Friday, September 22, 2017

Wherein I Decide to Take the Long View

Well, hey there. It's been a while. Generally, when it's been a while, I've been itching to write for weeks. Not this month. This month is kicking my ass in many ways. I almost wrote "in all the ways" but, frankly, that's just not true and I don't want to get into a pissing contest with the Universe.

In terms of work, I'm on the sexiest project of my career. That's very cool, on the one hand, and I'm thrilled have the opportunity. On the other hand it's absurdly challenging and this alone would be enough to keep me up at night. You know it's far gone, though, when scary-ass work is less scary than life. Last weekend I was almost looking forward to incessant briefings (wherein I'm in the hot seat) because that's not where I live. Sure, it's a core, but it's not my fucking home.*

And then there's the pain. It's not a great moment on this front. The last couple of weeks have been barely bearable. I have enough experience now to tell you that chronic pain, when it's there, adds a layer of effort to everyday life that "regular" people cannot understand. BTW, I'm really glad they can't understand cuz no one should have to live this way. I'm managing as best I can; there's a trajectory and I have to see it through. But it would be pretty fucking hard to do my life right now, without pain, and pain is a constant undercurrent that takes so much energy to compartmentalize (the only way I can keep going).

I don't want to dwell on the negative, not because I don't love dwelling, but because I have so little bandwidth remaining that I can't spend it that way. And frankly, this is my time to expend this kind of energy. If not now, when? I want to have a gorgeous home that meets my vision and that's a fucking hard thing to achieve. I want to be respected in my career and to set myself up for the most interesting projects in the future and that takes a shit-ton of commitment. I want to help my kid to achieve and to manage waves of crushing stress she doesn't yet know how to navigate, but I'm not sure I'm the optimal teacher. I mean, coming home after 10 hours of meetings, only to deal with financial planners or builder matters followed by reviewing/editing my kid's assignment (always due the next fucking day, can she not plan ahead just slightly???) is not something I do particularly elegantly. Note: That's an understatement.

I'm not going to dwell on the specifics of the reno because, inasmuch as many aspects of this process are disappointing to me, my complaints are not going to facilitate anything productive. Moreover, this process is so cyclonic that, in any given week, I will have gone from utter despair to vague hopefulness. In the end, if my involvement can provide any assurance, we will have an excellent finished home. I need to take the long view, not because I'm measured, but because I'm outpaced. It's the only way I'm going to have any sanity at the end of this. So, will this take twice as long as it was supposed to (and only that much longer if I'm lucky)? Yup. I can either fester with hostility about how we got here - and be tormented by the costs involved in time over-runs - or I can be massively grateful that I currently live in a comfortable house, in a nice neighbourhood, while chaos runs its course.

The problem with vision is that it isn't fortitude. I'm continually reminded of Orpheus, the need to stay the course without looking back. There is only the present, which will lead to the outcome, and my job is to remember that. (BTW, I'm not so far gone that I don't realize that comparing my scenario to that of mythological Greek prophets ain't particularly woke. Mind you, isn't that why Greek mythology came to be? So peeps like me wouldn't feel so philosophically unmoored??) Scott and I are learning so much about ourselves - our style, our biases, our baseline expectations - and our ability to influence dynamics. But be under no illusions, potential big-time renovators: This process is a fucking full-time job. We have definitely encountered challenges, that I may speak more about once all of this is complete, but don't imagine that spending more money will get you better site management. It's just a crap-shoot. Cuz, trust me, I did ALL the research anyone could have done, and more, and I'm still disappointed. If you a) know what good management looks like and b) are incapable of just standing aside and hoping it all works out in the end, you will be managing your own project to a greater or lesser extent. Know that going in and you can save a lot of money (and disillusionment).

On that note, I've taken the day off work to have a meeting with the builders. After that, I intend to go to crappy-place's fantastic patio to drink more sbagliatos than is strictly sensible. Needs must, and all that. Mercifully, the weather supports my plan.

*Another stressor, though I don't dwell on parenting minutiae here, is that my kid is now in Grade 12 and it's the make-it-or-break-it year academically. This has been an adjustment for us all. Simply in terms of the administration that accompanies planning for university/college, it's a job. And, of course, it calls attention to the fact that my child may be living in a new city at this time next year. I never thought this would concern me but now I'm not sure how I feel. Well, I'm sure I feel she should stay home for one more year to gain additional life skills, with my support. I have a whole plan worked out but I'm not confident she's game. But seriously, there's going to be a fantastic house in it for her! I mean, we live in urban-centre Toronto. You could do worse than to have your own space in a gorgeously renovated century-home downtown. Especially if your parents intend to give you freedom. How do people manage with more than one child???


  1. Wow! With all you've got going on, and you kill it with wisdom ... "stay the course - without looking back". Just wow.
    Here's hoping you find some points of moorage in the days ahead ...

    1. Thank you Samantha! I need all the corroboration I can get!! I hope to be all about the groundedness very soon :-)

  2. I'm just starting to recover from our teeny-tiny reno, which involved no contractors and still managed to go sideways several times. Yours overwhelms me (though I confess to a bit of soap-opera-style voyeuristic fascination. 😂 This makes me a bad person.

    Grade twelve is terrifying, isn't it? Sending away to college was never in our budget, but she's talking taking a year off and I'm nervous about that, too. 😂

  3. Mine is stupidly overwhelming but I'm holding onto the idea that I will one day be obnoxiously smug for good reason. Do not feel like a bad person. When I think of this objectively, it's engaging because it's not sensible. (I can't bring myself to say nonsensical.) And Gr 12 is terrifying. I want M to go to a college in TO that's known for culinary arts (George Brown) for 1 year to a) see if it suits her (because she could make a career of cooking, she is talented) and b) to give her more time to grow up. I would like her to get into a uni that she can defer for a year while she considers her options and gains more independence...

  4. Sorry to hear that it's been a painful time for you, in different ways.
    Remodels are so stressful.
    We did our first (and last!) in a 1000-square foot home that we continued to live in at the time. With a one-year old, who I took to daycare 4 days a week. Otherwise, we left the house, he played in a playpen(a little jail), or he was asleep. We moved our stuff and ourselves from room to room, as they remodeled a third of the house at a time. I blocked out most of it. What were we thinking? I was so much younger then.
    I hope that you and your daughter are able to negotiate a plan that works for all of you.
    After all, she has you on her side, so she's got a great advocate for her future plans.

  5. Yeah, we live just a few blocks from the local polytechnic and I think it would be more up D's alley than traditional uni. But that would require her having to make up her mind about doing something. 😂

  6. Speaking from the other side- all my kids are in their 30's now- not one of them did what I had hoped that they would do. I realize it is their life to live, but having grown up with no funds to further myself, I had made sure plans were in place for them, and not one really took any kind of advantage of it...sigh. Having said that, they are all independent and managing without our financial help, so what more can I ask?
    Today I am making mincemeat tarts with my homemade green tomatoe mincemeat (with a healthy dollop of rum). After all, I am giving some of the jars away, so I need to test it.
    Hopefully, all you reno dreams come true!

  7. While I am cognizant that one of the annoying things about experiencing pain is the tendency of people who literally 'don't know your pain' to nevertheless ask if you've tried [insert whatever they believe is the magic bullet, regardless of relevance, here] I am speaking as a fellow passenger on the pain train.

    I have taken a very pragmatic approach: whatever works, regardless of the philosophical school from whence it springs; naturopathic to allopathic, the whole continuum is open to me. Still, the reality is that for every well-researched option I try, perhaps 1 in 10 have been effective, to some degree. (And that may be an optimistic ratio.)

    Neuropathic pain, which I believe you mentioned is a component of yours, is the toughest pain to treat. (I'm certain I'm stating the obvious, here.) It simply doesn't respond as other types do, rendering even opiates virtually useless against it. Something that is hard for others to understand if they haven't experienced that type of pain. The only new med in many years has been Lyrica, which is really just Neurontin 2.0, & comes with a big side effect profile. And, with only two exceptions, I have found no herbal or supplemental options that have made an iota of difference.

    Anyhoo, I want to mention them in case one of them may be your 1-in-10, as well.
    #1 Corydalis. This is an herb with a long history of use in Trad. Chinese Medicine, specifically for neuropathic pain, and has some solid studies to back it up. I find that works well enough for me that I often don't need to go to the next level, which is tramadol. I experience no side effects, expect perhaps a slight tingly relaxed feeling in my limbs. No fuzzy thinking. It is also refreshingly inexpensive, requires a dose of only 1 or 2 capsules a day, and is easily ordered on Amazon.

    #2 Ganja (cannabis) strains that are CBD heavy. I don't know what the legal status is in Canada, but I am fortunate to dwell in a U.S. state where it legal. The CBD strains (as opposed to THC heavy) have serious anti-inflammatory and pain relief effects, and are less sedating as well. (And if used topically, there are no inebriating effects, so you have options to tailor treatment.) I find it quite effective against arthritis and joint pain as well as neuropathic pain. It is hugely effective in improving sleep quality if pain keeps you awake. In edible form, the effects are even and long-lasting, up to 6 hours of pain relief.