||[09 Feb 2014|11:49am]
It's 11am on a Sunday, and I'm sitting alone in my quiet living room while the sun pours in through the three windows facing the school across the street. There's two other people in the house, but they're all still asleep.
What's been going on in my life? I feel like I've recently caught up with a few old faces, and realized the answer to that is, a lot, and not much at all. There's some broad strokes that are very, very new, but when you bring them up, it just doesn't sound like much to anyone but me.
At the end of February it will be 6 months of solid working out, starting from the beginning of August 2013. This is very exciting! I have never worked out longer than a month before, and I have been going 4-6 days a week to the gym or running outside (mostly gym since the world decided to give us a real winter this year, and I'm not fond of the idea of busting my ass on the icy sidewalk). The scale isn't really important, as I'm building a lot of muscle with high-resistance cardio and weight machines, but I definitely have been feeling a lot better. It's funny when people say you need three months to make something routine; after six, I'm still not sure I'm there yet. Biggest thumbs up is that I'm finding it less desirable to talk myself out of a work out these days, mostly because I know how much work I have behind me, and the idea of taking a break and potentially losing that is incredibly depressing. I have a lot of plans this summer, and none of them involve being really down about my body.
It's also the hardest I think I've ever worked for something. I've always been very talented, or as my parents would say, a B+ student without trying. Literally: no effort. Which is super cool, because that knack has gotten me pretty far, in my profession, in my relationships. Stuff just seems to work. But when it doesn't, woosh. I'm a mess. This has been a really good exercise in having to work really hard for something, something that it's taking a long time to see results for. I still zig-zag between looking in the mirror and being able to see a slight carving of the work I've done, and looking and seeing just the same old soft, lumpy Alex. It's teaching me patience, something I have 0% of—typically if something was going to take long, I'd drop it or move on. That's why I have so many projects started, but when it comes down to really putting in the elbow grease, I just sort of putter out.
So that's exciting! Making this investment in myself is really going to do wonders for so many things—wearing what I want, staving off depression, giving my day structure, and hell, when I go to the gym these days I put show episodes on my kindle fire and watch shit! I watched all of Homeland that way, it was a great way to watch something without being a slug on the couch.
Speaking of slugs on the couch: Josh and I got a cat! His name is Taco, and he started as a foster that has just sort of stuck around. I am not a cat person, but I do have to say it's nice to have something moving around the house. Apartment living is rough; I HATE the litter box, which lives in the living room and stinks up the entire first floor every time he uses it. A friend of mine taught her new cat to go in the toilet, so we have that ahead of us. He's also destroying my furniture, but at this point it's already destroyed visually, so what's really the harm anymore.
He's very sweet, though being a street cat you can tell that he grew up on his own, so has weird quarks that I think come from just not spending a lot of time with other cats. He doesn't have the best balance, loves sitting on people and getting scratches, and biting you. Josh plays way too rough with him, and has cuts all over his hands (only from teeth though, he never really uses claws). I'm not into that at all, so when he gets frisky I just walk away. No thanks, bud.
What else, what else. My good friend Meg has been living with us since November during the week, as she's been gearing up for a move to the west coast, and when her lease was up in October and she couldn't manage to re-sign it, decided to spend her time commuting from home (NJ) to work (NYC). She doesn't get along with her folks very well though, and was having a really hard time with the commute (~2 hours each way), so Josh agreed that she could crash here during the week so she wasn't waking up at 5:30am and getting home at 8pm every day. It's been alright, she generally has a lot of stuff to do during the week after work, and we agreed that for the most part she would just come in and go up to her 'room' (our office), so that we could still feel like we were having private time in our house.
That's been a little bit less the case as time as worn on; obviously I'm glad she feels comfortable, but sometimes you just don't want to chat with people at the end of the day, ya know? She's also very nervous about this move, so every. single. conversation. eventually turns to that. And when I say eventually I guess I mean immediately. It's kind of tiring to have someone never really ask what's going on with you, or to explore anything you say. Like I said, she's my best friend, but there's a reason that I never really sought out living with her. It's just a little bit of overload; that said though, I'm really glad to help out, because I know what a chore the commuting is (I did it for the first year after i graduated, to pay off some credit card debt and save up dolla-dolla-billz for first/last/deposits). She's off to the left coast February 16th, so it'll be interesting to see how the apartment feels after that. We also had another friend who has now since moved into the city that would crash with us 1-4 days a week (on the couch, since the office was occupied haha) for the same reason: graduated from grad school, moved home and was commuting from there, but he would have work stuff that required him to be working by 7:30, so that made the commute RIDICULOUS. So we've literally become a halfway house for wayward friends and cats, but it's been a good ride.
Josh has been so sweet about all of it, too. A year or two ago he would have been completely wound up about it, hating every second of it, so it's really a mark that he's chilling out a bit. It's always baffled me that Josh was the kind of guy that had set up a lot of 'life rules' that he followed without ever really thinking about, or addressing every so often to make sure that they were actually in his best interests. I find when people do that, they end up making decisions based on this completely arbitrary set of standards, most of which are just things they've fallen into without any real conscious application, it's never in their best interests. Setting up reasons why you can or can't do things is ridiculous; no two situations are the same, and while it's good to have a general compass to help point you in a direction, to say things are so black and white as that is gross.
Tangent! So, as my friend Jackie said, we'll soon be 'empty nesters', haha.
Back on the subject of doing things that are hard, I've started picking up some small freelance projects again. Money has started to bother me a lot—there's some Life Rules™ that I'm hitting (my retirement shit is fucking baller, over 50k saved up, which when you think I started when I was 21 means I'm going to have like 45 years of compounding on that), but the ones I'm not are how much you're supposed to have saved in liquid as an emergency fund (at least 6 months of your current salary, ideally 1 year). That's a decent chunk of change, and suddenly I woke up and realized I turn 28 this year. No longer can I say, "Oh, go on then Alex and get X, you're so ahead of your peers in Y way!". Now I need a savings account that is higher than the 5 grand I've always had, which means I need to be a lot more conscious of money. It's hard to juggle my personal credit card and our shared card (I use my credit card for everything, I find it's a better snapshot of my habits, and means I automatically have access to past trends—I just pay it off every time I get paid, which also means lots of points over the years, and buyers protection on travel and large purchases like bikes or TVs), and our rent is very high, even by NYC standards. I also do a lot of traveling, so freelance has been needed to make sure every paycheck I'm putting 333$ away (666$ a month), which even still means that, if I manage to keep the trend 100%, is only 14,000$. I need about 3x that much to be in the clear, which means that's three years of solidly saving. In three years I'll be 31!! Josh will be 35! Yikes. So, yeah, freelance has been a good way of offsetting my expenses, and I've managed to not take on any projects that are really too taxing, since by the end of the day I'm pretty bushed.
Speaking of travel, this year I've got a couple of things lined up. My friends and I are going to Whistler to go skiing, which will mark my first time in Canada! It's a week-long trip with old high school friends (and one college friend who most of them ended up living with), which will include one of their birthdays, Pi day (3/14/2014), St. Patricks Day, and something else I'm forgetting. Should make for a crazy good time! My brother is also graduating, and while I'm still trying to figure out how to broach the subject, I'd really like us to go on a europe backpacking trip for like, 3 weeks. I'm not sure how to swing it—he already has his graduation gift (a car, that he got when he was a Junior because he needed it out in Colorado), so my parents are basically out on that. He also needs a job, and I understand will be having to pound the pavement pretty hard to get something set up. That said, if he found something, he could ask for the month reprieve to do this trip, but I'm not even really sure if he'd be that interested? We're about 6 years apart, and have never been super close, mostly because we've always been at such separate points in our lives. But now that he's out of school, and will be taking care of himself, I think he'll really grow up and into himself. So, we'll see how that goes, but either way it's kind of an expensive thing to do, I'd definitely need like 3-4 grand just to make that happen I'm sure (even if we're doing everything like college students, which would definitely be expected). Josh and I are also overdue for a trip (one that isn't a debacle, like Amsterdam last year, sheesh), so that's another expense I'll have to plan for. Maybe we'll just do something easy like France, or some sort of resort-y place? I have so many places I want to go, but it'd be nice to just have an easy-going trip without the pressure of having to see and do a ton. Maybe closer to spring, and then we could do stuff like go to Marsailles? Which I've never done, and bike around and stuff. We also have some domestic trips lined up; camping up at Lake George, which was SO MUCH FUN last year. You rent a boat which you take to the ISLAND THAT YOU CAMP ON. It's so baller, we just get drunk all day and get to sleep in tents and wake up and it's beautiful and and. I'm trying to convince friends to go, but I'm not sure if anybody is going to take the plunge…it's one of those things I think you have to see to believe. Then we've obviously got Maine at some point, though the timing on that is a little wonky, so has yet to be figured out. I'm trying not to do that thing I do, where I over plan my summer during winter, cause winter is boring and shitty, and then when it comes time I'm totally blasted with stuff to do and am exhausted.
Art is also more on the horizon. I've always believed that artists put more of themselves in their art than they realize; whenever you find a picture of an artist who has a consistent body of work, I typically find a lot of similarities between how they look, and how they draw people. I've always had really low self-confidence in my appearance, and I feel like that's been a very big stumbling block with my art; I don't want to draw squishy, lumpy fat Sage, I want her to be svelte and fit, but it's hard to draw that when it doesn't feel real. We'll see how that goes, but I do need to put more time into illustrating. It's easy to scroll through my Tumblr dash and see so much beautiful art, that I'm satisfied enough just looking. It's a muscle, just like the ones I'm working on my real body, and it's about time I started working it out more consistently.
Stuff with Josh, as I said, has been really good. I like how I don't ever feel scared with him, scared I'll say something or do something and he'll just bolt and be done with me. I think sometimes I push that boundary a little bit, but it's really so refreshing to feel completely at ease with someone in a way that makes you honest, with them and yourself. We still have some stuff to work out (we don't have sex nearly enough, but that's mostly me…I keep telling myself that once I'm in better shape it'll be better, but that doesn't mean there should be a blanket hold on it altogether—off topic), but I'm getting really close with his friends, and I feel like after a long time (4 years this valentines day!) he's starting to become more of a fixture in my group (which is a hard nut to crack, lemmetellyou). The only thing that worries me about him is how uninterested he is in taking care of his body. I admit I'm kind of going overboard, but if I'm getting too into working out, he's at the other end of the scale doing jack-shit. It worries me, because he does have some health stuff to take into consideration, but I feel like he just kind of lets future-Josh deal with that kind of stuff. He smokes a ton of weed, which doesn't bother me in and of itself, but he (like a european) always cuts it with cigarette tobacco, which means he's effectively smoking half a cigarette every day. And even though the basics of weed don't have negative effects, actually burning it to smoke it does (you're just inhaling all that burning matter into your lungs after all). I'm very cognizant of how my decisions are going to effect me in the future, and these days am very interested in setting up solid foundations to build on in the future, so it's a little disconcerting to look at him and see none of that. Hopefully when I'm totally ripped from all this working out he'll feel a nudge to get his act together, we'll see ;).
So, yeah! Nothing super awesome like big moves, or new jobs, or new hobbies, but definitely have stuff percolating. I've been really happy these last 6 months being kind of selfish, and setting up systems for myself so that hopefully, future-Alex will have some solid change for the better. And who knows what will come after that!