Adjusting Slowly

The adjustment to working and going to college full time is progressing slowly. This week I got ahead of myself finishing all required assignments a day early. As the holiday season approaches and the COVID-19 numbers climb, work can be stressful at times but I’m managing. The one take away from all this is I must take at least a day away for myself.

English composition and quantitative analysis mathematics classes aren’t difficult; they are just time consuming. I’m narrowing down my persuasive essay in English to discuss how the development of artificial intelligence benefits society and counterarguments of its determent to society. Mathematics is one of my strong subjects. But I have to remind myself to slow down. Just like in programming, if you miss something (a negative to a positive, wrong calculations, etc.) the whole problem just fails miserably. During the week, I find myself thinking about nothing else than these two subjects.

I’m sure you’ve heard with the pandemic Walmart is expanding their Black Friday specials over a period of weeks. Also as the holidays approach, we’re getting a massive amount of product delivered almost on a daily basis. In order for me to get through the night I have to remind myself, “Go in, work your eight hours and clock out.”

As one can imagine sometimes I find myself not taking care of myself. Of course I’m going to lose some hours of sleep on a daily basis with college. Other times, I can’t remember if I’ve eaten, paid bills or done other daily living activities. For me, that is a red flag, “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!”

With the remaining four weeks of college classes and holiday season it’s best, I believe, to take at least one day to reset. With Mondays and Tuesdays off, last week I allocated Monday as a “me” day. I didn’t invest any time in my college courses. I literally turned my phone off for the day. I made sure I ate, bathed and got my house in order. It was quite effective. Tuesday I was ready to dive into coursework completing a day early this week.

That’s going to be the plan unless something unexpected comes up. Technically you can’t catch up on sleep but I’m woke up refreshed. Let’s get this eight hours done, so I can relax! Bring it on!

A Step in the Right Direction

Last weekend I put myself through an emotional roller coaster. I was overwhelmed with three areas of my life: college, work, and myself. At times I didn’t know up from down, nor down from up. There were times I didn’t know if I was going to survive; I almost gave up. Yet, when I took the time needed to take a look at myself, trusting in the process, I woke up refreshed taking a step in the right direction.

First, there was this overwhelming feeling of loneliness. Since I work overnights, I don’t have a lot of contact with my support network. Yet, I forgot the most important thing – the connection with a Higher Power.

I became so enmeshed with time constraints I began to cut things out. Since most of my free time has been studying, reading, writing, and solving complex mathematical problems, I just skipped right past it or didn’t read it at all. That includes the daily posts I put up here. Yet, when I slowed myself down, took a deep breath, something changed. The connection with my Higher Power was rekindled.

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

p. 417, Acceptance is the Answer, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The above is one of my favorite quotes. At times I forget to remind myself of it. It wasn’t until I started writing this entry; this quote came to mind. That one little paragraph says so much. The most powerful message, for me, is the very last sentence, “I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.

Ever heard of Rule #62 – “Don’t take your life [yourself] so damn seriously!“. It’s another good one. When I think back and read what was going on, especially with school, it appears to be a form of perfectionism. That is common in many addicts; the desire to be perfect all the time or an OCD everything must adhere to their specifications. While I do want to do well in school, it doesn’t mean I have to jeopardize my health and sanity for an A. Just like high school, no one is going to ask what I got in my college algebra class when I apply for a job – or they shouldn’t! It doesn’t matter. Perhaps use the same principle I try to at work every day – do the best with what you learn and leave the rest.

Even today I wasn’t as frantic about getting everything done. I could (but avoid) turning things in late for courses with a 10% penalty. I just reviewed last week’s grades, which I passed with all A’s. I got a 95% on my MAT136 assignment, but now the instructor says I could go back and re-do those I got wrong for a better score. WTF? Why?

If I remember to keep these points a top priority in my life, perhaps I won’t sink into that dark abyss. At least it’s a step in the right direction. I’m at peace again.

This Too Shall Pass

How or where do I even star?. I’m thankful this week is over because it’s been a very rough week with my college courses and work. Sometimes I just want to cry. I feel like I’m falling apart about to fail at everything. There is so much going on it’s overwhelming.

First, work is a struggle each and every day – mentally, physically and spiritually. In January, I thought I was going to enjoy it. It was something entirely different than an office environment. What was required of me wasn’t demanding, so I thought. What I’ve come to find out is exactly the opposite.

Honestly, it is a complete shit show at work right now. I’m almost on the edge of just walking away. But I know doing so it a stupid decision and won’t solve anything. It doesn’t help Walmart has decided to change the management structure right before the holidays and during a pandemic. The overall feeling I get is no one cares about anything. People have become extremely lazy, unhelpful and are only looking out for themselves. Sometimes I feel like I work with the most unintelligent, lazy, disorganized, stupid morons on the planet. This is where I need to stop thinking such things. It doesn’t have anything to do with them – it’s all about me.

Looking at myself can be scary sometimes. But it needs to be done to see what and how I can change things. I’m full of doubt and fear.

Did I make the right decision to start school or even return? I don’t want to be working where I am all my life. It’s not a career; it’s a job I endure to pay the bills. After work each day I’m physically and mentally exhausted. I have no motivation nor can I concentrate on anything. I just want to go to bed. Then I wake up the next day and do it all over again.

This doesn’t leave much time to what’s required for my college courses. I barely had enough time this week to get all readings, discussions and assignments turned in. Then the doubt and fear creeps in I’m going to fail because I’m not doing the quality of work needed at this level in college.

With all my heart I want to succeed. I have to succeed. Obviously, I’m not happy working where I am and it’s not the time to find other employment. Besides, I should be grateful my employer is paying for me to go to college.

I called off work because I needed a break. It just so happens I have the next three days off because I have Monday and Tuesdays off. But why do I feel so guilty about calling in? My employer gives us ‘protected time off’ for whatever we choose to use it. It’s meant to be used on such occasions. Again, I should be grateful my employer offers such benefits.

Here comes the tears dammit…

Change of subject because all I’m doing is getting myself in what I call a ‘tizzy’. We’re having out first snow fall of the season. It’s a small accumulation. Just looking at it brings me joy. A change in the air.

Then I go back inside and I get depressed all over again.

I despise days like this but they happen. Since it’s Monday I might as well use this time productively and get a head start of my coursework for this week. Perhaps if I accomplish something it will brings my spirits up.

Amazon.com: Happiness in Your Life - thehiyL by Doe Zantamata - 3 pack This  too, Shall Pass Magnet: Kitchen & Dining

The War of Two Egos

As mentioned earlier, I’m about to start college . . . again . . . to obtain my Bachelors in Computer Science with an emphasis in Software Engineering. Things are about to get crazy. I’m at little freaked out about what is going to happen in the next eight weeks.

First thought – what the f**k are you thinking? You have a full-time job AND you’re about to take on a full-time schedule in college? Right now I’m probably in the best phase of my life I’ve ever lived. Peaceful. Yet a part of me feels like were inviting chaos into my life which we all know always goes sideways. We’ve been down this road – you failed. Why are you putting yourself on this road – again?

While my life may seem to be peaceful, I don’t feel fulfilled. There is part of me which isn’t happy where I am. I want more. I expect better for myself. There is a void in me needing to be filled.

I can try to convince myself, “You can do this.” It’s a lie. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a dark room flailing my arms around trying to figure my way out. Scared out of mind, about to shit my pants looking for damn light switch danging from above only to find out its not there and bang – damn that wall – f**k me.

A glimpse of what’s goes on in my head – scary actually:

Isn’t this called self-sabotage? You have finally reached the starting point of a major goal in your life. Yet, you want to quit before you even get started? You’re better than this.

Perhaps but . . .

Remember, anything past the ‘but’ is a lie . . .

Oh shut up . . .

You know I’m right! Bitch!

This is just one of those moments in life I need to take three deep breaths, slowly inhale, slowly exhale all the while listening to Tibetan singing bowls in the background. I always feel much better even after a couple of minutes. I really should do such things more often!

In reality, this is not happening today or tomorrow. It’s not happening until next week. Why am I getting myself all curled up like a rattlesnake, shaking that tail about to strike with deadly fangs? Because I’m human. It’s a basic human emotion called fear!

Snap out of it!

This is one of the reasons I miss writing even if it’s to myself. I get the impression I have two versions of myself. A strong, confident type who has gone through enough shit in his life. He says just do it like a blacksmith bringing down a hammer on a hot piece of metal on an anvil, sparks flying all over the place. Slow and steady, my boy! On the other hand, there is the (still) meek, timid, always nervous man who wants to succeed but doubts still rise from the ashes of his past failures. Sometimes it’s quite the battle going on up there.

Enough. There are others time too, I get tired of myself talking like this to myself. It’s done. I made the commitment, I enrolled. I am registered for classes and purchased books. There is no turning back. Besides, it’s not today. Literally don’t worry about it right now or even at all.

I need to enjoy the some peace and quiet right now. Next week it’s going to be a whole new ball game. This battle is probably now over. It may have just started **cringe**

I admit I am strange . . .

Bachelors in Computer Science – Software Engineering

For months now, there really hasn’t been a lot going on but the mundane life tasks – work, eating and sleeping. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you may know I have a passion for programming. Whether it’s web page design, gaming or other. After deeming my AAS in Computer Science Information Systems completely useless, my goal was to obtain my Bachelors. The time has come.

I am fortunate enough to have an employer who offers such a program. Have you heard of the College Degree for $1 per day at Walmart? At first I was hesitant believing it was “certifications” in various fields. However, after further research it is much more. For instance, I have enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). My cost is $30 per month with one requirement – staying employed at Walmart.

Unlike traditional semesters at a typical college, SNHU offers eight week terms. Such programs are not for everyone. You must have good organization and management skills. For instance, you have your “module”, a discussion, an assignment and a possible exam at the end of each week. The discussion is broken down into three individual tasks: your initial post and two follow-up posts to other students which all need to meet a certain criteria of an acceptable discussion post. This format is very familiar to me since it was used where I received my Associates in Computer Science at a local community college when “online study” was just in its infancy.

The plan this semester is three classes: FYE 101 – First Year Experience, MATH 136 – Intro to Quantitative Analysis and ENG 123 – English Composition II. All classes begin on October 26th.

Am I nervous? You’re only lying to yourself if you aren’t. It’s overwhelming at first. You have each class with a module, assignment and discussion. But I’ve learned you focus on one class, one task, complete it and move on to next class and task philosophy. (**scratches head** Hmm – where did I get that from?)

Early access to classes started today. I’ve synchronized both Outlook and Google calendars to ensure I don’t miss anything. Honestly, it’s a nifty feature. There is a lot going on and it’s easy to get sidetracked. If you miss something, you can’t go back; an automatic zero on the discussion, assignment or exam if you happen to miss something.

Part of me is excited and wants to do it NOW. I want to start NOW! But I have to remind myself, “Breathe. Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Classes don’t start until October 26th.

Facebook tends to remind me during this time of year of my first college experience. “Three assignments, three discussions with 9 responses required and an exam. And don’t forget about working on your final project? UGH!” – an old post. I’m thinking of printing it up and posting it on my computer. It makes me chuckle every time.

I am going to try to enjoy my two days off for the next two weeks. Afterward, it’s going to get ridiculously busy and lack of sleep is going to be an issue. Or is it? I’ve been reading The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #3) by Jeff Wheeler in which there is a line I love to remind myself:

It begins with a thought . . .

Change is Always Good

The monotony of life was beginning to really start to bring on some bad ju-ju. As you may have heard, Wal-mart, is making some changes. This is good and bad news. I’ve decided to go back to college to earn my Bachelors in Computer Science with emphasis on Software Engineering. Life is going to get a whole lot more interesting.

For what ever reason, Walmart has decided to make some sweeping changes throughout its stores during this pandemic. The managers and supervisors all had to apply for new positions. Instead of overlapping assistant managers during the week, we will only have one. At a lower level, the number of supervisors are also going to be cut. Both our overnight managers are leaving for other stores while they bring another who use to work the overnights in the past. How they are going to restructure the rest of the crew is still unknown but happening soon. It doesn’t appear my employment is in jeopardy but when restructuring on this magnitude happens one can never know the end result.

The retail business is not the ideal employment for me. It’s really physically and mentally demanding. While I get by day by day I am completely exhausted at week’s end where I sleep much more than another other time during the week. One might say it’s slowing killing me? Evidence of this is my periodic blood pressure checks which have increased dramatically. I’m back to fighting bad hypertension and it scares me.

I graduated from a local community college with an Associates in Computer Science Information Systems in 2011. I have not been able to establish a career in the field. Instead I’ve found jobs were I can get them. I decided to use the resources of my employer to invest more in my future education. Doing so requires me to stay at my job for quite a while but most of my education is paid by my employer. Yet, part of me is still skeptical this is going to work out. I’m still $25, 000 in debt from my last education experience and it’s gotten me no where but I big education debt I’m still paying for the rest of my life.

It may sound as if I’m not confident in the future. I will admit there is a small about of fear. Through these experiences I’ve learned no to expect anything and just let the pieces of the puzzle fall in place. Change is always good.

Welcome Changes

Nowadays I typically just scan the news very quickly. COVID-19, Black Lives Matter and or protests, the US President and whether a second stimulus check for those in the US dominates the news. I don’t really care for any of it. However, today I learned my employer will be shutting down for Thanksgiving 2020. I’m shocked and feel a BUT…somewhere in the future.

I don’t know why I even bother with the news anymore. There really isn’t anything newsworthy. Various stories about COVID-19, mask mandates, rising deaths, reopening and closing again are 95% of what is reported. There is also the Black Lives Matter, police inequality, protests, the Confederate flag and how businesses are changing anything “racist” including names and logos. Throw in every little thing the US President does or says. Lastly, there is “Who is getting a second stimulus check? When?” articles to fill in the gaps. Do I really care? Nope. Like many, I have become desensitized about all these topics. But the news is the only connection to the outside world, so I tolerate it keeping my opinions to myself.

However, the top of my news feed this morning (right now) was an article that Wal-mart is closing Thanksgiving 2020, the first time in 30 years. Part of me is ecstatic. This will be the first Thanksgiving in perhaps close to a decade I will have a major holiday off. Not only that if I keep my current schedule, I will actually have a three day weekend! Thus, I’m actually grateful. However, I feel a BUT . . . somewhere in the coming in the future.

This is some good news of a $300 bonus for full-time employees who are still working as of July 31, 2020. Unlike my past I also “pay myself” first. It’s been something small like a pair of pants, new blue tooth headphones, a TV. The rest of the extra cash got rid of past financial debts. I no longer have any but student loans. Financial insecurities no longer exist.

Today, it doesn’t matter. The COVID-19 pandemic and any other ridiculous news these days is going to saturate the news for many years in the future. Thanksgiving is many months away and not a concern. Just like everything else in life these days I take things with a grain of salt. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, oh well. I have learned (and practiced) if I don’t have an expectation, I can’t be disappointed.

That is where I am today. Sober and grateful.

Just Living Life Sober

In the last week I am slowly slipping into a period of slight depression. I have tried to reach out to others, yet no one is returning my calls; it’s as if I don’t exist. During this time at work I’ve realized no matter where I work I encounter the same problems; why can’t everyone get on the same page. I have a couple projects in mind but I’ve delayed them – I just don’t have any interest right now.

I realize people have lives most with families and young ones. It’s the summer so they’re busy. But I have this expectation, if I contact you at least give me a courtesy to call back. There are also those I run into while walking down the street. They keep walking. Lastly, when I do talk to someone it’s like I’m talking a foreign language and they see me as a dragon with three heads. That deer in headlight look and a need to immediately escape. I’m coping. I know I’m not that important. But it would be nice is people who I thought I considered friends would at the least return my calls.

Work can be stressful at times. Based on previous experience with employers I’m concentrating on focusing on the tasks at hand, doing it and leaving for the day. But getting hit with the same crap day after day adds to the stress. I can offer all the suggestions in the world but I’m taken aside with a final comment, “You know it won’t go anywhere. It is what it is.” Basically, deal with it. Isn’t it best for a company to have policies in which everyone is on the same page. At my job I can’t get one straight answer. It frustrates me when one person says to do this and another this, yet its the same task just different views of what should be done when policy says something completely different.

I’m at a point where I’m mentally, physically and spiritually tired each and every day. I attend meetings to uplift my spirits but again, I run into the same thing as if I speak a different language. At every meeting, after I speak on a topic, the room is silence for a good five minutes afterward.

At times I feel like I’m just existing, not enjoying sobriety as I should be. Even when I run into my Sponsor, who never returns my calls anymore, recently commented, “I don’t call back because there is nothing to discuss.” Perhaps my understanding of a Sponsor relationship is different thus I need to make a decision to change Sponsors.

Despite what I’m going through right now I hope this is a temporary situation. I’m not holding resentments; I’m trying to lower my expectations. Yet, sometimes in certain situations, doing so doesn’t make any sense at all to me. But I have faith things will change and when I look back I can say, “What was that all about?”

Opinion: COVID new norms

Perhaps I just need to keep this to myself. However, I have found when I have such deep thoughts about such subjects it is best to get them off my chest. We now live in a different world then we did at the beginning of 2020. Yet people are still ignorant over protections put in place for everyone.

This pandemic has ravaged our world. Hundreds of thousands of died. Perhaps if people would take this pandemic seriously, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today. But I also realize I can’t force others to do something they are not willing to do whether educated or not. What drives me mad are two things: complete disregard for others and blaming others who have no control of the situation. Let me explain.

Locally, the only news I read about the pandemic are “exposure alerts”. Everyone knows where I work, so my exposure is potentially very high. However, my employer has gone above and beyond to ensure the public is protected to the best of their ability. On the other hand, there are other places of business that continue to disregard their own mandates. Other businesses, whom I’m sure go through hoops, make things happen to appease the public. Yet people complain afterwards certain standards weren’t met putting blame on the owners.

A local convenience store/gas station was put on notice of potential exposure just the other week. As with many other places they have notices posted clearly on the front door, “Masks are required.” Yet, the other day I passed by and saw three people go threw the front door without a mask. To make matters worse, the employee behind the counter had their mask under their chin. I was absolutely appalled. Still today I’m conflicted if to do anything about it. Do I become just like those I speak of when I don’t do something about it myself?

As I listen to a local country music station, they mentioned a recent concert in which attendees didn’t abide by “social distancing”. The organizers most likely wouldn’t have been given permission to put on such an event unless certain standards were met. Some are calling for actions against the organizers of the event.

In reality, this is going to continue to years to come. Something I’ve learned in sobriety is responsibility and accountability for no one else but me. I didn’t like wearing a mask as a certified nurses assistant nor do I like wearing a mask especially now working as a overnight stocker. However, in order to protect myself and others I wear a mask no matter where I go. It’s just become natural for me to grab a mask before I leave my house.

Ignorance is just another name for complete stupidity. Don’t point fingers at anyone else. Look yourself in the mirror.

A New Experience – Finally

For those reading this blog, you have read about my experience with the complete removal of my top teeth back in January to February. Today, I had the last appointment walking out with my new upper denture. This is going to be a new experience for me.

Like my mother, we both had problems with dental hygiene because of our smoking and coffee drinking. Back in 2000, most of my front teeth were crowned to prevent further decay. However, in 2018, it was determined the crown were failing, I had some loose teeth and it would be best to just pull them and get a full upper plate.

After a series of oral survey appointments, I sat down for my impression for my upper plate. Then COVID-19 struck. I was left with no upper teeth. I thought I would be embarrassed having a hard time eating, talking, etc. In reality, I had to change my diet a little (soft foods only) but managed as best I could day by day.

After a series of more appointments when the office recently opened, I finally received my upper dentures today. As mentioned by the dentist, I have to learn how to eat, how to speak, etc. I can’t even say my last name without slurring the words *chuckle*. One nice thing about these dentures is they aren’t like the old dentures requiring any adhesive. I just put them in, swallow and they’re in. I took them out to sleep and I won’t wear them at work just yet. I should only have to wear them periodically until my gums get use to them otherwise I may get sores.

So now this chapter in my life is closed. Honestly I’m not sure if I’ll return (except for adjustments) to the dentist for further work. He appears to be like others who treat managed care recipients one to do extreme work when its not necessary. But that’s another story.

I’m just glad this whole affair is over, yet a new one begins.