Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Comics as Diary

Attended an awesome session online today about using comics as a form of personal diary. Mari Naomi, an artist I've come to appreciate, shared how she uses this approach.

She draws one each morning, taking no more than 10 minutes. She uses something from the previous day as inspiration. She showed us a bunch of things she's drawn and then we all drew together!

Nearly 300 people of all descriptions drawing from the same prompt together! Definitely a win for pandemic technology hacks.

The Believer magazine has been facilitating these, they call it Friday Night Comics. Today's experience is likely to turn me into a subscriber.


Vaccination Street

We got our first round of the Pfizer vaccine today. Gosh my arm hurts all the way through my jaw, neck, and head and down to the hand, even the ribs on the injection side ache. The redness went away, still a little swollen. Both of us have headaches too.

So strange to be in the Oregon Convention Center, in the space we last experienced as an OSCON vendor hall, getting a shot.

Surreal, beautiful moment; walking into the OCC on a sunny, warm, April afternoon with a steady stream of people. Everyone masked, us in our respirators with cloth masks secured over the exhaust. Cherry blossom petals floating on the breeze around us all.

I commented to CK that I felt like we were in some post-apocalyptic, Japanese anime movie. Only the apocalypse is present and we're all staggering forward together. Well, most of us are trying to anyway.

Dora does not have cancer. She does have extremely bad pancreatitis and needs special food. She's eating the special food though; the vet fed her some and she ate some more for me at bedtime. She also walked up the stairs!

And then I got an email that shares with us a generous gift. It arrives at such a fortunate time and will make everything that needs to happen the next few months easier.

I was so overwhelmed, "verklempt" CK reminded me of this word, that I couldn't articulate to CK what was in the email. She grew quite alarmed for a moment as I struggled to get the word "good" out of my mouth and thrust my phone at her so she could just read the email. Then I sat down on the sofa and blubbered incoherently for a bit. Then I managed to text our dear friend a jumbled message of gratitude.

Then I opened a special bottle of bubbly wine!

It's been a rollercoaster the past couple of weeks. I'm grateful to be on it, especially in my "half-baked" (1 shot in of 2, when you're "fully baked") state.

Petals float by us.
Steady stream of masked people.
We walk carefully.


No Title, No Problem

I marvel sometimes at the way I get stuck at a title for a post. If I don't will myself to just start writing and sort it later, I'll just stare at the field for the title for many long minutes, painfully aware of the time ticking on by. I'm getting better, speedier at noticing my stuckness and moving to just writing.

Today we survived expanding our bubble! More tests being run on CK's fluids. I got to go to a special bakery and get treats for CK and our friend J, who didn't get treats on Monday and have PT for my neck.

It was a really busy day, but I allowed myself to lie on the bed with Bertie, under the weighted blanket, dozily listening to an audio performance of The A.B.C. Murders with an ice pack on my neck after my appointment.

I've succeeded in doing some chores each weekday this week, giving me more weekend time with CK! I'm hoping I can keep this up, maybe making a little chore time on the weekend for sorting and getting rid of stuff.

I'm working hard to just be glad I'm figuring out how to coordinate all the chores and the work I'm still doing. Sometimes I get down thinking how I feel like, at 51, I should have already learned all of this stuff a long time ago.

I morbidly joked this week, mostly in reference to CK possibly having some kind of autoimmune disorder, that childhood trauma is the "gift" that keeps on giving. It leaves us prone to all kinds of physical and mental illness and it may have hampered our access to life skills. There's so much assumption in the world about what people are taught at home when so many of us didn't have functioning adults parenting us.

Our parents didn't model home ownership or making a budget. There's so much we're learning.


Donuts and Friends

Monday I decided to take donuts to several friends. It went mostly well; I failed my timing in getting CK something special as well as forgetting to even stop at the bakery. Since I had picked up something especially delicious for dinner, she wasn't too sad.

Seeing friends, albeit briefly since the weather shifted to cold, windy, and hailing or sleeting, and the super special treat of fancy donuts, was pretty delightful. I also got to exchange presents with a friend; she gave me topographical maps, old library catalog cards, and a few computer punch cards!

I started listening to an audiobook called, "Laziness Does Not Exist" by Devon Price Ph.D., and it talks about how so many of us who come from poverty, blue collar families, or are queer, are even more likely to be pulled into the lie that we're lazy if we're not spending every waking moment producing. I absolutely see myself in this book; all the times I'm up at night half convinced I haven't done enough to deserve rest. I call it the "Productivity Trap", the author calls it the "Laziness Lie", which is pretty powerful!

Last night, realizing I was tired but hadn't made a blog post yet, I decided it was ok to skip it and just get to the restorative yoga pose that would help me sleep.

Tonight my mind's still buzzing a little, so it's post time!

Had a therapy session today where I kept being struck by how alone and lonely I am as a 6-7 year old kid. The memories of the specific instances of trauma weren't as present, so much as the aftermath. I realized how largely absent my Mother is, she shows up in brief explosions of anger, but I'm often so isolated and longing for connection.

None of these memories will ever be transformed into something beautiful, but as I integrate them I am discovering my child self. I'm seeing how creative and inventive I am, how tenacious, and how I find or create, cultivate resources that help me feel safe, comforted, and nurtured. Sometimes it was actual people, more often than not finding adults who cared for me in ways both small and great. Or just making a part of my bedroom really soothing.

I love my child self and appreciate her. I'm proud of what a clever, resourceful, resilient human she was and I remain.


Expressive Writing

I made an effort to spend all my accumulated Audible credits today. It's a step in getting rid of my account. Next I need to have CK show me how to get all my books downloaded into our NAS. Then the account goes away and that's one more monthly expense that's reduced. When I want a book, I can give money to CK and she'll get one and put it into the NAS.

Yes, it's more overhead, but having 2 accounts isn't really cost effective. I don't listen to one book a month. I am also happier to get some books from the library anyway. It's a step towards less money being spent.

Along the way of doing this I found a book about the "Laziness Lie", as the author puts it. It's an excellent look at what I've called the "Productivity Trap". It's an excellent listen for someone who's often up past midnight worried that've not done enough to merit going to bed to rest, resenting that I need to rest when I have so much to do.

In it the practice of Expressive Writing is mentioned and it piqued my curiosity. It's an approach of writing non-stop, without editing, for 20 minutes about your feelings. Then, at the end, you've the option of just throwing it all away. It's been used a lot with vets and populations that have often struggled to connect to emotions.

It made me think about some of the ways I'd try to "trick" my brain into letting me express to another person some of the things that had happened to me. Using my touch typing ability and making the font too tiny to read or/and taking my glasses off and just typing as fast as I can. Printing it out and giving it to my therapist. I wouldn't really look too closely at it myself and often I'd not save the file.

In another kind of expressive writing, I find myself thinking more and more about poetry. Perhaps I've taken enough of a break from writing it that I'm yearning to return.


Pandimiversary Week

I can't believe we're finally here. A year since I looked carefully into what was known about COVID-19 and by the end of the week I told all my students and employers that I had to stop teaching in person due to concerns for not only my health, but my wife's health as well. Two weeks later both the sites I taught at closed.

One site has reopened somewhat, but I had a conversation with them this month that I was not planning to return to in person teaching for the foreseeable future. I heard there might be the possibility of filming content for the other site, but there's never been any follow up about that. I told students last week that I planned to be online for a while yet.

Saturday I've scheduled a workshop, although I've not had anyone sign up yet. It's my actual sad anniversary date. I both hope people sign up and hope they don't so I can just rest at home. It might be better if they sign up, grounding for me. Although who knows.

I'm grateful for a good weekend connecting with my art friends and our close friend. A game we supported the fundraiser for arrived yesterday and we've played quite a lot. It's fun, although we're supposed to be able to get to a point level to reach a "Bronze Award" and we've yet to make it. That's making it a little frustrating, but it's a lovely addition to our game collection.

CK made a comment today about not being able to sustain a constantly expanding game closet and I looked at her a bit aghast. It's true, we really should rotate out some games we've lost interest in, but it feels a little harder to consider than even books!


Celebrating my Healing on my Mother’s Birthday

I got through my Mother's birthday, sheer would have been 78, without falling apart. Might be the first one in 7 years that hasn't included a meltdown.

And I had a hard week and a busy day! Honestly, I did fill the week up a bit so I couldn't get stuck in a wallow of anger and grief. I told my therapist it could either help me get through the week or be terrible.

It's turned out positively. I got sushi and tempura takeout for us (yes, did my Mother didn't like) and made the fancy cocktail I made up. We played our video games and watched summer Netflix. Ursa was a delightful good.

I know some of this success is from therapy and my commitment to keep going during these times. I don't fully grok why facing and integrating the horrors of my early childhood makes it easier to be present and start the challenge of moving to another country, but it does. I'm just grateful.

Our realtor came and we reviewed the bottom floor today. Really, it's more of the same; get rid of stuff, pack, and get out of the house. Then more serious work to repair, clean, and present can be done without us in the way.

My first project is to clean up the yard a bit in preparation to get landscaping folks hired. I'm hoping to be to this point by April.

I also want to have a goal of getting rid of things weekly. Maybe a daily task too. I'll find some way to use those habit tracking pages in the calendar!

In a couple of weeks, since CK's current manger had a health need scheduled, she'll ask for us to be connected with the relocation manager. Then we might start sharing the news more.

While this is public, we discussed it and this diary isn't well known, I haven't really shared much that I've been doing this, so the only folks seeing it are making a point to do so and/or an old RSS feed started sending it to them again! Those folks have heard the rumblings that we're slowly doing a big thing.

I heard from the Oregon Health Authority; no, hospice volunteers, even if they're actively working with patients, after not eligible for the vaccine. June it is, still. I got is both in the system though!



Today I hosted a support meeting about getting vaccinated for COVID. Last week there was so much anxiety and crosstalk that I offered time this week. Not a lot of folks came, but this have improved since last week.

The best part; helping a student realized that they're eligible now, despite being younger, because they use oxygen at home.

The other best bit was a student I admire sharing how she managed to get herself into a clinic in Woodburn, a little south of Portland. She noted how the Oregon Health Authority site states that you can go outside your county, she takes that to mean she can go anywhere she can get one quickly.

She made a plan to check out the taquerias and took her dog with her to give him an adventure. She got in early and then enjoyed Mexican food in her car with her dog.

In the past she's traveled alone and she would often show up with bright pink hair.

She has so much gumption and curiosity, I really admire her. I have a lot of good role models for aging now, bit she's up there with Dame Judy Dench!


Ice Storm Cometh

Snow came in and we got a few inches! This evening it turned into freezing rain and it's been coming down for hours. The wind is also really bad, our power has flickered a few times.

I really hope we don't lose power. If we do, I'm grateful for our gas appliances that allow us to make tea and food. We even have gas fireplace insert we can use for some heat even though it's not super efficient.

I'm listening to freezing rain hit the house. Occasionally a gust of wind blows a branch into the house. It sounds like winter and I'm grateful to be warm inside.


Small Delights

My physical therapist encouraged me today to keep focused on the progress being made and reminded me that most countries are having fiascos around getting vaccines administered. Last month we'd compared gratitude practices and this is a kind of extension of that.

She mentioned it because of shared that I'm feeling down this month. It's just felt like so much, too much for too long. I'm sad and angry.

I'm also still practicing gratitude. I told her about the practice of small delights or wonders I've been sharing with students. Next week I'll share her suggestion about having a progress focus.

Today I'm grateful I could shop for the friend who's done it for me recently. The weather was sunny when I needed to wait outside before I could enter the store. There were only 2 people in line ahead of me to enter; there were over a dozen when I left! I found nearly everything both households wanted and a few, yummy extras.

I'm especially glad that CK slept through the night. I was hypervigilant, worried any move was her waking, but she rested! We repeated Tuesday night's order tonight; she hasn't woke up yet!

My special delight was being able to score the last loaf of walnut bread at Ken's Artisan Bakery, the best bread ever.