Discovering the things that matter more than other things

Also, please, please, please, universe - I really want to go to climbing gym again. Please.

In the last 3 months, every week it's been one of my most looked forward to events of the week, and having lost access to the climbing gym and the people there due to coronavirus, it... It bothers me. Bothers me more than I thought it would.

I used to get 2-3 hours "off" from my brain there, very much in the same way that skydiving used to "shut off" my brain whilst freefalling (though the constant brain-chatter always re-started as soon as the parachute opened). I mean, I didn't even expect that I would ever find anything that worked like that since stopping skydiving. I'd resigned myself to living with neverending brain-chatter for the rest of my life.

But then I discovered that intense climbing worked the same way - that as bad as I am on the wall, as long as I am trying to do a move that I absolutely do not know how to do, the focus on both the physical challenge and the mental challenge of trying to figure out how to use my body, it just shuts everything else off. That no matter how sh*t the day had been at work, or what else was going on - for those few minutes on the wall, I forgot about everything except being in the moment and trying to get across to that next hold.

Which meant that twice each week, I got to rest my brain.

Which meant that very quickly, I became addicted to going.

And now that the climbing wall is closed, I've tried being very "nah it's all good" about it, but actually, it bothers me. I have become addicted to getting my brain to rest and now that I can't do it any more, I feel pissed off that I can't do it.

Please, please, universe - I really want to go climbing again.

Working from home. Well, trying, anyway.

As I am working from home, trying to do what I can - which, at times, is not a lot (given the circumstances, given the isolation, given my limited experience having only just graduated a couple of months ago), I am burning through hours of music on Youtube to help me cope. The usual list: Alicia Keys, Sam Smith, John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Hozier, James Blunt.

It occurred to me: a lot of these artists have retreated into privacy after spending years in limelight. And I can't blame them. But I am also wondering: did they reach that limelight, in the first place, because of working to the point of disregarding their private lives? At the expense of their private lives?

Has anyone ever reached the top of the world with a healthy balance between work and private life? Has anyone ever reached the top of their game without burning themselves out to the point of needing to then take time off to rest and repair what's left of their social life?



Is this the price to pay? In order to become good at something, needing to choose between being good and being a parent / partner / friend of some reasonable, unspecified standard? Is that what people do?

Have I only just now, at 34, noticed that most brilliant minds I look up to, do not have healthy private lives or functioning families?

Or am I making this up?

It's a first world problem but, f*ck, working like I am trying to do now, from a table set up in my bedroom, whilst I am not sure where this job is headed and where I am headed, is hard. It's doing my head in.

There are upsides

I am not a fan of working from home. However, I get to work to the tune of this:



I've been playing this song for hours, literally. It's been on constant loop on Youtube. So good!

Music helps me get through stuff that is hard. Especially with tedious tasks, which paper-based measurement can be, and anxious times, which being stuck between two jobs at a time on nationwide quarantine and global recession can be - having music in the background makes it easier to power through. It sets the scene to which I can nod my head, and move my chair, and hum.

I am not easy on songs. Usually, when I find a song that fits with where my life is, I play it until I wring it out like a pile of washing - squeeze out every bit of moisture until there is nothing left, and then hang it up to dry. Very rarely, a song can "come" to me twice, but usually, once I have loved a song intensely and without moderation, and then finished loving it, it is done.

I have songs which are so intensely tied to certain life events that listening to them (even after a long time) brings back vivid memories of what it used to feel like to listen to them the first time. Hozier's "Almost" will, in all likelyhood, remain the song of changeover for me: of trying to work from home, whilst knowing that had this pandemic arrived 2 weeks later, I probably would've been part of another team, but now I am not quite here, but not quite there, either. Kids are loud. The climbing wall is closed. I am not sute what day of the week it is. Saturday? Maybe. It will be many more days until clarity arrives about anything and I am intending to be gentle on myself. If I can.

Women and hot showers

When me and my husband take a shower together, he, literally, cannot tolerate water at the same temperature as I would normally have it on. He's tried, but he ends up screaming because it's too hot for him. I turn it down for him. Or he does. Either way, he's not getting in until someone has turned it down :D

I said to him today how I would love a physicist or a doctor or someone to explain to me why that is. Why can I tolerate hot water, and he can't?

You know what my husband said to that? "What you really need is someone from NASA to examine your skin and use it to design heat shields for their spacecraft."

Well said, sir. Well said.

New Zealand is to start a nation-wide lockdown

This afternoon New Zealand's prime minister gave a public address. I am going by memory, but in a nutshell: New Zealand is to start a nation-wide lockdown (for at least 4 weeks) in 48 hours' time. Schools closed this afternoon. Only "essential services" can remain open - everyone else is to close. (What's "essential services"? Medicine, food, power supply, communication etc). There are 102 confirmed Covid-19 cases in New Zealand as of today and no deaths yet.

After I heard the prime minister's address, I packed my office paraphenalia into a box and came home. My children and my husband were already home. For the next 4 weeks, we'll spend time with each other and see what happens.

I don't expect that I will be able to continue working. I have a little bit to do - clear the email, answer some enquiries, calculate a couple of construction projects which were already in the estimation stage. But once that is done, it's probably... into the same bucket that a lot of other people are already in: see if work returns, if not then look for new work and... see what happens.

Observing the world

A busy morning in the supermarket. Walking down the aisle, a young man is humming to the tune of REM's "It's the end of the world as we know it."

Yeah

Returning home from a walk with a friend I say to my husband, "[Our friend] said police were called to Pak'n'Save yesterday. Apparently a fight had broken out in one of the aisles."

My husband: "I bet it was over toilet paper."

Positives and negatives

Positive thing is that I managed to do a climb I had not been able to do before. I had to "smear" - put my foot directly on the wall, without any holds, so I could get across to the next hold above me.

Negative thing is that I damaged my toe again. I kind of thought I would - but I also thought, f*ck it, it's worth a try.

I am now sitting at home, with a little bag of frozen strawberries inside my sock, to cool the foot down. One of the instructors at the gym said it's worth a try - it might make it better a little sooner.

Positive thing is that, in about 5 minutes, I am going to have strawberry dessert because my warm foot is very effective at defrosting the strawberries.

Learning to put my foot forward

It's a long story, and I am not going into all the details, but I am looking for a new job. (Fortunately, I am doing it with my current employer's encouragement and blessing so, hey!, it could be worse.)

But anyway: tonight I was sitting in front of a computer, reading through employment ads.

Nah, haven't quite got all the things they're requiring.
Nah, they've said at least 5+ years of experience.
Nah, that's not quite it...

And then I thought, hang on, Maria. Haven't you read through boatloads of articles and research which say, pretty much, this exact same thing? Women tend to, predominantly, read through an employment ad and only apply if they have 90+ percent of the role requirements. Whereas men tend to, predominantly, kind of go, f*ck it, apply, and hope for the best.

Some people even argue that this, amongst other things, is what holds women back in employment.

I paused, thought for a while and then... went back to the first ad and thought, f*ck it. They can decide whether I'm good enough on their end.

And I clicked "Apply" and put my CV forward. On all three vacancies.

We'll see what happens.

The man who found the lizards

It's very cool when my favorite magazine - New Zealand Geographic - publishes a long feature story about my favorite Invercargill family. Okay, maybe not the whole family - just the dad - but nevertheless.

I consider them our closest friends. To have discovered each other in this deep South, I feel very fortunate. And grateful.

And to see Tony's article finally published, also very proud :)