“This is a strange repose, to be asleep with eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving, and yet so fast asleep.” – William Shakespeare (The Tempest II, i)

This is going to be a short post this week, due to the simple fact that I can barely keep my eyes open (I usually write these posts on Sunday nights for publish on Monday mornings).  Today is day 7 of 42 in my six-weeks-without-a-day-off marathon.  And today I’m working a crazy Peace Corps recruitment blitz from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM at the university, part of a regional effort that the Dallas team organized.  Between the two jobs, I’m working around 55 hours/week.

No, I don’t know what I was thinking.  If I was twenty years younger, I could deal with the fatigue, pain, and change that my recent life transitions have brought without much effort.  But my older self is rebelling against my new busybody work schedule in pretty spectacular fashion right now.

Some of the hours I’m working are late-night floral design clean-ups at wedding venues, where we don’t get home until after 1:00 or 2:00 AM.  And on the days when we’re not actually doing the floral designs (which is most of the time), the work is pretty tough; I’m the oldest person on the team by at least a few years if not more, and my body makes sure to remind me.  It’s a lot of lifting and carrying of very heavy buckets full of water and flowers, huge vases and sculptures, and crates full of materials.  It’s jumping in and out of the transport van dozens of times during event set-ups and take-downs.  And all this in Austin’s infamous summer heat (I still don’t know what these brides are thinking, getting married outside in Austin in summer).  It’s draining and exhausting, but you feel like you’ve done an honest shift’s work at the end of the day.

Last Saturday we were wrapping endless vines around a hand railing at an outdoor wedding site at 2:00 in the afternoon, and sweat was literally pouring off me.  I looked over at a much younger counterpart standing in the same hot sun as I was, and she was dry as a bone, I couldn’t believe it.  Either she was severely dehydrated or I just can’t handle the heat as well in my “older” age.  For some reason I thought your sweat glands started to deteriorate or something as you got older, but mine seem to be doing the opposite and are now working overtime.  I’ve seen some magnificent sweat stains of late on my clothes at the end of day lately, it’s quite impressive really.

That same venue had steep hills full of stone stairs; the younger counterpart ran up and down them like she was being propelled by some invisible pulley-system, but the crunching cartilage in my forty-something knees sheepishly slowed me down.  And ever since last summer when I took a tumble right outside the Tower of London and injured both legs and feet, I’ve had a horrible and painful plantar fasciitis issue that makes me walk a little like Frankenstein if I don’t have the right heel and shoe support.  (On that day I mistakenly wore sport sandals instead of my runners and by the end of the day, I was limping worse than a three-legged mule.)

Frankenstein

I also have a wonky left shoulder joint that’s never been quite right since my spectacular fall into an African sewage ditch all those years ago, and lately all the lifting and schlepping has given it a true run for its money and has led to some renewed bouts of challenging pain.  My right eye is going for the weird-twitch world record this past week.  And if all that weren’t enough, the middle joint on my left thumb has been torturing me for the past month now.  Which ordinarily wouldn’t be much of anything to worry about, except that I kind of need that thumb to make all these bouquets and arrangements on a weekly basis.  I keep putting off going to the doctor about it, because I suspect he’s going to tell me it’s arthritis, which would just be depressing.  Or even worse, he tells me it’s gout, in which case I might have to die of embarrassment. 

So the gist of it is: I’m feeling my age lately.  I know that aches and pains are just a normal part of getting older, but lately they seem to be getting the better of me.  I feel too young to be falling apart, but too old to fool myself into thinking I’m capable of what I used to be able to do.  Am I crazy to be trying this “starting over” journey at my age?  I don’t mind the process of getting older and I definitely feel wiser as a result, but I don’t like feeling weak or unable to do what I’d like to do (I guess no one does).

I’m trying to be kind to myself during this overloaded time by allowing extra sleep whenever possible, hoping for some kind of midnight miracle rejuvenation to take place each night.  I’m loading up on the vitamins and trying to maintain some sort of exercise schedule in an attempt to stay somewhat healthy.  Because even though all of this is “good” stress – I chose this road and want to be on it – it’s still stress, which adds up over time.

Starting my second job last week was very positive, and surrounded by the multitudes of students milling around campus with their backpacks and blank slates in front of them gave me a metaphorical shot in the arm – a dose of optimism that brought me back to my own college days that were so happy and fulfilled.  I hit the ground running (if with a bit of a limp) and look forward to all this new job has to offer.

And now – to sleep, perchance to dream.  And here’s dreaming and hoping that I can endure, survive and thrive during these next few weeks of self-induced mayhem.  Wish me luck!

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

       

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