change of scenery

Vacation is like deodorant; it can cover up things that stink, but when you reach the end of the stick things start to stink again.

We really needed a vacation, and for a few days it was in doubt whether we would get to go at all due to Nicole’s mental health, but she improved to the point that we could realistically leave home for a week. She flew with my wife to North Carolina because she gets too anxious to be in the car for more than a few minutes. I drove the 10-hour trip with all our stuff and picked them up at the airport.

We spent a lot of the time sitting at the beach house, watching the endless waves, feeling the breeze, and doing very little. I checked work emails a couple of times, and I worried about the cats and the house, but otherwise our problems were left behind for a much needed break. The sound of the surf made me feel more calm and relaxed than I had for quite a while, and I could feel the stress melting away.

Oh well, at least we had a few days of relaxation before the next crisis appeared. Nicole caught an uncommon fungal skin virus from somewhere, and it took over the rest of our vacation. After a visit to an NC doctor and another doctor after returning home, hopefully the treatment will kill the fungus.

So we’re back at home now. The cats were fine and happy to see us, and I had to mow twice because the grass was several inches too tall, but nothing bad happened while we were away.

We’ll see what happens with everything that was going on before the trip. Will Nicole’s mental health improve or go backwards? Will my wife choose to see someone about anxiety, or just talk about it because she’s too stubborn to take meds? Will we need to replace our septic system at considerable expense? Will I walk away from my job? How long will it be before I say “fuck it all” and go on my own vacation?

Strangely for me, I didn’t spend a lot of time overthinking about everything during the drive to NC and back. I think I concentrated more on the act of driving, in part due to the rain and the traffic delays. I had lots of music, which always helps me stop thinking. Yes, I sing in the car, but very poorly and an octave lower; I also drum on the steering wheel. One time I lost a drumstick out of the car window, so I had to listen to Def Leppard. (I know, that’s bad.)

we were on a break

I thought this would be a good time to write here again, since the world seems to be crashing down around us. I haven’t missed writing until now; in fact it has been a relief not being obligated to think of things to write. There have been a few occasions where I thought “I should blog this,” but the feeling passed.

I’ve been really busy with work in the past six months; I’ve worked a lot of overtime with early mornings and Saturdays. The money is good, but I have had a lot of stress to deal with. Otherwise my mental health has been relatively stable, a little down at times but nothing I haven’t dealt with before – in other words, my normal. I haven’t done very many things for myself lately, although I bought a nice color laser printer for the “atheist holiday shopping season.”

One interesting thing that happened was that I finally found my birth father (he died in 2012), and I have been in contact with several of his brothers and sisters. That deserves a future post of its own.

We had plans for this year. We were planning on spending about 10 days visiting people and redwoods and beaches in California in July; I was considering visiting newly-found family members in San Diego in September; and we were doing our annual camping trip in August. We were even thinking about saving up for a trip to the UK in 2021.

Then the world changed.

death valley

I drove through Death Valley National Park during my Eastern Sierras/Vegas trip in May 2004. Of course I was on a manic high during this whole trip. I won about $250 at the casino at 1am, couldn’t get to sleep, and decided it would be a good idea to go out again at 3am, then head for home.

I was driving through the desert at dawn, and falling asleep at 65 mph. I was listening to Pink Floyd, and in the beginning of “Time” when the alarm rings, it startled me so badly I jerked the wheel, and almost ran off the road into the sagebrush. Now I was wide awake. I got to Death Valley at about 7am, and it was already 85 degrees.

These pictures are at Zabriskie Point. I suppose they are the same pictures everyone else takes from the same spot, but I enjoy them just the same.

zabriskie1

zabriskie2

Plus a Joshua tree:

joshua tree