Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February's usual doubts

We've gotten in the habit of going for a long bridge walk on the weekends. I'm still a very reluctant Portlander but these walks lessen that feeling for a few hours; it's hard to look at such a stunning backdrop and not be in awe of it. Downtown, with its nine bridges, is pretty cool.

We aren't super ambitious walkers (yet!) so our trip only crosses two bridges: the traffic-heavy, shaking Hawthorne Bridge and the newest, no-cars-allowed bridge of calmness. The sun was setting yesterday just as we started crossing the Hawthorne-

The Marquam Bridge. Cars only.

On the other side of the Hawthorne Bridge is a homeless camp. The city counts nearly 4,000 as "homeless" on any given night and there's always a perpetual collection of tents, tarps, and bicycles along the waterfront. The last time we went by someone had scrawled are the dreams of those who sleep on feathers worth more than those who sleep on dirt? on the side of a massive concrete pylon. This time there was nothing except the smell of weed and zipped tent doors.

The view from this side of the river is amazing. These pictures from D's phone won't win any awards but those of the professional photographers out that night- hunched over their camera tripods as night fell- might. Imagine how beautiful their photos must have turned out!

I'm glad that February is almost over. There's something gloomy about this month- do you feel it too? Every year it's the same story: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and plenty of Alaskan Februarys before that too. So yes, this is going to be the annual whiny February post ;)

Our lease is coming up soon... again. When it came up the first time, extending it was an easy decision. We'd had marriage, job changes, and surgery in the few months before that and another ten months of stability seemed like a good idea. I assumed that we'd find something to stand on in those coming months and be ready to jump off again come the end of lease #2.

Nope. Remember that scene in Gulliver's Travels where the Lilliputians manage to tie down the giant adventurer with a thousand tiny chains? That's how I imagine it in my brain. And D and I have come to an ideological divide: he thinks it's better to act (move) on a well-developed plan, I think it's better to act (move) and then fine-tune a plan. Having typed it out, of course his idea looks like the better one, but I have this suspicion that it's exactly how dreams get delayed forever.

We had a good related discussion on our walk about willpower. How can people truly become fluent in a new language? How can they permanently stay in shape? Can you accomplish these things through willpower? I was really curious to hear his thoughts. Those are two things I think about All. The. Time. and two things he actually lives out. I'm kind of in awe to have met someone who doesn't struggle with weight and has successfully become fluent in a new language after age 18. He's like an Amazon e-book success story. Smart guy!

In terms of getting fit and learning a new language, he's convinced it happens only when it becomes a necessity. Like, when they throw you on an airplane and push you out in Peru (¡Hola!). Or when it's stick-to-a-diet or die. I assumed diets and languages happened more through routine + willpower but I've not been very successful at either so, yeah. Better to listen to him.

I've always believed, though, that necessity goes well with moving. That's it's no good to try to account for every single thing before launching yourself. That a small safety net is good but you shouldn't wait until you've woven an entire spider web- rather just go and trust yourself to figure some of it out on the ground. That's why I'm afraid of the waiting, out of fear of the spider's web becomes too sticky.

But there's also a lot of fear I have inside now that wasn't there before. What if we're too old for moving? What if we follow the figure-it-out idea and can't figure it out? What if trying is a mistake? What if not trying is a mistake? Before I always felt like there was plenty of time; now I feel like every decision has to be the right one because there's no time to lose on the wrong ones. Not a very nice sensation.

And then my heart goes you idiot! haven't you heard of being grateful? You have a home, a husband, health, income, and no war. What more is there to want? I do feel very thankful for those things. It makes wanting more seem like thumbing my nose at God. Someone who sleeps on feathers should already be content with their lot and be more focused on helping those mired in the dirt.

So that's half of the story.

For New Year's this year I'd set two resolutions:
  1. Move to somewhere with a Cyrillic-ish alphabet.
  2. Start a family.
Perhaps not the best things to go for simultaneously but like I mentioned- no time left. It's been one year since the doctor visit that lead to [month-long time lapse here] "You're pregnant! Wait, no. Cancer? Wait, no. Ah, endo? Yep." I have another doctor's appt tomorrow and am dreading it because there always seems to be some unpleasant new development to keep the doctor in business. But in general, it's all good. Really good. Although it's a severe case I don't feel it for the most part. A lot of other people aren't that lucky. There's just the issue of kids and I hope we get lucky there too.

February means there's still months and months to go before the new year rolls round. Maybe enough time to shake off this panicked feeling of no time!! and to get to work on both these resolutions? Maybe this dismal outlook on the rest of the year is just another February slump?

Or maybe it's time to- like this random street poet advises-

-and think about careers and children instead of weird-looking alphabets in foreign supermarkets?

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