Friday, February 24, 2012

So Ends the Mr. Knife and Wassail Saga

I figure I should dash something out quickly since I have unfairly gone absent in such a riveting time, what with Mr. Knife and all, but I do need to begin attacking my day. Probably the worst effect of this stressful saga is that it's made me feel okay with being lazy and sloppy since I was so willing to set my habits aside to concentrate on this issue, so my lifestyle needs to recover (and I need to shave!).

Okay, since we last interacted I have managed to get into my new apartment. I still need to transfer some minor clothes, my groceries and seasonings, and clean my room before it's all final and I don't have to deal with Wassail anymore, but by and large I am here. Positively dandy and wonderful, it all is. I still need to get some minimalistic furniture to take on some practical functions such as the dining room table and bookcase, but oddly enough I desire to preserve as much bare space as I can, as I like the spacious feel it gives off.

Nothing ever really happened with Mr. Knife. The situation did briefly escalate, yet nothing came of it. I decided to randomly Google one of the addresses off a piece of his mail since I thought the wording on it was odd ("unit in transfer"), and it turns out the address went to a jail. If that wasn't unnerving enough, Googled his name and an article near the top of the page revealed that three years ago he went to jail for a very violent assault in which he beat a man with a chain. (He real name is Justin Ray Klosky.) My suspicious that Mr. Knife is a thug was totally correct.

When I told Wassail all this she was totally moronic. I wanted to tell her so that she could act rationally to the potential threat, as I feared without the information she would have aggressively confronted Mr. Knife about his financial dues and provoke him, but for a brief while she wouldn't allow herself to fathom what kind of danger there was. At first all she could focus on was the money she owed him. Then she said she had some kind of male friend who lived a half-hour away who would protect her if she needed him, and took a long while to understand that Mr. Knife was armed with a fighting knife (something called a stiletto) and firearm, rendering that male friend's fighting capabilities useless since he had no weapons. It wasn't until I myself refused to be present during any confrontation that she finally agreed to call the police during such an event. My god, Wassail is nearly sixty years old: How can she be this insanely irrational towards a threat like this, especially considering she's been keeping tenants in her home for over a decade and has had years to refine her thinking on how to treat situations like this? She has had such a long time to perfect her habits in how to bring in reliable and safe people in and what procedures to conduct in certain events, and yet even after thirteen years of doing this she still appears a wet-behind-the-ears landlord.

I don't know what's going on with Mr. Knife. Since that morning he had that temperamental outburst with me we've never been in the house at the same time, and now it looks like he's actually abandoned his room and terminated his contract with Wassail, though he's giving mixed signals.On one hand it is apparent that he came home in Wassail's absence and emptied his room of all valuable and worthwhile property, leaving little else behind but garbage and the contract ripped in half. To the eye it's obvious he's making it clear that he wants nothing more to do with the household, but then again Wassail has managed to speak to him on the phone multiple times after the event, in which Mr. Knife promises to pay his last remaining dues and charges. His actions conflict with is words, so who knows what's going to happen.

With Mr. Knife out of the way, the focus goes back to Wassail. While she's taking a financial punch to the gut and suffering due to the spontaneous loss of two tenants, I feel not the least bit of sympathy for her. She is, simply put, a bad person. She's dishonest about her spending habits -- which is relevant when she has to explain unpaid bills to her tenants, despite us contributing our billed portion -- she takes advantage of and uses people, she mooches off other people and refuses to seek any more work beyond her piddly grocery job (while at the same time complaining about money troubles all the time!), she's an alcoholic, she's extremely rude and pushy when asserting her opinions, and can be very inconsiderate on how her habits and noise affect the other tenants. It's no wonder how she's transformed into the nearly isolated, financially weak, and broken woman that she is. While she does speak of "friends," it's pretty obvious from her habits and personality how she drives people away and pushes people away, leaving her a virtual hermit in her home life. Aside from the fact her bad screening procedures get her bad room renters, her bad character probably makes her tenants cycle rapidly, and even consistently break their contract with her by abandoning the room. I know I've certainly thought about letting her discover my empty room on occasion.

While I know in speaking about my annoyance I usually refer to her aesthetics such as her personality, but my hostility is still essentially rooted in her immorality. Of all things, her type-1 diabetes are the breaking point. If she doesn't manage them well, then the practices of a single day she can be in danger of dying or dropping dead. All the incidents in which her life has been in danger number up to approximately fourteen. She's been found passed out, crawling to her bedroom door on her knees, in a cognitive haze by the oven, totally delirious in a taxi, and probably much, much more I know about it. Out of all of those incidents she has probably needed the ambulance called on her about seven times, three or five of which were done by me. She knows how to manage her diabetes, how to prepare for an emergency, and how to react and respond to symptoms of an oncoming episode -- and yet the "emergencies" keep happening. Inexcusable. When you first deal with them it's horrible stress to bear, because at the back of your mind you have this distrust simmering away about how she's irresponsible, driving up anxiety towards the prospect of coming home to a corpse because she passed out when nobody was there to save her. Eventually and unfortunately this anxiety eventually goes away, giving into total desensitization. Eventually you just don't care. There have been times when me and a roommate would honestly think she passed out in a room, such as when she doesn't make noise or respond to her name, and we would just leave her there and worry about the body later. (It never happened, though; she's was alright in those circumstances.) It's very unjust to force the obligation on us to take care of her, which makes it all too easy to simply not care about her.

Overall, she has done so much to be her own destroyer that I feel no concern about any of the negatives she has in her life, since she's almost totally responsible for bringing them about. She's the one who chooses to be an alcoholic. She's the one who refuses to work beyond twenty hours a week to earn more money. She's the one who spends the majority of her time watching television and playing games. She's the one who mistreats people. How can anyone feel sorry that she's in poor health, poor, and alone? There's so much she could do to regain herself and she won't do it. To that I say she deserves to suffer. You have to lift yourself up by the bootstraps, because no one else is going to do it. If you lay in the mud, you'll deservedly sink.

I feel especially right to offer up this condemnation since I've been an excellent tenant. I've paid all my bills on time and in full (except for one-day late rent, simply because I forgot), always cleaned up my messes, did more than my fair share of household chores, keep extremely quiet so as to never be intrusive, and even did favors for Wassail. In her own testimony, I and another tenant -- we did both reside at the same time once -- were the best tenants she had in her decade of keeping roommates. Well she certainly can't keep us, and did well to drive us away. The other guy abandoned ship, and now will I: Good luck finding people like us again. When you don't treat your values right, you lose your values.

From here on out it would not surprise me in the least to find Wassail in the obituaries. It's likely she'll have little else but garbage tenants from here, or that she may kill herself with her diabetes without anyone around to save her this time. This is how she's managed to live up to this day: Someone was always around by luck when she had one of her episodes. If she has one now she's gone.

It might be a little sad to lose from my life the entertaining practice of talking about people with fun nicknames like Wassail and Mr. Knife, but now comes the next major phase of my life. I think living with terrible people has always been the most essential obstacle to my character development, since living with those people had stress of such magnitude that I altered and held back my lifestyle to the extent that my whole person was held back in progress since I was so focused on avoiding these people above all else, essentially because we couldn't rationally resolve our differences and I would be stuck with them for a time. (Landlord Wassail, for instance, has been approached many times about her irresponsible health habits, and yet she keeps having her "emergencies" repeatedly.) It's like having a very large and heavy object in the middle of your working space, which you keep bumping into and tripping over, which you cannot get out of your way for a long time due to limited means.

Well, now I'm alone. I know that having a roommate would makes things cheaper for me, but I'm done taking that risk. In different contexts, I've lived with six or seven different people in my lifetime, and every single one of them has either imposed great stress upon me or even inflicted harm. Hell, look at Wassail: Out of the millions of people I could have met, in getting away from bad people I happened to get with her, who happened to have many of the bad character qualities I was trying to escape. However expensive it may be, living alone is the only safe option for my personal comfort. Now there's aren't any impediments in my living space. To hell with impediments. Hopefully I can retain my ability to live alone until the day I'm married; nary another roommate until then!

People can add immense value to one's life, but bad ones can add fundamental stress. While I have an overall positive view of humanity, I've been unlucky as to have to deal with primarily bad people in my life, including family members who don't really care about my objective well-being. I don't impose on others, and yet I've had to deal with impositions from others; what a violation of the golden rule. From here I intend to have only a three-track mind: Get into fine dining, become the best I can at my present job, and become the best human being possible to me.

I've got lots more to write about, but I'm so far behind on everything. There's almost thirty audio files I need to sort on the audio recorder I take notes on, to indicate how lazy I've been. I have no idea why the Mr. Knife sage made me feel this way, but after that one stressful morning I've felt far too okay not living productive days. It's not that the stress made me miserable or distracted, it's that I suddenly didn't care. Well, time to start caring again.

And time to shave.    

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Little Escalation with Mr. Knife? (With Not Me Being on the Receiving End)

Oh boy, it looks like some serious stuff is going to go down in my household before I leave, and thankfully it looks like I'll escape being on the receiving end of it. All I need to do is have my utility application approved and the lease signed, so after that I'll be dandy and in my new place by Monday, hopefully.

Well, when I came home from work last night my landlord surprised me at the top of the stairs and told me that she was waiting up for Mr. Knife. Apparently he failed to pay his rent by the agreed upon date (that day), and she herself was experiencing some difficulty as she needed to have it to pay her mortgage, and already submitted the payment online. This may be super illegal, as she knows the payment will bounce in its current state, and is gambling on whether Mr. Knife will pay her in time or not. Legal-wise I don't know how that would pan out, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's going to bring her a step closer to having her home repossessed.

Mr. Knife hasn't been home all week the same times I have, so luckily we've never been under the same roof since that temperamental scolding last weekend morning. My landlord went into his room to verify that his property is still there, which could lead to an intense conflict since Mr. Knife, after all, threatened me with a knife due to his irrational paranoia that I went into his room, so he's likely to a blow-up if my landlord tells him that she went in, if he notices any changes, or if he sees her on his security camera footage (if he wasn't lying to me before about installing it). It feels like my landlord has sacrificed herself in that instance, throwing herself like a steak to a rabid attack dog (where I get to escape in the midst of the distraction). 

She asked me to notify her when Mr. Knife comes in so that she can confront him, and while I promised (and maybe lied, since I wasn't sure about getting myself into that mess) he never came back. The anticipation of fireworks kept me awake into the dark hours of the morning.

(I certainly don't endorse lying, but my landlord has been borderline illegal with me and has immorally forced me to pick up the pieces of her irresponsibility far too many times, and since I'm moving quickly to escape a potentially dangerous situation where violence is possible I'll say whatever I can to get out of her peaceably and unharmed. She is in no way an innocent victim.)

I don't know how this is going to play out, and despite my temptation to watch I will hopefully get out of here before Mr. Knife gets home. Apparently he's driving four hours east for the weekend, perhaps giving me plenty of time. My landlord, in the meanwhile, will probably be a whiny whiner.

Well, it goes to further show what a bad judge of people my landlord is. She doesn't dig in enough with her interviews, and is probably too anxious for her own good to get a money-flow from a tenant that she doesn't take enough time in forming a judgment. And geez, now she's likely gotten herself involved with a drug-abusing thug. (At least the thug portion is for certain.)

I've secured a line of credit from my credit union to secure myself, so all I need now is the utility approval and for the lease to be signed.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Very Well, I Shall Move

Alright, I shall grant that I do indeed need to move out of here. Mr. Knife and I haven't had anymore conflicts, and while I'm not fearful or nervous this is occupying my attention for the moment. I've let my room become utterly untidy and have gotten way off track with my diet because I don't care as much about anything else other than this issue, so it looks like it's time to get out so I can even be bothered with my other endeavors.

Mr. Knife hasn't been home all week, but he did come to my restaurant to eat last night. It's strange that he goes there, as he knows I work there and was almost certainly there when he was there, and yet he didn't acknowledge me or ask to see me. My coworkers say that he was rather rude to them, and that he had bloodshot eyes. This further confirms that he has had a surprising and negative change in personality, and increases the probability that he's a substance abuser. Plus, he is still totally evading his unacceptable hostility from that other morning. I don't know what's going on with him or what he's doing, but he's a very negative and scary person now, one who often seems ready to explode some internal pressure.

Without concern, my landlord is refusing to refund the remainder of the month, and while there's nothing in the contract that addresses this issue -- so we're at an impasse, as I can't validly demand it and she can't validly withhold it -- she's dishonestly making it sound as if it's contractual, and beyond that she's keeping my deposit since she believes the utility bill will cost that much anyhow. I'm not bothering to argue with her, but what a money parasite. As such, that sends my plans slightly askew since I was in part depending on that sum.

Stupidly, I got my car fixed, which cost about $450. Given that I'll be able to walk to work from my new location and not need to drive as much -- I should have delayed it. That means that while I can make ends meet in the new accommodations, the timing is bad and I can't really move out as instantly as I thought I could. Since Mr. Knife is gone so much and that we avoid each other I thought it would be fine to delay the move until its regular time, but I'm simply not thinking/eating/acting right with my mental processes chewing away at this issue, so I'll go ahead and bear the disruption by taking out an emergency loan or credit card or something. The sooner I can get out, the sooner I can get back to life.

As such -- though you'll be forewarned -- I may be offline a bit in reestablishing myself, since my apartment won't be already internet accessible.

It's still odd to me that my landlord isn't taking this seriously, and I think I've figured out why. Given how consistently her actions are driven by her emotions, I think she's taking this unseriously because she hasn't witnessed the negative firsthand as I have, and even paying attention to anything else. To her, it's only her firsthand perceptions that bear the most emotional weight, so when I convey to her this negative information, such as his knife threat and street fighting hobby, it doesn't feel "real" to her since it clashes with her estimate that he's a "nice guy." At the same time she'd almost certainly grant that I'm conveying factual information, and yet, retardedly, she's going to continue living with him.

A good example of this kind of mentality in other areas would be my elders in regards to fire hazards as I was growing up. More or less, while multiple things would be a fire hazard, it's only the things that frightened them that would cause them to alter their behaviors and exercise precaution. Out of an oven, candle, dishwasher, and computer, it is only the candle and dishwasher that they would fret about, while they're fine operating an oven and computer and leaving it unsupervised, even leaving the house with them on. While they're all fire hazards in some way, they alter their behaviors to exercise caution about the candle and dishwasher only because they've heard stories of them actually burning houses down, so while the other objects can burn a house down too, they don't fear them since they've heard no stories. It's okay to them to put in a roast and simmer a stew before leaving to visit someone, but all candles must be extinguished if anyone dare leave the room!

My landlord is stupid beyond words here. I doubt Mr. Knife will stay static with his personality, that he's likely to deteriorate further, and sooner or later have a qualm with my landlord. I don't see the qualm ending prettily. Her stupidity is going to be the end of her somehow.

Alright now, let's see how quickly I can amskray. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mr. Knife, and Orbiting around Negatives

Yes, I know I've been failing to provide an article every morning, but let's worry about that later.

Now, what about this Mr. Knife? Well, sometimes when I want to talk about a person to other people without using their name it is my habit to nickname them by something memorable or distinguishable, and in this case the most memorable thing about this person is that he once implicitly threatened me with a knife, hence he becomes Mr. Knife to the public mind. What's bad is that I happen to live with him, and am in a potentially dangerous situation.

My plans for moving into my new apartment was to wait until March 1st to finish off the month and get my income tax in, but I've had a rather disturbing incident with my housemate Mr. Knife. His girlfriend came to the house at 3 AM and woke both of us up, and when I went to inquire about it he was rather hotly temperamental with me. His hostility was unsettling given that we have no established comfort in our relationship (given we seldom interact), and yet here he is scolding me as if I had imposed on him, when in truth it's him imposing on me since his guest woke me up. He even rudely commanded me to go back to sleep, which was simply audacious. I meekly obliged, and he has yet to offer an apology.

The root of my fear is that he has violent practices and seems to be changing significantly in character. For whatever reason, he's involved in a real life fighting club sanctioned by the police, where he regularly goes to bare-knuckle fight people. Literally, beating up people is his hobby. Out of a bizarre paranoia that I went into his room, he once inquired to me how I knew about something that was in there (I went in when nobody lived there), and asked while he was spinning and unsheathing a large hunting knife, making for an implicit knife threat. Additionally, he seems like a totally different person, as when he first came in he was very eager, benevolent, and friendly, and now whenever I do see him he acts like he's under pressure, tense, and ready to lunge at something. Sharing other evidence with friends, such as his dark urine (he disgustingly rarely flushes the toilet), it seems probable that he could be a drug abuser, explaining such a rapid change in his mentality.  With all this together, I'm frightened that some kind of pressure might be building up in him, which could lead to a violent outburst soon.

My landlord, absurdly for even her, isn't taking this seriously and acts if I'm being silly. The evidence points to objective danger and yet she thinks everything is hunky-dory. By god she isn't even taking the knife threat seriously. She's a horrendous judge of people and gets herself into bad associations regularly, so it's of little surprise that this thug got into the household. In checking references and doing interviews I think she asks shallow questions, accepts shallow and yes-or-no answers, and takes no real time to think about what she's observed. So far I've had to deal with an annoying foreigner, a guy who stole $20 and some eggs from me before abandoning the place, and now this. Jesus, she's going to get herself killed or beaten up someday if she continues this trend, if her diabetes doesn't already do her in.

Because of the frightening threat I've decided to move mid-month and get the hell out. It's quite disruptive to my plans since I wanted to focus more on getting a second job, I hope, before March, but it seems I need to switch my priorities. Pity. Unfortunately, combined with the fact my landlord is refusing to give me a refund on the remainder of the month, I cannot move out as promptly as I wish, and have to wait until either my next payday or when my income tax refund comes in, the latter I suspect being most likely.

Oh well, I can tolerate it. Mr. Knife is gone over 90% of the time, as I guess his job makes him house himself elsewhere during the business week. Even when we do reside in the house it's rare occasion that we run into each other, as I come home from work at night when he's already asleep and wake up after he's gone. He's not making any increasingly threatening gestures, so perhaps it's only me being paranoid. I hope so.

On an insightful note, this is making me realize how almost unmitigatable negatives can change the way you live your life. Over these past months I've seen how I've allowed some of my good habits to deteriorate, such as cooking breakfast and maintaining a good diet, because I'm so much more focused on avoiding the negative rather than pursuing the positive. I detest negatives and do whatever I can to solve and get them out of my life, but when you can't do anything about them, at least temporarily, it has a unique effect. It causes you to kind of orbit around it, avoiding and mitigating it in whatever way you can, because that's all you can do for a time, and it leads to a bad temptation to give up good habits and practices just so you can better deal with the stress of the negative for the period you have to deal with it. My mealtimes and dietary habits have really changed since my landlord irritates me in the kitchen so much, causing me to often hold off or change my meals just so we don't run into each other, and now with Mr. Knife I feel like hiding in my room more than ever. Since my landlord can't be reasoned with -- she either evades, makes excuses, and so on -- and I consider Mr. Knife too dangerous to initiate a dialogue with the only true option for solving these is to sever ties with them, which I cannot until either a few days or a couple weeks pass. I see now how having an apartment can be a vast good for my mental health, as I'll have no temptation to delay or change meals, avoid productive endeavors so I can hide from stressful people in my house, and so on. There may be other negatives such as the pressure one's taxes can have on income, but I see no greater stress factor than living with bad people who impose stress on you and cannot be reasoned with, and yet you have severely limited means to solve the problem. When you can't get a negative like this out, what else you can do but try and step around it?

Ah, living alone. That's a wonderful thing I'll never get tired of. I don't know what the next few days will bring, as my tax refund could arrive at anytime or something else financially positive may happen, so my regular life will be a little irregular for a short while since I'm focusing more on packing up and leaving as soon as possible. Bear with me.    

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ahhhh Panic: Another Reason to Look Forward to Living Alone

Oh drat. I didn't write a post yesterday morning as promised, did I? Nor today. Drat. Alright, I confess: I had a minor panic attack, and it threw off the morning routine I resolved to maintain.

While it may be unorthodox to be this open about it, I do remind you that one of my new year's resolutions is to heal my emotional difficulties, born and suffered from the past. Despite however bad the world may be, I am my own worst obstacle, truly, so the most important focus of this year is to master my psyche, hence why I'm titling 2012 as the Year of Self-Mastery. If I can set myself up psychologically be to utterly a master of myself, to resist any petty temptation and be a vigorous upholder of healthy habits, then I should be able to endure and accomplish anything, and come much more closer to reaching that ideal vision of myself. Ah yes, I want to perfect myself, in succinct terms. But with my current psychological problems it's difficult. Yesterday I woke up slightly distressed, engaged in some negative dietary habits (i.e. eating too much sugar), and dawdled until the noon hours despite waking up bright and early. Oh this is out of line for the productive self I visualize my ideal person maintaining.

I confess all these difficulties as a way of exercising honesty, and to hopefully give you the courage to surmount your own problems. I offer no excuses for my own, so why would you yours? In my progress I shall lay out the means to achieve my end and try best I can to give food for thought.

What's strange in my endeavor is that the stumbling blocks along the way are very irregular and sometimes unpredictable. In controlling my bipolar mood swings, for instance, I've been superbly successful and have mitigated them to the point where they're almost nonexistent. In keeping up a regular productive routine, however, I am often thrown askew with these little anxious panic attacks I have. Nuts.

By and large I view this as most likely a problem occurring from my present living situation, as I don't move into my new apartment until the 1st of March. I know I rag on my landlord a lot, but oooh I detest her! Her irresponsibility is intrusive, immoral, and borderline illegal, and I've noticed that I've adopted some of the habits I unfortunately nurtured in Michigan. It becomes flusteringly tense when we happen to be in a room together; I hide in my room a lot to avoid her, especially since her routine is totally unpredictable (sometimes she wakes up at dawn, sometimes at 2 PM; there's absolutely no regularity); and am sloppy in many of my habits since I care so little about this household and general environment: I just want out, and then I'll worry about being totally responsible on the housekeeping front.

Slightly irrational perhaps, but the temptation is almost irresistible. The primary problem here is that her evasive nature, like with many other bad people I've had to deal with, makes it so that none of the flagrant problems in our relationship get resolved, so as a result the problems simply pile and pile, making me detest her more and more. As testament and proof of her evasion, she has literally had a dozen diabetic emergencies, maybe more than that, in which either she has had to quickly consume food to normalize herself or have the ambulance called. This is inexcusable given that she knows how to prevent these episodes and knows how to respond when she starts showing symptoms, and yet refuses or procrastinates on doing so, which is why I tend to state she's in danger of dying daily. Her bad habits here force me to take care of her, which is an unjust burden for me to bear. Her irresponsibility continues on into other areas of her life, such as her dishonest refusal to pay the bills properly, which results in things such as late utility payments while she's still engaging in excess such as her frivolous television hookup and drinking habits (as per her alcoholism).

When you hate living with a person so intensely and yet are restrained from being able to get away from them effectively and efficiently, and you can't work out any of your problems with them, it hinders your mind. Instead of focusing on pursuing the positive you focus on avoiding the negative, which, in this circumstance, is about all you can do for the time being. For instance, instead of cooking a lavish and nutritious meal, my main inclination is to make something quick that can be consumed even quicker, as in the past hearing noise in the kitchen would cause my landlord to come and interact with whoever is there, regardless of how strongly our mannerism indicate we'd like otherwise.

anyone's interfere, I maintained my habits strictly and was immensely cleanly, and dropped all my practices whenever undue and unpreventable interference was present, such a living with a person who makes messes without cleaning them up. By gosh you could say I was practically born an adult and was always ready for self-responsibility, and that it's a shame I couldn't have lived by myself when I was ten-years-old.

I anticipate the same refreshment of character in living by myself in March. I won't feel tempted to hide in my room and delay meals because I hear buggersome people in the kitchen. I'll take an absurd relish in vacuuming, mopping, and dusting because I know the environment in under my control, and that I won't have my efforts undone by any slobs who have no cleanly habits of their own. And infinitely on. God, I might be able to endure watching the apocalypse outside my window so long as it's my own window. Living with terrible people is horrendous, and really brings the whole of your psychology down.

But until March I will continue in struggling to improve myself, for while I know there's a lot of negative pressure here I'm not going to resign to it for this final month and simply wait for the apartment move-in. Oh, I'll definitely work to advance myself in whatever way I can, as life is finite and should be enjoyed to the max regardless of circumstance. And so I'll keep working to continue trying to get an article out each morning, to see if it will work as a wakeup routine.

During the prime of the Occupy Wall Street protests I heard someone claim that all housing should be public. I take it as a corollary that this would entail that people could be forced to live together despite contrary desire. In reply, someone said that this would be a recipe for hell on earth.

Oh yes, it would be. I speculate the murder rate would skyrocket.    

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Threatened New Year's Resolutions?

I talk about my new year's resolutions a lot I know, but I'm one of those guys who sets his resolutions and keeps on them all year long; I definitely don't give up on them within a week or so, as is popular trend. I do weekly reviews which on a weekly basis causes me to open up my typed documentation of those goals, so very regularly am I reminded of them as well, making them never forgotten. Anyhow, there's two goals that I've been really struggling with: Trying to reach cognitive exhaustion at least five times a week, and doing cognitive exercises everyday.

On that former, I wanted to reach that kind of state regularly because I find it to be the perceptual marker for my greatest mental improvements. In any intellectual area where I've pushed myself to the point where I actually feel physically tired and can either exercise that particular skill no more or need sleep, I'll consistently find the next day or two that my intellectual abilities have demonstratively improved. For example, when I first started doing self-driven studies a few years ago, my ability to concentrate was crap. I could hardly maintain it for ten minutes since I was so prone to daydreaming. Being serious about the endeavor I forced myself to struggle with this difficulty and exert myself as much as I could at concentration, and within a half-hour I felt physically tired and frustrated. After taking a sleep I found myself very oddly improved within a day: In contrast to the day prior, concentration came much easier and was even almost effortlessly extended for how long I could sustain it. Additionally, my exertion and struggle had caused me to stay up past my bedtime, but the exhaustion seems to have improved my sleep to the point I slept very intensely, woke up extra early, and felt utterly fantastic upon waking, one of those "I could climb a mountain" feelings. The same has happened with other skills, such as whistling, where I would practice and fail to progress to no avail in one period, but then find newfound improvements the very next day, after a night's sleep. As such, I thought it rather desirable to try and achieve this state more often as a way to rapid improvement, but disappointingly it's been rather seldom.

That's the difficulty: That I seldom achieve it. It takes intensive effort to be able to obtain it, and it's stressful. Honestly, I think I've obtained it fewer than five times in my life, considering only those cases in which I intentionally tried to reach  that point. Reaching it five times a week seems unfeasible at this point, though admit I haven't really given hardcore effort yet.

Hmm. What to do? Although I intended for most all my resolutions to take effect immediately, I've been thinking maybe it's more logical to gradually ease into them, and just slowly build up the habits throughout the year that will allow for these abstract goals to be reached. In this case, perhaps I should just worry more about living a strenuous existence where I'm trying to push myself more often and as regularly as possible instead of trying to reach a bizarre abstract as reaching cognitive exhaustion an arbitrary five times a week. If I maximize and make consistent how hard I push everyday, particularly in the cognitive realm (and especially in studying), I shouldn't have to worry about this goal as it should naturally be met through these means. Besides, it may be very impractical a new year's resolution given other complications. On full days of work, for example, the amount of physical labor I do can eat up most of the time I would have for any other cognitive work there out, disabling me from being able to reach that five times a week mark. Another consideration is recovery, as with the concentration improvement in particular I've noticed I sometimes need more than one night's sleep to be able to recover, and during that recovery the skill in question is crap.  I remember one day when trying to study my vision went blurry any time I tried intensive concentration, since my previous days' exertion tired me out a lot, making me take at least one day off.

For now, I think I'll partially shelve this goal. By partially I mean I won't concentrate on pursuing it to the letter, but at the same time I'll still pursue it through other, somewhat indirect means, such as by focusing more on living full days rather than reaching an abstract point. By this way I should be able to reach this goal in whatever way I can, whether it means reaching cognitive exhaustion only three times a week (and spending the rest of the time in recovery), or going beyond five if possible.

Now, as for my cognitive exercises, they aren't threatened in the abstract as I've worded this goal, but the concrete efforts I've been making to complete them do appear deeply flawed. While I certainly can change my practices, by adding, subtracting, altering, or changing them, the ones I've picked out as of current are troublesome given their context and relevance to my life. As a reminder, my current chosen exercises are to do math equation exercises everyday with an online math generator, and to do conceptual exercises, which, for purpose of concision, I'll just say are more philosophically sophisticated vocabulary exercises.

The math is troublesome given its relevance to my life. Except for shopping, doing mental math just doesn't factor in that much, so dedicating my ten minutes of day is very irksome. In fact, I've become bored and hesitant to the extent that I've been skipping my exercises on a regular basis. The original reason why I've wanted to do them is to enable me to have more prowess in doing mental calculations for work, as culinary math is definite relevant to my chosen career, so it would be to my benefit to have the ability to forgo a calculator entirely if possible. Why fumble with a device that ultimately induces dependence when you can just strengthen yourself to the point of thinking faster than your fingers can punch in the figures? The problem is that I'm not currently in a position where I utilize culinary math, so it feels like I'm building up these skills for nothing at this point, which has been taking a bite out of my motivation to keep them up consistently, hence why I tend to skip them.

Perhaps I just need to refresh my reasons for doing them, as they can still be relevant in other ways. I'm very financially tight, for instance, so aside from any other budgeting I already do, it can be to my benefit to establish mental skills to enable me to perform the calculations in my head in stores, as my current calculator is awkwardly shaped and cumbersome to carry around, while my cellphone has annoying buttons to press and is slow given that I have to navigate to each operation rather than being able to press a button, like the plus sign on a real calculator. When you break things down into cost per unit, such as the cost per ounce on a bar of chocolate, one comes to some rather odd identifications. For instance, at times I've sometimes discovered that it's not always cheaper to buy the larger size, that sometimes the smaller sign actually is the more affordable one. Additionally, I've even found that sometimes a name brand can actually be cheaper than the store brand. In saving money, you can't blindly trust trends such as always buying store brand or the larger size; calculating the per-unit cost can prove otherwise. If I keep in mind that I'm trying to save money by making these mental calculations, perhaps I can once again foster a motivation to keep mathematically sharp.

With all my dependence on a calculator, however, I think maybe I'd be best to regain a fuller understanding as to how the basic mathematics operations work, as I can hardly do division for crap, particular if decimals are involved. Looks like it may do good to do an intensive study of basic arithmetic. Until then, I'll keep thinking.

Now, on my "vocabulary" exercises, the essential problem is actually having words to perform the exercises on. It's a pain to collect them. Most importantly, I want to focus on meaningful terms that have relevance to my life in either something I'm trying to learn, such as an educational text, or in terms I'll actually use in my speaking or writing, so it's no good to just check words at random as Dictionary.com might be able to spew them out at me. As such, often when I open up that website I simply have nothing to do and am at a loss as to what terms I'd be interested in identifying more clearly. As such, I mostly abstain from doing them since, well, what to do?

I think this problem could be solved by some good hard studying. Since being driven away from my studies a few years ago by external problems I've haven't gotten back into it yet, and I think reestablishing a routine would help me since the directed effort to learn, including note-taking, would make it easier to regularly do conceptual exercises since I would have to exert more effort to understand concepts to be able to integrate knowledge on a particular subject, such as in learning the various alcohol types for my bartending at work. In everyday life, otherwise, it's very annoying to document concepts for this exercise since it interrupts the flow of my day, such as pausing in reading a novel for pleasure to take note of a particular word. (All in all, collecting terms for these exercises has always been the primary annoyance.)

How to reconduct my studies, however, is the next big question. Unless I figure otherwise, it may be best to actually delay a new routine, as this article by Burgess Laughlin has got me to thinking as to how I should realign my life to get in touch with my most important goals. While my purpose in life isn't identified in precise terms, I do know that the two most important things in my life right now is to get a second job in fine dining, and to establish practices to make myself the best bartender I can be. The former is the most important for two reasons, 1.) that I need a second income to comfortably sustain myself with my incoming apartment, and 2.) I need to advance forward with my culinary goals after being in the restaurant industry for about two years now. I so want to dedicate myself almost purely to my self-improvement goals for work and general knowledge, but the issue of fine dining employment, I think, deserves the most immediate attention and action. It would be tough, but, if possible, I'd like to be able to obtain the goal within the month. (Bad job climate I know, but I do have prior restaurant experience and am simply moving around in the industry, so I don't think it would be that hard in my position, particular with some good effort.) I think I'll tackle this issue firstmost, worry about the bartending secondarily, and flesh out my thinking for self-initiated studying without yet making any serious time dedications for the actual effort.

In summary, I've been having trouble with some of my new year's resolutions, but I think some things just need to be changed around a bit and rethought so that I can get back on track. Instead of focusing on achieving cognitive exhaustion I'll just worry more about living days full of my hardest striving, and to whatever degree that goal can be met should be achieved naturally. As for my cognitive exercises, I need to rethink my purposes for doing the math exercises and do a refresher study on the basic math operations so I actually understand how to do the basic equations, and contemplate how to reincorporate studying into my life so that I can actually combine my conceptual exercises into that effort, rather than have the exercises be something distinct.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Anatomy of a Good Morning: Write Away?

When I read this article on The Art of Manliness about morning and evening routines it struck me like lightening how immensely important I understand these are. I always knew it on some level, but never as fully until I read this, that how I conduct my starts and finishes to the day, particularly the morning, has a tremendous impact on how I will psychologically treat the rest of the day. In other words, things like my mornings will set the theme of how I live that day. As you might know, one of my most important new year's resolutions is to emotionally heal from my bad past, and I think altering my morning and evening routine may play a huge role in bringing about this.

A considerable problem in my life right now is that I indulge too much in taking morning walks. One of my worst emotional habits, I'll confess, is doing obsessive thinking about the negative things that have affected me, and during those walks when I'm not trying to hone my attention on anything is when the negative thinking is at its worst. The walk will start out innocently enough, but at some point I will find something relevant to a negative issue I had been affected by and then go fully into that subject, and obsess about it in circles until I actually finish my walk. But, worse yet, that type of thinking oftentimes tempts me to prolong my walk, sometimes by an hour or more, and continue doing that thinking even when I get home, sometimes to the point where I'm too distracted to be productive at anything else. Even worse yet is that this type of thinking can persist for the rest of the day, agitating me even at work, and make me ashamed that the day was mostly wasted. I often get up at eight-thirty AM or so, but with the walking my day almost doesn't start until eleven or noon, and with the negative thinking in place almost the whole day is wasted given how my concentration is sent off course.

On the other hand, when I have days in which I start being productive immediately, such as by doing my math and vocabulary exercises almost right upon waking, I have wonderfully productive days. Being productive right from the start like that seems to set me in a mode in which all I desire is to leap from one productive/constructive endeavor to the next, and maintain the momentum all day long. The negative obsessive thinking is almost entirely absent in these days, if not totally so. Even better is that all this productivity before my night shifts will inevitably leak into my mentality during work, so I continue being super productive while at my job, and finish the day satisfied with what I've done and eager to start the next. These days are enjoyable, productive, almost devoid of distractions (such as mindlessly web surfing), and emotionally fulfilling. In the brief periods in which I have practice routines such as this I experienced an almost surreal turnaround in my emotional nature, in which I was more content, less affected by the negative, and so desirous of meaningful action that idleness made me experience extreme discomfort. To make major changes to my character this year, therefore, I think I really need to emphasize coming up with a good routine. I'm not so sure yet about an evening routine, but I do see the infinite importance of a morning routine given how it demonstratively affects the way I think and the choices I make for the rest of the day.

Now the question is exactly what type of routine I should establish. I can't simply start being productive and expect all to go fine, because with some brief introspection I have realized that the choice of action I choose does render different effects.

For instance, I go to the gym once a week to do my Body by Science workouts. I always try to do them as early in the morning as possible. Oftentimes I try to get ready and out to the gym as close to my wake up time as possible, and get home in the afternoon after I've done my grocery shopping and such, as I always tie chores like that to my gym outings. However, despite the fact I'm being productive right out of the gate, this type of practice doesn't seem to help the rest of my day, as I can still be tempted to idleness and lazy mental habits since most of those activities are practically mindless. (My thinking for my chores and workout was done at home on paper; when I get there to do them, all that's left is to do.) Allowing my mind the freedom, so to speak, to wander during those periods still leaves me mentally sloppy for the rest of the day, so mentally it's almost as bad as taking those wasteful walks.

But on days in which I do something that requires my concentration, such as math and vocabulary exercises, my mind feel primed in a way that I feel better disposed to keep my concentration upon every endeavor beyond that, so my thinking is much more directed and constructive towards what I'm doing, and those free moments in which I may think about whatever I want I continue being constructive and am not tempted to those negative habits, and my free thinking tends to be of higher quality and more physically pleasurable as well. In short, the key to a good morning routine seems to be to do something mentally constructive in the morning, something that requires consistent concentration during its activity. The math and vocabulary exercises, while at the same time being nearly painless, can almost be said to discipline my mind and set forth a very productive intellect for the rest of the day.

After doing some thinking I have come to the conclusion that I need to do something creative or original with my mind. (On that latter, by "original" I mean I must do my own thinking and original mental processes, such as by solving problems or creating something, rather than working to solely integrate something, such as by mere reading.) Yesterday, to test what kind of mental routines I could utilize, I tried reading for a half-hour, which also ties into my new year's resolution of making reading my primary enjoyment. It failed dismally, as my mornings are when I tend to be my most creative and original, so I really have a hard time taking something in which I'm so prone to my own personal thoughts at the time. In other words, I want to engage in output, not input. Despite no pressing issue vying for my attention, I was distracted the whole time I attempted to read since I simply wanted to think on my own. When I have exhausted my own personal creative resources is when I seem best to survey the works of others, as days in which I've had the most tiring studying sessions are also the days in which I enjoyed finishing the evening with some reading or an educational program, strangely almost like a bubble bath for the mind. As such, I think I ought to dedicate my mornings to creativity and originality, and save activities such as reading to before bedtime, which I'm most receptive to them.

So what to try? Well, I often promised over and over again to try and become a more consistent writer for you . . . so why don't I try writing a blog post each morning? My writing habits are lax enough to allow for that output, and it may be the best time possible for me to do it, though I would have to conduct an experiment first. I'll have a creative outlet for my thinking, and you'll have more to read: everyone wins. It's worth a shot.

There's also the possibility of those cognitive exercises mentioned above, those math and vocabulary exercises, but I've been having problems with them that's making me hesitant, which I will elaborate in my next article. (How about tomorrow morning?)

All that's left to cover here is, again, an evening routine. Honestly, I don't see much importance in it, though maybe I'll reread the above article and be otherwise convinced. For me, it seems that the mornings are the sole and primary trend setter for the day, whereas an evening can be wasted without consequence upon the next day. We'll see. Maybe for now I ought to try squeezing in a half-hour of reading before going to sleep, to help establish that reading habit I'm trying to get into, and further advance my intellect. So far I keep giving flimsy answers because I'm not committed to anything yet in my thinking, since I'm still, well, thinking about it.

And continue thinking about it I shall. See you tomorrow morning.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Down

It's not the order I intended to tackle them, but already I've got one new year's resolution down: I got an apartment! I move in on March 1st.

It's an absurdly good prospect too. While the rent is considerably higher, I'll be able to walk to work and a bunch of other stores in the mall, significantly driving down my vehicle costs. The area is clean and safe, and as a bonus I'll get a lot of discounts in the mall since I'm a resident in this particular complex. Awesome.

I feel silly for never thinking to contact that complex, as I had been looking at it for nearly a year and simply never thought to check it out. One day while walking to Macy's I noticed it from the sidewalk and it finally clicked, and when I e-mailed them I had the pleasure to find out that they had an efficiency/studio available.

I wanted to get a second job first, but since this is so good and still affordable I'll leap on it right away. My previous apartment searching has always left me dismayed since the ones with affordable rent and overall living expenses -- meaning it wouldn't increase my driving expenses too much -- were oft complained of being unsanitary, unsafe, and noisy, and the seemingly desirable places simply had too much of an overall cost increase to be budgetable, so for a long time I've been practically stuck at renting a room from this lady. It has been frustrating since I've wanted to live by myself in my own apartment for years now, and have actually been working at it for about two. My move to Texas was actually a compromise, as I intended to get an apartment right off but had to settle for a room.

I won't be living with anybody. I'll be all alone, in a good way. Ugh, I'm done living with people. While I have a good overall view of humanity my worst experiences in life have always come from living with bad people I couldn't remove myself from. The people I've had to live with have either been a vast inducer of stress, a massive imposition and interruption to my efforts, or both. Regardless of my efforts to work matters out, the problems would always persist, so given that I've been dealing with this for the past twenty-some years I'm eager to unload this problem. The best period in my life so far occurred as a teenager when I lived in a house all alone for over a year, during which I felt no stronger a resolve to live as fully as I could.

My current setup of renting a room from this old lady has been nothing but cumbersome. I think the lady doesn't just bring in housemates in order to supplement her income, but also to, more importantly, use them as a buffer for her irrational lifestyle, so she either doesn't have to suffer as much for her bad behavior or avoid the consequences altogether. She's in quite a lot of financial trouble, and amazingly she refuses to get a second job and relegates herself to her piddly weekend job, making her tenants her primary source of income. She also has type-1 diabetes and has almost died from it nearly a dozen times since my living here due to her own irresponsibility, which has been a major source of anxiety for me in the past.  Many times have I thought she was lying in a room dead.

Additionally, the tenants she has brought in in addition to me have been very intimidating. One guy, while friendly, often talked about his violent dealings with other people, making me slightly on edge towards him for fear of danger. The current guy now, my age, has been rather gross and inconsiderate, and once threatened me with a hunting knife due to some random suspicion that I went into his room.

I grant that it could be very possible for me to find someone to live with that I would enjoy having as indefinite company, but for now I'm about 0 for 6 for the people I've lived with and don't want to take the risk anymore; alone it is. For now. I certainly will enjoy it.

It surprises me how some people are reacting to my rent rate, considering I'm paying $725 for a mere efficiency/studio. They'd rather pay under $500. My only response is that whether something is expensive or affordable to someone is dependent on their values. A person's value of a particular instrument may lead them to plop several hundred dollars towards one, whereas someone such as I, who doesn't play instruments, wouldn't take it even if you gave it to me for free. In this context, I painfully value the ability to conduct my affairs and living space without the interference or input of others, especially those others with psychological problems that manifest in our dealings. That period in my life in which I had a house to myself was great not just because I was alone, but mainly because I was unhindered to go from goal to goal and conduct my chores as I wanted to. Bliss.

My standard of living may go down a bit, but my sense of living will increase.

I fretted about telling my landlord for fear we might have an episode, but surprisingly everything went over well. When the last roommate she got attached to was moving she got drunk and started yelling in the middle of the night, waking the household up and forcing us to call the ambulance for her (since we thought it was her diabetes), and she kept us up until past 3 AM with both her noise and our anxiety. I thought about just letting her find an empty room and note one day, but I want my deposit back and so finished our contract.

March is the move month! From here, my next priority -- which was already my priority to begin with -- is to snatch that second job in fine dining.