Happy Birthday, Nova!

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It’s been a rather hectic week at work for me, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel of this hiring marathon I’ve been on, so that’s good.

That’s not the main news this week, though. The star of the show this week (as, let’s be honest, is true every week) is Nova! Her one year adoption anniversary was on Sunday, and her 3rd birthday (according to the estimate by the rescue) was Tuesday, so on Sunday we had our families over to celebrate this magical beast we’re so lucky to live with.

As my husband and I ran around cleaning the apartment Sunday morning, Nova was a bit unsure about the whole thing:

Once people started to arrive, though, she had a great time. She got a burger and some cheese while the rest of us ate burgers, brats, corn on the cob, and potato salad (she scarfed her burger so fast I didn’t get any photos). Then she opened some presents:

This was a lot of excitement for Nova, and she got a bit sleepy mid-party:

Then, while the humans had peach crisp and ice cream, Nova got a cookie:

Among the presents was a Harry Potter-themed BarkBox that arrived that morning. Nova looked very sharp in her Slytherin jersey:

After everyone went home, she settled in to chew on her new fishie Benebone and then rested on the couch with me:

All in all, I’d say the party was a hit! In addition to getting to spoil our baby girl, it was the first time in the nearly 12 years that my husband and I have been together that our families were all in one physical location at the same time, so that was another fun milestone.

I think I’ll wrap things up here for this week – hope you’re all hanging in there and that these Nova photos have brightened your day!

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:

This is 33

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. There’s definitely a part of my brain that thinks it’s Tuesday, because the beginning of my week was a departure from routine, but it is, in fact, Thursday.

It is also my birthday today! I kind of forgot it was coming until about a week ago. I didn’t really make any plans. I’m working today, which is fine. It looks like it’s going to be pretty warm out, so I’ll likely be hiding in my apartment next to my air conditioner for most of the day.

I don’t know how I expected to feel about turning 33, but right now I’m feeling pretty neutral about it. I like the number 3 a lot, so it feels like a fun age to be. I wonder when or if I’ll start to have particularly negative/existential crisis feelings about getting older. Mostly, as someone who’s dealt with mental health issues for most of their life, I’m just glad to still be around. I didn’t know how to picture myself in my 30s when I was younger. (I wonder now if some of that was tied up in gender stuff, that I couldn’t see myself as a grown woman, but I didn’t know there were other options, and so everything was just a hazy blank space.) My 20s were pretty tumultuous, and so I was glad to leave them behind when I hit 30, even as I watched a lot of my friends wrestle with feeling like they hadn’t done enough to be in their 30s yet. I imagine I’ll have a similar experience at 40, but who knows? A lot can change in a few years.

Right now, I’m just glad to still be here.

I started writing a new song a couple of days ago. It’s not going the way I’d like it to, but it’s the first songwriting I’ve attempted since FAWM ended in February. I haven’t gone this long without writing a song in years. So even though I’m somewhat frustrated with this song’s progress, I’m glad to know I haven’t completely lost my ability to write.

My coffee pot just beeped at me to let me know that the coffee is done brewing, so I think I’ll leave this one here. Cheers to another trip around the sun – thanks for coming on this journey with me!

Thoughts on 31

My 31st birthday was on Monday, and it’s been a good birthday week so far.

My parents came down on Saturday. We had brunch, picked up my birthday present (a new air conditioner), went to a movie, and ate pizza. It was a nice day.

Sunday was a lot of hanging out and tidying up the apartment. That night, we hosted a friend of a friend and his adorable dog on their way across the country. (Waking up Monday with a dog in my apartment was definitely a highlight.)

Monday I worked from home, both because it was my birthday and because I was hoping the maintenance guy would come and install the new AC. That didn’t end up happening before I had to leave for therapy, but it ended up being fine. Therapy was heavy, but good. I came home to find that my partner had picked up stuff for tacos, which was a delightful end to the day.

Tuesday I called off work. I wasn’t feeling great when I woke up, and I was still trying to get the AC installed (it took some pestering, but it did end up happening in the end). I spent a fair bit of the day processing what I’d worked through in therapy Monday night. And then, Tuesday night, I had songwriting class, which is always great. (I didn’t love what I’d written for this week, but that’s not the point of class. The point is that I wrote something.)

Yesterday, I went back to work. It was a pretty nondescript day, work-wise. But last night, I got myself over to Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park for an author conversation between Sarah Gailey (author of American Hippo, which I wrote about here a couple of weeks ago, and whose novel Magic for Liars was just released Tuesday) and Ferrett Steinmetz (who I was unfamiliar with but turned out to be super cool). It was a delightful event that reminded me how much I love learning about other creative people’s processes. I also had an exchange about names with Sarah while they were signing my book, where they told me they got to watch a young non-binary person use their name for possibly the first time at the signing the night before. It felt good to be recognized, especially because I’d been feeling like I was maybe not presenting queerly enough last night.

Tonight the great week continues, as we’re going to see Mary Gauthier in concert at the Old Town School.

Thirty-one feels pretty good so far. More settled than 30, but also maybe a little more willing to grow. It feels like it’s going to be a year of integration – connecting past iterations of myself with my present, listening to what I need and what I want and hopefully addressing those things. I’m looking forward to seeing what this next year holds!

Running Late

This has been a weird week.

I am the sort of person who is consistently early. Ten to fifteen minutes if I know where I’m going and who I’m meeting; half an hour if I’m especially anxious. But this week has not been going that way.

I haven’t really been late to appointments, but I’ve been having such a hard time getting up in the morning that I’ve been consistently late to work. Not in a way that’s bound to get me in trouble – I’ve still mostly been the first person on my team to get there. But late by my usual standards.

Right now as I’m writing this, I should be walking up to my office. Instead, I’ve just made it to the bus stop.

It’s frustrating. I feel like I’m glued to the bed when I wake up, like no amount of sleep is ever enough. It’s not so much of a problem once I’m up, it’s just the getting up that’s really hard.

My birthday is next week. It feels like it snuck up on me. I don’t mind being another year older (I’m grateful that I made it this far), but I am fighting the impulse to feel like I’m not enough of an adult, that I haven’t accomplished enough, that I don’t have my shit together enough to be 31.

But the more I look around and talk to folks, the more I realize that a lot of us are in that boat, right? So maybe I’m okay after all.

Start Another Year

On Sunday, I turned 30, and I can’t imagine having a better time doing it.

I woke up a little later than I’d planned, but still early enough to write my morning pages before the day got underway. We went and got breakfast at Smack Dab, one of our favorite local breakfast and coffee spots, and it was a delicious way to kick off the birthday festivities.

Next, we walked over to our neighborhood farmers’ market and picked up a bunch of fresh produce.

After the farmers’ market, we went home and listened to podcasts while we knit. It’s something of a weekend tradition at our house, and it was lovely and relaxing to incorporate our routines into my birthday.

After a couple hours of knitting and podcast-listening, we decided to walk to the restaurant where we were getting lunch. I got to indulge in my favorite gluten-free beer and an incredible gluten-free fancy grilled cheese sandwich.

Our final outside-the-house stop was at Women and Children First, where we each ended up picking up three books and decided to make a pact that we’re not allowed to go back there until we each finish the books we bought.

The rest of the evening was spent with more knitting and relaxing. It was truly a lovely day, and between the day itself and all the sweet messages I received on social media, I felt very loved and very ready to enter into a new decade of my life. Thanks to everyone who made me feel so special!

And as a bonus, I leave you with a picture of the completed LEGO set my partner gave me as a present, which we assembled together last night:

LEGO “Women of NASA” set

Farewell, 20s

Sunday will be my 30th birthday, and, antithetically to what seems to be the larger cultural narrative, I feel ready.

My 20s have been a decade of self-discovery. It’s been…a lot. I’ve come out many times with a variety of facets of identity. I graduated from college after very nearly dropping out, and found and kept my first real jobs. I’ve spent most of the last decade learning how to live independently and how to share my life and my space with someone else. I met my partner (with whom I continue to be smitten); we got through a long-distance phase of our relationship and then moved to Chicago together. I’ve gotten all of my current tattoos in my 20s. It’s been a decade of a lot of hard work, and of lessons learned, and I’m grateful.

But I’m also ready to move on. I don’t know what my 30s will hold, but I feel like now that I’ve gotten things a bit more sorted with how I relate to my body, it’s time to look at what I still want to learn, at what I want to do, at how I want to impact my world. It’s all quite terrifying and exciting all at once.

Age is definitely just a number (after all, I’m about to turn 30, but I’ve been an old man for years), but the start of a new decade does feel like a good chance at a fresh start. I look forward to seeing what 30 holds!

Birthday Reflections

As I mentioned in last week’s post, my birthday was on Saturday, and as a present to myself, I took a five-day weekend. I feel like I managed a pretty good balance between packing in the things I wanted to do and taking time to take it easy. Here are some thoughts and highlights from my birthday week:

  1. I got a ton of things done around the house. Not quite as many things as I was initially planning on, but I still made some significant progress. I’m pleased with and proud of the work I did.
  2. Friday was the day of celebrating with friends. I got breakfast with a friend from work who had also taken the day off. In the evening, I met up with some friends for drinks, and then some more folks joined us for pizza and sangria. It was fantastic, and I felt (still feel) very loved.
  3. Saturday was the day of celebrating with my partner. It didn’t go quite according to plan (the weather was threatening thunderstorms that never came but that made us want to stay closer to home), but it was a really lovely day.
  4. Sunday, I went to see Wonder Woman. I have so many feelings about Wonder Woman, but a lot of them are summed up in this lovely tweet that’s been floating around the interwebs:

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    “I’ve lived to see my childhood princesses become generals.”

  5. Monday night, I had the privilege of playing an Acoustic Explosion show at Sylvie’s here in Chicago, along with three of my songwriting classmates and a couple of other cool acts. Four of the seven performers had June birthdays, which added to the fun. I went last (at 10:30 pm – way past my bedtime), which meant I was two drinks into the evening before I got up on stage; apparently, that is the magic number for me to relax enough to perform my songs at a reasonable pace. I actually had to cut a song out of my set because I hadn’t blasted through all of the things I’d prepared! Below are the two new songs I played in my set; the rest of the set was older material that’s already elsewhere on my SoundCloud page.

Pre-Birthday Musings

Tomorrow is my birthday.

In some ways I feel like it snuck up on me this year. On the other hand, it’s been on my mind for the past week or two, so maybe it didn’t.

I don’t have super strong feelings one way or the other about being another year older. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but I think I should be more grateful than I am.

The truth is, I still don’t know how I made it from 16 to 17, and so the last decade and change, when I think about it, sometimes feels like borrowed time. My junior year of high school was a special sort of hell that somehow has yet to be matched for awfulness in my adult life (possibly because it left me better equipped for what came later). I don’t hate my life anymore, and I don’t hate myself, and while I’m not at all where I expected I’d be at age 28-minus-one-day, most days I feel like I’m doing okay for someone who hasn’t hit 30 yet.

It already feels like 28 is going to be a big year…I have a lot of plans, and I’m never sure how my plans will work out.

On that note, here’s a song I wrote based on the first card of tarot’s major arcana: The Fool, who is all about striking out on a new journey despite (or sometimes in oblivion to) the risks. Enjoy!