Planning

Hello, dear readers! We’ve made it to another Thursday.

It’s been a decent week here, for the most part. The weekend was lovely. On Saturday, my husband and I attended a Zoom workshop that two of our beloved Song School teachers put on about tips and tricks for managing a neurodivergent brain. There was a lot of useful information and we’ve been working on starting to implement some of the tips this week. One of the big things we’re working on is having a quick check-in every morning to run through the major schedule items and tasks for the day, so that we are on the same page and can better support each other in getting things done. We also got some great reminders and tips about the difference between projects and tasks, and help in breaking down projects into tasks. Did I use what I learned in the workshop as an excuse to buy a new planner? …maybe. But all in all I’m excited to work a little more gentle structure into my day and have a broader toolset for the two of us to support each other.

I’m really enjoying the in-person D&D game I joined a few weeks ago. It’s been a bit of a tumultuous start – I was really excited about the character I created, but halfway through the second session, she died. It wasn’t malicious on the part of the DM – I got unlucky with my dice rolls. Thankfully, I had a backup character rolled up and ready to go. I was sad about the loss of the original character, but I actually think this new character will be a better fit for the group.

I only have two class sessions left of my four week intensive! I can’t believe it’s almost over already. It’s been a really good class, and while I’m overwhelmed by getting the last of the work done while having the first bigger paper of my longer class due right as this class ends, I’m confident I’ll be able to do it.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Nova from yesterday – there was a pigeon on a windowsill across the alley and she was absolutely TRANSFIXED:

Sleep is Magical

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! This week has been a little calmer than last week was, which has been nice. I am finding that I’m losing track of what day it is despite having a pretty full schedule every day, so that’s a little weird…I’m blaming the heat and humidity.

I’ve had my PAP machine for almost two months now, and I’m starting to really notice some tangible differences in my life because of it:

  • Before starting on the PAP machine, it was normal for me to get up (or at least wake up) at least half a dozen times in a night, if not more. Lately, I haven’t been getting up at all during the night.
  • Before, I regularly felt the desire to tap out and go to bed before 9pm. Now, I can stay up until 10 or 11pm and be okay the next day.
  • Before, I was regularly in bed for 10 or 11 hours a night, even though I was only sleeping a fraction of that time. Now, I’m usually in bed 8 or 9 hours, which might not seem like a huge difference, but feels really significant to me.
  • Before, I had to be really careful about how much I scheduled on weeknights if I wanted to make it through the work week. Now, I’m able to play D&D on Tuesday nights, go to bed around midnight, and function just fine at work the next day.

The list could go on and on, but those are the big things I’m noticing so far. Sleep is magical and I can’t believe I let myself go so long without it.

Anyway, on that happy note, I will leave you with your weekly dose of Nova:

Birthday Weekend Adventures

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! Despite this being a normal work week for me, I’ve been a bit scrambled as to my days this week. But we’ve finally made it; it’s almost the weekend.

I had a truly lovely birthday weekend. I took the day off on Friday, and my husband and I took Nova with us on a little adventure to Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls, MN; we stopped at Franconia Sculpture Park on the way back for a picnic and more wandering, and then popped into Wine Haven for a few celebratory bottles before coming home and relaxing for the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday, Nova went to the groomer (which she was not happy about), and that afternoon I went on a tree/plant identification walk with a local druid grove that I recently connected with before going out for drinks with my college bestie that evening. It was a really lovely day.

Sunday we brought Nova to her first restaurant patio for a birthday lunch with my parents, and she did great! She even got her own burger patty.

The week has been good so far; Monday night I started my second summer class, which runs twice a week for four weeks. It’s intense, but I’m excited about it. Tuesday was session 0 for a new in-person D&D game I just joined. I didn’t know anyone at the table, but I think it’s going to be a really fun group!

The other fun thing that happened this week was we got Nova’s DNA results back, with a few surprises:

I hope you’re all hanging in there. I will leave you with one more Nova picture – please enjoy this view of her pouting because I was the meanest and wouldn’t take her to her favorite store last night (because they were closed):

Pre-Birthday Ponderings

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It is the last day of a short work week for me, because tomorrow is my birthday and I decided to take the day off.

This year’s birthday feels a little bit bittersweet, for reasons I’m still puzzling out. I’m grateful to have made it to another birthday and through another pandemic year. I think the thing that’s feeling harder right now is that I’m still figuring out friendship and community and who my people are now that we’re back in Minnesota, which is a hard enough thing as an adult in general – and that difficulty is compounded by living in a pandemic. I’ve put a lot of effort into finding new groups to connect with, and I’m proud of that work…but now it’s a matter of waiting and seeing which of those connections pan out, and there’s not much to do but be patient and keep showing up.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now that’s good and promising and life-giving. There’s also been a lot lately that’s been hard. I’m learning how to hold both of those things without shoving one off to the side and ignoring it.

I don’t have a lot of celebratory plans for tomorrow – we might take Nova out for a hike, but we might also just walk around the neighborhood. The weather is supposed to be lovely, so getting outside with her is definitely on the list. We’ll probably order something in for dinner. Saturday I’m planning to go to a nature/education-related event with a group I recently connected with, and then I’m grabbing drinks with an old college friend that evening. Sunday we’re meeting up with my parents for lunch and taking Nova to a restaurant to eat out on the patio for the first time, so fingers crossed that goes well.

My intensive class starts on Monday, and will take up my Monday and Thursday evenings for the month of June. I’m excited about it, and also a little nervous. I also start a new, in-person D&D game on Tuesday. I don’t know anyone at the table; I connected with this group via Facebook. So it’ll be an adventure, but I’m tentatively hopeful that this will be another opportunity to make some new friends.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Birthdays are weird and make me reflective. I’ll leave you, as always, with your weekly Nova fix:

Settling

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. It is almost Friday, and thank goodness for that.

After the chaos of the past couple of weeks, this week has been all about settling back into some sort of routine and getting back into the swing of schoolwork. There is still chaos, but it’s feeling less like a crisis and more like something we can tackle over time.

I honestly don’t have a lot to report this week. I’m tired, and definitely have had a few days over the past week where I’ve felt extremely burnt out and cranky. But also, I’m managing. I’m recognizing when I’m feeling those things and why, and regulating myself as best I can.

I’m working on finding an in-person D&D group. The first one I connected with fell through, but I have a strong lead on a second, so fingers crossed that works out.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite photos of Nova from the past week:

Back and Still Breathing

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to Thursday. It has been A Week. In fact, it’s been Two Weeks.

Life has been utter madness the past couple of weeks. We had multiple family members end up in some sort of crisis that we had the means to assist with to some degree – I won’t go into detail, because they aren’t my stories to tell, but this is the basic outline:

  • The week before I left for my work trip to NYC, we made some last-minute plans for my husband to travel to Boston to help someone out for a week. The plan was for them to leave here on Wednesday while I was still in NY; we arranged for Nova to stay with my husband’s godmother for a few days until I got back.
  • The day I left for NY, a situation closer to home blew up, and we ended up needing to host some folks and their stuff in our apartment. My husband managed to get an extra key to our apartment from the building manager.
  • Wednesday, my husband called me in a panic because Nova had gotten into a box of dried goods while they were at an appointment. Thankfully, she had pretty much just destroyed packaging and left the actual food alone, so they didn’t need to go to the emergency vet before my husband went to Boston. That night was our giant company party (which was fun, but a lot). While at the party, I learned there were tornado warnings happening back at home. (Thankfully, everyone was okay.)
  • Friday, I planned to get to the airport early and work from there until my 3pm flight. I am not usually superstitious about Friday the 13th, but it was a doozy:
    • I had to go through the body scanner twice and then get patted down because my (lack of) junk was flagged as suspicious.
    • My laptop refused to connect to the airport wifi, and I was running low on phone data.
    • I had forgotten to charge my laptop before I left the hotel, and there was a paucity of outlets in the terminal I was waiting in at Newark.
    • Just as I was figuring out a work situation, I got news that someone I’d been face-to-face with the day before had tested positive for covid.
    • Thankfully, a coworker was able to take over most of what I’d been planning on doing from the airport as I scrambled to find alternative housing for the folks who were still at our apartment.
  • I got home, managed to get folks to their next temporary space, did a quick sweep of the apartment to make sure things were Nova-proofed, picked up Nova from my husband’s godmother’s house, got home, and crashed.

It’s been a weird week since then, being solo with Nova, but she’s been a trooper and is mostly behaving herself. I’ve been testing for covid daily, because of course, every day more of my coworkers are testing positive. I’m staying masked anytime I leave the apartment (which I was mostly still doing anyway, but I’m being a lot stricter about it now). Last night was a kickoff Zoom for the asynchronous class I’m taking over the summer, and I’m a bit nervous about the class – there’s a lot of reading, and I’m adding an intense, four-week class in June that meets twice a week on top of it. But I’ll figure it out.

In positive news, the PAP machine is doing its job – I was getting up early and going to bed late all week in NY and didn’t really crash until Saturday night. This week I’ve been continuing to get up earlier; I haven’t stayed up as late, but that’s mostly out of overwhelm at the overstuffed state of my apartment. I’m grateful that I started PAP therapy when I did and that it’s going well, because I don’t know how I would have managed otherwise.

I’m also extremely grateful for a solid support network, for therapy, and for all the hard work I’ve put into therapy over the past few years. I’m staying pretty regulated and doing a decent job of using my resources rather than melting down or spiralling into a panic, which would not have been the case if this had happened even just a year or two ago.

All that to say, I am feeling pretty depleted right now, but I’m okay. I’m going to be joining an in-person D&D game here in the Twin Cities that starts next week, and while that’s yet another thing on the schedule, it’s D&D, which is such a great outlet. Play is important and I want to do more of it. I’m hoping to spend a little time this weekend messing around with some new music equipment. My husband comes home tonight and Nova is going to be SO HAPPY (and so will I).

I shall leave you with some photos of Nova that I’ve taken since coming home:

Better Sleep and Impending Adventure

Hello, dear readers! We’ve made it to Thursday. I have felt uncertain of the day of the week pretty much every day since Monday, so that’s been interesting, but the weekend is almost here, which is lovely (and also a little stressful, but more on that below.)

Monday morning I called the home medical equipment clinic back about the leaking mask for my PAP machine, and managed to snag an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. I was able to get a new mask, and while I still had a few minor issues with the fit Tuesday night, last night I was able to shift from my side to my back and back again several times, and had basically the least amount of leaking I’ve had in the entire two and a half weeks I’ve been using the machine, so that was exciting. I only had to get up a couple of times last night and I feel tentatively optimistic that I’ve turned a corner and things will be easier/more comfortable from here on out. I’ve had a bit more energy the past couple of days, and while I’m not 100% sure if that’s from the PAP machine or just the fact that the sun came out and it finally feels more like spring, it seems like a good sign.

Tonight I’m getting coffee with a friend I’ve known since middle school, and I’m very excited about that (and also feeling a little old when I think about just how old our friendship is haha). This weekend we’re going to my in-laws’ place for Mother’s Day, and I will also be spending most of the weekend packing and preparing for next week, because…

I’m going to New York for work! Our big company party was postponed from February to next week, and while I’m excited on the one hand (I haven’t been to NYC since I was in high school, and I’m looking forward to meeting a bunch of my colleagues from around the world), I’m also extremely overwhelmed (it’s going to be a lot of peopling, and mask mandates are dropping, so while I’ll be masked a fair percentage of the time, a lot of people won’t be, and it’s just…a lot). I need to make my packing list and figure out a few minor logistical things. I’m sure it’ll be a good trip, but the packing and preparing is not going to make for the most relaxing weekend.

All of that to say, there might not be a blog next week, since my schedule will be all sorts of weird. We’ll see what happens.

I will leave you, as always, with a few Nova photos from the week, including a gif of her chasing her tail (some context for that image – we haven’t gotten rid of our old mattress since our new one came a week ago, and Nova has been having a ball with it on the living room floor):

Between Semesters

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It’s been an interesting week.

Last Friday, one of our favorite Chicago friends came into town and we went to the My Brother, My Brother, and Me live show in Minneapolis. The show was hilarious, and it was so delightful to have her here for a couple of days, even though I was still quite under the weather and we had to keep things pretty low-key. Nova absolutely fell in love with her, and was very disappointed when she left.

Unfortunately, pretty much right after our friend left, my husband came down hard with the cold I was recovering from. It’s been a rough week from that perspective, but thankfully we’re both on the mend now.

In continued adventures with my PAP machine, things were going pretty well while I was sick, actually, because I was propping myself up at night and not moving around much. Unfortunately, the last few nights have been harder – the mask keeps leaking air up over the bridge of my nose and waking me up with the whooshing noise. I am going to call today to see if I can get a different mask configuration to try. Overall I’m still really hopeful that this will bring some major changes to my quality of sleep, and I’m grateful it’s gone as smoothly as it has so far.

We also bought a new mattress that we got to sleep on for the first time last night! It’s a Big Fig, and it’s a MAJOR upgrade from the cheap foam IKEA mattress we’ve been sleeping on for the last 12 years. We woke up with some aches in different places because we’re not used to so much support, but it’s really comfy and I’m very excited about it. Nova is enjoying the fact that the old mattress is hanging out on our living room floor for now.

I’m in between semesters for the next couple of weeks, and it feels good to be through the first semester of seminary, but also weird to not be in classes/doing homework. I keep feeling like I’m forgetting something. Over the summer I’m taking one asynchronous class at United (History of Modern Theologies), and one intensive class for the month of June at St. Kate’s that’s specific to my concentration (Sacred Activism). I’m really excited about the St. Kate’s class, even though I recognize June is going to be…a lot. All my books are ordered and at least half of them have arrived, so I’m feeling good about that.

In two weeks I’m going to New York for work for a big company get-together. I’m extremely nervous about traveling now that mask mandates are lifting, but it is what it is. I’m excited to get to meet colleagues in person for the first time – the global team is coming in, so I’ll get to meet coworkers from London and Singapore in addition to my NYC and Chicago colleagues. I’m already kind of exhausted by the thought of socializing that much, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Nova went to the groomer on Saturday and they got so much fur off of her that I actually had to resize her collar. She’s looking very sleek and we have slightly fewer tumbleweeds floating around our apartment. I will leave you with a few pictures of her, as always.

At Last

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I am all mixed up about what day it is this week – I’ve been fighting a cold all week and ended up taking a couple sick days from work and so my routine is way off. (Thankfully I tested negative for covid over the weekend.) I’m on the mend but still very stuffy and occasionally getting hit with coughing fits. It’s not my favorite thing.

However, in happy news, I finally got my PAP machine on Monday! It’s technically an APAP rather than a CPAP – the machine adjusts the amount of air pressure based on what I need throughout the night. This has been great, because I was really worried I was going to feel claustrophobic if I had constant air blowing at me all night long. I’m still not sleeping great, but that’s largely because of the cold and not because of the machine. In fact, the machine is super quiet – my husband noted it’s eerily quiet in the bedroom now because I’m not snoring all night. Nova has not really reacted to it at all, which is great, but I guess she’s used to seeing me wearing stuff on my face.

I’m also wrapping up my first semester of seminary this week! I just have one class session left tonight and then I’m done. It’s wild to think it’s been a whole semester already. I just ordered my books for my summer classes, and I’m looking forward to continuing to dive into this program.

Last week I recorded the beginnings of a song I’m hoping to release this year. This inspired me to finally get a website launched for my music! There’s not much there yet, but if you want to keep up with my musical happenings, you can find me at https://alyxanderjames.com.

I’ll leave you with your weekly dose of Nova – here are a few pictures of her enjoying the sunshine over the weekend:

Vacation

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! And apologies for the late blog today – I am on vacation this week and taking advantage of the opportunity to sleep in and take my mornings more slowly than usual.

It’s been a great week off so far! I ended up taking a quick, last-minute trip to Chicago to see some friends, which was absolutely delightful, even if the travel part was a little overwhelming. It felt great to be able to hug my Chicago friends and catch up with them a bit. I was only in town for approximately 40 hours, but I’m glad I did it. I’m trying to keep plans for the rest of the week pretty minimal.

I started recording a song yesterday with our home recording setup. I’ve handed it off to my husband to play around with in the music production class they’ve been taking. I’d love to get at least one song out into the world this year.

I also got a call yesterday about finally getting set up with a CPAP machine! So that is happening Monday morning. I’m a little nervous about adjusting to sleeping with it, but I’m determined to make it work.

I’ll leave you with the video my husband took of Nova greeting me when I got home from Chicago on Tuesday. Even though I was only gone a couple of days, she was apparently pretty sad – I hadn’t been gone more than a few hours at a stretch before. It’s not letting me embed the video here for some reason, so here’s the link.