What a day.

For the record, I hate the cold. It rained all day and hovered around 32°F until after noon today with wind gusts in the 20s, making for a very cold windchill. For fear of being trapped on icy roads, I ended up teleconferencing with my financial advisor rather than having a face-to-face like we were supposed to, did not go into work today, and spent the majority of the day 1) driving the animals into the barn, 2) worrying that they were in the barn and might get bored and hurt themselves, or 3) worrying that they weren’t in the barn and might freeze. The latter was not unfounded: when I went out this morning, all three of them were shivering, despite having access to the barn and just refusing to go in out of the rain.

By 2:00, I gave up on trying to get any work done; I’ve been so distracted today that I couldn’t think straight, and I finally just clocked out, let work know I was doing so, and gave up. It’s not like me to be like this, but damn, I hate this weather.

So, in short, today was awful. On positive notes, the animals are not shivering now, and for some inexplicable reason, the temperature finally started going up after the sun went down, despite the wind still being out of the north. I don’t get it, but I’ll take it as a blessing.

In other news, I’ve been doing some thinking. I think I might be suffering from depression. The lack of energy, the general “downness”, the feeling of hopelessness (at least where relationships are concerned), feeling dispassionate about writing (I’ve only written 5K words in 4 days, one of which was a weekend; normally, I’d have written easily 10K on the weekend and 2K+ per night on weeknights), and the fact that this has just gone on and on for weeks now is making me wonder.

I thought I’d beaten the depression. The last time I felt down this long was in 2009, not long before I got Ebony. She seemed to have cured it, but now that I’m out here and more stressed more of the time, I’m beginning to think I’m slipping back into it. Either that or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which frankly wouldn’t surprise me, given how nasty and stressful this winter has been.

But I’m a problem-solver, and frankly, I don’t want to go back to therapy or spend money on antidepressants. My insurance these days is pretty terrible, with an incredibly high deductible and pays basically nothing until it’s met, so I’m incentivized to find a solution myself, if I can. If I can find the root cause of the depression (assuming it’s stress-induced and not a chemical imbalance), maybe I can work through it and not have to seek therapy or drugs.

So, let’s see what’s bothering me. Three things come to mind:

  1. The whole no-relationshp thing and the seeming hopelessness associated with it,
  2. The dissatisfaction with my job, and
  3. The feelings of disillusionment associated with living on the property.

The trouble in all of these cases is that I feel stuck. I hate being the victim to circumstances, and feeling victim to the weather this winter has certainly made me more sensitive to it in other areas of my life. With the relationship aspect, I’m caught between the rock of loneliness and the hard place of being unwilling to settle. I recognize that compromise is necessary, but I don’t feel like I’m being all that unreasonable. My standards (off the top of my head) are as follows:

  • I want to be physically attracted to him (I’ve dated people I wasn’t physically attracted to before, and they never worked out; I couldn’t keep it up long-term). This implies at least decent looks and sufficient hygiene as to not be off-putting. It also implies that he’s a top, since I’m not one.
  • I want us to have common interests. They don’t all have to be common, but it’d be nice to have something that we both really like talking about.
  • I don’t want him to constantly be challenging me and making me feel stupid or like I have to defend my position on something. Once in a while is fine, but it gets old really fast. This also implies “not a dick,” not arrogant, etc.
  • I want to be able to trust him with myself, my herd, and my property. No drugs, tells the truth, that kind of thing.
  • I want him to be masculine (effeminate guys just don’t do it for me).
  • I want him to be self-sufficient. Down the road, I might be able to afford a house-boy if the whole boyfriend thing doesn’t work out, but for now, I’d like to find someone with his own job, who doesn’t feel entitled, who pulls his share of the weight in the relationship.
  • I want him to be somewhat around my age—let’s say ±5-8 years. I’m flexible on that, but given I’m getting close to being old enough to have fathered an 18-year-old, I’m beginning to see ages that might be too young for me, and having dated guys considerably older than me before, I just want to try something…not extreme.
  • I want to be in love with him. I dunno if this is possible, but if my parents did it and I inherited from them, I hope I can, too.
  • I want to be able to do my own thing, too. I’m frankly afraid of getting into yet another relationship with someone clingy or with low self-esteem to where I’m constantly having to build him up and who takes it as an affront if I just want to be by myself for a while. My alone time is very important to me, and while I’m willing to compromise for the sake of a relationship, I can’t go 0–60 in 0 seconds.

I don’t see how any of those things or the sum of things is being unreasonable, yet I can’t seem to find someone with all of those qualities. I’ve gotten on Grindr and on OKCupid, but the results have been incredibly disappointing. I think I’ve mentioned previously the limitations of living far away, having few interests that are well-suited to meet-ups, and my reluctance to join a meet-up or church just to meet people when I’m not really interested in the meeting-activity. So, from a relationship standpoint, I feel stuck. I think I’d be miserable if I settled on my criteria, and that sounds worse than being single, so barring someone meeting those criteria popping up out of the woodworks, I feel—and I hate the word—helpless to make things better.

My job is dissatisfying. I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about it before, but once again, I’m constrained by a number of things that make it difficult to improve the situation:

  • I’m unwilling to leave the property.
  • I live far away from town, so jobs in, say, Dallas proper, Arlington, or Irving would be excessively long drives.
  • My debts have made it so that I cannot afford a cut in pay (which might be required if I really want to “start over” doing electrical engineering and beef up that side of my resume).
  • I am an excellent worker, but my resume is divided among different disciplines (systems, firmware, electronics, and compliance engineering), and no company ever actually posts a job listing for a jack-of-all-trades. They ostensibly want an expert in something (e.g., someone with 10 years of electrical design), but if that person happens to also be a jack-of-all-trades, he moves to the front of the line.

I’ve applied for quite a few positions (frankly, all the ones I could find that were close enough and were the type of work that would be more fulfilling), but my submissions were met with form letters saying I’m not a good fit. I recognize companies’ need to do what’s best for them, but once again, I feel helpless to make things better. I’m not meaning to feel sorry for myself on this, but I—don’t know what else to do.

The property has been a major disillusionment. After spending over a decade saving for it—a third of my life and all of my adult life—it’s nowhere near as good as I hoped it would be. The mud—the mud—is just frustrating beyond anything I would have expected. Could I fix it? Yeah, if I could afford hundreds of truckloads of sand and organic matter to turn 14 acres’ worth of clay “gumbo” into loam. So, by “yeah”, I mean, “no.”

The grass is finally beginning to come up (it does make me happy when I see it), but it’s too little, too late, too slow. The herd has really trampled a lot of their pasture area, and without fencing parts off to let them heal, they’re just going to remain bald spots until I can expand the pasture enough that the herd isn’t there trampling them anymore.

The expense associated with being out here and the stress of being at the mercy of every rainstorm or cold breeze that decides to blow through has been a pretty much constant stressor since I’ve been out here. It makes me really miss the relative “safety” of the city and of boarding the herd.

Now, granted, many of these problems will go away as time goes by: the herd will be much better-protected once the house and purpose-built barn are built, and that will help me a lot in feeling more in control of the situation when inclement weather comes through than I feel right now, living in a little camper and an oversized barn that is impossible to adequately heat and that seems to turn up new trash and foreign objects on the floor every time I go in there. The clay…well, there’s not much to be done about that. I have considered that maybe this isn’t the right place to call my forever home, that perhaps someplace closer to the Hill Country with more rocky and less clayey soil might be a better bet. That’s something to consider in 4 years when the property is paid off. Maybe the job situation will be better down that way, too. I’m not sure.

But for right now, I feel pretty helpless once again. It feels like I’m being passed around a not-sexy gang-bang: the weather fucks me raw and passes me to my job situation, which enjoys its sloppy seconds while the property situation face-fucks me until I gag and keeps going as I try to take a breath, all before they both hand me off to the no-boyfriend situation.

I should mention traffic, too: aside from maybe one day a month, there’s inevitably some idiot who insists on going below the speed limit, and there is no way to get around him. I’ve tried making myself relax, tried just taking it in stride, but I’m just too impatient for that. My back hurts when I drive, and every minute spent in the car is another minute of my back hurting and wasting precious time that I could be using to do just about anything else.

This won’t do. To get out of the cycle of depression, I have to make a change, to do something that gives me a sense of control again, or figure out how to accept being helpless…which just doesn’t work for me. I need to figure out what the next steps are.

With the land, the answer is simple: be patient. I hate it, but that’s the answer. As long as these unexpected expenses will stay spaced far enough apart, I should have the place paid off in 4 years, and then my options really open up: I can finally build the house, sell the place and move someplace better, or whatever, but I won’t be in debt anymore for that time, at least. It doesn’t help the disillusionment and helpless feeling, but as long as I can take care of the animals (admittedly hard during the winter), I know that I can just kind of ride out the next 4 years, expending the minimum amount of effort and money, and it’ll just take care of itself.

With the job, the answer for now seems to be to just accept it as it is. Again, it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem, but maybe it can treat the symptoms. I have been unsuccessful finding a new job thus far, but at least the flexibility of this job enables me to stay home on days where I have to herd animals into the barn.

That leaves the relationship aspect, and this one I’m not willing to just accept. I don’t know what the answer is, but it seems like I need to cast a bigger net. If what I’m finding on Grindr and OKCupid isn’t satisfactory, maybe some other site will give me better luck. The question is, do I want this badly enough to go to a pay-site, or should I keep relying on free sites? Will a pay-site really result in better results, or is it just a waste of money? Perhaps some research is in order.

On a positive note, I paid off my truck today. I got my tax refund and turned right around and paid off my truck about 5 months early. The extra money from that can now go towards paying off the credit cards, and hopefully they’ll be paid off in 10 more months. Then it’s just the land and building my emergency fund. Just got to avoid these major expenses that keep popping up…

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