some relaxing – including hiking and a glacier cruise. And in less than two weeks, I’ll be trading the lower 48 for the Land of the Midnight Sun.

I wish the real world would just stop bothering me

Getting out into the world is a lot different now then it used to be. I think.

I didn’t really get out into the world much, until I reached adulthood. Sure, my family took me on vacation. I ran screaming from a log cabin (with no bathroom – it was housed in a communal facility down in a common area); went on cruises to the Caribbean and Mexico (and when I was a teenager, drank way too much); saw Niagara Falls (Canada side); and went fishing, clamming and crabbing in Long Island. I did some great family and travel stuff, but it didn’t prepare me for… well, adulthood.

There it is again. Adulting. Something that I think about now, in mid-thirties, much more than I did in my twenties. Life was going along swimmingly, at least until the year I turned 27.

That was the year of two car crashes, one causing anxiety attics that prevented me from driving for a time, and one taking a loved one and leaving me emotionally traumatized for many years. Six months after the second collision, a mysterious illness came on, and over four months I gradually lost mobility at an alarming rate.

January, the following year, it was diagnosed as RA. I drove my ex-girlfriend (very recently broken up) to Boston to live with family, and I returned to be laid off from my job.

I’d call that a low point in my life.

Picking myself up by the bootstraps (or, writing a couple of essays and going heavily into student loan debt), I enrolled in a Master’s program. The Doc put me on all kinds of meds, with some odd side-effects. (Drinking while on the medication resulted in extreme cases of aggression, where I thought it would be good to fight bars full of people. I also had liver enzyme issues, and was often pulled off and placed on new prescriptions.)

I’ve since forgotten what it was to feel in sound body, but at least I’ve not taken medications for over a year and still feel alright enough to move around. I travel now, not just the week-long vacations but month or more-long immersion. I love camping. And that moving around is bringing me to the question of what I should say no to.

Finding this bit of text in Tim Ferriss’s Tribe of Mentors led to this post, and I think I’ll be adapting it for my use:

“…the more clear I am about what my goals are, the more easily I can say no. I have a notebook into which I’ve recorded all sorts of goals, both big and small, over the last ten or so years. When I take the time to articulate what it is that I hope to achieve, it’s simple to refer to the list and see whether saying yes to an opportunity will take me toward or away from achieving that goal.”

-Samin Nosrat

Said another way, “Will this get me closer to my mountain?”

Sleepy Nights

One dog beneath my feet, another to my right on the couch. The third is loudly drinking water from the container in the kitchen. He had been moving discreetly about, his nails lacking on the linoleum. I’ve just updated my OS with a new app that alters the lighting of the device, the intent to aid in my sleep.

Not that my sleep has been suffering. I’ve just been mindful of my sleep quality since returning from a cruise nearly two weeks ago.

The ship voyage gave me ample time to read, to rest and to recover; to eat good, healthy food; to use the gym on a daily basis, increasing my activity levels. Upon returning from this trip I’ve been intent on maintaining that quality of life.

There have been some challenges. One is in the preparation of my own food. Another has been work, which isn’t consistent in location. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been at no less than three locations, one of which was nearly five hours away. Making that drive twice left me drained and uncomfortable.

Still another has been my rehearsal schedule, very nearly every night. I’ve added another production to the two I already have scheduled, so that I’ll be quite busy now until the middle of May.

Handling the stress of an ever-growing schedule isn’t always the most sustainable activity. However I do believe that it is doable, and that I have been doing it.

Full nights of sleep are the most enjoyable aspect, and finding ways to hack my sleep have become my nighttime ritual. I’ve dimmed or covered as many of the LEDs that I could in my room. The one I haven’t brought myself to put any tape over is on the smoke detector on the ceiling. Though, I am able to turn my head away from it in bed.

Several apps come in handy, providing soundscapes for my sleep. Waking rested in the morning, I am able to write and prepare for work efficiently. No dragging ass to the kitchen for that first, and second cup of coffee.

I’m writing by candlelight, reading some as well. While flipping through the book of Sontag essays, I had the sudden urge to write. Reading good writing makes me want to write.

And sitting in twilit lighting makes me ready to sleep.