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:

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.

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:

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):

Sleep is Important

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It’s been a week. I had a lovely rest of my time off last week; even though I have some regrets about not working ahead on school work, I think I made the right choice to take the time to really relax.

As I mentioned last week that I was doing a home sleep study Thursday night. I got the results back, and as it turns out…I’m really bad at breathing when I sleep. I have severe sleep apnea, which is why I’m tired all the time.

The good news is this is totally treatable, and once I’m set up with a CPAP machine and get used to wearing that when I sleep, the chances that I’ll actually sleep well are vastly increased. The idea of getting an actually restful night’s sleep is mind-blowing to me and I’m very excited to find out what that feels like.

The bad news is I have to wait for my insurance to approve the in-person sleep study they need to do in order to set up the CPAP correctly for me, and that can apparently take a month. And now that I know definitively just how awful my sleep has been, it’s like I can’t pretend that it’s okay anymore, and I feel extra tired.

I’m really grateful that my husband pushed me to get this checked out and that I got the ball rolling now. I’m also really frustrated with American healthcare right now.

Next week for school I have two papers and a presentation due, in addition to the usual readings and reflections, and I’m a little overwhelmed about that. I did get one of the papers started last night, and that helped the anxiety somewhat, but I didn’t exercise the greatest judgment when scheduling my weekend in light of all of this homework. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, that’s my week. I’ll leave you, as always, with a few silly Nova photos from this week:

Vacation!

Hello, dear readers. It is Thursday, and this blog post is late, because I am on vacation, and what is time? I hope you’re all hanging in there with everything that’s going on in the world right now.

I have mostly unplugged this week. The friend who was going to be coming into town ended up not being able to make it, so it’s been lots of quiet family time at home, which, frankly, was really what I needed. I’ve played some video games, I started knitting a new sweater, I’ve been doing a decent job of not thinking too much about work or school. Tonight, I’m doing a home sleep study, so that’ll be interesting but will hopefully lead to some helpful insights to help improve my relationship to sleep.

I don’t have much else to write about this week, but I will leave you with these photos of Nova being very confused about why the yarn ball wasn’t for her:

It’s a Blog!

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. I am struggling a bit this week – I have a lot of things going on between work and school (not to mention the rest of my life), and I’m having a hard time holding it all and prioritizing which balls I need to keep in the air and what I can allow to drop for a bit. I will be fine – I have therapy this afternoon and I know that none of my problems are all that big – but I am tired and my jaw is tight and I’m just a little overwhelmed.

I wasn’t sure what to write about this week beyond the overwhelm, but I thought after showing off how my new electric mandola looks last week, maybe I should share how it sounds, too. Last Friday I took the day off with the intention of spending the morning taking some assessments for school and the afternoon doing music as a chance to kind of reset my brain. The assessments ended up not taking very long, so I was able to record one song I’d already had pretty much figured out and then write and record a whole second song that afternoon. Here’s that second song:

Awake with You by Alyxander James

This was an experiment in GarageBand – it’s not perfect and listening to it again there are definitely things I’d change. But I’m pleased with it overall for not really having a clue what I’m doing.

Here are the lyrics, for the curious:

Today was another hard day
I know you’ve had a lot of those lately
Everything feels like a mess
Been a while since you knew it’d turn out okay
Now you lie in bed
With the day on replay in your mind
Wondering whether the tension will ever unwind

But I will stay awake with you
I will stay awake with you

I am not going to say
That life will look better tomorrow
And I am not going to tell you
That every day you’ll be subject to sorrow
No one can say
What’s waiting for us down the line
But whatever it is, I’ll be right by your side

I will stay awake with you
I will stay awake with you

oo

I will stay awake with you
I will stay awake with you

I’ll leave you with this photo of a Very Good Doggo looking intently at something unseen by the humans in our apartment.

Knitting Progress

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. I hope you’re all safe and warm and well. The weather here in the Midwest was particularly wild last night – a friend in Kansas heard reports of tennis-ball-sized hail in her county, we were under a tornado watch here in St. Paul, there was a ton of wind damage across several states…also, it was so warm yesterday I took the dog out in a t-shirt, and this morning the windchill was in the single digits Fahrenheit. My body and brain both struggle with large temperature and barometric pressure changes, so it’s been a day. Thankfully, we are safe, and while the dog was disappointed by the disappearance of the snow in yesterday’s heat wave, we should be getting a bit more today.

Other than wild weather, it’s been a pretty nondescript week. I did finish a sweater, which I’m really pleased with:

I love when a finished project looks like it did in my head!

I started this sweater back in May, didn’t work on it much for a lot of the summer, finished the body back in October, and then blew through the sleeves in four days earlier this week. I also knit a hat for my littlest nephew last week. This is the most knitting I’ve done in quite a while.

Other than that, I don’t have too much else to report. My first regular session with my new therapist went really well; we’re not meeting this week because she’s traveling, but I have a good feeling that this will be very helpful (it already has been). I’ll leave you with the requisite Nova photos from this week: