Rollercoaster Week

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I, for one, am very much ready for the weekend – I’ve been about a day ahead of myself all week, so waking up to the news that today is, in fact, Thursday and not Friday was a bit of a disappointment.

This has been a week of big feelings in a lot of different directions. I started the week off with some rough medical news that means starting on two new medications along with some other changes to routine. I’ll be fine – I have a fabulous doctor and a solid care plan and it’s all entirely treatable – but it was a heavy way to start the week. On the other end of things, we’ve convinced my best friend to move back to Minnesota and into our building, which has me so excited I don’t know what to do with myself! I’m looking forward to turning our lives into a sitcom.

Work has continued to be busy; my third new hire started on Monday and the first one started taking tickets this week. Everyone seems to be getting along great with the team and ramping up quickly, so that’s a relief.

I am grateful that I have therapy today and can work through some of my big feelings. I am grateful that the weekend is almost here and that I’m going to get to play D&D this weekend. I am doing my best to hold space for all of my feelings, including that gratitude.

I’ll leave you, as always, with new Nova content. She went to the dog park over the weekend and had a great time digging a hole:

Nervous System Regulation

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! (I initially wrote that as “welcome to Thursday?” which actually feels pretty accurate right now.) It’s been a decent week so far – we’ve managed to maintain our newly-cleaned kitchen pretty well, we’ve cooked a few more times (I’m making tacos again tonight), and things are generally good.

We’re leaving in a couple of weeks for Song School, and I’m so excited. I’m also so anxious. We’re boarding Nova for the first time for this trip, and that’s a stressful thought – she has separation anxiety, but I know I do, too. (We took her to the vet yesterday to get her up-to-date on all her booster shots, and they gave us some trazodone for her to help with the anxiety of boarding and of going to the groomer.) It’s the longest trip my husband and I will have taken together since the last time we went in 2019. Instead of camping this year (since I didn’t want to figure out camping with a PAP machine), we’re staying at a tiny house resort across the street from the festival grounds where Song School happens, which is exciting but also unfamiliar. On top of the trip itself, I have a big final paper due for my one remaining summer class the Friday after we get back, so I need to start on that (thankfully I know what I’m writing about and got that approved by my professor, just waiting for the books I need to arrive so I can get going on it). And at work I’ve just kicked off the process of hiring a new person, and I know I have at least a couple more people I’ll be hiring in the next couple of months. It’s all just adding up to a lot – I have a tendency toward travel anxiety anyway, and all of these layers of stress are compounding into what feels like an unreasonable amount of nerves for something that is ultimately a thing I’m really looking forward to.

I’ve been thinking a lot about neurodivergence lately, and how that part of myself intersects with the other parts of me. I’m learning how to be gentler with myself, to acknowledge when I need accommodations in some situations, and to work out how to make those accommodations happen. Since I’m in a particularly stressful time (and a time that is going to continue to be stressful after I get back from Song School, as I’ll be taking 3 classes this fall on top of working full time), I’m really trying to focus on what my body needs and how to keep my nervous system a little more regulated amidst the stress. I am trying to lean into my self care and soul care practices that help keep me steady.

Thankfully, I have therapy this afternoon and can brainstorm additional regulatory tactics with my therapist. I’m grateful that, despite the stress, I’m feeling capable of handling everything. I know I have the capacity to do the things I need to do; I’m just learning how to honor that capacity without trying to power through things I don’t need to power through.

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough and I’m late in getting this posted, so I shall leave you with your weekly Nova photodump:

Gratitude

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I’m slightly late getting this posted today, but here we are. I don’t have a lot of stuff to share by way of news this week, so I think I’m going to do something I haven’t done on here in a while and share a few things I’m grateful for lately:

  • Queer community care. Last week, my husband and I decided to put out a call to our local queer exchange on Facebook to see if someone would be willing to come over and give us some judgment-free help unearthing our kitchen, which has been some level of disaster basically since we moved in a year ago and hadn’t really been functional for at least a few months. We hoped if we could get some help cleaning and organizing that we could set it up more functionally for our neurodivergent brains to make food prep and cooking a lot more approachable. The response was overwhelming – so many people offered to help. We ended up hiring a fellow neurodivergent human who was an absolute delight to have over; they worked with us for four hours on Saturday and another three on Monday, and last night I finally got to cook in our kitchen for the first time in months. (We had tacos; they were delicious.) I am grateful that care for community is such a strong characteristic of the queer spaces I’ve been fortunate to be in.
  • D&D. About a month ago I connected with a new, in-person game with a group of folks I’d never met before. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go initially, but we’re 5 sessions in and I’m having a blast (even though my first character died after two sessions of play; I think the character I’m playing now is a better fit for this table anyway). I was a little worried that adding an additional recurring thing to my schedule (on top of work and school and regular life stuff) would be too much, but that chance to just play and escape into a story for a few hours every week is so important to me. I’m grateful that I landed in such a good group for my first in-person game in a long time.
  • Connection. On Sunday I was able to get lunch with a friend from undergrad who was in town. We hadn’t seen each other in years and we didn’t have a ton of time, but it was SO GOOD to get to catch up a little bit and celebrate how far we’ve both come. I also got to participate in a “queer writing party” that a friend hosted Sunday afternoon, and it was inspiring to share that space with folks and hear what other people were working on. I am grateful for these opportunities for connection in the midst of everything going on globally.

I will leave you, as ever, with your weekly dose of Nova:

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:

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:

Under the Weather

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. Spring sort of arrived in St. Paul, and with it, my seasonal allergies…and then yesterday there was snow and freezing rain, and the drastic temperature shifts are making my joints pretty unhappy. Getting up for work has been a struggle this week as a result.

But even though that’s made me a little cranky, things are otherwise okay. I know what I’m doing for my final projects for both of my classes, and I shouldn’t have too much trouble getting those done. We only have a couple of weeks left in the semester, which is WILD. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned over these last few months and for professors who let me push some boundaries on projects to make them fit my own spiritual practices and methods of theological interpretation better.

It’s Transgender Day of Visibility today, which I feel like I should mention. Last year Tuck Woodstock of the Gender Reveal podcast had the brilliant idea of rebranding the day “Transgender Day of Staying in and Having a Nice Snack” and that is very much the energy I’m feeling today – visibility is exhausting sometimes and doesn’t actually help us on its own. Anyway, I’d encourage y’all (especially if you’re cis) to consider donating to a trans mutual aid fund today. The aforementioned Gender Reveal podcast actually does a great job of this if you’re looking for ideas (there are also links to this on the page linked above)!

Anyway, I will leave you with a few pictures of Nova enjoying yesterday’s weather:

National Puppy Day

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday – I, for one, have been confused about the day of the week all week long, so hopefully this announcement that it is, in fact, Thursday, can help ground us a little bit.

I don’t have whole lot to talk about this week. I’m still waiting on the CPAP machine. I managed to get a little ahead on homework last week, which was nice, except that by Monday I was certain I was forgetting something, even though I checked everything at least five times and knew that I couldn’t have missed anything. I’m getting signed up for summer classes and planning some work travel for the period in between trimesters. Lots of little things happening but nothing that’s terribly interesting to anyone but me, probably.

However, yesterday was apparently National Puppy Day! I am sad that we don’t have any baby photos of Nova, but I’m happy to provide a selection of highlights here from National Puppy Day (I also got a new phone yesterday, so I was having a lot of fun taking pictures):

Tired and Annoyed

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I’m a little out of it this morning – I took a sick day yesterday, so I’ve spent the morning catching up on emails and Slack messages. I’m quite sleepy. I got an update from the sleep center on Friday that we’re not doing the in-center sleep study (insurance won’t approve it right now), but I am getting a CPAP…eventually. Evidently there’s a worldwide shortage of CPAP machines right now due to some massive recall. So that’s annoying.

Probably as a side effect of being overtired and also because I’ve just had a lot of work to do between work and school lately, I have felt really irritable this week. It’s not my favorite thing. I feel like I’m unpleasant to be around. I’m doing my best to compensate where I can and to be honest about my feelings where I need to be, but yeah. It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had.

Nova went to the groomer on Saturday and is once again a TikTok star. They do a great job of capturing her personality. I don’t have much else to say this week, so I’ll leave you with a few pictures of Nova when she was particularly shiny and still wearing her bandana from the groomer (before she tried to eat it off of her neck and I had to confiscate it haha):