April 7, 2008

Anxiety and insuperable effort

In the world of the dreamer there is solitude: all the exaltations and joys came in a moment of preparation for living. They took place in solitude. But with action came anxiety and the sense of insuperable effort made match the dream, and with that came weariness, discouragement and the flight into solitude again. And then in solitude, in the opium den of remembrance, the possibility of pleasure again.

The above quote is from Anais Nin's Children of the Albatross. I first heard it in the opening footage of Incubus' tour documentary dvd, Look Alive. Brandon Boyd reads those words over a montage of video clips of the band members enjoying some free time, surfing, skate boarding, spending time with pets, re-charging themselves before coming back together to work through all the preparation necessary to launch a world tour. Brandon compares the feeling of Nin's quote to the "daunting" effort involved in preparing to hit the road. I find I can apply those words to my own life, as well, especially lately with all the details I'm having to plow through in making the decision whether or not to buy Shaharazade's.

The restaurant. Well. At this point, things are moving very slowly. It's tricky because I haven't told my current employer, so I can't make phone calls while I'm at work. I called in sick Friday a week ago (I actually was sick) and took advantage of the time to call a financial planner, then on Saturday I spent the afternoon with a neighbor who once owned an ice cream shop/cafe, then that Sunday I went up to Shaharazade's for breakfast and had the chance to introduce myself to the wife/owner (up till this time I've only talked to the husband/owner). I think she was a bit peeved because she had just stopped in to collect her husband so they could go to church and I caught her on her way out the door. Oh well. Then, on Monday, I called a bank loan officer to discuss what's required to apply for a loan and what some of my options might be, and called a second financial planner as a possible alternative to the first. On Thursday, I sent the owners of Shaharazade's an e-mail with a looong list of questions about the business and a request for their financial statements. But this is where it gets really hard for me. All of the phone calls wear me out, I'm just not used to talking that much and having to answer question after question, much less think of the questions I need to be asking. And anything financial is stressful for me, so I'm fighting my own resistance to dealing with this part of the situation. I keep telling myself, though, that if I can't handle the financial process of obtaining the restaurant, what on earth will I do if it becomes mine and I'm responsible for all of it? So this process is a good test. If I can buck up and get through everything I have to deal with (figuring out whether I can afford it, getting a loan, working with a lawyer and the current owners on a contract, fixing up my condo, renting my condo, finding a new place to live, learning the restaurant biz), then I would hopefully be able to deal with anything that comes at me once I'm a "restauranteur".

This past weekend was a serious struggle against Nin's "weariness, discouragement, and the flight into solitude". It's very easy for me to get stressed and frustrated and begin to feel that I should just forget this whole thing and stick with my boring, meaningless, yet very stable and well-paying, job. And then I get frustrated with that. On top of that, I've been needing to get out on my bike or to wander in the woods or something. I've really lost my connection to the outdoors over the last few months and that's having a bad effect. The cold I picked up the week before last triggered some extreme asthma symptoms and I've been coughing and wheezing since then. In spite of that, I was determined to get out and ride on Sunday because all last week the weather forecast was for sunshine and 60 degrees that day. On Saturday while I was at work, though, things turned around and it ended up raining all day Sunday. So instead of riding my bike, I watched tv (I had never seen Bridges of Madison County before. Damned sad movie, and the wrong thing for me to have watched on that particular day), went for a drive to get some lunch (at a very cool place called Beans in the Belfry), then came home and watched more tv and tried not to dissolve into anxiety-induced tears. I should have forced myself to do yoga or some other form of exercise, but between feeling so fucking blah because of stress and the weather, and still having some breathing issues, it was way too easy to just be a morose lump instead.

And on top of everything else, I've had a couple of slaps in the face lately that contributed to my being so shaken up over the weekend. I've mentioned before how much I love to drive, and how obeying the speed limit is something I don't love to do. This has caused me trouble before, back in my early twenties, when I received a warning from the MVA that I had too many points on my license. Since then, I'd fallen into a pattern of getting speeding tickets just far enough apart that points from the last ticket were almost ready to fall off my license. I've been slipping up the last year or so, though, and got another one of those little warnings from the MVA. Then, last month, I got two tickets over the course of one weekend, one of them courtesy of a brand-spanking new camera set-up in the small town of Poolesville. The irony is that small towns and residential areas are just about the only places in which I do normally obey speed limits. I received notice of the camera-generated ticket just this past Saturday, and paranoid visions of some MD traffic judge cutting up my driver's license contributed to Sunday's black mood. And, of course, I had to go out and drive to feel better. (Seriously, does anyone know if there's a such thing as Speed-Demon's Anonymous?)

The other factor contributing to a state of dukkha on that day was logging into my bank's website and finding out that some fucking moron had somehow gotten ahold of my check card number and used it to rack up charges of over $700 to Sprint (I don't have phone or any other kind of service through Sprint) and The Children's Place (I certainly don't have any children). So I called customer service and they immediately invalidated my check card, before I'd had the chance to pay any of my bills on-line or make it to the ATM to withdraw any money. Fortunately, grocery-store bank branches are open on Sunday (genius idea on someone's part) so I was able to get some cash. But this was just one more bit of anxiety I didn't need to deal with. Especially when finances are very much on my mind. Having something like that in my banking record might not work in my favor at a time when I'm going to be applying for loans, y'know?

So, I've been struggling to continue taking action and not revert back to Nin's world of the dreamer. In moving beyond that "preparation for living", I'm having to face so many issues I'd rather avoid and so many stresses of my own making. And consequence is one hell of a bitch.


Blink and you miss a beat,
Keep one of your eyes open at all times.
Think that you're on the brink?
The shit hasn't even begun to hit the fan.
Consequence, you'll see, will be
stranger than a gang of drunken mimes.
Situation has a stink,
Better clear the air before your son
becomes a man.

Blink, everything's been augmented,
You've been left so far behind.
I think, for sure, next time you should
wear a pair of eyes in the back of your head.
Consequence, you've seen, has been
stranger than sci-fi of any kind.
Situation baffles me,
I guess it's true you too are one of
the walking dead.

You better think fast!
Cause' you never know what's comin'
around the bend.
You better not blink!
For consequence is a bigger word
than you think.
It's bigger than you or me.

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