Meteorological Misanthropy #2/Subway Sociology #8: Winds of Change

History Channel Announcer: “Tonight, four of the world’s strongest men will compete for the world’s greatest prize: bragging rights!”

Partner: “That’s not much of a prize!”

Lavender: “You’ve obviously never had your entire sense of self-worth founded on other people’s perceptions of you, I take it?”

Partner: “No, why would I set that as a store of value? That’s inherently dangerous. Other people are d1ckheads.”

Lavender: *glares*

Partner: “I get the deep philosophical statement you are making about yourself. I stand by what I said. Other people are d1ckheads, and the sooner your subconscious understands that, the sooner you’ll be able to sleep again.”

We finally have located all the bits and baubles that are needed to make televisions and computers work, and, at least as far as our ability to play our DVR recordings is concerned, our Internet provider/t.v. provider didn’t lie in their commercials. Our recordings – both existing and scheduled during our service disruption – were waiting for us. (Turns out, when there are now 10+ different streaming apps, cable isn’t such a bad deal. Our Internet package includes cable and many of those services bundled all in.)

I’ve been watching a lot of the more mindless of those shows on my DVR, as evidenced by the above, in place of sleep the past few weeks. Because, as it turns out, both eustress and distress are types of stress, and I’m only change-positive when that “change” involves two weeks wandering about foreign countries having adventures, not when it involves all of my routines being upended simultaneously.

I did eventually get a referral to another PT who understands EDS. I did eventually put myself out there to find another improv group even though that meant letting other people judge my abilities voluntarily. I recognize that most of my stress over my new (bigger) place and my new (not run by a d1ckhead!) office is endogenous, not exogenous.

Still, not fully feeling secure in my place in things – especially as one of those aforementioned people whose self-worth has for too long been entirely built upon other people’s perceptions of her – is scary. Heck, even not blogging for multiple weeks after it had become routine and wondering if anyone will still care to read what I write now that I have returned, is kind of scary

All of these recent changes (assuming people still read this post) have turned out positively, or at least neutrally. None of that means I’m not also still waking up at 5am regularly and/or that my brain isn’t insisting that I must do something – anything – right then to reduce the chaos. I’ve become convinced that the only reason neurodiverse girls ever get over their frozen overwhelm at so many boxes is because eventually their own default anxiety renders the repetitive unpacking comparatively soothing vs. being left alone inside their own minds – while all of their stimming toys are also hidden away somewhere inside those boxes!

After a lifetime year of everything being in crisis, stabilization itself can feel terrifying. Stabilization in and of itself can feel like a scary change. How am I supposed to convince the bully-in-my-brain, which dealt with the first shoe dropping in 2018, that all of the recent changes aren’t indications that the other one is about to drop? My broken PTSD brain is sufficiently unconvinced (especially when it should be sleeping) that stability and safety are viable goals that it would almost rather I deliberately break things on my own terms – like, say, by having to go to work after being up at the crack of panic attack – rather than continue to wade in the uncertainty until things inevitably fall apart all on their own.

And, because I’m any irony magnet, our weather has provided an ironically awesome backdrop to these winds of change. Storms are awesome, and I’ll even go so far as to admit (when I can be coaxed to admit anything beyond pure, unadulterated loathing for the 9th Circle of Hell) that they might be the only thing I “miss” about Hell. But, though I’m continually amused that we now get them in my current neck of the woods, I wish they didn’t so unerringly manage to show up and dump buckets on me specifically on those days when I’m already physically and mentally drained from moving.

The post below immediately follows the first entry in the Meteorological Misanthropy series. It describes the immediate aftermath of an outbreak of tornadoes on the East Coast that caused damage to the regional transit line. After that outbreak, we reverted to a massive heat wave for a bit, which will be covered in my next post. But – because irony magnet – we somehow also managed to deal with another brief-but-intense couple of days of storms that lasted just long enough to short out the signal the day I tried to take the train back to clean up (to hopefully get most of our security deposit back) our apartment after the move.

As a result, this post unintentionally almost works to describe both the previous exhaustion of finding our current place and the more recent exhaustion of moving into it. At least my shuttle driver only got lost the first time, so it wasn’t a true deja vu experience on moving day…

August, 2019

Change is scary. New jobs are scary. New office politics and building up the trust that means people actually listen to me (and I stop feeling like I’m going to be fired as soon as my “probationary” period is over) are scary

I stand by my decision to not work for my old bully-of-a-boss anymore. I stand by the decision that, after multiple years of 7% rent increases, enough is enough, and a bigger place closer to my new work is worth learning new transit routines. I didn’t really ask for the simultaneous need to go down to once a month therapy, to have to find a new improv group after my prior one fell apart, to have to now find a replacement physical therapist because my old one is retiring, or for the fact that searching for a new place, learning new routines, and navigating changes during downpours saps a lot of spoons. 

I made the choice to not keep tolerating landlord extortion to move further outside the city and commute into it for events, rather than to continue to be the oddball who lives in the heart of the city and takes the regional train out of it to where she now works. I accepted in principle that navigating regional trains would be yet one more change on top of the whole “new apartment, new job, new everything else in your routine” deal. 

But, come on, regional transit authority. Could you at least have given me one single break during all of these changes and actually let me take that regional train I learned a new routine for to go apartment hunting?! 

Of course not. I like public transportation, and I like storms. So – by the power of irony – two things I actually like together drop-kick me right in the “change anxiety.”

Note to self: the entire East Coast is clueless about 1) preparing for and 2) cleaning up after severe storms, not just my officemates. Do not assume transportation will be seamless the week after a “tornado.” East Coast regional rail is generally more reliable than subways, but not being underground means it is more effected by “hurricane-force” winds. A storm that barely registers to a 9th Circle of Hell native can and will render regional rail completely unusable until transit authorities eventually figure out how to repair storm-damaged train signals. 

We had unexpected shuttle busses replace trains between several stations while we were apartment hunting. We learned this only after we also dealt with equally unexpected shuttle busses on the subway that made us miss our original train and have to call our leasing agent to push back our appointments. 

We gave notice as soon as we saw what our current place wants for rent now, so we resigned ourselves to taking 1.5 hours – instead of 40 minutes – to be bussed to our destination. I further resigned myself to an even more spoon-sapping day than planned because buses make me dizzy (unlike trains) and – while I am not afraid to fight to be “offered a seat” on a two-ton-rolling-tilt-table – the jerkiness of the bus itself plus stop-and-go-traffic almost unseated me several times anyway

Apartment hunting costs far too many spoons. We walked over 16 thousand steps during our apartment viewings, and that’s almost certainly an undercount. I had to surrender my purse – and thus my phone which was recording my steps – to our leasing agent at one place. Why would a leasing agent, upon seeing a girl with a purple “hurrycane” in a downpour, think it would be a selling point to note that one place was so “spacious” that it’s entry corridor alone was a quarter of a mile long?! Also, why would she wait until she’d walked us back and forth down that corridor multiple times to point that out!? We could have saved 5k steps and ruled it out immediately if she’d just noted that upfront!

My Partner and I were both running very low on spoons – and patience – by the time we hauled ourselves onto the shuttle for our “hour and a half” return trip. The prior delays – and the cumulative physical effects of 16k+ steps – meant we ended up on a later “train” almost entirely full of passengers heading into the city to see a Khalid concert. (Additional note to self: Khalid is one of the most streamed artists in the world?! I should figure out who he is so I can reference him in an improv pop culture game eventually…)

Three out of four shuttle buses ferrying passengers arrived within the promised 1.5 hours. The fourth – aka ours – arrived after 3.5 hours. Irony super-storm + subway-specific extra weirdness “lightning rod” powers activate?

We found ourselves on the only shuttle whose driver was on his first day on the job. We further found out that same novice shuttle driver also was not a regional native, and he, thus, had only his scant few days of orientation training to rely upon to navigate. Thus, it was a pity, we found out, that his training had only included how to drive routes within the city itself. Contingency planning, thy name is not the regional transit authority…

An ill-timed downpour made our driver lose sight of the other shuttles in the caravan whom he had been told he could “just follow” to make up for his own lack of both regional life experience and training to get us all to the station safely. Our driver had absolutely no idea where he was going on any roads outside the city itself. He got so lost that he resorted to asking passengers to Google directions to our destination, stopped in the exit lane on the highway and backed up into traffic when he realized he was taking a wrong turn at one point, and, ultimately, capped off the whole fiasco – once a passenger with Google Voice had guided him into our not-built-for-vehicles city – by driving the wrong way down a one-way street and getting the bus stuck between parked cars. We all had to get off the bus and walk the last four blocks to the station while another station authority towed the bus out of the narrow street. 

This second attempt by the East Coast to demonstrate they can respond “quickly and professionally” to storms more worthy of the 9th Circle of Hell has merely cost this storm-savant a probable week-long flare. It could, however, have been worse. Our other twenty-odd co-passengers on our ill-fated expedition all missed Khalid’s concert because of the East Coast’s failure to anticipate the impacts of severe storms. As I learned while listening to the sensory overload that was them all loudly complaining to our driver, to his boss on the radio, and to anyone else who would listen, they each lost the $200 they spent on their concert tickets as well as their “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to see their favorite singer. Given that, I’m honestly not sure if I should say I’m 0 – 2 on my experiences with “East Coast Storm Preparation” or 2 – 2. Despite how frustrating my own storm experiences have been, in both instances to date the most “severe” consequences from my adopted state’s failure to plan have failed to come down most heavily on me. I pity the natives in both cases, though.

East Coast: it’s time for a serious change in your atmospheric attitudes. Admittedly, there is virtually nothing I can think of that you could do to me that would make me voluntarily choose the 9th Circle of Hell over you or, well, anywhere else that isn’t the 9th Circle of Hell. But, can we just get real and accept y’all are also entirely unprepared for any severe weather other than blizzards? (And, I’m not sure I’ve been here long enough to truly decide if you are actually prepared for those blizzards, either. Everyone keeps telling me the past couple of winters have actually been “mild.” Have I really seen if you can walk the walk or just talk the talk about winter?!)

It’s time for regional transit, my officemates, and everyone else out here to realize that just because you accept (climate) change, it does not automatically mean you are prepared for it. Call someone from the 9th Circle of Hell or one of those equivalent states and get some training in how to install tornado sirens and repair electronics damaged by winds before I end up with a third straight week of blog posts about weather failures…

I’ve had to make peace with the fact that change is scary and that I am not quite as prepared for it as I like to pretend that I am. East Coast: it’s time you did the same. The climate – like my life – is a-changing, and your systemic failure to prepare for that needs to change just as quickly…

Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out my Glossary of Terms

3 thoughts on “Meteorological Misanthropy #2/Subway Sociology #8: Winds of Change

  1. So much change. Hoping though, when the dust settles, it will all result in goodness for you and yours. Looking for future homes is just too many spoons. I think in part due to the emotional weight attached. We contemplated it last year, but that train never left the station. Oh and you could be gone for as long as you like or need and I would still pop back to check how life is unfolding for you. Have to say, it looks like all good things amongst the upheaval of it all. 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

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