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:

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It has felt like a whilrwind of a week.

Friday I headed out to the PNW to visit my best friend, because it had been too long and she’s been struggling. It was a pretty brief visit bookended by two pretty long travel days, but it was absolutely worth it to be able to hug her and hang out. It made me think more about queer community and how we look out for each other and show up for each other. I’m grateful to the friends and others who have modeled that generosity and love for me, and grateful that I have the resources to be able to be there for the people that I care about. It was hard to leave my friend, and it’s also nice to be home now that my husband and Nova are here consistently, too.

I ended up calling off from work on Monday – didn’t get home until around midnight Sunday night and I woke up with a pretty bad headache. After sleeping in and finishing my homework, I had my first session of my second fall class Monday night, which went well. I am a bit intimidated by this class, but I think it’s going to be good.

Yesterday I got my covid booster and my flu shot. So far I’m feeling mostly okay…ever-so-slightly feverish and a little achy, but not awful. Hoping I make it through the day at work.

I don’t have a whole heck of a lot else to report this week, but I’ll leave you with your weekly Nova fix:

Off-Kilter

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It’s been another kind of weird week here, as my husband has still been helping their mom and brother out this week. We’ve been shuttling Nova between the apartment and my in-laws’ house every couple of days, since I’ve had some evening appointments and she doesn’t love being left alone (plus grandma and grandpa’s house has very exciting windows that look out on a yard with bunnies and squirrels – she loves it there).

It’s going to continue to be a bit of an off-kilter week, too – my husband is picking their dad up at the airport this evening and they’ll be coming home with Nova tonight, but then tomorrow I’m flying out to WA to visit my best friend for the weekend. It’ll be a very quick trip, but I’m excited to see her. I’ll get back late Sunday, and then Monday get right back into work, plus my second fall class starts Monday evening.

I’m trying to be aware of what self-care practices I’m letting slide as my routine gets jumbled, and to figure out how I can make space to continue those practices on the days when they would need to look a little different than usual.

Not too much else to report this week, so here’s your weekly dose of Nova, fun at grandma and grandpa’s edition:

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:

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):

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):

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: