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What a hard week.

Some of the worst things are:

1.) I got bad-triggered, rather than just dealable-triggered, at my internship, which in turn makes every other thing harder. It involved the secure psychiatric floor of a hospital that caters to correctional facilities, a security guard who unlocked the elevator for me but then didn't escort me like he was supposed to, and an actual elevator malfunction with lights turning off - have I MENTIONED that I've had countless nightmares about warped versions of hospitals? I was actually laughing out loud in the long, staggering, hesitating, strobe light elevator ride up by myself, like, "You've got to be fucking kidding me, this is just ridiculous," but apparently I can think that AND feel my whole body go tense and start pulsing at, like, the same time. This is the first time I've ever left a client site or a shift early, although I did get everything I strictly HAD to get done finished before I ran away (from the place someone was going to come back to, to find me, no less...).

Apparently I'm a person who can't shake the knowledge that I will have to find a staff member with a key to get off of a given floor, while I'm being circled by a small crowd of dudes in hospital gowns who are all medicated to differing degrees. WEIRD.

2.) It's also been a real bad week as a client advocate. An old lady with pink eye that the staff was just IGNORING until I basically drug someone over to her face, a different woman who I've been trying to find a good ALF for who DISAPPEARED just as I was making tedious headway with getting her benefits expanded... obviously I can't get into this stuff in much detail or with any level of identifiers.

3.) The strengths and weaknesses of my marriage are both running at full throttle. It can be exhausting, for us both. We're like, sweetly snuggling and petting each other through our various personal struggles as one of us cries; and then getting on every irritating nerve either of us have over stupid little decisions, during a date; and then laughing and sending each other pictures of cool kid things; and then wondering if we'll ever have sex again... etc.

4.) Our fucking car, which is still financed with lots owed, and which has had a non-urgent but eventual $900 needed repair we've ignored for a few months, now needs a different and completely unrelated repair that's over a thousand dollars. This is happening just as we get to a point with our rolling junkheap of a van where we absolutely must replace it and can no longer take it on the highway at all. Like we've KNOWN the 9 year old van we've abused so thoroughly is on it's last leg for years, but the car still feels almost new to us just 3 years in. AAaaaaand the central AC unit outside my bedroom window is making a lot of weird sounds it shouldn't be. So.

5.) This is all happening as G's company goes through major restructuring that involves shit like (repeatedly) DELAYED PAYROLL...and him having to disable the accounts of some of his best friends, coworkers who he's spent a lot of non-work time with these past couple of years, and is really gonna miss.

Lesser things that are not helping matters any:

-I'm on my period.
-I continue to live in this new Trump reality where literally every time I open social media, turn on public radio, or even talk to many people, I learn of more infuriating/terrifying things. Like I have to choose over and over again whether to cocoon as self care or wince and delve into connection with people/the world. And I've gotta balance the importance of making calls and sending donations and signing petitions against the guilt and comfort of ignoring all that for awhile.
-I've been a bit sleep deprived, which had been something I was really pleased to be doing very well with, but, there that went :p

Super drained and depleted but thank everything that it's been spring break so I at least haven't had class, aaaand this is now gonna be a weekend.

I have a lot of things I'm really excited and hopeful about but that kinda just feels like anxiety at the moment. I just want to be curled up in a blanket drinking chamomile tea in a dark candlelit room, or wrapped up in some warm arms, or otherwise engaged in something that involves me feeling small and like the world is gentle with me.

I am really eating up how affectionate Jake and Elise both still are.

Also, torturing cats with strangleholds is nice.

Hopefully, I will have some great things (which I'm [very] eagerly waiting to hear back about) to report soon.
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Mar. 3rd, 2017

(All 7 of us) spent 3 days camping at/attending the Florida Herbal Conference - attending classes and keynotes and bonfires, eating in the cafeteria, wandering around the marketplace they set up, connecting with old and new friends, taking SO MANY NOTES - then 1 day in adjoining hotel rooms in St Pete, swimming in the pool, walking around downtown, and going to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Dali museum.

We got home at 2:30AM, and I had to be up by 7:30 to get to my internship via rush hour traffic, be there all day, and then go to classes all evening. Which is not so bad; I have friends, I like the clients we work with, I like our class activities and feel good at this school work. Caffeine exists, and I was on a high from our trip. But it is a lot. I barely had time to be grateful Grant has been making fabulous dinners and organize the kids and myself into unpacking clean-ups, in the late evenings. Those days that I'm out, I don't STOP. I cram homework in around the edges, either in 45 minute windows at the library or when I'm leaving in half an hour and have nothing else to do; I catch up with my sister or old friends on the phone in the car while I drive all over God's green earth, visiting hospitals, ALFs, and people's homes; I swing by salad places just to grab something to go. This is, incidentally, how the day before we went out of town went: internship all day and class all evening, with filling out summer camp forms for all the kids, and holding speaker phone meetings with my family every few hours about what needed to be packed, watered, boarded, cleaned out, and more, before we left.

Today, I have nothing to do and nowhere to be. For the first day in 9 days, I have a day to just be here.

I mean, really, I have tons to do... but I can decide how to manage that and and what to prioritize, or ignore it all since I don't have anywhere to be for the next two days, either.




Apparently it starts with beginning a livejournal entry, taking the school kids to school, cutting herbs and pea shoots and cooking breakfast for Grant and I, and then drinking coffee with him and talking animatedly about this podcast and this video.
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2016 - written a couple of weeks ago...

It seems to be universally understood that 2016 was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. For me personally, I haven't felt so much stress and tension regularly since the year I was diagnosed with PTSD. I do have good and bad things to recap, though.

I kept most of my resolutions, which were things like, "spend a lot more time at the ocean," "actually try out meditation at least a couple of times and see how it goes," "take some solid steps in the direction of polyamory that are not just talking about it," and "pick a grad level academic direction and start heading in it."

To that end...I attended several free oceanside beach meditations, of which one was great and the rest were mediocre; a couple of paid, indoor group meditations led by a former teacher, which I found way more helpful but harder to work out logistically since they're during the week; and downloaded a meditation app that I used three times, all of which were mostly spent trying not to fall asleep. In addition to the beach meditations, I started trying to get to the full moon drum circles on Miami Beach once a month, and made more trips down to Tavernier for lunch and The Water. 10/10, must continue all that ocean time.

I joined some polyamory fb groups, and a meetup group, and went - with Grant - to a potluck the meetup group has. Started delving into who will vaccinate an older person (non-teen) against HPV, spent time with a couple of guys in ways that made me understand myself as being "demisexual," (albeit on the nympho end of that scale, which is why I initially rejected the idea since it's on the asexuality spectrum for many), worked through truckloads of jealousy wrt Grant meeting someone else for lunch until I realized all kinds of shit about myself, and then felt better about it. Final poly verdict: I'm only interested in forming friendships that might turn into more but will probably never do traditional "dating," where you're feeling each other out as strangers to see if you want to be romantic partners, because I kinda just don't work that way. While it's gonna take an amazing and fortuitous connection to be worthwhile, I AM very interested in forming those friendships. In their own right, and for the possible lover-potential sometime down the road.

The academic-direction-picking seemed clear once I thought honestly about how many different things I still want to do with my life. I still have angst about this at times, as I was IN LOVE with neuropsychology and studying botany was one of the greatest things I've ever pursued...but I can't be in school in a way that consumes my whole life, I just can't. This MSW and eventual licensure is something profitable that I believe in and think I'm good at, and it checks a lot of boxes re: things I've wanted to do since I was a kid. AND I can still be a parent, and write, and travel, and have a social life, and a million plants, etc.

So! Resolutions aside. 2016 Good and Bad Recap!

BAD:

-I spent so much of this year deeply preoccupied by mental health crises in my 3 older children. I mean each of them, one after the other, occupying months in a row of keeping me up at night and straining my ability to keep calm during the day. I'm very grateful to have excellent health insurance and the time and resources to get a lot of counseling and medication when necessary, but damn. This has been a parenting year to shave years off my life. The happy ending is that everybody is pretty much doing fine for a few months now, with some periodic backslides... And, I guess, that they took turns and didn't all struggle hard at the same time. Gaaaaaaaah.

-My Pa was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and I was the only one willing or able to speak up and tell him it was ok, if he didn't want to deal with chemo, and just wanted to enjoy the rest of his life.

-I had two seriously taxing, entangled interactions with my mother that needed recovering from... both involving lots of alcohol and tears on her part. Most notable perhaps was the moment when she was reiterating her deep love and loyalty for me and I said, "Those are just words!"

-I have really let myself down with reference to writing. I had big plans at the beginning of this year, and they've haunted me literally every single day, but they've yielded basically nothing. I experience stress about this EVERY day at some point. The urge to write is so strong and...it's complicated.

-I was really caught up in, and then sad about, the democratic primary results - and downright devastated by the presidential election. Both involved so much suspense, late nights, tears, grief, anger... We donated money, applied stickers, erected signs, attended rallies, voted, shared articles, argued with relatives, etc, etc, ETC. I listened to a lot of NPR pretty much daily at the beginning of this year, but just can't really deal with it at all anymore.

-Speaking of constant, oppressive stress... I usually experience a lot of that surrounding major life transitions, and especially success I have no context for. So getting my Bachelors (physical diploma) in the mail, the congratulatory emails from school, applying to grad school, getting accepted to grad school, interviewing with agencies for practicum - they've all involved a WHOLE LOT of this. I've been distant or distracted or irritable with Grant (because I really won't allow myself to be, with the kids) SO OFTEN this year, and then we have these embarrassing conversations where I admit I just can't handle it anymore that every day for a month could be the day the diploma or the decision arrives, or whatever irrational shit. UGH!

-I also had the worst asthma I've ever experienced, and major allergy flare-ups. Sleeping several nights with accumulated dust and foreign cat hair had me relying heavily and regularly on inhalers for the first time in my life, for about 3 months. Whenever I'd try to stop, I'd realize I was moving as little as possible and getting light-headed from the slightest thing. It's really only for a month or so now that I can walk fast and talk at the same time, again, or read to Elise for a whole chapter without hitting the albuterol first. It still comes everywhere I go just in case, but I can actually sing loud along with the music in the car without going into coughing fits.

-Death is just...everywhere? Our beloved pediatrician of more than a decade died, and Elise wore a Spiderman suit to his memorial service (he was known as Dr Spiderman). Someone I have invited into my home, the partner of one of my good RL friends, just killed herself in late December - there have been long phone calls, home visits, a memorial. And then of course we have the neverending stream of celebrity deaths that this year has brought. Alan Rickman and Fidel Castro felt the most personal for me, but it's hard to count the number of times my social media feeds have turned to grief and tributes and sometimes that collective woe really gets to me.

-The sex drive disparity in my marriage has really been almost at it's worst - "almost" because we can be honest now, so that's better than when we couldn't communicate about it well many years ago. This is partially due to Grant's depression and need to focus on himself, and partially just who he is and who I am, but it's just way too familiar for me to be up late by myself night after night as several weeks go by in between times. Conversations about it lead to (shared, conversational, intimate in their way) tears way more often than sex. I understand that this might sound dramatic to some people, but this is really something with the power to make everything else happening seem much better or worse, for me.

-And it combines with general social loneliness in a pretty awful, heavy way. I have made BIG strides toward forming new RL community for myself this year (classmates, meetup.com, OKCupid, a couple of other homeschooling moms, etc), but they haven't really come to fruition quite yet.

Fucking hell man just really laying all this shit out makes me see how heavy it's cumulatively been.

GOOD:

-I got my physical (Bachelors) diploma in the mail! It stopped being weird at some point, and I hung it on the wall and now it feels real and I'm proud of it!

-And I got into grad school!

-And knocked out my first chunk of it! (like holy shit, how do I have one semester of a two year program finished already wtf)

-My actual degree program is amazing. I like the material, adore a couple of the teachers, LOVE some of my classmates. Class time is intense, friendships are developing, and there is excitement about the future in many ways. The agencies I'm going to be working with for internships do really important work I believe in. I had to do academic writing that references specific legislation, policies, and precedents for the first time. A++

-Attending the Herbal Conference in February was amazing. Life changing, even. Restorative, etc. I don't know where to begin. Magic.

-Solo roadtrip in July was also pretty great, with old friends and new. It was also very hard, as the allergies and asthma shit started, but I needed it so bad. Swimming in the cold springs for the first time, hanging out with Kristin again for the first time in a year, staying with Jess and Cale and eating and talking, just very very good stuff.

-Dresden Dolls show in Coney Island was the greatest concert experience of my life, and just...rad. St Patricks' Cathedral, too. The food throughout the trip. Experiencing Ananda's experience of it all. NYC can be fucking rad.


Miscellaneous:

Some of the songs of 2016 for me were -
Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill (both accoustic and regular)
Beck - WOW
Sylvan Esso - Coffee
Star Band of Dakar - Sigala
Rilo Kiley's whole Pictures of Success album
RHCP - Dark Necessities

Foodwise -
This was the year I learned how to make good polenta and went crazy with it.
Found Chill Bar, along with the rest of the Yellow Green Market.
We put fish tacos and Grant's homemade salsa into the regular dinner rotation.
I felt much better when I ate zero grains, and ok if I just at least stayed away from gluten.


I would like to state for the record that it is SHOCKING that it's already January 16th, and that "2017" still sounds like some kind of wild sci-fi concept shit, to me.

I am still deciding on resolutions for this year, which has been a January-long process for me these past few years.
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The two main themes of my life these days are that child rearing can be harrowing, and politics. But that first topic is something I'm holding close, and the second one will enrage me to the point that I'll have to write 5,000 pages of vitriol, SO.

Theme #3: My Awkward Ascent Into Professionalism.

This really began late last year, when I had to figure out what exactly "business casual" actually means, for women, in Miami, and then sit down and construct a resume after more than a decade of stay at home parenting. These disheartening efforts were rewarded, though, with two different successful interviews, a training program, and a lot of invaluable experiences. Then, my Bachelor's degree arrived in the mail, screaming LEGITIMACY and honestly terrifying me because I have a fear of success that's hard to explain to people. It was followed a couple of months later by my grad school acceptance letter.

Nevermind my 48 hours of constant anxiety as I tried to accept that I was truly going to graduate school. Nevermind that first night at the Switchboard when I didn't realize until I was leaving that I had a big, 3D, unblended CHUNK of makeup in the middle of my forehead, or the time months later when I hadn't gotten my parking validation due to a mixup and realized as I was due to leave the garage that I had no way to pay and was therefore stuck arguing with a security guard at the gate. On the phones, I was doing good things! It was seriously meaningful and at times very moving. It was also sometimes horrific and I cried the whole (hour long) ride home more than once.

More recently, things have Gotten Real on new levels. In the last month I've done things like;

-Interview one on one for 45 minutes with the field coordinator at my school to talk about agency placements, and then head to the bathroom to see that I had a big, smeary, unidentifiable black smudge on my forehead the whole time.
-Rush out the door on my way to an evening presentation, dressed up but barefoot (carrying my shoes), and step right into a giant warm pile of cat puke on my front porch. This led to me wasting precious minutes shrieking and leaping around my wet, dark front yard grass trying to clean my foot.
-Leave my house bright and early for an agency interview, and then realize my GPS was leading me to the wrong place, and then realize I didn't understand the parking setup or facility gate system, so I had to call a secretary no less than FOUR TIMES and arrive almost half an hour late. She was very nice about how confusing their set up is, and how their official address is not really accurate except for mail, and how frequently people have these problems, and I really think the interview ended up going well, EXCEPT JUST FOR FUN ON THE WAY OUT -
-I got told they'll need "a reliable phone number" for me, and realized when I inquired about what the problem is with my cell number that I sent them a resume with a switched digit in the number... that they've been trying to call *headdesk*
-Later, I saw the emails from the guy I was interviewing with, inquiring about where I was and asking me to call his cell, that arrived while I was calling his secretary and driving in circles.

And again, the content driven parts, I am proud of. An older guy in a suit lead me into a big lobby area to sit side by side, and said, "Paint a picture of yourself for me," and I was able to be very honest and make it clear I was a good fit.

But man. The transition from long term stay at home parenting to being professional is, at times, a bumpy road. I feel simultaneously silly and proud when I look back on how many logistical things I've had to gradually get the hang of since I went back to school... like, gee, if you are gonna be gone for 6 solid hours, you are really screwed if you forget to put on deodorant before you head out, or don't plan ahead for how you'll eat. WHAT ADVANCED CONCEPTS.

Something about having a bunch of kids to tote supplies for trains you to feel like if it's just you, you're basically a free agent who needs nothing and can get by on zero prep.

Phone number typo aside, it's encouraging how much more I have to write on a resume now vs this time last year. Then it was, "almost have a bachelors" - now it's "working on my MSW." The Switchboard experience is a great thing for the kinds of places I'm applying, too. It's still a bare bones single sheet with room to spare, but it's more substantive than it was.

My current epiphany/conundrum is that I realized my one acceptable, flattering, "business casual" outfit may be fine for presentations and interviews, but is not gonna cut it when I'm interning 3 days per week for a whole semester. So, uh, I guess I have to go shopping.
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I love it when I have lots of leftovers available. I got up this morning and ate cold pumpkin oatmeal right out of the fridge with some seeds sprinkled on top (steel cut oats store pretty well), and now I'm having some cream of mushroom soup I cooked last night. I heated the soup, because I am not a barbarian.

I got the practicum agency placement I wanted, for Spring, so that's exciting. It's hospice work, and my program's rule is that 75% of intern time must be spent directly with clients (we're actually supposed to "inform" them we aren't allowed to do "administrative tasks" if we get assigned things like document shredding or getting a boss's coffee - which doesn't sound awkward at all :p) There was only one on the list of local hospices that was open to students at my level who aren't fluent in spanish, and they were only taking ONE student, so I was afraid I'd be stuck with my backup choices. Which would have been cool in a different way, but, this is better!

My practicum interview, a couple of weeks ago, was interesting - I walked away feeling the faculty member who had interviewed me knew an awful lot about me for us having just met. But that's sort of how it goes in this field of study... I had to lay out that I'm too personally impacted by work with children and REALLY don't want to do that, but am interested in death and passionate about funeral industry reform, for instance. She was obviously seeing it as par for the course.

I also had a big, unidentifiable black smudge on my forehead the whole time and didn't realize until I went to the bathroom on my way out. Of all the nonsense.

Hard to believe there's only about a month left of this semester. I'm getting used to absurd grad school demands, like "15 minutes late counts as absent, and two or more absences means you fail the class," and "bring 6 copies of your paper next week for peer review" - 6 copies of a 14 page paper! Also, professional dress as part of the grading rubric for class presentations.

I have SO MANY REBELLIOUS THOUGHTS about professional dress for social work IN GENERAL, let alone during class time - if you get to the bottom of these standards of what is and is not "appropriate," to wear, isn't it all a lot of classism and bs? Who actually decides these arbitrary standards of what constitutes "appropriate?" And, if we're supposed to be working with the disenfranchised, is it really the best way to build rapport, to always immediately class off from them through appearance? I understand the arguments FOR professional dress - I really do. I just also think there are some legitimate counterarguments that are not being explored.

Tangential, perhaps... the Switchboard is closing. After 45 years. I went through 40 hours of training in January to be a volunteer crisis counselor there, and had a huge array of experiences on the phone in just my short time being a part of it. The good news is that callers' experiences won't really change - the Jewish Community Center is taking over and many of the same people will be working. Calling the National Suicide Lifeline, the Veteran's Crisis Hotline, etc will still (hopefully) be the same experience. Just...wow. That Switchboard awning downtown is such an institution. *I* called the Switchboard when I was 14 and wanted to run away from home, and talked for an hour with someone in the middle of the night. It's hard to believe. But, the JCC has a really stellar financial reputation, and the Switchboard has at least been rumored to be a big mess in that one regard, for some time...




Grant and I are butting heads about stupid little things a lot lately. Not wanting to go the same places, for instance, and having different budgeting priorities, garbage like that. I feel like he's always trying to hug me AS I try to pull on a shirt, which is something that actually happened today and is a little too representative. We're basically NEVER ready for sex at the same time. Sometimes I think we just have too much time together, with him working from home so much while I'm here homeschooling Jake and Elise during the weekdays. And/or, that I'm too isolated and don't have enough local friends. As previously stated, I have lots of people I text with and fb message daily, and now I also have some pretty cool "school friends," but many of them are travelling south to get to the school that is 45 minutes north of me, and we're all trying to work grad school into pre-existing schedules, so. Not a ton of socializing there (outside of the 12+ hours per week we spend together whether we like it or not).

With Grant, I dunno... we still hug a lot, and mean it. We cuddle as we fall asleep most nights. He makes me (DAMN GOOD) coffee every day, left behind in a thermos if he goes to the office. We're like really supportive and affectionate friends who encourage each other, and get on each others' nerves too often, and are both scared shitless at times by how divergent our interests are getting.

Part of the problem may be that he's just gradually coming out of a long, dark depression. He thinks that's most/all of the problem. I dunno. I do think I get more irritated now than I did while he was in a worse place, because I feel like I can. It's not a conscious decision like, "oh if you're not REALLY MISERABLE I can be grumpy with you," but it kinda naturally happens sort of like that as my acute concern recedes. And I have leftover anger I was repressing from when it was worse, and I didn't even realize that until it was "safe" to deal with.

Bleh. In a way I'm bitching about absolutely nothing, since we still work together as well as we do and can be as honest as we are. I mean he came to my Research Methods class with me a couple of weeks ago, and charmed everyone raising his hand to participate and talking with me the whole way home about gaps in literature and motivations for new experiments. I have moments of deep gratitude that we have what we do, that can make me cry with happiness.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯




Random Bits:

I've texted and talked way more than normal lately, with my mom. Which is still not a ton, but for us... There's a small blinking "Danger" light in the back of my mind about it. "We'll see," as she herself would say.

I got plants in the mail, for my birthday, from my friend Jess!! It was epic. I love her so much. And she sent me really great things, after researching my hardiness zone and everything. Beyond adorable <3

I realized there is such a thing as The Society of Professional Obituary Writers, and I will be adding a membership in that organization to my collection of obscure memberships (Medicinal Plant Savers, Florida Native Plant Society, etc) post haste. I wrote my grandfather's obituary for the Key West newspaper and was really happy with how I managed to be totally honest about someone I did not like, and still make the people who loved him very happy with the end result. I also think about writing the story of my other grandparents' lives regularly, a la Speaker for the Dead (Orson Scott Card... you know...)

I also realized that I'm not WRITING-writing because I'm AFRAID TO, which is horrible and also motivating. Anytime I've written things I'm really proud of in the past, I've written them for my own eyes only, often in secret, and with the intention that nobody else will ever see them. Then I'm like, oh, but holy shit - I love this! I have to share it, even if it's excruciating! Now I'm thinking of writing in that deep down, no holds barred way, WITH THE INTENT of sharing, and it's got me at a standstill such that I keep endlessly procrastinating even when I get excited about my ideas. Now that I know I've gotta just fucking do it because art > fear etc etc.

My friend Kathy, who I've had since high school and truly love, and is nearby, is spending a LONG time in-patient for potentially dangerous pregnancy complications. They're hoping to get her to 34 weeks gestation before inducing or doing a c/s, which would make SIX WEEKS in the hospital! I did some research and sent her some links, but man. I am tormented by how terrible I am for not visiting her regularly, and super aware of how triggering it will be for me to do so. She's also aware of that and going out of her way to tell me she doesn't expect me to come. I get mad at myself, I don't WANT to be freaked out by this shit, I don't feel it SHOULD continue to have power over me, it feels so pathetic and even silly, etc etc... It's a merry go round in my head like, oh come on, I do great taking Isaac to the psychiatrist, that's in a children's hospital and it only bothers me if I'm already a mess - but man, I was tense and almost in tears by the time I left MARSHALL'S the other night, because this motherfucker was walking around near me in OR scrubs the whole time I shopped. And she's in the maternity ward, having frustrating arguments with obstetricians (a word I say like a cat hissing), no doubt losing her shit from this long stay WHICH IS WHY I AM UNIQUELY POISED TO RELATE AND HELP!

On the one hand, I might just be able to go in anticipating it being hard for me, and come away journaling about it and processing, and be ok by the end of the night. It's usually only when I really repress that something is triggering me that it becomes an ongoing issue in my day to day life. I keep running into her family around town and talking with them, and her coworkers, about how she's dealing and the latest conflicts and the juggling of her other kids. Argh.




Ananda is doing way better than she was awhile back - general mental health and academic upswing. Which is enormously relieving for me and makes everything else in my life seem easier, like I can at least breathe through it.

Aaron is doing pretty well for quite awhile, too - and I took him out to DRIVE this past weekend. WTF. He goes out skating miles and miles regularly, and then ends up stranded in the rain or hopelessly lost, and sends me a google pin to come pick him up. He's so weird and wonderful. He's always wearing my clothes and lately my jewelry - almost as much as Annie does... he choreographed a dance for some people at school that involved a flowy thin cardigan of mine. He has a YouTube following, making intros for people, and is always on about some contest he's won or placed in...

Isaac is great. He's obsessed with annoying middle schooler shit like dabbing and water bottle flipping. He's always got a long and convoluted story to tell about the latest rounds of gossip in his friend group. He has a ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious Instagram account that absolutely kills me.

Jake is following along in his wake, and half of what comes out of his mouth is "suh dude" and "nah fam I'm good." PRETEENS, OMFG. Give me a teenager any day over this eye rolling, unenthusiastic, painfully awkward phase!

Elise continues to be a ray of sunshine. She is OBSESSED with Uno and we must all play often. She would live on caprese salad if I let her (although she's currently begging me to heat her up some onion soup, so I guess I have to wrap this up soon).

We managed to finish The Order of the Phoenix and go see it in theaters! She was so crazily pumped. She's just so much fun.

Frequent: her and I chasing each other around trying to smack each other's butts, while Ananda says, "Mom, you can't release her into the wild with this value system."
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Today.

I got up gradually, in late morning, read a little bit more of Blood Canticle and checked my various favorite sites to check. It's Sunday after all.

Made Ananda and myself mushroom and brie omelettes with pea shoots on top, and halved salted cherry tomatoes on the side. Mine was a wreck but hers was perfect, i.e., I fucked up the first time and gave her the good one. Delicious coffee a la Grant, that espresso machine was the greatest investment of all time.

Had lavish love sessions with Jake and Elise, cuddling and snuggling and tickling and talking about when they were babies and how they'll always be my babies.

Watered various lovely things.

Buckled down and did a couple of hours of proxy library research and academic writing, with Bach in the bakground. Emailed what I have to the group members I'm working with.

Messaged various people on OkCupid. There were TWO really promising people semi-local today, which is pretty wild. I do not hesitate to message people first. We'll see. I'm ignoring like 10 messages to me that are all bleh, which is all it usually ever is.

Laid around reading more next to Grant, who slept. Attempted and failed to proposition him. Took care of things myself, which has become strangely casual ("I'll give you some time alone"). He's going through a series of personal struggles - depression, illness, tooth troubles.

I'm really proud of how he's taking initiative with those struggles. Actually going to the dentist (which has terrified him for many years), seeking real mental health help. It just takes time.

Found out Aaron was attacked by dogs while out skating. He's ok but a skate is bit up and he was shaken and angry. He knew who the people were as the dog emerged from under a fence while they sat on their front porch and DID NOTHING, so I drove him the miles back to where it happened so he could point it out to me - nobody home. I'm going to at least leave a letter in their mailbox. Sometimes I really hate how inescapable other people's dogs are. I feel like I'm constantly waiting while someone secures an animal or chases it down the street, when I knock on their door, or finding poop in our yard, or walking with someone who is picking up and carrying a sack of poop, or being barked at from behind fences as I walk around the neighborhood... I find a real knockout exception now and then, but for the most part I just don't understand the allure of dogs at all. Kristin got one and has been texting me pics galore and I'm polite, but man, her stories about how adorable it is that he constantly lays in the stinky creek before coming back in to the couch just don't do it for me.

Went and picked Isaac up from a birthday party G had taken him to. Blared Hozier on the way there, talked to him about how the party went the whole way home.

Waded through tedious emailing back and forths with (school) group members who don't seem to understand the need to cite EVERYTHING in a paper, or just how consistent you have to be in your APA styling...

Talked to Ananda about her boyfriend, who was over most of the day, and other things, as we made cream of mushroom soup. Said goodbye to Ethan from around the corner, as he left.

Children are filing off to bed gradually now, Jake very grumpy since this is the first night he and Elise will be back in their own beds, rather than sharing the tv room with a movie at bedtime, since they watched Stranger Things. They LOVED it and have talked about it incessantly, but it also scared the crap out of him. I stayed up late one night last week, showing him the "making of the monster" (costuming and costume actor, CGI layers, etc), which helped a bit, but not enough I guess. I had a talk with Aaron - who shares a room with Jake - to try to ensure he's extra nice to him.

This has been a quiet and subdued kind of weekend, but here are a few perks:
-My Monday classes were inexplicably cancelled!
-There were cardinals out my window several times Saturday, then a big storm - followed by rainbows.
-My lovely front porch mums got a little bit of tumblr attention, which I feel they fully deserve
-Blood Canticle is an Anne Rice book I've had on a shelf for years and never read, but in my searching for "fictional characters that represent me," for that silly facebook thing going around, I did some e-search and found there are MAJOR INTRIGUING PLOT TWISTS in this book, which got me pretty excited. And it's a real page turner so far, unlike a few of the other newer Vampire Chronicles - I still haven't finished Prince Lestat. It has great parts, but too much of it is narrated by Not Lestat. This is all him, and it is thus all awesome.
-We baked pumpkin pies that turned out wonderfully. Ananda and Elise made the crust, and Jake, Isaac, and I did the filling. Yum.

I believe Grant and I are going to go and watch "Kinsey" now. With Pralines and Cream Haagen Daaz. Goodnight world.
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I'm spending 12.5 hours per week in class, now, and about 4.5 hours per week commuting to and from school. Of course, there is also homework.

I LOVE feeling connected to my classmates. I love that there is a group of us moving through this program together, having multiple classes together, and embarking on the beginning of a couple of years together - so different from undergrad, so much more like high school but with more common interests and ideology across the board.

The spectrum of people was dizzying and almost unbelievable at first - the recovering heroin addict who wants to go into helping people with substance abuse. The attorney with a friend who was jailed and disbarred for petty drug use and wants to help change the prison system. The flamboyantly gay man who is there for LGBT policy. The woman who just got back from 2 years in India, where she became certified as a yoga instructor, and decided she wants to bring yoga to the disadvantaged, since it can be done without equipment or memberships, and in troubled neighborhoods where walking doesn't feel safe, and even in a jail cell. The immigrant who lost his mother five years ago when, as soon as they arrived, she fell ill and then died after being refused help at a local public hospital (spoiler: it's the one I loathe) - he's on a mission now to reform protocols for immigrant health care. The blind, 65 year old man who takes the bus in, and wants to inspire others with disability even though his kids wish he'd just retire. Those are 6 people out of a class with only 12 people in it, another of whom is me, talking about death positivity and end of life care....

To be clear I have another class with 35 people in it, it's just that it includes about 10 of those 12, and in general the program let's in I think 50 new people each year (approximately), so it's the same core group with lots of overlapping people in individual courses.

It's strange and interesting to be seen, in my classes. I'm used to moving through school invisibly - since 2010 when I started, I've been taking classes at strange times, and in fits and starts, at huge places where I'd never see anyone from a given class again after that class was done. I did a whole semester online twice, and I was usually a solid decade older than most other students when I was around them. I've never done any kind of "campus life" stuff with clubs or events.

Now, I get someone yelling "Hey Book Writer!" on the way back to my car, and then catching up to talk. I get people adding me on facebook. I get told someone saw an article they think pertains to my interests, and that someone likes my pants. People reference something I did during a role play in front of a class two days later, in a different class. Or they ask if I have notes from a class we're not currently in.

There's also an interesting overlap between this group and my general life, that I didn't expect. A mom I know from the kids' school and GMYS, is in one of my classes. One of my supervisors from the Switchboard is in another. And, I'm currently writing a group paper with somebody who is a mutual friend of one of my good friends. I saw somebody from class at the grocery store the other day - considering that I live 45 minutes from school, it was a surprise.

I'm struggling with the roundtrip 3 times per week when I already do SO MUCH DRIVING on the days I have to go there - yesterday I was in stopped traffic for over an hour twice, and was unexpectedly detoured off the highway, during a different trip... there's so much construction and so many accidents (and yesterday, a bomb threat, and a couple of weeks ago, a sinkhole, and often lately, torrential downpours).

I clash a little, with one of my professors, and feel intimidated by the (punctuality and attendance) standards of another.

I'm also struggling with just how long those 3 days in a row are - from getting my school kids ready to hanging out with, teaching, and carting around Jake and Elise (to their activities,) and then starting my school day as theirs all wind down. The days that I wake at 6:45 to get them out of bed and I don't arrive home again until almost midnight are really something. Of course, it's also beyond epic that Grant is making them good dinners and texting me pics and going shopping, etc.

I'm still working out the time management, as by the time those 3 days in a row are done, I want to completely ignore school for a couple of days before I come back around to studying - which can be ok, and can also not be ok.

The material I'm learning is amazing. I love research, and discussion, and take so many pages of notes and come home bursting with things to say, and ideas. It's almost time to settle on my Spring Practicum already (AAAH! Positive and Negative AAAAH!) and I am vaguely but consistently considering a research assistantship.

I'm sort of confused that I'm already almost done with week 4 of 15.




Grant and I went to New York for 5 days/4 nights, with Ananda. It was our 10th anniversary and her 16th birthday celebrations, and it was a really, really great trip. Some highlights from fairly to most amazing:

Chinese Hot Pot
The giant rocks and hills in the ground being natural, and the lovely trees with skyscrapers right behind them all not being a movie set, in Central Park. I've been there before, but I still stare with Floridian amazement at this surreal shit.
The subway, from real NY subway rats to haunting violin played full volume in a crowded car.
Raclette
THE SHOPPING. What the HELL, we bough so much stuff, from Obscura Antiques and Oddities, from a Brooklyn Flea Market, from Forever 21 in Time Square (which is four stories and has an entire plus sized floor), from Nordstrom Rack (who unexpectedly offered and then gave me a credit card, can you hear the danger alarm going off?)
Being outside and taking pictures at the top of the Empire State Building
The Met, including the current Manus X Machina fashion exhibit
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Dresden Dolls live in Coney Island Ampitheater - and we were comp'd VIP passes for having to deal with a seat change! TO BETTER SEATS. But man, OH MAN, that show.

There is a tag on my tumblr about NY, but I've only included a few things because I just haven't had time.




My children are wonderful, complicated, etc. Ananda is having a hard emotional time, lately, but also downright inspiring in her efforts to cope, and self-care (that's a verb in this case), and reach for help as needed. Aaron is doing fine, Isaac is doing great, Jake is good - Elise is having such wild bursts of spoken language skills, and reading and writing abilities. She is currently beginning 4th grade by age, and she is not there with the reading and writing at all, but she has recently jumped somewhat suddenly from about beginning 1st grader to ending 2nd grader level. It's a big deal! All her voluntary activities involve things like grabbing a stack of books to bring in the car for a ride, and writing up "newspapers" for her My Little Ponies to gossip about each other all over Ponyville with.

I wonder sometimes if Jake and Elise will develop (or reveal?) mental health issues as puberty really takes hold. Ananda has fairly new depression and has always had moderate anxiety. Aaron is seeming more bipolar by the day, though as stated he's in a stable period. Isaac has had severe anxiety all his life, which thankfully is mostly controlled by Zoloft for a couple of years now. The three of them have seen a psychiatrist for varying periods, and been in and out of counseling at different phases for years. We talk about it all very honestly and casually; Grant is depressed, too, and actually talked himself into meds in the process of trying to convince Aaron they're a good idea for him.

They all have plenty of friends, activities, and even romantic relationships. Nobody is actively suicidal or trying to self harm. They do pretty consistently well in school (As and Bs, very good rapport with most teachers), and are pretty artistic - Isaac writes for pleasure in addition to playing his clarinet, Aaron is really emotional about dance and spends hours per day doing that at school, and Ananda warned her visual art teacher that her summer portfolio project was "very dark," because she was "going through some stuff." He's wonderful, told her he's so glad she can use art to purge, and gave her high marks.

There are just also days when rather than getting up to go to school, we have uncontrollable crying with a side of unable-to-get-out-of-bed. Or, I wake up in the morning and find that Aaron's been up all night, mostly on the roof, and is SO EXCITED about the gorgeous sunrise and isn't even tired. Or he makes a Vine account and posts 50 different 6 second videos in one day, each of which is more erratic and bizarre than the last. That is a switch, from the 2-4 VERY EMO dramatically sad Instagram posts that were appearing each night...

Mental illness of various kinds is definitely heavily featured in all of their DNA. I spend a lot of time wondering whether we (as a generation) over diagnose, or people have just refused to be honest in the past. I think often about an episode of Invibilia that I heard over the summer, about how frustratingly HARMFUL it can be for loved ones to try to help, change, and/or cure, mental illness in loved ones - you should check it out, it's really something.

I don't know where the line is between being a teenager and real mental illness, but I do know they are over it. I do a lot of taking people out one at a time (usually at least one per day) and a lot of going behind a closed door with one person at a time, to talk (again, usually at least one per day). I push thoughts of dishes, free time, and homework from my mind to linger in cuddle piles. I spend my ten minute walk between classes glued to my phone trying to connect.

Sometimes I get sick with worry and preoccupation. Other times I'm just tense from my efforts to be endlessly available and always ready to listen warmly. Overall I know they're ok, but I still find myself begging for a hard pressure massage, listening to sad music as I drive home through the dark just to cry and get some of this out, just... ugh.

Jake and Elise have been watching Stranger Things with Grant and me. They're SO INTO IT, even though we have to pause the show every half second to explain things - Elise wants to know what is a morgue, and a coroner, and a state cop, and CB ham radio, and we end up having these wildly long talks about how most people are NOT just a "good guy" or a "bad guy," or going back over a scene to make it more clear what the heck is happening, plot-wise. They're really poised to enjoy it though, being 9 and 10. It is definitely the most intense/mature thing they've really watched, so far.

Aaron is 5'10" - ISAAC is 5'2"! Jake is 5'1". So big, the lot of them. Ananda is stuck forever at 5'3", where she's been since she was 11 (she's 16 now).

Everyone is healthy and beautiful. We do a lot of laughing, and music up dance parties, and play WAY THE FUCK TOO MUCH UNO.

I'm (still) using a rescue inhaler so often that I'm afraid I need a maintenance inhaler, and I'm not pleased about it but not sure what to do otherwise, so.... also chewing the everliving fuck out of my fingers, partially out of albuterol jitteriness.

Grant has been on a big calzone and stromboli kick lately (I'm telling you, they are the SAME THING). Shaun and Cristy have come over a lot of weekends, to eat here.

Say hey and by the way, this is a video Grant voiced, Cristy drew, and Shaun animated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FG4-9Tv3q8




Grant and I went to a backyard potluck of a local polyamory group. It was pretty great, better than either of us anticipated - every age and ethnicity, a big turnout that is supposedly usually even bigger since the weather was meh, and an informational meeting beforehand about how it is not a sex or even a dating group, but just a way to talk and connect with like minded people. They have a lot of other events coming up. It was pretty lovely. An older Indian couple pressured us to try the coconut rice they had brought, and the owner of the home compared gardening notes with me.

I also took a bunch of tulsi seedlings to a plant and seed swap (different group, if that's not obvious), and am probably going to be teaching a little, 15-20 minute class on tulsi at an upcoming swap. I have enough seedlings started to distribute them, and can bring pitchers of iced tulsi tea to share as well. There are other people showcasing their various specialities the same day.

Back to poly, I think about it a lot, and I have a guy from another city that I talk to on FB messenger most days and on the phone once or twice a week, usually while driving. And there's another guy I've met IRL a bit, and known only-online for over a year, and interact with a lot in facebook posts, comments, and tagging. He's also long distance but with a lot more realistic prospects for hanging out again... sometime. Maybe. Mostly it's all calm. I went to an art event over the weekend for the sole purpose of flirting with somebody, but that was stupid as all I really did was sweat a lot and get pissed that the food truck generators were so loud.

I'm mostly polyamorous in that I'm very active in a couple of closed polyamory fb groups where we debate philosophical shit :p




BOOKS!

I LOVED Russell Brand's Bookie Wook - could not put it down, sent Grant and others lots of pics of excerpts, had Grant reading a section of it out at a french restaurant on Sunday. In many ways it's the male version of Michelle Tea's How To Grow Up, which I consumed on the plane to and from NY - both books are about people who grew up in some kind of pain and spent their 20s in extremely dysfunctional and often very dangerous situations, but eventually figured life out enough to move on with it. I'm reading Michelle Tea's Rent Girl now, and have her Mermaid in Chelsea ready to go when I'm done. Didn't realize Rent Girl was an illustrated book until I received it - I think I like it, but it makes it a little more awkward to read out and about at some places since it's basically a memoir of her time as a sex worker, and the illustrations reflect that.

I finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and you know I really got into it just before it ended, which was awful in that it meant I got to feel a renewed pang of "no more Harry Potter to read" about a book that didn't even hold my interest most of the time. It was great as a conversation piece but personally I didn't get into it deeply on a personal level.

Also creeping slooooowly through Barbara Moore's Tarot for Beginners, which begins with lots of delicious detail about tarot history. She details four hundred year old decks of cards individually hand painted as wedding presents with portraits of the brides and grooms in mythical situations, "dripping in gold leaf" and currently held in museums. Lots of interesting ideas about the cards evolving from game playing to fortune telling and, more recently, from fortune telling to psychology, as people are using them more and more to explore their self image, goals, fears, etc based on talking through their interpretations. Not sure if that elevates the tarot or downgrades psychology, but I have thought QUITE A LOT lately about the freedom a degree and licensure gives you to act credentialed as you do all manner of suspect things in a seemingly professional way.

I was in a crystal shop the other day that was advertising moon and aura related events hosted by someone calling themselves, "Their Name, LCSW." It leaves me torn between intrigue and side eye. Is it even ethical to advertise yourself as your credentials if they're not really coming into play in the setting you're advertising in? I don't even know where that line is - you wouldn't stand in front of a car, though, and try to convince someone they should take your advice about their alternator because you are an MD. "The Engine Doctor!" Or maybe you would.

I have to go to bed now. I feel like I'm going to fall asleep right here at the laptop, and also like I'm getting sick. Hopefully that will fade back while I'm unconscious. Luckily, Grant is a cozy and home-smelling furnace to cuddle up to.
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Actually I was with a wide array of people I love being with, but I didn't have any kids or a husband along. Just me in our smaller car, accumulating varied messes and then cleaning them out at a trash can every few hundred miles/couple of days.

I find myself at a place where I'm not sure I want to use real names to talk about people online anymore? That's weird. IS THIS THE END OF... whatever this is? Or, was.

For my own records, for the handful of people that are rooting for me or just clicking for content they've been skimming for years, for the couple of RL lurkers that read this instead of calling me on the phone - perpetuity:

I stopped in central Fl on day 1/my way up, to meet a guy I'd talked to a lot on fb (he's a friend of RL friends) and his girlfriend. They were both great - we went out for Indian food and it was a little like, "I don't actually know these people," but really not so bad, and then when we went back to their place there was a distinct, "I could easily have kept talking to them for many more hours" vibe. I really only eventually left when I did because it was so late and I had 2.5 more hours of driving to do that night.

Also - she is SO MUCH like my friend Kristin, and he is so like Grant in certain ways, and she and I have some fundamental stuff in common; it makes me feel like maybe there are just a few prototypes of people, like cats (white, black, ginger, calico, tabby, etc).

When I went to leave their place, I saw their cat on the roof of my car, but you know. Cats jump off. RIGHT? I didn't even think about it. I sat in my car for a few, programming the GPS and updating some people on times, and then I drove off. The whole way through town. ONTO THE HIGHWAY. I was driving on the highway for a few when I sat up straighter, adjusted my rearview mirror a bit, and spotted their damned cat on the trunk of my car. Casual, if slightly hunched, in that cat loaf position. I thought "if I just pull over, she'll immediately be ran over...but I can't leave her there!"

Anyway I made a big illegal u-turn when there was a huge gap in traffic to stop at the most secluded area possible, in case she bolted. But she just sat there on the trunk looking at me. So I put her in the car and texted them, "headed back to your place...you guys aren't going to believe this shit."

EXCEPT THEY TOTALLY DID. They were relieved she was ok and thankful I'd brought her back, but also like, "Oh yeah she does this, that's why she has a GPS collar. You've got to shove her off the roof of your car."

On my way to Tallahassee, I texted Grant and Co pics of the cat screaming at me in the car (because apparently she's just like other cats in not being into regular, inside-vehicle travel) and told them the story over speakerphone. They were dying of laughter.
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Sooooo I stayed up a bit with Jess and Cale when I finally got to Tallahassee, but mostly was exhausted and on day 1 (uterus trying to kill me) of my period.

Bedtime was the beginning of me trying to reconcile my normal Princess and the Pea ways with travelling. Gah. I LOVE Jess and Cale, and their place is mostly awesome (decor, space, cats, food, etc), buuuuut they don't have allergies or asthma of any kind to contend with. I myself am a slob, but an allergic slob, so there are certain things that have to be in place - like no wall to wall carpet, seriously high tech vacuum, periodic intentional dusting, etc. Also they just have different cats than I'm used to? And their futon has a big bar sticking up in the middle of it. Anyway I basically tossed and turned for hours and then woke up far too early with my eyes crusted over, coughing and sneezing, each morning. By day 4 I was dizzy and light headed and tight in the chest, and had to do a lot of phone tag with pharmacies and Teledoc to eventually get an inhaler before I passed out in the middle of CVS. I've been on a steady cocktail of claritin and/or benadryl with albuterol, ever since.

I could spend the rest of my life talking to Jess, though. Two different days, we went out to coffee shops and just talked for hours while I methodically shredded my styrofoam cup. One day Cale came too, and I got a bunch of nonsense out of my purse (mushroom playing cards, tarot cards, various seashells) so everyone could fidget with things and look through stuff while we talked.

Sidenote: It's so epic that Cale is someone I get along so well with, and could easily be good friends with in his own right. It would be so different to continue on with her and our 20 year friendship, with someone I felt awkward around inserted into our visits. Even when Jess was in the hospital and rehab last year, after surgical complications, it was easy to talk to and stay with Cale just the two of us. It makes me really happy for her, that he is as good as he is.

One day the 3 of us went on an hour+ drive to Withlacoochie (really) Florida, to swim in a cold spring. We stopped in the last available store, on the way, to get some food to take - the place seriously had gallon sized cans of boiled peanuts with faded labels and rusty tops. The vending machine outside only sold Faygo (.35 cents - quarters only!). The friendly cashier had a southern accent and just a couple of teeth. It was the pinnacle of "I hear banjos, paddle faster!" and one of many times I felt like I was in not just a different city, but a different country. I feel so distinctly Cuban once I'm outside of Miami-Dade County (where I feel white).

The Springs were AMAZING. Beyond amazing. One of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and something about the cold shock of water and the physical exertion was the perfect antidote to all the driving I'd been doing, and the lack of physical affection I'd started to feel like I might shrivel up and die from.

Really - I am suddenly quantifying how touchy each of my kids are and wondering wth I'm going to DO, when they're all grown up.

The Springs were even better because we got there when it was storming, and walked through the woods in the rain, and after we waited out the park ranger's orders not to get in due to lightning, we had the place to ourselves for a bit since the park had mostly cleared out.

Eventually it was time to I-10 it over to Jacksonville for the second half of this trip. Which sounded a lot like this:



Jean-Paul is doing great on all fronts, really having a kind of all-around upswing in love, career, mental health, errythang, so that's obviously cool. He's also the best kind of host, from not caring when or how I come and go and giving me my own key, to washing my allergen-coated bedding, and frequently having cookies or (gluten free even) brownies there when I'd get back. He's a host with lots of fluffy towels, and great conversation at the end of every day.

If anyone who reads this doesn't already know, he's both my 6th grade boyfriend/long time long distance friend, and Grant's cousin. So I get to do fun stuff like list our relationship as exes and relatives, on facebook :p

He's also an IT guy, like Grant, so the guest bed was just like my own in that it was near a computer used for working from home on double monitors.

Him: I can't believe you slept through that conference call.
Me: You have no idea.

Jacksonville is a sprawling place that's woven it's way through various parts of my life. I lived in a huge, dilapidated, old house in "historic" San Marco when I was 10-11, until we were evicted. Then I lived in a tiny, dilapidated, old trailer in Sin City, until we were evicted, and then turned 12 living in a roadside motel on Phillips Highway. There was a westside trailer's spare room and a beach apartment's couch in there, somewhere. When I was 19 or 20, Bobby and I moved up there with baby Annie and newborn Aaron and lived for a few difficult months with my mom in Mayport, before getting a nice house in Mandarin that was working out well, aside from the whole "second trimester miscarriage/fetus buried in the backyard" ordeal, until that whole relationship blew up.

The point is that Jacksonville in it's entirety is like a mesh patchwork of different kinds of mixed nostalgia. I generally avoid chasing ghosts when I'm there, but I decided for some reason to go find the two story house (from when I was 10-11). The path Laura and I used to walk to our bus stop is blocked now, so you have to go a few blocks out of your way to continue down the street the house is on. It looks the same, when you get there. Who cares, right? Except apparently I do, because I went and wrote a freakin' 4+ page long poem about this fucking house.

On that note - I used to say I felt six deep down inside, and weird little anecdotes about things that happened when I was 6 would come out in my (fictional) writing. My most private inner self, was the me that laid awake night after night in bed with Laura sleeping nearby, eavesdropping and making up stories about fairies.

At some point that changed, though, and for the past few years if I were to be so silly as to talk about my "inner child," I'd have listed her as being 9. The me that lived in LuMar apartments and read Stephen King books I didn't quite understand all of, and had a baby brother, and a big imaginary world behind a closed bedroom door. "Recently molested, still happiest at Nana and Pa's house" Tina has been who I am under the exterior.

Well, during this trip I realized that's not really the case anymore. My deep down, vulnerable, kid self has somehow evolved into the 11 year old hiding behind a building when the school bus came, and then spending the day sticking my feet in a fountain and stealing books from the library. Down a few layers I'm now that me, simultaneously venturing out into the world and also extremely isolated. Menstruating and starting to think obsessively about sex, and crushed that my sister is moving away.

I don't expect this to exactly make sense. I realize it sounds pretty kooky. But I think it's interesting, anyway, that it isn't (as I once thought, in my mid-twenties) that a part of me is just gonna be 6 forever. Apparently that formative, private, underneath part of me is growing older, too, albeit much slower than the rest of me and for reasons I don't fully (consciously?) understand.

After I spent the whole afternoon in a coffee shop full of man buns, writing and editing this poem and talking to a woman nearby about Pokemon, and feeling sick, I went out to dinner with Kristin! And heard all about her recent adventures in Micronesia, and laughed about god knows what. Definitely the best part of the day. We took a horrible selfie that screams her jet lag and my allergy and asthma troubles.

The next day, I drove back down to central Florida to hang out with the new guy again. Girlfriend was at work. We went and swam in one of his friend's pool, and ate mangoes and played music, for hours, and told each other a bunch of shit about our lives. Then when she was off work, we met his girlfriend for Korean barbecue, the highlight of which is that he apparently walked in and claimed someone else's reservation. He said this was a panic reaction, and it caused a lot of laughter when the waiter approached us with the party whose reservation it actually was. Seems relevant that our group and theirs were literally the only people in the place, so it's not like anyone was getting turned away.

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I spent a whole day with Kristin, her sister (who I've met several times), her mom (who I've hung out with lots), and her kids (who my own consider family). I adore all of them, individually and as a group. Sent plenty of pics back to my house. We walked up to a brunch place and then hung around sister's apartment until she had to go to work. Then Kristin and I drove down to St Augustine, where her fiance/love of her life was finishing up with his conference for the day and becoming available.

Man oh man. One, much as I love them all, just her (or her and her guy) is better. Two, we went to the most off the hook AMAZING restaurant (The Black Fly, on Anastasia Island). The three of us split three dinners and three desserts. Luscious crab cakes. Blissful scallops. Mushroom medley in puff pastry. Chocolate mousse cake with hazelnuts, coconut lime creme brulee, and bourbon pecan ice cream. Every single bite was moaning and heaven. They're grossly in love and infectious in their happiness. And, since he hasn't heard them all before, we get to tell him all of our old stories :D

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We went back to their hotel and swam in their warm, salty pool, which was hilariously close to frequently passing freight trains. Lots of laughing, and everyone finding my hairs wrapped around them (which was an ongoing theme of the whole trip... it's almost as though I was on a mission to clog every shower in Florida). She's a bug scientist and he studies mangrove conditions around the world, so nothing I have to say about plants will ever seem inconsequential to either of them. Yet we can also be aghast together about tumblr porn that involves eyeballs being pushed out of assholes. THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE, I TELL YOU.

I went back through central Florida on the way home, specifically stopping in to spend an hour with this guy I only met this trip. It was an interesting conversation on a couch, and then I gave him a ride to work. He (like Cale, and Jean-Paul, and practically every other man I ever talk to apparently?) is an IT guy, and was tense about a problem he was having trouble solving at this new job. I was like, well, you sound like Charlie Brown's parents to me, buuuuut I'm willing to bet I know someone who can help with that issue. So Grant and him skyped through it.

IT guys are interesting, and a bunch of the ones I know don't really identify as IT guys. Cale was going to be an attorney and this is just a way to pay the bills, Grant would rather see himself as a photographer or dad, this other guy would rather be around kids and has worked with kids at times. Jean-Paul is adamant that work doesn't define people and anti-capitalism in general. Like even when they make a ton of money (which is frequently the case) and enjoy their jobs, there's still this vague unease at being seen AS that job, which I suspect is partially because none of them seem to consciously choose it. It's a whole generational phenomenon where smart underachievers stayed up on computers instead of doing their homework, and missed a lot of high school/dropped out entirely, and then that somehow turned out to give them a super profitable skill set.

Back to my timeline here, my last stop was to see Samara, Bobby's wife (who I think is the bee's knees), about my allergies and general malaise. She sells and markets and graphic designs for some pretty natural and well planned out supplements, and I have been dead against hearing about them (or any other direct sales) before. But I basically walked in and said, "Clearly I need help. I am now ready to receive your wisdom." She's got grace for days so this was actually not awkward, and involved laughter and hugs as I told her about the Herbal Conference I went to in February, and how I stopped eating grains for months but just cheated a ton while travelling, and don't know if I can cut sugar at all, and so on... she's the most calming presence. I don't even know how to describe her energy.

I even had a long, civil conversation with Bobby before I finally headed out towards home o_O


So here I am. It's been a restorative sort of weekend featuring lots and lots of sleeping in my LUSCIOUS KING SIZED BED, lots of showing my kids pictures, and cuddle piles, and just a few occasions of venturing out with a couple of them at a time. Aaron, Jake, Elise and I went to a cafe and down to the ocean to look at jellyfish, yesterday. Later I'm probably taking some people to see The Secret Life of Pets. I arrived home broken out, with canker sores in my mouth, tired like I haven't been since I had babies and still reliant on a couple of meds - so while I really did have a great time, it was good to get back to my nest. Definitely gonna be brainstorming ways to make future travel less physically stressful. When I went to Lakeland a few weeks back to visit my grandparents and other family, it was sort of perfect because I stayed at my friend Cindi's place (which is far cleaner than my own, and pet free) where I had my own room with a good bed, and limitless access to a bathroom nobody else was waiting on. Obviously it's not reasonable to expect everyone I know to be able to provide that kind of guest space :p I wonder how much of my trouble was about NOT bringing all my normal supplements with me (because they're for the whole family, some require refrigeration, etc). I usually take a LOT of shit every day, and strongly suspect I'm counteracting some malabsorption issues that way. I'm also kinda flabbergasted by how cavalier other people my age act about chronic extreme sleep deprivation? Jean-Paul acts like that's just "being an adult," and even Jess and Cale "can't sleep past 9am" (even if we're staying up talking til 3-4am?!). Kristin is basically ideologically opposed to naps. I'm just like, guys. GUYS! SLEEP IS A WELLSPRING OF GOODNESS AND LIGHT!




I also got back to the news that I'm getting a $5,000 grant I hadn't counted on, for this first upcoming year of grad school! I have a mandatory orientation for that next month, and I'm getting pumped about the whole situation. I met with my advisor and got my schedule sorted out a few weeks ago. Also exciting that the average age of FIU grad students is 31, so hopefully I can actually make some friends other than the teachers.

Not ready to let go of summer yet, though... bookstores are throwing Harry Potter parties; Grant, me, and Ananda are going to NYC next month. And, Kristin is coming here for a couple of days. I am failing abysmally at prioritizing book writing. Today I had to make a million appointments, take Isaac to counseling, drive Elise to and from camp, wash a mountain of dishes, cook us all dinner, and more. It took me 3 days to write this entry! This weekend seemed promising, but someone wants to come over, and I've been asked if I can cover some hours at the crisis call center.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Last night I took a lot of care to make Grant a food/drink bag to take to work. Note: this is not a standard thing, as 1.) he works from home 3/5 days each week, 2.) he likes to go out to lunch, and 3.) he does half the shopping and cooking and would be as likely as me to pack stuff if he wanted stuff packed. But he wanted some leftovers and went to bed too tired to put it together. He's gone ALL DAY when he goes in, since the commute is so intense.

Anyway, I was smiling as I packaged him up a container of chili with a tiny tupperware of shredded cheddar, a ziploc of crackers, and a tiny tupperware of cream cheese to go on them, since this is how we garnish chili around here. Then a container of kale and bean soup, with an extra side tiny tupperware of parmesan cheese. Spoon, butter knife. Found and filled up his water bottle and put it all in the bag in the fridge.

It was very satisfying this morning when he texted that he'd been forced to smile against his will at an ungodly morning hour when he saw it all, and accused me of grin-rape <3




I started seeing a new doctor today, because the levels of disorganization at my old doctor reached new heights. They don't answer the phone or return calls (ever - I always end up just driving over after several days' efforts to reach them), they don't even return faxes from the pharmacy when I need a refill on my B-12 vials. They don't draw blood in the office and TWICE now they've told me they sent in an order for me to have blood drawn and then when I get to the lab, sign in and wait to be called, I find out they actually forgot to send the order. So I just have to leave. Worst of all, especially with reference to all these other things I'm describing, they are only open for a few hours 3 times a week since their old office had a fire a year ago. They've been sharing space with another office ever since and I was trying to hang in there for them, but man. It's a shit show. Totally representative of the whole place that the empty water cooler has had a paper sign taped on for months that says, "Please buy water!"

Anyway, this new place is (of course) half an hour up the road, but anytime I leave town for any kind of medical care, it's a revelation and I'm glad I did. When I got to this new place today, they had a personalized stack of forms waiting for me that had been printed already including all the info I gave them over the phone when I made the appointment. Can you imagine? They also drew blood right there in the office, which was generally much nicer, more spacious, and full of friendly people acting like I was a human being.

I really don't love giving new people my medical history because the shock value is too high and they always go on and on about it. However, the doctor today was a former OR nurse and actually cried and apologized on behalf of the medical establishment, for my retained surgical instrument. Simultaneously kinda ridiculous and kinda amazing.

It's good that things can be efficient. I was really clinging to the old doc being half a mile from my house (we have to get on the highway for SO MANY THINGS already) but it's clear this will actually save me time and energy, backwards as that might be.

Tangent: It was getting seriously old with the other doctor, feeling I was hassling them and getting so many suspicious looks and questions from the office staff every time I was "back about the shots again." Seriously, who the fuck has a B-12 problem? It's not exactly a controlled substance. Over and over the secretaries acted like I wanted it for weight loss, asked if it was helping me lose weight, etc, and over and over I had to explain that I have a diagnosed malabsorption condition and need it for basic functioning/survival. UGH.

Sometimes it's still wild to me that I have this chronic condition and need these shots forever, and yet I could easily just stop going to get them. Nobody's gonna make me - nobody official is keeping track of whether I do or don't. Quite the opposite; I often have to fight through red tape for them. The gastroenterologist who diagnosed me acts outraged every time I express any of this to him and offers to fax my lab results to more places, but it's not like he does continuing/follow-up care himself.
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feel free to click here for a weeks old entry I forgot aboutCollapse )

(and/)Or, find out how not long after that entry I felt pretty triggered (haha, how ironic).
That led to some serious two steps forward, one step back personal struggles (challenges? INSURMOUNTABLE BARRIERS I'VE SINCE BEEN CHINKING AWAY AT ONE CRUMB AT A TIME?!) with polyamory, as polyamory in general - even in it's infancy - has a way of highlighting every single thing you didn't know you were avoiding dealing with at once. I'm very fortunate to be so deep in a bond that allows for sharing everything patiently, even when that involves stop and starts, and backtracking... Even if we never acted on any of this we know each other so much better, now, and I feel so much closer to him. Paradoxical, I guess, but getting to the "why" underneath every scared and sad feeling is something that's taking us places we might never have gone otherwise. I feel like I'm going to understand life differently and have a different attitude as I get older, because I'm tackling this deep shit inside of me that I've never looked straight at or felt so directly and consciously, before...
I am also pleased to report I can once again take an IQ test without any sense of personal tragedy.

Here are some pics of me and Elise around our neighborhood one weeknight, and some others from a tour G and I took of R.F. Orchids last weekend.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

TL;DR - I am on a general broad upswing that involves some hard times and is not a simple curve. I travel this path with a bunch of other people who are also all on varying and irregular (usually) upward slopes. I feel good about life, and also get tired.

I will probably make a way shorter update soon, about apps I'm using and things I've recently cooked. Take heart, if this is just too damned long and convoluted and TMI.
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