altarflame: (deluge)
It seems to be universally understood that 2016 was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. For me personally, I haven't felt so much stress and tension regularly since the year I was diagnosed with PTSD. I do have good and bad things to recap, though.

I kept most of my resolutions, which were things like, "spend a lot more time at the ocean," "actually try out meditation at least a couple of times and see how it goes," "take some solid steps in the direction of polyamory that are not just talking about it," and "pick a grad level academic direction and start heading in it."

To that end...I attended several free oceanside beach meditations, of which one was great and the rest were mediocre; a couple of paid, indoor group meditations led by a former teacher, which I found way more helpful but harder to work out logistically since they're during the week; and downloaded a meditation app that I used three times, all of which were mostly spent trying not to fall asleep. In addition to the beach meditations, I started trying to get to the full moon drum circles on Miami Beach once a month, and made more trips down to Tavernier for lunch and The Water. 10/10, must continue all that ocean time.

I joined some polyamory fb groups, and a meetup group, and went - with Grant - to a potluck the meetup group has. Started delving into who will vaccinate an older person (non-teen) against HPV, spent time with a couple of guys in ways that made me understand myself as being "demisexual," (albeit on the nympho end of that scale, which is why I initially rejected the idea since it's on the asexuality spectrum for many), worked through truckloads of jealousy wrt Grant meeting someone else for lunch until I realized all kinds of shit about myself, and then felt better about it. Final poly verdict: I'm only interested in forming friendships that might turn into more but will probably never do traditional "dating," where you're feeling each other out as strangers to see if you want to be romantic partners, because I kinda just don't work that way. While it's gonna take an amazing and fortuitous connection to be worthwhile, I AM very interested in forming those friendships. In their own right, and for the possible lover-potential sometime down the road.

The academic-direction-picking seemed clear once I thought honestly about how many different things I still want to do with my life. I still have angst about this at times, as I was IN LOVE with neuropsychology and studying botany was one of the greatest things I've ever pursued...but I can't be in school in a way that consumes my whole life, I just can't. This MSW and eventual licensure is something profitable that I believe in and think I'm good at, and it checks a lot of boxes re: things I've wanted to do since I was a kid. AND I can still be a parent, and write, and travel, and have a social life, and a million plants, etc.

So! Resolutions aside. 2016 Good and Bad Recap!

BAD:

-I spent so much of this year deeply preoccupied by mental health crises in my 3 older children. I mean each of them, one after the other, occupying months in a row of keeping me up at night and straining my ability to keep calm during the day. I'm very grateful to have excellent health insurance and the time and resources to get a lot of counseling and medication when necessary, but damn. This has been a parenting year to shave years off my life. The happy ending is that everybody is pretty much doing fine for a few months now, with some periodic backslides... And, I guess, that they took turns and didn't all struggle hard at the same time. Gaaaaaaaah.

-My Pa was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and I was the only one willing or able to speak up and tell him it was ok, if he didn't want to deal with chemo, and just wanted to enjoy the rest of his life.

-I had two seriously taxing, entangled interactions with my mother that needed recovering from... both involving lots of alcohol and tears on her part. Most notable perhaps was the moment when she was reiterating her deep love and loyalty for me and I said, "Those are just words!"

-I have really let myself down with reference to writing. I had big plans at the beginning of this year, and they've haunted me literally every single day, but they've yielded basically nothing. I experience stress about this EVERY day at some point. The urge to write is so strong and...it's complicated.

-I was really caught up in, and then sad about, the democratic primary results - and downright devastated by the presidential election. Both involved so much suspense, late nights, tears, grief, anger... We donated money, applied stickers, erected signs, attended rallies, voted, shared articles, argued with relatives, etc, etc, ETC. I listened to a lot of NPR pretty much daily at the beginning of this year, but just can't really deal with it at all anymore.

-Speaking of constant, oppressive stress... I usually experience a lot of that surrounding major life transitions, and especially success I have no context for. So getting my Bachelors (physical diploma) in the mail, the congratulatory emails from school, applying to grad school, getting accepted to grad school, interviewing with agencies for practicum - they've all involved a WHOLE LOT of this. I've been distant or distracted or irritable with Grant (because I really won't allow myself to be, with the kids) SO OFTEN this year, and then we have these embarrassing conversations where I admit I just can't handle it anymore that every day for a month could be the day the diploma or the decision arrives, or whatever irrational shit. UGH!

-I also had the worst asthma I've ever experienced, and major allergy flare-ups. Sleeping several nights with accumulated dust and foreign cat hair had me relying heavily and regularly on inhalers for the first time in my life, for about 3 months. Whenever I'd try to stop, I'd realize I was moving as little as possible and getting light-headed from the slightest thing. It's really only for a month or so now that I can walk fast and talk at the same time, again, or read to Elise for a whole chapter without hitting the albuterol first. It still comes everywhere I go just in case, but I can actually sing loud along with the music in the car without going into coughing fits.

-Death is just...everywhere? Our beloved pediatrician of more than a decade died, and Elise wore a Spiderman suit to his memorial service (he was known as Dr Spiderman). Someone I have invited into my home, the partner of one of my good RL friends, just killed herself in late December - there have been long phone calls, home visits, a memorial. And then of course we have the neverending stream of celebrity deaths that this year has brought. Alan Rickman and Fidel Castro felt the most personal for me, but it's hard to count the number of times my social media feeds have turned to grief and tributes and sometimes that collective woe really gets to me.

-The sex drive disparity in my marriage has really been almost at it's worst - "almost" because we can be honest now, so that's better than when we couldn't communicate about it well many years ago. This is partially due to Grant's depression and need to focus on himself, and partially just who he is and who I am, but it's just way too familiar for me to be up late by myself night after night as several weeks go by in between times. Conversations about it lead to (shared, conversational, intimate in their way) tears way more often than sex. I understand that this might sound dramatic to some people, but this is really something with the power to make everything else happening seem much better or worse, for me.

-And it combines with general social loneliness in a pretty awful, heavy way. I have made BIG strides toward forming new RL community for myself this year (classmates, meetup.com, OKCupid, a couple of other homeschooling moms, etc), but they haven't really come to fruition quite yet.

Fucking hell man just really laying all this shit out makes me see how heavy it's cumulatively been.

GOOD:

-I got my physical (Bachelors) diploma in the mail! It stopped being weird at some point, and I hung it on the wall and now it feels real and I'm proud of it!

-And I got into grad school!

-And knocked out my first chunk of it! (like holy shit, how do I have one semester of a two year program finished already wtf)

-My actual degree program is amazing. I like the material, adore a couple of the teachers, LOVE some of my classmates. Class time is intense, friendships are developing, and there is excitement about the future in many ways. The agencies I'm going to be working with for internships do really important work I believe in. I had to do academic writing that references specific legislation, policies, and precedents for the first time. A++

-Attending the Herbal Conference in February was amazing. Life changing, even. Restorative, etc. I don't know where to begin. Magic.

-Solo roadtrip in July was also pretty great, with old friends and new. It was also very hard, as the allergies and asthma shit started, but I needed it so bad. Swimming in the cold springs for the first time, hanging out with Kristin again for the first time in a year, staying with Jess and Cale and eating and talking, just very very good stuff.

-Dresden Dolls show in Coney Island was the greatest concert experience of my life, and just...rad. St Patricks' Cathedral, too. The food throughout the trip. Experiencing Ananda's experience of it all. NYC can be fucking rad.


Miscellaneous:

Some of the songs of 2016 for me were -
Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill (both accoustic and regular)
Beck - WOW
Sylvan Esso - Coffee
Star Band of Dakar - Sigala
Rilo Kiley's whole Pictures of Success album
RHCP - Dark Necessities

Foodwise -
This was the year I learned how to make good polenta and went crazy with it.
Found Chill Bar, along with the rest of the Yellow Green Market.
We put fish tacos and Grant's homemade salsa into the regular dinner rotation.
I felt much better when I ate zero grains, and ok if I just at least stayed away from gluten.


I would like to state for the record that it is SHOCKING that it's already January 16th, and that "2017" still sounds like some kind of wild sci-fi concept shit, to me.

I am still deciding on resolutions for this year, which has been a January-long process for me these past few years.
altarflame: (deluge)
1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
-trained/challenged myself in a running program
-worked out in a gym
-attended a university
-applied for a passport
-started monitoring my credit, and taking real steps to improve it
-really tackled the very worst, super triggering terrible stuff, in therapy
-read one of my stories for/had it featured by someone else (and Twenty Troubled Ladies is also now part of one professor's ENC1101 curriculum at Miami Dade College, how nuts is THAT)
-broke glass on purpose - several times
-seriously considered and talked about polyamory

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolutions were small, but I do think I did fairly well at all three of them - I resolved to drink more water on a regular basis, read to the children much more than I had been, and to get better at taking compliments. I still catch myself stammering or arguing with well meaning people who are trying to be nice to me, but I CATCH MYSELF. I've had to bridge the gap to graciousness by actually explaining to people when I get too awkward that I made this resolution to get better at taking compliments.

I will make more. It's a good tool for me, that's led to some nice lasting changes in recent years. There will be specific writing goals, and straight As, on the list, though beyond that I'm not sure yet.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. My mother got diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). She is still smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes per day.

5. What countries did you visit?
No other countries...I took Aaron to a dance convention in Orlando in May (I think?), and I went with Grant to Maryland in the summer, and Boston in the fall.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Local friends I see regularly.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory?
I'm not good at dates, but the market in Silver Spring, and the Becca Rosenthal memorial concert, those were really great occasions. Annie's derby bouts, too.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I don't know. Maybe getting through a few weeks of C25K and making some real progress before I started flaring, maybe doing really well in 5 classes during the short summer term. Elise's birthday (science lab table and Seaquarium trip) and Thanksgiving (SO much good food, SO many peope I really love) were both fabulous successes this year.

Also huge success - summer. Ananda did a big 3 day derby event up the road with Grant, and Girl Scout leadership training, and 3 weeks of GS camp. Aaron had a big recital and then 5 fulltime weeks of dance intensives. Isaac, Jake and Elise had 4 weeks of GMYS (symphony) camp, and Elise also did 3 weeks of GS camp. They were just all doing really great structured stuff that I felt good about, at the same time I was rocking all those classes.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I think it was not seeking help or being proactive about managing whatever is wrong with me better. I suffered in silence, half-assing my classes this fall and struggling to do anything, for way too long. It might have made a huge difference in my grades and our last couple of months as a family if I'd went to the freaking doctor about 2 months before I did.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes. I'm suffering some kind of thing that we're still trying to figure out. So far the list of symptoms is a high sed rate and positive c-reactive protein, B-12 and folic acid deficiency, extreme exhaustion, intermittently painful joints, periodic fevers, and terrible brain fog. I start seeing a new rheumatologist January 13.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Naot shoes. Orthopedic (purple!) mary janes, basically. They made it possible for me to traipse all over my 342 acre campus.

Also Nexxus split end repair shampoo and conditioner!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My children's amazing dentist. She loves them all and remembers so many details about each of them. She lets Elise hold the little spit sucker and/or rinsing tubes and "help" while she works on the other kids. She listens to and engages them. And she's always telling us some awesome story about when she was scuba diving or when she was in India.

And Neil Gaiman! First he retweeted and tumblr reblogged stuff about meeting Ananda, which absolutely THRILLED her like I've rarely seen her thrilled...then he made us this video, which I think actually made it up to her that she wasn't there with us :D I think she will feel special for the rest of her life because of these things.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Steve Bateman, the mayor where I live, who was arrested for fraud and still got to run for the following term FROM PRISON.

And someone else I don't feel like I can call out publicly. YET o_O

14. Where did most of your money go?
I feel like every little bit of it went to Annie's derby trips, replacement gear, symphony tuition, dental extractions and braces. I also feel like it all went to Isaac's school in the form of supplies, uniforms, fundraisers, charity drives, field trips, cheerleading tuition, bake sale contributions, performance tickets... The truth is I spend it all at the grocery store.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
"The Killing Type" - and "In My Mind" - and "St Kilda to Fitzroy" ...in that order.

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:

Thinner or fatter: Ever so slightly thinner

Richer or poorer: Somewhat significantly richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Hanging out with friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Sitting in the stopped, idling car like a jackass. I mean damn.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Here at home :) My mother in law, her husband, and our nieces (who live with them) are staying at our house all week.

21. What was your favorite month of 2013?
Hmm...I don't know. Late summer and early fall were the healthiest and most adventurous times, though.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?
I fell in love with thai food. And bubble tea.

23. How many one-night stands?
Why is this question even on the meme? (that's a no)

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Louie on FX. Louis CK - there are not words for how I love him.

This last season of True Blood was amazing, too. Easily the best out of the last few.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
The (resigned? I think?) CEO of Dade Medical College. But that's more about him as an entity and what it means for my town, and less about anything truly personal...

26. What was the best book you read?
Probably "The Night Circus," by Erin Morgenstern. I also really liked, "The Ocean at The End of The Lane" by Neil Gaiman and "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
AMANDA PALMER, and the Dresden Dolls

28. What did you want and get?
An iPhone 5, and it's superior camera.

29. What did you want and not get?
Robby down for Thanksgiving.
A Christmas Eve celebration.
Finished illustrations.
A spot in the Miami Book Fair.
Energy, many days.
For this stupid abdominal surgery I need to just be done and over with.
Mostly, honestly, to just connect with people more IRL.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Maybe this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0Hhh2rQXl8 and moreso because I saw it at a live screening. Hollywood style, it was a three way tie between Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and World War Z.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
OOOooooh it was so epic, Grant and I both turned 32 and we went to Boston for 5 days just the two of us. We hung out and stayed with Nancy, ate at delicious restaurants, went to [livejournal.com profile] emeraldrabbit's house and passed an afternoon with her little family, met [livejournal.com profile] idiolecto for coffee, spent the night in a ridiculously posh penthouse suite... I was starting to feel bad, during the trip, but it hadn't really hit a crescendo yet. It was lovely.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If Anne Rice had continued replying to my emails. I feel very left hanging, even though it makes sense that she gets overwhelmed with correspondence and I don't think it's personal.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
ASOS Curve

34. What kept you sane?
I'm not sure I was always sane, this year.

Huge crying jags and "getting it all out," in a rush of words, usually helped, though. Usually to Grant, sometimes to Kristin, more rarely Jess or my sister. I've had some really helpful counseling strides. Going and interacting with people in classes has been helpful, too.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Mmm...I really don't. I like looking at Helena Bonham Carter and Kat Dennings and when Chris Hemmsworth is dressed up as Thor but not in character that's a really weird and specific hotness? I mostly "fancy" bloggers and indie authors and fictional characters.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The second inauguration. The Trayvon Martin case. Anonymous Vs Steubenville. And Monsanto's continuing infliltration of positions of power :/

37. Who did you miss?
People I haven't met yet! And, my Aunt Michelle.

38. Who were the best new people you met?
Michael Pope. Isaac's cheerleading coach. Mark Cotton!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
How important it is to be prolific, and how significantly small bits of productivity can add up.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/amandapalmer/inmymind.html
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
One of my New Years resolutions was to drink (a lot) more water. I'm doing it, but the thing is I wonder every day whether or not the health benefits are worth it when compared to the loss in quality of life because of how much I fucking loathe having to go pee all the time. I realize this is ridiculous but, like, seriously, it is extremely annoying to me to have to stop what I'm doing and go to the bathroom. Ever, not just when it's frequent. I just don't understand why my body is so inefficient and irritating. It seems like a total waste of time and effort to me, to a degree I understand is both unusual and irrational.

For what it's worth, I have the same reaction to needing to stop and get gas. I frequently get to the bathroom feeling ready to burst, and frequently pull into the gas station when my little indicator countdown warning says I only have *** miles left til we break down on the side of the road.

I wonder if this is because some subconscious part of my brain feels like my bladder and my van should be advancing the same way other technology is. I think my iPhone has totally died once since I got it 6 months ago, and I can plug it in while using it anywhere I am :p Sort of similar to how I got an IUD 6 months ago and haven't thought about birth control since.

Urination is archaic bullshit, this is 2012 and I won't stand for it!




So, this classy establishment is where I purchase my car insurance:


As you can see, they spare no expense where decorating is concerned:


Priorities = straight:


And this is Miami for "shirt".


I do love where I live.


Do they have coffee so strong it's served in thimbles other places?

This is not vegan, but as cheating goes I felt ok about it ;)

Also not vegan. Who the hell finds a picture like this appetizing?!


Jakey at TLC.


A Jake story copied and pasted from facebook:
My Jakey is so sweet ♥ He just brought me his beloved teddy bear, Beary, in panic, because he had a hole. I told him to bring me the sewing kit and he was all worried it was going to hurt Beary. So we put him to sleep first, and then Jake ran to make him a pretend cake while I did the surgery so he could have a treat when he woke up. When I called him to tell him Beary was all done and good as new he threw his arms around my neck with all this emotion, telling me "THANK YOU MAMA!" *sigh* This kid is awesome.

Immediately upon recovery, Beary had a birthday party that I was invited to.

He is about 115 in Favorite Stuffed Animal years (they have a birthday approximately once a week).

Here he is dressed, in some of Jake's old clothes :)


View through my bedroom doors one day:


One night, we were at Kristin's, and she had Hennessy and Hennessy Hammocks:


The next morning, I took a shower:


Packed up my vegan food for a long day out:


And talked to Kristin on the highway as we serendipitously rolled along side by side:


Aaron and Isaac at Dr Geraldi's last week...they could not be more different.


My oil and water children.


My surprise when I came out from the bedroom on Valentine's Day morning:


Das right, baby <3

I'm not really a Starbucks person anymore, I guess, since 1. I can't afford that! and 2. I can't get non-dairy stuff from them that isn't soy.

I am eating seafood. Pesce-vegan?


P.F. Chang's Asian Pear Mojito trumps all other Mojitos.


Ananda has improvisational style for days. Here she is in a brother's shirt, my tank top, shorts she just cut...


Here she is taller than Nancy. It's clear who's happier about this development.


That park was great.


Isaac turned 8! Here he is with his card from Nana and Pa.

He's really getting something of a birthday week...he's gotten cards in the mail a couple of days, and got a new bike and to choose the whole day's menu on the day. This weekend just him and Dad are going camping and we're doing cake and pinata with some people (which will be extra special since Oma is coming down from Lake City).

A random shot of a Magic game. They play a lot lately.


Gratuitous Elise pictures:


May 2017

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