2021 - looks like we made it

i woke up around 10:30, as i champion sleep like it's an olympic sport. i am lucky my cats don't eat me alive, but they seem content to cuddle until i stir; then there is no question of their hunger. or really, zelda's hunger. moxie would be content to remain tucked cozily between my legs.

here we are in a new year, which so far is not that much different from 2020, but is something we all presumably have a lot banking on.

let's not get ahead of ourselves.

i will start with a day. today i went for a walk, battled in pokémon raids locally and abroad (new zealand!), and partnered with e in england for an espurr raid. i watched the film hidden figures while slowly grazing on homemade soup and a vegan caesar salad. 

one day at a time. let's go.


1 august 2020

i started a piece to submit to the new york times' "modern love" column, then didn't finish it because i never came back to it until today; it is revised and less like a piece for publication. i haven't blogged in a while, so i'll put it here.

i'm tired. quarantine life in the age of COVID-19 is doing things to everyone's lives and mental health in some degree. 

In the early weeks of quarantine, I would I blink my eyes open around eight in the morning on workdays and involuntarily reach for my phone to scan the news, social media, and a dating app. I was an automaton, moving wordlessly from bedroom to bathroom. I removed my night guard, stared briefly at my drug-store bleached hair (brunette roots cresting against multi-tonal yellows and golds; not quite the look I had gone for), and lean down to tap the handle of my bathtub faucet until the water began to trickle out. Moxie, my slim, gray cat, dipped his paw in and out, drinking droplets off his fur.

Working from home began at noon on March 11, 2020, when my manager called the entire team into a conference room at 11:53AM. We were told to go home to ensure we could remotely login to our desktops and access all necessary programs and network folders. I left in a fog, saying goodbye to coworkers on other teams who hadn’t been told to go home yet. Weeks earlier, C and I had planned to spend Friday the thirteenth at Disneyland. The most remarkable moment at the end of that day was the myriad cast members waving at guests exiting the park (C and I left just shy of midnight). I waved back frantically, yelling out words of gratitude and trying to make eye contact while fighting the urge to ball up and sob; it's August 1, 2020 and Disneyland is still closed.

I cobbled together a home office at my kitchen nook and waited for various auxiliary equipment to arrive in the mail when my remote connection locked up a week later. Desperate calls to internal IT support netted mounting frustrations: “It must be your internet connection.” “Everything is fine on our end.” “Oh, you have a Mac?” “It’s your personal laptop so we can’t open a ticket.” I finally asked to pick up the work-issued laptop I’d declined just hours earlier because everything had been fine. I left the office that afternoon, laptop in tow, wheeling my office chair into the elevator and across the parking lot because by god I was not going to break my back trying to make my kitchen chair work any longer. I felt gloriously defiant.

Now, 143 days into working from home and primarily staying home, I rescued a calico cat (found in front of the neighborhood library; friendly, flea-ridden, and pregnant), received an "exceeds expectations" review at work (plus, earned a raise), begun an at-home yoga practice, single-handedly sustained a local ice cream shop, become a regular at the neighborhood farmers market (hooked on the unlikely pairing of kettle corn and kale), finally made it to week four of Couch-to-5K (just say no to shin splints), and joined an antiracist book club (we're reading Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad for August).

I chatted with M a couple of days ago about work. She's at a bank in Orange County; it's not her normal branch, which got closed temporarily (albeit indefinitely) in the early weeks of California's shelter in place orders. She highlighted for me the nightmares of being a frontline worker: angry customers, shorthanded-ness due to coworkers calling out sick/quarantining because of  COVID-19 exposure or illness, stressed out managers who pass that stress onto the staff, ever-increasing anxiety manifesting in shortness of breath that is exacerbated by wearing a mask all day, and all while having more work to do and fewer hours to do it in (the branch shaved an hour off their opening and closing times).

An acquaintance I volunteer with got COVID-19 from her roommates, who went to a bar during California's momentary reopening of many establishments. The roommates experienced mild symptoms, while S has asthma and struggled to catch her breath without having a coughing fit for a week. S recovered without being hospitalized, but it was hell. Also, her longtime employer has been shuttered since March 14, 2020; she has to work the graveyard shift at her new job. 

Last weekend I rearranged my bookshelves by color, played Pokémon GO, and watched old episodes of Property Brothers on Hulu. 


making space

i'm trying to wrangle the mess that's built up in my apartment for several months into something decent. i'm trying to be present and take the time i need to do things. i quickly realized that i'm not going to be able to post something every day, but i can post a little more frequently than i used to.

i try to make this public act of journaling something worthy of being read by anyone (not just friends, but thank you to those who do). i want to be honest as hell about what i'm going through or thinking of, but undoubtedly it's a little weird to do so because i'm not always feeling good as hell (i'm looking at you, december 2019).

let me tell you about the cat i met today. she's a sweet, friendly, snowshoe cat and she needs a new home because her owner travels too much. i've been thinking about getting a companion for moxie for years now, ever since mango passed (3 may 2015). what's holding me up? i've asked myself that for a while now. let's go macro with this: what holds me back from anything? from moving to a new state, or changing jobs, or adopting a cat? finances aside, one aspect of this is a personal battle with fear of failure. i fail ALL THE TIME at things. large or small, and i'm still moving forward.

this post is meandering--there is still much cleaning to do--but i think the answer is coming soon. i will know soon, and maybe i will write about it. soon.

p.s. it is interminably difficult to enjoy writing (or other things) when i'm staring at a to do list.


day two

today was work, then yoga. the yoga is new. i like it and will do more of it. it centers me.


hindsight, et. al.

today is the first day...
hindsight is...
the early bird...
treat others...
if you can't say something nice...

whatever you're thinking of this day and its significance, i can assure you that a) i am too and b) i want to reject all of it. why wait until the calendar tells us that a day is meaningful? but also, why not do something since it is the first day of the month/year/not-so-roaring twenties (don't write me about this decade v. not a new decade nonsense because i couldn't care less)? 

i want to do something different. i always talk about wanting to do something different and, like a character straight out of waiting for godot, i do not move, immobilized by how overwhelming it will be to get to that thing, or how expensive it is, or how it feels impossible to get there on my own (reminder: divorced, one cat, one piano, pounds of books and a couple of bookshelves [one i helped build last year, one i've had since i was 19] <--this is me). that ends here, i want to declare. this is the year i get shit done. (this is a terrifying assertion.)

i will try to write something everyday, because writing is important to me. this might be a foolish promise to make. i think i will try to write here, because why not? let's see how it goes.  


i should go to bed now

my cat insists on burying the bowl of wet food i insist on feeding him, and i'm going to insist on writing for a handful of minutes when i know that i should be going to bed: typos and edits be damned!

this year is more than half over and i can tell you that i'm quickly heading in directions previously unknown to me--unforetold, unusual, underrated. really it's just that i wanted three "un" words in a row there. who has time for copious details and explanations? certainly not me. not now.

i'm 42 these days. less than a month until i'm halfway to 43. what gives with these numbers? someone just needs to stop. but enough about time, even though time is certainly what i'm running out of as i rob myself of delicate minutes of sleep.

what is it with life? what is the most important thing to communicate at This Very Minute?

bollocks, i'm drawing a complete blank. my house is a disaster since i took up volunteering and i'm lucky to get a proper dinner in. i'm hoping all the vegetables and tofu i cooked up tonight last me through the end of this week. but mostly, the important thing is that i'm volunteering and it is the best thing i could have done in response to a very unfortunate event.

without going into the details, let's just say that when my efforts to help a creature took an unexpected turn, i doubled down on educating myself and i haven't been the same since.

there's been a lot of changes in the past year, as i was explaining to a friend, and i sort of want to write everything down; however, one of the changes i've made is understanding my bandwidth. i need my sleep more than i need to blog.

so, i'm here, dear reader. i hope you are well.


ringing in the new year

yes, it's the third of january already. it's taken me a week to be back to feeling myself, and even then i'm not totally over my cold. i relish the small bubbles of energy shimmying from my toes to my head. i was focused today at work. just now i played piano for three-quarters of an hour (this always leaves my hands feeling electric). and, like the eighty-year-old that lives deep, down inside of me, i'm going to brush my teeth and hop into bed with a book during the eight o'clock hour. getting sick seems to have flipped my internal clock; i got into work at 7:15 this morning. time will tell if this becomes a pattern.

i picked up aja gabel's the ensemble when i was at the portland book festival in november and i started reading it new year's eve day while i was still sick. the novel may be about a string quartet, but i'll nonetheless cite that as one of many reasons i trimmed my nails so i could let my fingers wander on the black and white keys of my childhood upright piano. i've decided to learn the downton abbey suite, which is certainly much more difficult than i thought it would be. the piano transcription highlights the weakness in my fourth (ring) finger on my left hand (time for hanon exercises?!). although the notes themselves are easy to read, i spent a healthy amount of time counting out loud, slapping the rhythms out on my thighs, and playing the first page, hands separate, at less than half of the prescribed tempo. being out of practice is tedious, but as i'm on the cusp of another birthday, i'm pleased to know that i can still dust off the years of piano lessons i keep in my back pocket and resume playing.

would you look at that? it's almost my bedtime. 2019, you old so-and-so. let's do this.


finding my light

my last trip of 2018 is behind me; it's a healthy time to pause and reflect on the passage of time and the personal growth stuff. though i in no way want to diminish the accomplishments of the year, i'd like to focus on my inability to say something amazing and grand about it.

my growth is my own. what i feel is felt because of my previous experiences, and i can and do find it difficult to communicate that to other people. i think i get in my own way, and i felt that on more than one occasion while speaking with k in portland. it was our first introduction to each other, though i've heard wonderful things about her from r for a while now. k is a woman who is smart, thoughtful, well-spoken, and hard-working. i have this memory of sitting opposite from her and searching for the right words to say to communicate a thought. try as i might, i just couldn't nail it down. it seems at times that the inner perfectionist gets the upper hand and my grasp of the english language falters and fails. in times like those, i envy spock. "here, just connect to my mind directly--do you understand what i mean? do you see who i am?" k was patient and kind; she never made me feel less-than, and our conversation moved on.

i think that is probably the most poignant lesson/observation in my forty-first year on earth: listen, accept, advance. it's improv meets real life up in here, and i've connected with remarkable human beings who infuse me with a joie de vivre that i wouldn't trade for anything. to all the new and old friends in my life: thank you. 2018 wouldn't be what it is without you.


for your consideration

it's sunday, traditionally a day of rest, and i'm sitting on my sofa with my laptop propped on a pillow. moxie nests himself between the keyboard and my abdomen, resting his chin on my left wrist; i can feel the vibration of his purrs through my skin and bones. i've just finished reading blair tindall's memoir, mozart in the jungle*. i've kept this book too long and managed to incur a fine from the local library along with a block on my account. this seems to be a necessary fact to share with you because it's a first in my four-year relationship--since when does a book forget to be renewed or returned except when one fails to note a reminder or read through it in the allotted three weeks? time has been slipping through my fingers lately, a blur of working overtime, cooking, cleaning, and wondering when i won't have to do all this work to keep myself so dutifully engaged.

allow me to regroup.

on the matter of the book. tindall does a magnificent job of not only memorializing her life, but calling out the difficulties of the modern orchestra (which is an understatement, and an all-too-abrupt summarization). upon reading the final sentence on the final page, i am struck by where she leaves me.

tindall was 44 when she completed her book. i am 41. yes, of course this is me trying to relate to another human being. it is what i do when i read a book. how do i relate to what i just read? what affect does it have on my life and what i am doing with my life and how i am living my life? this remains to be seen, i think, but i can tell you as someone who has spent the last decade sans life-partner i am once again encouraged to bear witness to someone who is going it alone.

it's fucking hard as hell and some days i hate it.

i write that and i instantly want to apologize for my profanity (mom, dad, nephew, niece, sister, sensitive readers). but you know what, i'm going to leave it there, which is really hard to do because i think i spend/have spent a great deal of time trying to make other people comfortable. there's certainly a time and place for that degree of diplomacy, but i will not have it on this blog. i will not.

for those of you tackling life hand-in-hand with a partner/spouse/commune, i applaud your support system. i don't deny that i have a safety net of family and friends scattered across this earth (though mostly in the united states, with a concentration in california). but each and every day that i get up, it's just me and my cat. there may also be dirty dishes, a pile of sheets and towels in the hamper, a yoga mat in the living room, a layer of dust on the television, and clean clothes wrinkling in a laundry basket. my cleaning motivation comes (and goes) in intervals. right now i'm writing this and not taking care of any of it. i need to write this though, and so i do.

i have to figuratively laugh and shake my head because i think that's all i really wanted to get off my chest. i could vamp on how hard it's been, but it's pretty easy for me to imagine and acknowledge how hard it can been for anyone regardless of their life's circumstances. thinking of things that way really takes the wind out of my ire and provides an odd sense of comfort. i had this desire to complain and now that has all but left me.

instead, i'll focus on tindall's persistence, overcoming countless internal and external obstacles, conquering times of stagnation, devoting herself to personal growth when a part of her surely wanted to succumb to the stability of performing in a broadway pit. within that snapshot of her life, i find something relatable that i want to cling to so that i remember to keep going despite the times i feel tired or lonely (&c). i've been pretty damn successful at keeping my life full and fulfilling--i don't see any reason to give up on that now.

*blair tindall is an oboist cum writer.


thoughtful thursdays

i am so deeply happy content right now. (happiness doesn’t quite capture the sentiment.)

lest i be accused of vague-posting, it concerns all the work that i've done during the last ten-ish years.

work means both career-building and personal-life-building.

career-building means my bachelor's degree, paralegal certificate, and the financial crimes career that arrived in late 2013. opportunities have evolved beyond my imagination as i've been challenged in a variety of endeavors that feed the perpetual student living inside of me.

personal-life-building means therapy and learning life-skillz. it means dating and learning what i want (but not before i learned what i don't want, which was a painful and repetitious process). it means developing an exercise routine that's kept me migraine-free for the past six months. more than those things, it's about being able to experience life as fully as possible by way of seeing the wide world, and touching and tasting it. it's new york city and sweden and destinations yet to be determined.

i did a fair amount of work to get here, but i recognize that my opportunities have been plentiful; i'm not short on gratitude for those doors that were opened for me and for the others that i persistently knocked on over and over until they opened.

it all means that it's possible for me to work a 10 hour day and have energy left over for myself . i am terribly grateful to make it to my forties and to be ... happy, content, hopeful, independent. there were certainly points over the last decade where i was depressed, anxious, and/or envious of other people's lives.  now i envy my life--which i suppose isn't envy at all, but enjoyment. it's not perfect, but i'm building something that i'm pretty damn proud of.

song of the day...