Another Week Closer

Hello, dear readers – Thursday is again upon us. We’ve almost made it through another week.

And just like that, my partner and I are just over two weeks away from our wedding! Yesterday we got our marriage license. We also received the delivery of the (many) silk flowers we ordered:

This is…most of them. lol

It’s feeling more and more real as time goes on, and I’m excited about it, even if I’m overwhelmed by everything that needs doing before then.

I don’t have a lot of other updates right now. It’s been a mostly good week with a lot of anxiety in the mix.

I hope you’re all hanging in there and staying safe. Wear your masks, wash your hands, keep social distancing. I know it sucks, but it’s what needs to happen until we get a vaccine.

Tired

Hello, dear readers – we’ve made it to another Thursday. I don’t know about you all, but I am tired. I’ve been tired all week.

Last Saturday I picked up an overtime shift for work (we’re not particularly busy on the weekends so it was an easy way to make some nice extra money), and I spent the entire shift fighting the urge to go take a nap. That’s pretty much how I’ve felt every day this week.

Tomorrow I am not working (since Saturday is Independence Day here in the US, we have Friday off), but I have to get up early and go get an ultrasound of my thyroid done, so that’s obnoxious. Monday I went to the doctor to get it checked out, because it feels swollen and I’ve been showing a few other symptoms that could be associated with hyperthyroid, and this is the next step in getting that checked out. Which is good; I’m grateful the doctor listened to me and took me seriously. I just don’t particularly like going to the doctor anyway, and that is doubly true during a pandemic. Fingers crossed that the ultrasound gives us some answers.

I think between the anxiety around the thyroid stuff and the anxiety around…*gestures wildly at everything*…I just haven’t been sleeping all that well. Last night in particular felt like nightmare after nightmare and it was not especially restful.

But hey, I’m looking at a three-day weekend; that has to count for something.

Obsessed

Hello, dear readers! I’m pretty sure it’s Thursday. Time has felt particularly nebulous this week.

On Friday, my new octave mandolin arrived, and I am obsessed with it. I’ve played almost every day since it arrived. It’s beautiful and everything I wanted.

Here’s a video of me playing “Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór,” one of my favorite songs to play on mandolin. I’m a little rusty, but i love how this instrument sounds.

I don’t have a lot of other news this week, but I’d like to leave you with this article. It pulls no punches and is a hard read, but I believe it’s important for framing our conversations about racism.

I hope you’re hanging in there. Wear a mask when you go out, and take care of yourself and your people!

Highs and Lows

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

I feel like this week has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. I’ve been anxious and tired, and my allergies are pretty bad right now (cottonwood season gets me every year).

On the other hand, I managed the very exciting achievement of saving up and paying for my dream instrument this week. It should arrive this weekend, and I am over the moon about it. It’s a new octave mandolin, and it’s SO PRETTY:

I’m so excited!

We also managed to get wedding invitations finished and emailed out this week, so that felt like an accomplishment.

I am going to keep this short again, but I want to leave you with this article from the Washington Post that I found challenging but helpful this week. If you’re white, please take the time to read it and sit with it a while – educating ourselves is important, but anti-racism is not an academic exercise. Dismantling white supremacy and the systemic oppression of Black people requires action, and not just in the moments when the Black Lives Matter movement is front and center in our social media feeds. This is lifelong work.

Keep Doing Something

Hello, dear readers – I actually remembered that it’s Thursday for once, so that’s something.

I think this is going to be another short post. Not much of note happened on a personal level this week; on the other hand, there’s been a LOT happening in the world at large. It feels like people are finally actually waking up to the reality of police brutality. Anti-racism resources abound (these links will take you to a few things I’ve found helpful this week), and people also seem to finally be coming around to the idea that being “not racist” is not enough – it is necessary to be actively anti-racist.

I definitely have a long way to go in this journey. I’m still figuring it out, and I recognize that unlearning white supremacy and anti-Blackness is the work of a lifetime. It’s going to require sustained effort for the rest of my life and it’s not going to be fun. But it’s necessary work.

If you’re looking for something to do this week, here’s a place to start. First, read this FAQ about defunding the police. Then, if you’re in the US, click here to go to a site that will help you email government officials about reallocating police budgets toward community resources (which is where that money belongs and can do much more good).

Do Something

Hi all, another late blog this week, and I’m going to keep it brief.

Yesterday was my birthday. It’s weird to celebrate in such a dark time when there’s so much heaviness in the world, but I am grateful to be here.

The past week we’ve seen a dramatic increase in white people’s awareness of the systemic oppression of Black people, and how awful cops are. We desperately need to defund the police.

Looking for ways to help? Start here.

Bad News/Good News

Hello, dear readers! I apologize for the late blog this week – the holiday at the beginning of the week threw me off a bit, and also I overslept this morning. Whoops.

Y’all, it’s been a WEEK. Last week’s blog happened right before things started getting exciting. There is bad news, and then there is good news.

So, first, the bad news.

My partner got a call Thursday morning from the museum where they’ve worked since we moved to Chicago almost eight years ago, with unfortunate news – they were laid off (they helped manage the team that handled field trips and tour groups coming to the museum, so not too surprising, but still).

This, of course, was sad and anxiety-inducing. Thankfully, with my new job, we’re still going to be in a reasonably-okay financial spot for the time being, but health insurance is a major concern (particularly during a pandemic). So, I pretty immediately emailed the HR team at my work and asked what we’d need to do to get them onto my health insurance.

HR got back to me pretty quickly with the list of “Qualifying Life Events” that allow a person to change their health insurance plans mid-year. I didn’t see any information regarding a domestic partner losing their insurance, though, so I emailed back to clarify. They replied with a question: “Do you have any legal documentation of your domestic partnership?”

I turned to my partner, and said, “So…it looks like we should maybe get married?”

Which, if you hadn’t figured out where this was going, brings us to the good news.

After nearly 10 years together, we’re getting married!

We’d talked about it off and on over the years but never felt like we needed to do it – when we started dating, gay marriage hadn’t been legalized yet, so we didn’t even have the option…it was never part of the framework of how we thought of our relationship. I had my own internal resistance to it, too – I felt like it might be the only way to make some of my family members see my relationship as “legitimate,” and that annoyed me. I didn’t want to do it for them. But we’re at the point where we really do want to do this for us. We’re both committed to making this work, and it’s going to make the legal bullshit so much more straightforward…it’s a win-win all around.

So here we are, unexpectedly planning a wedding in the middle of a pandemic. I can’t say I ever had super clear dreams about what getting married would look like, but I definitely never pictured it would be just us on our couch in front of a computer!

I hope you’re all staying safe and that our happy news can bring some light to what are definitely weird and frequently dark days. Keep hanging in there, friends.

Brief Ramblings

Hello, dear readers! It’s Thursday. I thought it was Thursday on Tuesday this week, so that was disappointing. But we’ve made it! It’s Thursday, which means it’s almost Friday, and then there’s a long weekend, which will be nice even if time is meaningless and I won’t really be doing anything different except not working on Monday.

I don’t have a lot to say this week. We appear to be getting into another round of allergies, because I am very sniffly and my eyes itch, so that’s unfortunate. But it’s great to see everything come back to life outside, even if it makes me sneeze.

Work has been a mixed bag this week – I’m still at the point where some days I feel really on top of things and other days I feel like I’m drowning. Currently I’m pretty on top of things, which is good. We’ll see how that continues.

I’m still anxious a lot of the time. My partner will sometimes ask what I’m anxious about, and all I can say is “the world.” There’s nothing super specific, but everything feels like a lot right now. I’m trying to hang onto the bright spots – I have a stable job that pays well; I’m not facing this alone/my partner is literally the only person I’d want to be stuck with 24/7; I have regular virtual social interaction with people I love, even if I’m not seeing them in person. These things are important and I don’t want to take them for granted. It’s all still a lot, though.

Learning is Hard

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday – I don’t know about you, but I’m finding that keeping track of what day it is during this pandemic is not getting any easier over time.

It’s been a week. Last Friday I got totally overwhelmed by work – I just couldn’t get on top of my cases, and I felt like every time I figured out one thing, something else went wrong (or I turned out to be wrong about the earlier thing I had thought was taken care of). It made for a very frustrating end of the work week, and I was dreading getting back into it on Monday.

Monday was also hard. I continued to feel like I was drowning, and actually had an anxiety attack partway through the day. Thankfully, as the day went on, my team stepped in and helped me with a few things, and that made a big difference. I’m still learning that I can ask for help here.

The last couple of days have been a little better – I feel like I’m getting a better handle on things and doing a better job of asking for help when I need it.

Despite work being overwhelming, there have been some bright spots. Friday night was the second session of a D&D game that we decided to move from every other week to every week, and that was super fun. I’m looking forward to getting to know these characters and the world we’re exploring better.

I love that we have a weekend routine of sorts that gets us out of bed now. On Saturdays we have virtual brunch with a friend in our old neighborhood, and it’s a really lovely way to set the tone for the rest of the weekend. We’ve also been rewatching the Star Wars films with some friends on the weekends (via conference call), and that’s been delightful. We started with the original trilogy, and then moved on to the prequels – we were going to watch Episode III this past weekend, but Episodes I and II were so much worse than we remembered, we gave up and skipped to Episode VII, which I think was the right choice.

I also talked with my parents over the weekend for the first time since…well, since we started staying home, so about two months. We’d be texting regularly, but historically I used to call them when I was commuting or walking between places, and since that’s not really happening right now, I’d lost my mental trigger to pick up the phone. It was good to catch up and I think we’re going to try to do that more regularly now.

And the second session of my mandolin class was last night, which was also delightful. I didn’t practice as much during the week as I intended, but I’m managing to keep up. As an extra fun little challenge, I’ve been transcribing any tablature our instructor sends out into standard notation so I can get better at reading sheet music.

Anyway, I hope you’re all hanging in there. What a weird time it is to be alive. I have a lot to be grateful for right now, and I’m trying not to take that for granted.

Victory in Uncertainty

Happy(?) Thursday, dear readers! How’s everybody holding up?

The week here has been a bit of a mixed bag. I’m still wrestling a bit with some leftover queasiness from last week, and the realization that we really don’t know what the future holds right now is steadily sinking in.

However, in the midst of all this uncertainty, I did have a major victory this week – I paid my credit card down to $0 for the first time since we moved to Chicago 7.5 years ago.

Some history on this: I had paid it all off before we moved, but when we got here, we we both very much underemployed, and, well…we had to eat. I leaned on the credit card because it was the option we had. Then our job situations improved, but I was in the habit of using the credit card, and…it got out of control. By August of 2017, I had accumulated nearly $16,000 in debt. So, I made a plan, and since September of 2017 I have been aggressively paying down my debt, dedicating about a third of my monthly income to credit card payments.

I had some setbacks, for sure (retail therapy is a hard habit to break). I originally thought I’d have it paid off in two years, then by the end of 2019, and finally it was clear it was going to take until June of 2020. However, I was able to sneak a couple extra payments in thanks to the pandemic stimulus check and my new job, and I am now debt free a month ahead of where I thought I’d be.

It’s a surreal feeling, but mostly, I feel like I can breathe again, and that’s a really great experience. I recognize that I am privileged beyond measure to be able to achieve something like this during such stressful and uncertain times, and I don’t want to take that for granted.

The other fun news from this week: I started playing the mandolin again, and am taking a class online at the Old Town School to get my playing back up-to-speed. I’m remembering all the reasons why I fell in love with the instrument almost 9 years ago, and am a little sorry I put it down for so long (I haven’t played much in probably 5 years now…been focusing much more on guitar). It’s the only instrument I can play where I can pick it up and just noodle around and make up melodies that sound nice.

I hope you’re all hanging in there and finding your own victories (big or small – they all count) to brighten up your days.