Today, April 15th, is my 37th birthday. I’m not a huge birthday person. I like my birthday, yeah, but I don’t make a big deal out of it, typically. To me, just getting to spend time with some friends and eat some good food is generally more than enough. That’s what makes me happy. Obviously, this year is going to have none of that. I’ll be spending it pretty much the same way all of us have been spending our time, sitting around the house trying to keep it together. Hopefully, I can at least get a run in later.
While I don’t think this birthday should count and I should get to do 36 again, spending my birthday like this feels pretty fitting this year. It feels like just the right way to cap off the end of my 37th rotation around the sun.
The year started with promise. I spent my 36th birthday doing what is probably one of the best ways to spend a birthday I can ask for, I ran the Boston motherfucking Marathon! For me, that’s like THE DREAM. Sure, I then spent five hours driving home from Boston alone, but that part doesn’t matter.
From there, though, things went downhill.
Since then, I’ve been dealing will some rough chronic fatigue. It didn’t start after the race, it had been around for nearly a year prior to that, but after this race it felt like it really kicked in. I couldn’t really run at all. Over the course of the next few months, I found my runs getting shorter and shorter. I just couldn’t keep going. Eventually, I couldn’t even make it a mile without feeling like I was going to collapse. I went to a bunch of doctors, but I never really got an answer. One doctor gave me a lot of hope and had a good idea about what was causing it and how we could treat it. Unfortunately, the treatment plan didn’t really help much. By the end of the summer, I had given up on running. Not forever, but I had to stop even trying. I was starting to resent running. I dreaded it because I knew I’d just end up pissed off that I had to stop a mile in. So I deferred my Berlin and New York Marathon entries to… this year.
Over the summer, we lost our oldest cat, Leela. She was my first cat and I’m not being hyperbolic when I say she changed my life and who I am. I still miss her dearly and think about her every day.
Her death happened the morning before I left to go to a tech conference. And to make matters worse, I had broken my glasses the night before. So I had to spend that day frantically dealing with taking her to be cremated, getting new glasses same day, and taking all three of our other cats to the vet because we still have no idea what killed Leela. We had to choose between an autopsy that likely wouldn’t have given us anything and getting the other three checked out to make sure they were healthy. We chose the latter, but it was a decision we had to make quickly and one that I knew would leave me always wanting to know what happened. She was only 11. To this day, I blame myself for her death. I don’t know why or have any reason to believe it was my fault, but I don’t know how to stop. And I spend every day regretting not giving her more love and attention. Don’t get me wrong, we very clearly gave her much more than she wanted. That she made clear. But… should I have given her more?
A month later, I purchased a house. Yes, a house. Not for me, but for my parents. To make a long story short, as most millennials know, the American Dream™ is fucking bullshit. It failed my parents and left them with nothing but a house they were going to be foreclosed on… after 33 years there. I was in the position to have enough money saved that I could put a downpayment on the house and have them rent from me (for the exact cost of the mortgage, taxes, and HOA). This is the kind of thing that years and years from now may pay off, but that will remain to be seen for a long time. The reality for me was that this was an epic stressor. I love my parents very much, but they can be extremely frustrating and this whole process, which started four months earlier, was a daily 11⁄10 anxiety and stress event. My work suffered and my manager and team repeatedly told me to take time off to deal with it. Just everything about this process was brutal. Dealing with my parents and trying to get them to understand where I was with everything at each step. Having to make tons of phone calls, each one inducing a panic attack for me (that’s a whole other rabbit hole I won’t get into). Stressing over whether or not this was not even a smart idea, but even just not a terrible idea. Stressing over getting a mortgage at a reasonable rate. Having my relationship with my uncle, who was the realtor, strained and forever changed. I could go on and on here. I mean, this permanently changes my relationship with my family, too, by adding in a whole new component.
Aside from having to buy a house, the apartment we lived in in Jersey City became more and more a place of contention in our marriage. I loved the apartment. We lived there for five and a half years. Unfortunately, the sound dampening between our apartment and the one below was terrible. We could occasionally hear more than you’d expect from typical apartment living, but things got really bad when three douchebros moved in. We could hear them every day. Blasting music. Screaming at each other. Having parties. It felt like living above a frat house at times. We knocked on their door and would repeat their conversations back to them verbatim, hoping it’d click how loud they were. We complained to the landlord. This went on and on and, over time, took a serious toll on Danielle’s mental health. It affected me a lot, as well, but I tried to remain hopeful. But I let this go on too long and kept resisting when I should have accepted that Danielle was right. Eventually, we had to break our lease and move. I fucking hate moving. The whole process is the worst thing in the world to me. We ended up finding a really nice place that we fell in love with, but it was much more than we wanted to spend. In the end, we’ve been here two months and, honestly, I’m really happy in this place. I cried leaving the old apartment because I loved it so much and I wasn’t ready to move out, but to my surprise, I don’t think about it anymore. I’m just happy here. And, to be honest, this place is much better suited for holing up during a pandemic.
This month, I changed jobs. I had my last week at Bitly be remote and I started at Hinge remotely this week. No doubt that I’m excited to try something new and face new challenges, but it’s a weird time to change jobs. Not to mention that changing jobs is extra stressful for me. If you know me in person, you know that I’m, well, a lot. I’m a weird person and I’m just… extra. I have a strong personality, as many people have told me. And that’s all fine, I like who I am (mostly), but I know I have to ease people into getting to know me. I have to feel them out first and figure out what parts of me to let out first. It’s something I find to be extremely stressful.
And now, a fucking a fucking pandemic with the absolute dumbest people in charge of the country.
This is not even close to an exhaustive list of things, but these are the big things that happened in the last year. Each of them is, at least for me, an 11⁄10 anxiety event. And many of them are those stressful life events that you’re only supposed to have like one of per year. Obviously, good things happened in the last year, as well. Plenty of them. But everything was overshadowed by all of these. I’ve spent the last year well above the level of anxiety and stress that I can typically handle. It’s made me unable to handle all of the little daily things anymore. I completely mentally broke down last summer. I don’t know how I haven’t done so again. I’ve been begging for a break and life seems to just keep throwing new things at me. And all of these followed after losing my biggest stress and anxiety reducer, running. Running has always been where I work through things and relieve anxiety, but I didn’t even have that.
Now, I don’t write this post on my birthday to be all “woe is me wah wah” and I don’t really want people to even say anything about it. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. Everyone has their shit and I am lucky to even have some of these problems. These things are what they are and, to be honest, I was due for a really shitty year, I think, so whatever. Mostly, I write this because my blog has always been primarily for me and these are things I’ve been wanting to just put down somewhere.
So, yeah, today is my 37th birthday and I want to give a big fuck you to 36 because it goddamn sucked.
But hey, at least it’s no longer Tax Day?