Wednesday December 28, 2016
I wake at 6:45 a.m., half an hour before my alarm goes off. I am always glad when that happens, I enjoy that “Ahhh good, don’t have to get up just yet!” feeling! I check my phone for any messages; snooze a little longer. I turn the alarm off with one minute to go. Rise, wash, dress, and am out of the house by 7:35.
As I walk to the Metro station, I message Fran good morning for when she wakes later, and send a photo of the tree and path just outside our court. This is a new tradition, started a couple of months ago when the leaves on that tree were first turning towards autumn. It’s a nice way of sharing how the weather is here in Newcastle without getting all meteorological.
By the time I’ve reached the Metro station, I’ve sent good morning messages to two other friends, and a meds reminder to one. Not everyone would appreciate a daily reminder to take their medication, and I would never assume to do so without an invitation. It is a measure of trust on both sides, and not something to be taken lightly.
One friend surprises me by responding almost immediately. She is on UK time like me, but she’s not back to work until next week so I wasn’t expecting her to be awake yet. We chat as I catch my first train, then my second, and on my twenty minute walk. I share photos with her along the way. We have been friends a couple of years. Mostly we chat when we are each traveling into work. I have come to enjoy her company on my commute.
I stop for coffee and a toasted cheese and egg sandwich at Quiznos, across the road from the office. It is just after nine o’clock as I arrive at my desk.
The morning passes easily. The days between Christmas and New Year are mostly quiet at work, and I make it through to lunchtime without anything major to deal with: a blessing as I am the only one in for my team this week. I’d normally expect a Skype call from Fran around midday (her 7 a.m.) but not today. I hope that means she is sleeping deeply. We will catch up later.
I check in on my social media accounts: mostly Facebook and Twitter, though I also love Instagram and Pinterest. Google Plus is still a mystery to me, and I make a note to apply myself to exploring it more in the weeks and months ahead. Maybe I can find an online tutorial.
The other friend I good-morninged this morning messages me to say hi, and asks how my day is going. We chat a little as she gets ready for her day. Like Fran, she is in the States, and her day is just beginning.
Social media is full of the recent deaths of Carrie Fisher and George Michael. As someone who habitually shies from mass emotional responses of any kind (be they nationalistic, political, sporting or whatever) I hold myself open to the various and varied tributes and resonances being shared online. The idea that this year—2016—has been “taking” the talented does not sit easily with me. I don’t see things that way. But many do, and instead of closing myself down I can choose to be curious. To read, and listen. So we learn.
A minor difference of opinion on Facebook yesterday led the other person involved to respond: “Your agreeable comment to my disagreeable comment [warmed my heart], a fellow human who respects different opinions and can discuss and laugh.” This is why I so value social media and the connections it brings.
Another perfect example happens over my lunchbreak. I am on Twitter and connect with someone who runs an online training organisation with her brother. We chat back and forth a little and she invites me and Fran to do a live interview with them sometime in the New Year. We friend on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I love the Internet!
Around half two, Fran beeps in. She didn’t have a good night’s sleep at all. She has caught up on my news, via the “breadcrumb” messages I left her through the morning.
- 07:29: [Photo of the tree] Good morning! Frosty start to the day here
- 07:46: [Photo from the train]
- 08:31: [Photo from Quiznos where I had breakfast]
- 09:10: [Photo from the 3rd floor at work, showing the view across the park]
- 12:48: The morning has gone by quite nicely. Went across the road for a sarnie for lunch—the day is beautiful—still chilly but bright—the air feels clean and clear.
- 13:30: Have fixed us up with a live (skype) interview sometime, with a lady who runs an online training organisation here in the UK. Connected via Twitter. Don’t worry I am not committing us to anything specific. She is going to email a schedule of when their slots are so we can talk about it and decide when (if we want to, though it seems a good match). We can talk about it later!
- 14:05: I have been doing a “day in the life of” blog. I will continue adding to it through today and post it up tonight or maybe tomorrow. It’s not “amazing”—but I need to get over needing things I write to be “amazing” / “world changing” all the time.
As I continue with my afternoon, Fran shares her weight with me. It has plateaued for a while now, though today it is up a bit. We have tracked our respective weights every day for the past three or four years. Over that time we’ve seen how our bodies respond (and often fail to respond) to our efforts to achieve and maintain healthy weights. In Fran’s case this is compounded by the effects of her medication. It is hard work to stick with a healthy regime, when the results do not seem to materialise.
Fran: I’m tired of exercising so much and doing well on my eating and drinking and having zero results. Makes me want to give up.
Martin: Yeah but you know how that goes. Your weight goes UP fast and bigtime. Thing is to realign your definition of success. You are preventing your weight increasing. That is not “zero results,” though it is not the result you are measuring against. (You get to hate me about now for saying that, it’s okay!)
Fran: I know that but what the hell do I need to do to lose this goddamn fat? Starve?
Martin: Well not starve no. I don’t have your calorie history with me (it is on the big spreadsheet at home) but I know you have been keeping your weekly average calories down. You have done some particularly low cal days recently so I guess continue to do those kind of days in between the others.
3 p.m. and most of my colleagues have left (they started work before I did this morning). As I work, I keep an eye on my social media notifications. Friends sharing what they are doing. Friends sharing what they are feeling (or not feeling). What they are going through. It is not always pretty. It is not always easy. It is not always nice. For me—but how much more for these I know and care about.
I have a reputation for being—in Fran’s words—“pathologically positive.” (It is not meant as a compliment.) Positivity in the face of hardship, one’s own or another’s, can be a defence mechanism. A shield. A way of running away. I did that most of my life. I still mess up. Hell, I fuck up. On a regular basis. But I am determined not to run away any longer.
Fran is heading out to the YMCA for her exercise class. I have another hour or so here in the office before home time.
It is now 9 p.m. Fran and I met on Skype between 7 and 8. We caught up on events, and discussed our respective plans for the rest of the day. Since we ended our call, I’ve drafted an email, and checked in on a couple of friends. Right now my wife Pam and I are watching Jonathon Creek on TV. Fran and I will meet up again later, to discuss the interview with the online training organisation I connected with earlier, and maybe watch an episode of our favourite show, the Gilmore Girls.
All in all, a good day.