The apathy of self-loathing

Does that sound contradictory to you? How can a barren permafrost of non-feelings possibly be characterized by the heat of what is so decidedly a feeling, you ask? In my experience, and to borrow a popular parlance, emotions are not a zero sum game. Not in the traditionally understood sense anyway. They certainly aren’t columns to be tallied arithmetically. I had a +3 day then a -5 day so I’m at -2 for the week. Not so bad. Nope, sorry, doesn’t work like that. I’m open to the interpretation–and, indeed, perhaps I’m even endeavoring to make a case for it here–that when you’re a depressive individual, no matter how high the spikes (or low the valleys) in emotive state, the overarching perception of life is akin to a nondescript vacuum of detachment. A metaphorical zero, if you will. This is what my bipolarity means to me: to feel so god damned much yet feel nothing at all.

So what does this have to do with sailboating? You ask, as you uncomfortably fidget with your mouse/trackpad. A whole lot, but I’m gonna level with you, dear reader, I may never get there in this post. It wouldn’t be unheard of for me to get distracted by my own self-indulgent thoughts and purple prose and find myself heading in a completely unforecasted direction.

But I came here under the promise of high seas adventures. You and me both. Yet here I am tied up to the dock in Richmond, CA with a boat midway under myriad repairs/upgrades/regrettable attempts-in-progress. Progress is slow, and on a daily basis I am amazed anew by the gap between my belief in my handyman skills and those that I physically manifest. I can conceptualize projects very well. That is to say that I can spend hours reading online accounts of others performing them, projecting myself into their imagined (or sometimes described?! shoes) then spend further hours shopping for just the right assortment of necessary hardware. Sometimes I even progress further than that into the realm of low-grade installation, but often I don’t even broach the first action, paralyzed by a nagging surety that I only fully grasp 80% of what I actually need to. There are times that I feel capable of accomplishing nearly anything in life. All the other times I resent myself for not inhabiting that former mentality.

I’m exaggerating, but only just. Together in chorus each of these stalled undertakings on my boat form a cacophony of negative self-talk that often drives me to hide under the covers for hours on end. Which, in case the obvious needs to be stated, is not great for productivity.

I don’t care what time it is, I’m not leaving this bed

Allow me to mount my defense, however. (In advance, let me assuage your worry, it doesn’t convince me either.)

Lately I’ve been working a lot. Not a lot in the way that comes across as meaningful when distilled into written word on a, say, blog, but still a lot as it pertains to how I experience it in my brain. In the course of my life I’ve held countless jobs, started many career paths, and even felt a few callings if that term isn’t too distasteful to you; in this recent moment in time I’ve been working as a server in a restaurant as well as intermittently helping my brother-in-law-type build residential landscapes.

The frequency of the wage-mongering, but moreso, the character of the restaurant work have kept my south-sailing preparations progressing in a, let’s charitably go with…halting manner.

This is a picture of my engine.
I have replaced the fuel and oil filters, flushed the coolant, installed a new freshwater impeller, changed the oil, checked the belts. See, I haven’t done nothing!

Lest you read my honest words above and extrapolate that I don’t have a strong sense of self worth, let me dispel you of that: I am damned good at what I do. Restaurant work especially since it pertains to the now.

Putting aside youthful types who are just passing through, my blunt observation is that the restaurant hospitality industry can be characterized into four quadrants: those precious few who are so damned charismatic that they shine with ease (the rest of us happy moths to their flame). Others are social animals who treat the environment as an extension of their personal time (never truly feeling as though “at work” and also consequently never actually doing work worth a damn). Still others are vaguely antisocial folk who are personable in-a-pinch but have enormous senses of obligation to others (ME!) such that they tend to give heightened care to your experience. Finally, there are those who simply don’t posses the interpersonal chops to flourish no matter their ethic.

I have nearly 20 years working around food and wines across the globe and, admittedly, that knowledge is fundamental to my continued success (such that it is, ha!) but I believe the real factor that drives my ability to thrive in such jobs is that I’m a detail-oriented person that struggles with unstructured interpersonal contact. I oft envision myself like a robot in that manner, as though isn’t within my programming to understand what it means to be an autonomous human with the capacity to feel “normal” emotions but given a task, a structure, a framework for any interaction I can shine. It is with this mentality that I approach my hospitality work, often with splendid results. When the moment arrives (and, importantly, my mania surges on a neurochemical level) I rise instinctively to the occasion and format the interactions into my structure of tasks and conversational loops such that I find (relative) comfort. Lamentably, the hours in advance of this state are consumed by low level anxiety in anticipation looming contact with the masses for whom it seems (from my outsider’s point of view) that interpersonal interactions are not only so easy, but so easily gratifying.

This ping pong match between reclusive dread and furiously firing synapses takes a toll. Many tolls, really, but the toll-du-jour is the pervading paralysis my boat and I have found ourselves in. I promise you, progress has been made(!) and more is underway. Just neither in such respective volume or speed as is enough to impassion me to recount it here in detail yet. I’d apologize but let’s be honest, if you’ve made it this far in the post, aren’t you at least partially to blame? I mean, I did try and warn you.

Stay tuned for more boat news soon!

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