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A challenging few weeks

22 Sep

11:10 am

I just wanted to check in to say, hi, howdy, hope all is well with everyone!

In brief, I have been suffering…from pain, like, full body pain. I’ve gone from being an athlete who stands at her desk most of the day, walks the dog (well, with no more dog, I walk myself), AND goes for a jog or swim/soak every day. SURE, that’s a lot, and I do have probably above-average aches and pains. BUT, since last week, the symptoms of achey joints and malaise that I wrote about all the way back in late July–and have only kept getting worse since then–took a turn for the much worse!

Last Tuesday was the last day I could jog–or walk–without pain. I also had some weird neurological stuff going on Friday through Sunday, but thankfully, that’s gone. (I had headache; cognitive difficulties; changes to vision, hearing; anxiety–um, happily, living through many years of active alcoholism and ridiculous hangovers prepped me well to endure feeling like I was losing my mind for a few days!) It is scary and it sucks! I have been trying to not take anything (no pain meds, no CBD) and see how I feel, but every day, I wake up feeling a burning ache in my entire leg muscles, lower back, and joint pain pretty much everywhere.

I thought it was that my old chikungunya infection (from 2014; it comes back now and then, with mild symptoms) had resurfaced, but, that usually doesn’t last for more than a few days; and, this leg muscle pain is definitely not how that feels. I have a hunch/obsession that this is all due to the estrogen patch–strangely, the same week I put my first patch on is the week that these pains started. But, I don’t know. I mean, how can one know? Maybe THIS is menopause and I need more estrogen (higher patch dose). Maybe this is the patch side effects–and I just need to give it more time? I’ve been on it for about 10 weeks, and the pain has just increasingly gotten worse. I don’t know.

I am starting what I would call my “diagnostic odyssey” on Wednesday by going to see a general doctor to rule out some of the obvious–Covid, Lyme’s, maybe some common sources of bacterial or viral arthritis, possibly some common autoimmune diseases, like, RA and lupus. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? I am SO new to this menopause and hormone replacement stuff that any ideas would be welcome. All I know is, this cannot be my life for the next 40 or (hopefully) 50 years.

Otherwise, things are going pretty well! I’ve been working steadily since the start of this month, and while I haven’t gotten paid yet (gotta love contracting and/or freelancing!), it’s coming. As for the Covid, we’ve re-opened a little bit here, with restos at limited capacity, some establishments open; bars are still closed, and there might be a universal mask order put in place soon (meaning, masks all the time, everywhere). I have been too busy and in too much pain to really do much in the outside world the past week, but, that’s what I’ve heard/read is going on.

I hope everyone is doing well. I have to say, after joining a few menopause Facebook groups, you guys a refreshingly SANE bunch–so, thank you for being part of my world!

Exhale, and believe

7 Sep

3:01 pm

That’s my mantra these days. Exhale, and believe.

Exhale, sure. Calm down. But, believe? In what? Well, that things will change. That, um, I will change. That I will have the courage to just let things be if they’re not working for me anymore. That I will have the courage to just let my thoughts go if they’re causing me more harm than good.

This past week turned out better that I imagined it would, considering that I landed two contract jobs, which means I’ll have at least part-time work through the end of the year. (My “dream job” got back to me, too, requesting an interview, but…I am not sure what’s going to transpire with that, so, I’m just waiting and seeing.) All the work I am doing now came from networking with my existing contacts, not cold calls, as it were. So, that’s a big lesson right there, which is, eff Indeed! (haha)

I am slowly getting over putting our sweet girl down coming up on a month this Wednesday. We’ve thought about fostering a dog (or two) since we’ve now got the time *and* have to be in the same place (now that I am working again, I need to be settled; plus, the only place we would want to travel would be the West, in an RV, and um, it’s kind of literally Hell there right now). It’d be a shame, in my opinion, to not give love when you are able to give love; there are plenty of dogs in need at the local shelter–just like our girl and our boy needed our love, those many years ago. We’ll see…

I’ve sort of been on autopilot the past few weeks, sometimes wanting to give up this blog, sometimes wanting to write more on it; just plugging, getting back into work mode (man, my brain is slow after five months on furlough–haha). It’s been great, though, to redirect my attention to something else, anything else, but trying to work on my book (hashtag fail) and staring at my belly button.

I don’t know if my new hormone therapy is working or not, really; there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to “what is supposed to happen in menopause” and I am not sure if I can expect 100% “back to normal.” However, I know what I want, and I don’t feel what I want yet. Unfortunately, even though I’ve been going through this crap for three years, I probably won’t see the light at the end of the very hot tunnel until the end of this year, considering how long you have to take your regimen to see if it’s working (three months) before you can request a change or upgrade (if that’s even possible, I don’t know). The wait is not as much of a problem as the fact that this has been going on for three years, and it has been really trying, and I just want to feel like myself again. The uncertainty factor has been the most irritating part of this process–you just don’t know how you’re going to feel or when it’s going to feel better.

Today marks three years plus one day that Hurricane Irma hit. Our lives were forever changed. A part of me really misses that time; amidst the chaos there was excitement, and promise–of something new. We lived that “new” and are now back to where we started. Except, there’s a pandemic now and no one can do anything–which, actually, kind of sucks more than the aftermath of a hurricane, mostly because, the aftermath and rebuilding had/has a finite end! Anyway, I wonder, what’s next? What’s going to be new? I am so jones’ing for something new again, aren’t you?

So, I come back to my mantra: exhale–what will be, will be; let the planning go for now–and believe–things will change, they will not be this way forever. Exhale, and believe.

Another day…

11 Aug

11:53 am

…and, I am simply grateful!

Our beloved doggay has lived to see another day–in fact, she’s sleeping peacefully (?) in “her spot” in front of the door, and has only been between there and one of her beds since 3 am (when I finally stopped eating mac and cheese, used my slow-breathing technique–in for 5 seconds, hold for 10, out for 5–to cool down, and went back to bed to fall asleep). She actually stayed down for four hours, according to my boo, who got up at 7 to let her out.

(Btw, the bonus of being up at 3 in the morning is that I get to see Venus rise. If you haven’t seen Venus right now, rising above the northeastern horizon in the pre-dawn hour, you are in for a treat: it is shockingly bright, beaming from the sky like another moon, and huge. It’s a HUGE spot in the sky. I saw a shooting star–the Perseid meteor shower is going down right now–and noticed how high Mars was in the sky compared to the moon, rising later and later every night. Finally, I was also able to watch my girl doze, her head slightly illuminated in the waning moonlight, thinking, gosh, she is sweet. Fierce. And still here.)

Granted, all this sleeping on her part has been made possible ONLY by the trazadone we dosed her with around 9 pm last night. I have to accept the fact that she will likely exist in what I believe to be a drug induced-haze from here on out (maybe erroneously; I just hate having to med her up so much), but, it’s SO much better to sleep from 3 to 9 than to have her waking me up every hour on the hour, yelping for help to get up to switch beds.

So, she lives to see another day. And, I am grateful.

On another note, as I am inundated again with daily COVID news, I have to wonder: Have my aching, burning joints and body parts (entire feet, not just ankles) and frequent headaches been caused by COVID? Like, is this my experience with it? I am not going to get any tests (I don’t see the point in either an antibody or virus test, right now), so I guess I shouldn’t bother myself wondering, but… It’s been weeks, actually, since I’ve had joint pain, and I’ve had these headaches (usually in the mornings, but not always) on a somewhat regular basis. I never get headaches, so, they make me go, hmm/wtf, ouch, this hurts!

I don’t know. The symptoms seem so varied now, considering the descriptions of more and more COVID survivors; I guess I’ll just assume that my chikungunya (the mosquito-borne viral infection I got six summers ago) has resurged because my immunity was affected by lack of sleep, or stress, or heartache (my doggie!); and, hope that I am not infected with the coronavirus.

A prisoner in her body

10 Aug

2:59 pm

I wrote this yesterday, but, last night was the same and this morning, it’s been the same, so, it still applies. I guess the only difference is that, while our dog is still alive, she’s struggling hard–and, I realize that we’ll probably have to put her to sleep within the next few days.

From yesterday:

Well, that wasn’t a fun night. I went to bed around the usual time, 2:30 am, and was woken at 3, then at 4:30, then probably around dawn, then finally at 9–by our dog, trying to get comfortable in a body that has seemingly become a prison overnight. I mean, over the past few days, she’s gotten much worse: she can’t get up, she can’t walk, she can’t get comfy in any position (as in, no position seems to take her pain away). Granted, we just started her on two more meds, both antibiotics, and I sort of want to “blame” those for messing her up, but…I haven’t found anything linking lameness and back legs crossing and giving out to a sulfa drug and doxycycline!

It just sucks. We had our neighbor over–she’s like family, and silly as it sounds, if our dogs were our kids, then she would have been our dogs’ aunt–and, as a longtime owner of many different dogs and other animals, she was urging us to just get it done. Take her in, she’s suffering.

It sucks.

What’s more? Not that it bothers me, but it sort of makes me chuckle, ironically (we’ve spent so much on this dog over the years, from endless pain meds to laser therapy!): it’s going to cost us about $700 to euthanize her and then, have a private cremation here. Everything is more expensive on an island, I suppose.

Writing about it, talking about it–I guess it makes it more real.

I was thinking, would I get more dogs after this? I moved here about eight years ago, and our two dogs were such a huge part of our early life together, as a couple; of my own early island life; of my sobriety. The one died a painful (horrific, actually) death from lymphoma over two years ago, and this one has been a bit lame all her life (she has had hip dysplasia since she was young, as long as I’ve known her), but has been getting progressively worse for the past 1.5 years.

Anyway, these dogs were the loves of my life. I’m not sure there are any other dogs out there that I could love as much, that would compare to these dogs. We gave them everything, and they gave us their all. What more could you ask for? Is the pain of their long, horrible deaths worth the joy that we exchanged over the years, the nonstop love? Probably. Doesn’t feel like it right now. Would I be able to love other dogs the way I loved these two? And, would I even want to try? I guess we’ll have to get through this and see…

I wonder, do others consider their dogs more like humans? This is my third dog, and each one suffered a drawn-out, painful end; I mean, maybe the end is always painful, no matter what species, if you’re experiencing old age or an age-related disease.

I don’t even know if words will cut it, but I will miss my best girl, my fiercest friend; a found (discarded) object, beyond precious.

On that note, yeah, not a great morning, but, it’s still sunny and I should get outside to absorb some of the light. Good news is that my hormones are settling down (going away, drop by drop–haha), so the night heat and insomnia have improved (not the heart palpitations, though). Bad news is that our area has seen a significant increase in positive COVID cases, so we’re probably going to see some sort of enhanced lockdown again soon. Fingers crossed a few job leads pan out and/or I can keep collecting a bit of unemployment–this week is going to be a wash if we have to put our dog down. I’ll need at least a day or two to zone out and collect what’s left of my shattered heart.

Through all of this, the great news is that I haven’t even thought about drinking. I haven’t once even considered it. I made a cake last night, kind of in preparation for filling myself up with, well, something, when she’s gone; but, eh, my binge eating days are long gone, and I most likely won’t feel like eating at all when we finally do make the call to our vet.

More soon. Thanks for listening, friends.

Staying healthy in the time of COVID

29 Jul

1:09 pm

Do I have COVID? Did I have it? What if I tested negative–can I still have had it? How will I even know that what I have is/was COVID and not something else? What if I get all the scary long-term symptoms?

I think we’re ALL fixating on these questions now, as we zero in on every little ache, pain, cough, or twinge. I know I have been sort of hilariously worried, so to speak, whenever anything feels off: a whisper of a cough one morning, and, I’ve got The Corona! A slight pressure behind my eyes, a passing shower, really, of a headache, and, OMG, I’ve got The COVID!

While I don’t think I’ve had coronavirus (yet!), lately, I have felt unwell–and that’s making me go, hmm. I have been feeling achey, feverish, fatigued. I mentioned in my last post that I think my chikungunya virus infection is back, and I’m still sort of convinced that this is the case. Chik-v, as I like to call it, is a mosquito-borne illness, similar to Dengue fever and malaria in the way it’s transmitted (through mosquitoes) and in some of the symptoms. For some people, it can go dormant after the initial infection and clearance, and then keep coming and going. I got it in 2014, and I’ve had it come and go once in a while; I haven’t had it for a long time, though, and I haven’t had it come back this bad.

When I got it, I had severe pain in joints that were already lame or weakened. For instance, my left knee cap has been straying off course for years, and it usually hurts when I jog or walk down hills. When I got chik-v, it was like, the virus made a beeline for this joint and moved in; it really hurt, moreso than other body parts or joints.

When the chik-v flares, I feel achey and a burning sensation in some joints, feverish, and just kind of blah. The aches I have today are quite reminiscent of when I was first infected, so I’m pretty sure it’s that. The feverishness? Well, hi, menopause. Who knows–I am hot like, 99% of the day and night now, so…LOL, I have stopped wondering if a fever means anything anymore. (Sometimes, I am worried that when they temp-check you, like at a local grocery store here, before you walk inside, they’re going to find that I have a fever and be like, you can’t come in, you have corona…and I’ll have to say, nope, just menopause.)

Not to go on and on about this, but I think it might be worth sharing. Past few years of bloodwork, my white blood cell count has come back high. Nothing to worry about, and the doc didn’t really say much about it. But, I have been wondering why. Is is the latent chik-v, resting in my cells, that’s causing my body to be on immune alert, so to speak? I often wonder, am I working out too hard? That’s really the only other thing that seems plausible to me since, sometimes, after a hard workout in the sun, climbing hills, probably in 95-degree heat and 80-percent humidity (I don’t even want to know what the “feels like” temperature is)–I feel under the weather.

I have the feeling it’s chik-v, and it’s been riled up because I’ve been taxing myself too much working out. Yet…I can’t help but wonder, could I have another infection, and if so, could it be corona?

I’ve been staying relatively well, otherwise, during this pandemic. I am not prone to the anxiety, I guess, that others (my mom) are feeling, in terms of not being able to socialize. It’s true that I do have a significant other, and I am grateful and fortunate to have that–others, like my mom, don’t. I don’t need a lot of friends, I guess, to be happy and feel safe; I need to socialize from time to time, but a lot of the deep thinking and emotional work, well, (in getting sober) I learned to keep to myself. When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I needed WAY more close friendships; I depended on my “tribe” for survival. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped needing–or wanting–to be that open and vulnerable about my inner world. In this pandemic time, it’s probably helped that I’ve sort of always been able to be happy and imaginative in a bubble of only a few close people and pets.

For some reason, I haven’t wanted to cook more, or experiment more with random ingredients. I don’t know if I’m bored or lazy in the kitchen these days, but I would love to do more cooking (of things I’ve never made). I have truly sucked at reading more books–I am literally hanging my head in shame that I haven’t finished one book (yet!). Um, speaking of book–haha; I have a book idea (a few), and it’s in project stage, and said project is on my to-do list EVERY day, and EVERY day, I find something else to do instead of that! Haha. I’ll get there.

My workouts are strong, my job search has been going well–I made it through my video interview on Monday, now it’s a matter of waiting. There are good things, too, and we have to congratulate ourselves on doing the good things, on simply staying sane.

We are expecting our first storm of the season down here–it’s the ninth storm to form, the first to touch down, this year. I cannot believe how EARLY we’re getting our first tropical storm this year. By comparison, in 2017, when we were struck by TWO category-5 hurricanes within two weeks’ time (cat-5 is as high as it goes, so, a very bad season), Hurricane Irma was the ninth storm that year–that was in early September; we aren’t even out of July yet!

Anyway, the water is churning, the wind is rumbling the hurricane shutters, and we’re getting ready to just close up and sit tight for the next day, if not several days. Stay well, everyone, and I’ll see you soon.

Days go by

25 Jul

5:05 pm

Days go by, and I keep plugging away.

There’s my job search, which is going well. I’ve got a great lead on a great company/gig, and I have what I believe might be my final round of interviews on Monday. I am trying to not overthink it, as in, wonder all sorts of things about the industry, full-time vs. freelance, my own emotional and/or mental investment… However, here and now, in the midst of a pandemic where over half of my own organization was furloughed; where jobs in THAT space are few and far between; where a TON of people are without work and I should be thrilled that this job even exists, let alone that I have the potential opportunity to be offered said job–I am trying to not overthink it, keep an open mind, and focus on the task at hand.

Which is definitely being helped by me being off Facebook! I actually went on last night–and, of course, I got sucked in for a whole hour, from 2 to 3 am! The good news is, I didn’t really obsess about anything or anyone’s posts; I didn’t let much affect me–that felt good; it felt good because I was able to check my groups (which I miss), read a few people’s updates (I miss keeping up with some friends’ lives, more regularly that I would in person), and then…log off. I will probably continue to go on periodically, but I don’t have a desire to get hooked in on a daily basis.

Speaking of my 3 am bed time, um…yeah. I am trying, but it’s hard for me to get to sleep before 3–especially when I don’t have to go to work the next day. I mean, I have always been a night owl, but I actually want to see if I am waking up after three hours (so, 6 am) every night because I went to bed too late and it’s sunny as shit by then or because, well, menopause.

I started on the estrogen patch this week, so, I’ve been off the birth control pill for two weeks. I have to admit, I think I’m actually having daytime hot flashes/flushes now, and I never had those before on the pill. Hmm…maybe it’ll just take a while for the patch to start working? Or, maybe I’m just hot (it is really hot here right now; 90 degrees in the shade, lawd knows how humid)? Maybe I need a higher dose? Who knows? (I’ve stopped trying to figure it out…because, well, menopause! WHO KNOWS what’s going on? I don’t, and I majored in physiology!?)

Maybe I’m hot because I am taking care of our dog all day long? It’s like a crossfit workout, taking care of her! My girl hasn’t been able to walk for oh, three days now. Her hind legs are just so tired–atrophied , crossing each other (it’s like, her left hind has lost all tension). She’s struggling. We spend a lot of time helping her get up, walk across the room and outside, go for walks on the harness. I say, it’s a crossfit workout, taking care of her, what with the bending and kneeling and lifting. She’s been pooping on her bed for months now, but recently started losing control of her bladder, SO…lots of wiping and washing and drying, spraying and folding and moving and tucking in… I love her, but we’re all getting tired.

I was thinking of how much of a higher power she was to me when I was getting sober. I’ve written about it on my blog before, how she and our other dog (RIP, sweet boy) were my higher powers. He taught a newly sober me how to love others; she taught me how to love myself. That’s all I can say. They were such a huge part of my early years here, on island; such a huge part of my sobriety–I know, I know, they’re “just dogs,” but, to me, for me, they were so much more than that; they helped me more than most humans could have helped me. I just can’t imagine life without her, her not having life–it’s too hard to contemplate. She wants to live, and until she lets me know otherwise…?

What else? I swear, my chikungunya is back. It usually resurfaces to a degree when either I am infected with another virus (the flu, for example) or my immunity is low (when I work out too hard, for instance). Past few days, I’ve felt achey all over, especially in my ankles and wrists and fingers, and like, have had this familiar internal burning feeling in these areas; just blah–“chikungunya-y.” I hate to say it, but, maybe I’ve contracted the COVID? Hopefully not. I’ve been reading about the chronic nature of COVID for some patients, and it reminds me of the way chikungunya virus can hide out for a long time in some people (apparently, me; I got it in 2014, and I still have symptoms once in a while). Yipes. No, thanks!

On that note, I’ll sign off.

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down/into the blue again, after the money’s gone/once in a lifetime…

Quiet mind time

19 Jul

4:34 pm

I took a few days off this blog, just to quiet my mind. It’s helped, among other things.

Lately, I’ve gotten off Facebook (mostly; I went on the other day, and I ended up “using” it in the same way I would a bottle of red wine, all at once and nothing at all); I’ve been trying to focus on the few job prospects that I have leads on (rather than continuing to troll the job boards, day in and day out); and I’ve sort of distanced myself from some other people’s drama (not to be mean, but out of needing to stay centered on maintaining my own mental health in the time of COVID).

Whew, just writing it all down makes my head spin. Over the years, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into sharing my getting-sober process–sometimes, re-reading my blog makes me go, Wow, I can’t believe how thoughtful I was back then, but at the same time go, What happened to me, I can’t even figure out what’s for dinner anymore? I’ve spent a career consuming information, wrangling my head around science writing, and in general, trying to stay on top of my own tendency to overanalyze everything, thought-wise. I am kind of burnt out on it, to be honest. I just want to take a step back sometimes and embrace what is around me–my “right now,” I guess you could call it.

What IS around me is glorious: bright pinkish-red hibiscus flowers springing randomly out of a bush just outside my window; several bunches of mangoes, hanging from a neighboring big-leafed tree. There is green all around me, actually, from the bush right outside, lining our walkway, in all shapes and sizes; to the hillsides covered in greening foliage (it’s been a long dry season; soon, the rains will really green up the bush); to the water below, which can range from bright baby-blue to green-tinged or deep blue-black.

We went on a boat trip yesterday, and it was tiring but nice; SO nice to just remove my mind, take it off its usual course, and train it on the sun and wind and water, on blue and yellow and bright-white. I sometimes think it’d be SO NICE to silence my mind forever, to stop all my thoughts before they start. Then, of course, I get to thinking, should I completely discard my thoughts? Maybe some of them are worth holding onto? Right now, I write it all down, then let most of it go; maybe one day, I’ll be able to just let it go.

Lately, I’ve been job searching; trying to read (eh); wondering if I should start freelance pitching again (eh); and, kind of spending my time just trying to set up a new normal. I had a “normal” with my old job–which allowed me little time (and so, no option!) to freelance or work on personal writing projects–but now, the slate is blank, so… It’s up to me to draw some new pictures, to create a new normal. It can feel intimidating, sure, but that’s where staring off into space once in a while helps; centering on the sound of the waves, the neighborhood dogs barking, the roosters crowing; turning it all off and heading out to the water–turning it off and realizing the power of embracing the silence, the stillness, the calm.

More like my dog

8 Jul

1:14 pm

During these dogs days of summer–I can’t believe we’re well into July; it’s been a steamy one here, too–I’ve been watching my dog a lot. And, man, I wish I could be more like my dog. She is fierce, endlessly patient with herself and her limitations; she is never mean, always loving, and keeps trying and trying, adjusting to every new normal as if it’s no big thang. If it’s sunny, she’s resting peacefully in her spot outside in front of the door; if it’s raining, she wants to be out there, too, getting wet and inhaling the breezes, more alive than ever as she stands guard against enemy dogs who might try to take advantage of the dark wet night’s cover. She never, ever complains; when she is unhappy or depressed about her condition, she gives a nod that she wants to be left alone, and then sleeps it off. Oh, boy, I wish I could be more like my best girl!

Me, on the other hand, I am not patient; I try to take my transitions in stride, but, usually, I let them get the better of me. This past week has been hard, with my hormones not quite right–major heat, constant heart palpitations, anger. The other night, my night heat got the better of me: after about 1.5 hours of sleep, I was jolted awake by some freaking intense heat, burning up head to toe. I turned the a/c down, cranked the fan up, and decreased the temperature setting on my chiliPAD (it’s been a lifesaver these past few years; Google it!). I rushed out to the kitchen, literally gave myself a bath at the kitchen sink, and overheard myself whisper-screaming, This is a living hell; this is truly a living hell. (One more week, then an off-week, and then I start the estrogen patch–we’ll see if it helps.)

My dog just rolls with it at night, which is her worst time, too (panting like crazy, hurting from the day). When I get up at night, she just looks at me like, what? I pet her, smell her ears and feel her fur, and it all just makes me feel better. She helps me get through the nights, which are “dark, and full of terrors”–she’s my best friend, mainly in that she knows more about my nights than anyone can or would want to know. And, still, she loves me!

I am trying to just embrace the days and live free. I’m still off Facebook–and it feels great. I got off in April, didn’t go back on until June, and then went on two more times last night and this morning…which was an excellent reminder that I’m so much better off without it, at least right now in my life. I can’t speak to Twitter or the ‘gram or any other social sties, as I have never been a big user of these platforms.

I do miss certain things about Facebook–I miss my “on this day” feed, which is kind of like a journal that reminds me of the cool things I’ve done on this day in years past; I miss my groups; and I miss certain people, mainly those people with whom I don’t have typical friendships (like, folks I met while volunteering abroad, locals who live in those communities). Most of the other posts fill me with a sense of, this virtual reality is not only not real, but it is designed to keep people stuck in it, wasting time, wasting their actual, in-real-life energy! Increasingly, I see it as a tool to remind me of MY life, but not as a way to actually interact with others. Only took me a decade to figure this out!

I had a job interview yesterday, and I think it went well. The huge plus of job searching as a remote employee looking for remote work is that…everyone is now open to it, if not at least initially. I have been working remote for a long time, years and years; every time I interview for a job, though, it feels like a piece that requires explanation and justification. Not now! And that’s a wonderful relief–it’ll allow everyone to finally focus on the job, not the logistics or politics, you know? We’ll see; it’s one of those jobs that will require a long interview process (at least two more people and then a panel video interview with, I’m guessing, three to six more people), but, it will be worth it if I do land the gig!

It’s a beautiful day here, so I am trying to embrace the wonder; the past few days, I was just angry all day (thanks, hormones), and I took it with me–on my walk, around my boo, maybe even toward my best girl. Today, I’m just trying to be more like my dog: patient, taking it as it comes, and accepting all of things, good, bad, and in between.

This is community, not social media

13 Jun

12:44 pm

Hey, all. SO, I have been offline for a few days–it was my birthday yesterday, and it was one of those semi-perfect days that just unfold because you don’t make a bunch of plans and/or don’t put that much pressure on having the “perfect” day. ANYWAY, I ended up going on Facebook for the first time in literally 60 days, and what did I find?

The short answer is, not much! I only got three birthday messages, which might be because at some point, I hid my birthday from my profile (I don’t remember doing that, but apparently I did). I would normally have been bummed about that, because half the fun of Facebook was counting how many happy birthdays or messages you got from your “friends” on your day. I wasn’t bummed, though; I was just sort of like, eh. Aside from that, I really did not miss anything–maybe one event that I would have liked to have gone to, and maybe one or two things that I would have seen if I had been going on regularly these past two months.

What I didn’t miss was the overwhelming amount of not only useless and irrelevant information, but the inability to normally interact with “people” on the platform (normally, as in, what humans have been used to doing and what we are wired to do, which is thoughtfully and intentionally engage in a a social exchange, not a lobbing of comment here, sentiment there).

What I got in return was this realization that I was taking Facebook WAY too seriously–seeing how I never posted regularly, I can’t really imagine (and don’t want to) what it’s like for people who post everything, all the time. For me, it doesn’t mean that much after having been off for 60 days; when I’m on the ‘book, though, it’s like, that, inside there, becomes my world, the platform takes root in me and just sort of owns my mind, forcing me to seek validation from it.

Anyway, last night, I almost immediately found myself scrolling mindlessly again, not really all that interested in the posts, feeling actually more disconnected from people. I liked finding things out, but I didn’t like it enough–or more than I like/love–how clear and calm and FREE I feel when I’m not participating on this platform. It really just reinforced my desire to keep actually living, with intent; reaching out in person; finding out the news from actual people, local news sources, second-hand from my circles of in-real-life friends who are spending hours a day scrolling, mindlessly. I mean, the point here is that, I was mindless in my scrolling, and it was like, I wasn’t even able to engage with my so-called friends (which is maybe the point of social media, is that, you get to do and say whatever you want, in a relative vacuum). It was an exercise in frustration and disappointment.

I do miss “On this day/Memories,” but I have my photos and journal to remind me of my past life/lives, right? I actually miss my groups, but I can always go on every few months to catch up on those. I did miss a few events–someone’s going-away party; a business down here closing–but, eh, in the grand scheme of things, it’s SO worth the sense of clarity in not knowing everything about people in exchange for missing a few parties or events.

I have started blogging more in the past two months, have reconnected with this community, and truly get something out of blogging and reading/commenting on others’ blogs. It is a real exchange, a true sense of community–nourishing and stimulating rather than draining and boring! I am glad to be blogging more as it’s given me a comparison as to how one can connect and build community virtually, in ways that can actually work (for me, anyway). Social media dos not work, and I believe that it’s partly due to the lack of true exchange, a lack of anything but short sound bites (from you) and insincere replies (from others), insincere because no one is all that invested in you, in-real-life, unless you are actually friends (at which point, ya don’t really use Facebook to sustain your friendship, you call and/or hang out!).

Anyhoo, I had a good birthday: we actually went to a restaurant, where the tables were six feet apart, parties were limited to six people, and the servers has to wear masks. I mean, I felt fine, not in any way scared or paranoid. We have only had about 75 positive test cases in our area, which could be because there just haven’t been that many people tested rather than we just didn’t have the community spread that other places had. I will say that my family (living in multiple different US states) are really, truly scared. And, I don’t envy the sense of fear and paranoia that’s sort of infected the mainland alongside the coronavirus. I cannot comment on if that fear has been stoked, but I can say that people here are, in general, used to natural disasters like hurricanes (and the ensuing make-the-best-of-the-chaos-and-keep-living mentality that comes with these events) and therefore, I think, more community-oriented (what’s mine is yours, and vice versa; there were no land-grabbing wars around toilet paper here when the shortage arrived). That being said, it’s just going to take a while for things to go back to normal, but, they will; they very much will, whether we are ready for it or not.

Happy Saturday, all–may it be peace-full…

Guilty or grateful–or both?

31 May

1:20 pm

I feel guilty today. I am only just watching the news on TV, only just reading about all the protests (in the US; I think everyone knows what’s going on, so I won’t get into explaining it here) on social media (Twitter). I am not there, and I feel guilty for not being engaged, for seemingly not caring. Even if I was there–I am not on the mainland–I am not sure I would be at a protest, and I feel guilty about that. I am even feeling a twinge of guilt about not being active on social media (I have been off Facebook for about 1.5 months and I haven’t been on Twitter, as a user, for like, a decade)–I got off for my mental health’s sake, and I don’t see it helping me to go back on right now.

(Actually, I went on Twitter yesterday and this morning, for the first time in years, after having realized that that’s where a lot of people are getting their news these days; and I have to say, it’s been really helpful to see all the user-generated video content of the protests. However, I don’t want to log into my account and start scrolling endlessly through a feed that is so tailored toward my specific, and illusory, reality.)

Anyway, I also feel this restless anxiety toward…I don’t know, the uncertainty of all this, how it’s going to end, how it’s going to affect the COVID situation (so much for the easy re-openings!). In my opinion, this will never be fixed unless we stop telling ourselves, collectively, that “it’s a few bad apples” and “99.9% of cops are good guys.” If that were the case, why the EFF is our entire country, across cities, coast to coast, totally enraged? Why are these so-called “good apples” teargassing everyone, from peaceful protestors to journalists (who are doing their jobs!?). It’s akin to the “hearts and prayers” crap that has been on repeat in this county for decades, which does nothing to fix the problem of gun violence in America.

Like most Americans, I see these “bad apple” incidents happening over and over and over again; I see these “good cops” suit up in their wartime garb, for situations that are NOT riot scenes; I watch them commit murder again and again and again, and they never get charged. I was wondering the other day, what kind of treatment would I have gotten when I was picked up, stumbling drunk and ridiculously belligerent (a few times, years ago), if I were a person of color? I definitely don’t think I would have sobered up in peace in the slammer as the “good apple” (sincerely, there must be some!) cop just turned his or her head to my angry insults.

I don’t know what this country should do, but it’s obvious that police culture and training needs to change. Accountability somehow needs to happen–for me that means, cop-killers should not get life in prison while killer-cops don’t even get arrested or charged. It’s not as simple as that, but that’s one thing it boils down to, for me anyway.

I feel grateful today, on the other hand. Grateful that I am here, safe, and that I don’t have anything huge to do today. I mean, I feel scattered, sort of angry, so, not sure what I’ll get done; but I am willing to pull it together, to stop the black-and-white thinking, to have a day. And, I have the time and space–and safety, and privilege–to do that.

Guilty, and grateful, that’s for sure. And, there is no way around feeling both, at the same time, today; so, all I can do is feel and move on with my day, feeling what I feel.

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