Creating the day

You know, for a long time I claimed that going to sleep was a perfect way of “hitting the reset button“. That is to say, no matter how stressed or depressed or awful you were feeling, if you went to sleep you’d wake up feeling better (at least for a little while). For those few minutes before you opened your eyes and got up, you’d be feeling neutral and have the capacity to choose to be happy rather than being stuck in your cycle of unhappiness.

 

I rescind that belief. The past two weeks or so I’ve woken up feeling anxious even before my eyes have opened. Almost every morning I have felt a surge of mild panic wash over me as I consider going to work. And every morning I have made myself get up and have taken pleasure in little things. I will smile at the thought of having delicious cereal for breakfast. I will be comforted by the thought of hot coffee or tea while I write lines. I will feel a flush of joy at the thought of feeding Lyota the floating pellets he once rejected and watching him attack them ferociously and chewing them audibly. I will grin at the thought of having Hamish and Andy for companions on the drive to work (I downloaded their app and bought a year’s subscription so that I have unlimited access to every podcast they’ve ever uploaded. I’ve been working my way from 2007 to the present, because pre-2007 was a bit rubbish). And slowly, bit by bit, I let go of my anxiety and choose to appreciate the little things in the day.

 

It’s not easy. It’s so convenient, even tempting, to just curl up into a big ball and give up on the day. But we make choices at every moment to either enjoy what we have, or to not enjoy what we don’t have, you know? I’ve also started saying “I create my day” when I wake up, and in saying so, it gives me a very distinct choice: I can choose to do be happy, or I can choose not to be. And that’s a very empowering, and terrifying realisation to come to.

 

Peace and joy everyone, and all those good things.

 

PS: Gashuku!Image

Fishwinning, muscle spasming, thief failing and pattern breaking

Yup, it’s official. I’m a crazy fish guy.

Sam Lyota (damn, I’ve got to stop doing that. I’ll never forget you buddy.), you’ll be pleased to know, is doing swimmingly. >pauses to giggle<
I turned his filter off again because, happy as he was to fight the current for a few hours, I could see it was wearing him down. Aqua One, why you sell an OP’d filter for a 9L tank? He survived the cleaning and water change- which I turned out to have quite an acidic pH – poor guy, it’s amazing what I’ve put him through. He loves the new food he’s on, though he doesn’t eat much, and as far as I can tell he’s happier and healthier than ever. Yay fish!

In other fish news, John came back into the store. To my surprise and delight, the ammonia levels were very low and the nitrite levels were slightly high. It turned out that the bionoods I sold him were actually working. Holy smokes, I didn’t see that one coming, and neither did he – he had come into the store expecting to buy a better filter. Bacteria were colonising and breaking down the waste, and within a few days I expect the nitrite and ammonia will both drop to 0. He was ecstatic. High off our collective triumph, he pondered whether he could get a tropical tank, maybe a 50L one, no wait, maybe a 200L one. We laughed together as we realised the joy was overruling our judgement, but it was such a wonderful moment we shared. I am so grateful I was part of that, and I helped him all on my lonesome.

In (far less interesting) non-fish news, I pulled a muscle at work yesterday. It’s ridiculous that I can do dozens of knuckle-pushups, run for kilometers, almost skin-the-cat, and yet reaching for a clipboard is apparently enough to send my chest into spasms. Since overextending, I’ve been in quite agonising pain whenever I’ve taken a deep breath or moved my arms above my head. Yesterday I made the foolish decision to place just a single box of cat litter (maybe 12kg?) at head height, and just before I got it on the shelf I spasmed in pain and it fell upon me. I still get wracked with pain every now and then, but it’s definitely improving with time. Alas, no karate tonight, but perhaps taiji tomorrow.

Thief_II_-_The_Metal_Age_Coverart

Eugene (who, if I haven’t mentioned, has returned from England for a few weeks and returns on Thursday) and I played Thief II together. We foolishly assumed that with our age would come skill and we’d be able to pass the whole game in a single sitting. The game was just like I’d remembered it, except slightly less terrifying as I begun to understand the mechanics (while sophisticated for its time in 2001 were not as complex as games today) it was based on. I could recall where most of the treasure was, where the guards were located, quotes on the walls, complex puzzles and the mechanics of stealth. Needless to say we didn’t get past the second level, but I enjoyed re-watching the cutscenes, just as I had twelve years previous.

Placement is going well! I’m still challenged quite often by anxiety, but I’m managing a lot better than I used to. The first few days of prac were spent in an overload of information and sense of general panic, but now when I started to understand how and why things worked, I begun to enjoy it a lot more. Then that honeymoon phase ended and I sort of went “Okay, I’ve had my fun playing social worker. I don’t want to work full-time and be responsible and professional anymore.” And I really struggled, and am struggling with that. My mother’s always done so much for me, taken care of me, provided for me, and I (out of laziness and convenience) have accepted all her housework and cooking and laundering. Now, at the first sniff of responsibility, I long to turn tail and run to the couch where I can distract myself with videogames and do what I’ve always done. But doing what I’ve always done will get me where I’ve always got, and the time has come to take a deep breath and step forwards, and to be a better person. It’s not easy sometimes, but hell, it’s so important. So, despite the little niggles at my health, I still go to work every day and still challenge myself not to run from that which scares me.

Speaking of health, Naomi started me on this revolting powdered alfalfa drink. It tastes pretty bad, but I have to say it works amazingly. For reasons beyond my comprehension I’ve had energy in abundance and my stomach hasn’t been hurting as much. I look forward to drinking it every day now.

All right, that’s enough from me! I hope you’re all doing well. Drop me a line if you’d like to catch up again soon!

Love,

Xin.

Ichthyomocide

I fear that my posts of late are spiraling down the irreconcilable path of ichthyomania – “fish mania”. Nevertheless, I’m posting again about fish.

 

Day Five and S Lyota (I keep calling him Sam by accident!) still hadn’t touched his new food. This special pellet, super nutritious and designed to float to match a betta’s optimum diet and eating preferences, was being completely ignored. When I dropped it in, his eyes might occasionally notice the movement, but he otherwise just hung around the top of the tank waiting for food. On Friday morning before I left for the weekend I caved and fed him a good portion of his old, low-quality sinking food. He devoured it ravenously, and when I returned after the weekend, he still wasn’t touching the floating pellets. I caved and bought him some new food, which is a mixture of floating and sinking flakes/granules. I hope he likes it.

But that’s only if he survives. Because you see, I decided to finally do a water change. Some water had been evaporating from the tank and the heater was slowly peaking out the top, so I figured it was time for a top up. And then, heck why not, I might as well do a bit of gravel vacuuming to clean the bottom of the tank (which was now littered with saturated pellets Lyota had ignored). As I started gravel vacc’ing, I found all kinds of nasty gunk in the rather malodorous water and decided to do a full water change, seeing as the ammonia was probably building up from the rotting food and fish waste. But foolish me, I accidentally used a cloth and bucket which had almost certainly seen some very powerful detergent in the recent past. Soap in general is ultra toxic to fish, so there’s a pretty good chance that when Lyota next goes into the tank, he’s not going to survive. I rinsed it out a few times, reconditioned the water and restarted the filter in the hopes that maybe he won’t perish after all. He’s sitting in a jug until the heater has warmed up the water a little more.

 

This is poorly timed because my confidence in fish-keeping is pretty shaken at the moment. A couple of weeks ago I helped a wonderful lady and her two excited daughters set up their very own fish tank. I spent about an hour with them, running them through the pros and cons of different tank styles, heaters, gravel, ornaments, conditioners, food and fish. I warned her that it was best to keep the tank running for a week before putting new fish in, but that if she wanted to try it today, she could add a chemical to the water daily that would make the ammonia harmless. She decided to go for this option and bought four fish for her elated daughters. She returned a week later to inform me they had all perished after a few days, and I couldn’t for the life of me work out why. She reset the water, conditioned it and left the filter running so that the bacteria could start colonising, and then a week later we retested her water. The ammonia test turned cloudy with little particles in the vial, which is certainly not supposed to happen, and I had no idea what it meant. Some quick googling and consulting our fish guru informed me that her general hardiness was sky high but perhaps her ammonia was actually 0 due to a defective testing kit. We retested and it looked pretty hopeful. I have no idea what to do when GH is really high, and so I gave her a fish and sent her home, praying for the best. But honestly, it flummoxed me, and I felt wretchedly incompetent and largely responsible for the death of her fish. I fear her next visit a week from now will reveal her fish has died.

 

Furthermore a customer named John came into the store and bought a whole bunch of fishkeeping equipment from me. I showed him how to use a gravel vac, told him all about the different goldfish we had and helped him have a generally informative/awesome time in the store. He returned a few weeks later to inform me that all the fish he’d bought from another store had perished, and the only ones that had survived were the ones he’d purchased from me. I felt both proud and uneasy that he was putting so much faith in my knowledge. He had brought in some water for testing, and the results showed his ammonia was dangerously high. His fish were thriving in spite of it, but I couldn’t figure out why the ammonia was there in the first place. He’d done everything right as far as I could tell. After a lengthy conversation, I uncovered that he’d washed his filter media in tap water, and the chlorine had likely killed all the bacteria allowing the ammonia to accumulate. He went home happy and left the filter running unimpeded. He returned again to retest the water after a week, and once again the ammonia was very high. I was stumped. After about fifteen minutes, I realised that the dechlorinater he was using was approximately ten times weaker than normal, and he had consequently been underdosing the water. He bought some new conditioner and some quickstarting liquid to help the bacteria colonise quickly, and went home to do a half-water change and try the new products. A week later he returned, and yet again the ammonia had barely changed. So if the chlorine wasn’t killing the bacteria, what was? In desperation I concluded that his filter was rubbish and didn’t have any biological media in it, so he bought some bionoods with the instruction of removing half of the sponge in his filter to make room for it. I very nearly bought it for him, so responsible did I feel for all this rubbish that was happening and the constant trips to the store he was making. This mystery is to be resolved in a few weeks.

Lyota, mate, please don’t die on me. I really don’t want to be responsible for more deaths! Crossed fingers, everybody =x

Quick update

Lyota’s doing great! He spent the first day wedged in the gap between the heater and the glass, and I was really worried he was cold. After some experimentation turning the filter on and off, I discovered that the filter they provided is too powerful for a 9L tank and was basically pushing him around, creating a current which he constantly had to fight. Poor guy was being worn down from the effort, so I took it out. It seems strange they provided such a filter for a tank that size – I thought Aqua One would have known better! I’ll have to keep on top of the ammonia, NO2 and NO3 levels to make sure he’s okay without it, but he seems much happier now. I also upgraded his food, but he doesn’t seem to realise that he can eat it while it’s floating. Apparently betta’s can be fussy and take a few days to adjust, so perhaps tomorrow (day 3) he’ll start eating.

I started my full-time placement at Swan District Hospital in Midland today. I don’t really want to think about it because of all the brainpower that’s required. Without getting too much into it, I met a lot of people and learned a lot about a new organisation and environment. I really enjoyed it and I love the team, and when my brain isn’t too overloaded, I’m sure I’ll happily work there. My anxiety has come up a few times throughout the day, seizing me with a sudden panic whenever I’ve thought about an uncertain future of work, but I’ve said my lines and walked along side it, and I seem to be managing okay. I’m certainly not panicking as much about whether or not I’m cut out for social work as I expected, which says to me I’ve grown at least a little.

I’ve learned my first black belt kata in karate. It’s shisochin, and Steve was kind enough to say that it looks good. I’m not really sure how I’ve changed over the past two years of training – I still apply myself just as hard I think, but I seem to be getting better and better over time. I find it puzzling – I’m not really changing the way I do things, but I seem to be improving nonetheless. I dunno, it perplexes me. I guess I’m fortunate enough to have a school where practicing the right thing over and over leads to growth, not maintenance.

That’s about it right now. Gotta get up early for work tomorrow! Really looking forward to some gaming with Craig-kun later in the week.

Oh! And Japan! I’m going to Japan in February with Beth and Mr Craig! Our main destinations are Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto, with day-trips to Iga and Hiroshima. Does anyone reading have any suggestions for what to see and do? Japan has been a life-long dream of mine – I often fantasised about growing up as a samurai or ninja. I’m starting to reconsider my enthusiasm for training there (after hearing about new students being beaten up) but I’m still stoked to see it.

That’s it! Sleepy times now! Night guys.

My friend Lyota

So Sam died. In truth, I worry that I took him out of a comfortable environment. In the back of the fish room, in dim lighting and without filtered water or a heat source, he thrived – healthy and beautiful and making little bubble nests for a potential mate to come and join him in his paradise. I took him home (during which he spent two and a half hours in the bag because I drove to Rockingham to drop a colleague off while the trains are down) and he lived a quiet two and a half days in my tank. I discovered him yesterday morning, gently pirouetting in the gravel.

I took a water sample into work to test the pH, the general hardiness and the ammonia. The pH was unusually high (8.1, when it’s supposed to be around 7) but that probably wouldn’t have killed him. I’ve bought some pH down and a testing kit, and work was kind enough to pass another fish into my care. His name is Lyota, or Leo (or possibly Lion) for short. So far he’s survived the night, pressed up against the glass of the heater. It was particularly cold, so I’ve cranked it up another degree. I’ll do my best to help him at least see summer.

I’m sad at the possibly needless loss of life, and that I might have somehow been responsible for it, but I’m not weighed down by the loss. Here is the only picture I ever took of Sam, and a picture of Lyota sitting on top of the heater. Apologies for the quality, but I found it hard to take a picture of him against the dark background when he spent most of his time at the bottom of the tank. Here’s to hoping I don’t continue this train of death and make another “My friend” post tomorrow.

Sam the Fish

Sam the Fish

Lyota the Fighter

Lyota the Fighter