Log: Jul 21 + 22 (Tue + Wed): Just catching up on sleep, still

Jul 21 (Tue): Therapy 8:30a; Work 10:30a – 5:30p;
Jul 22 (Wed): Work; Go to my aunt & uncle’s house and run some laundry

Tuesday: Therapy in the morning. Still tired. Accomplished what I needed to accomplish at work, and rented 1 textbook from online (smile.amazon.com, please! USE IT in place of the regular Amazon so you can have them send $$$ to charities!!!).

Summer Trees

Summer Trees

Spent hours looking online for assistive technologies for reading trouble. I found some amazing ones but they cost over $1500, no joke!!! I searched for phone apps and finally located one that was free to try out, and I loved it so much I went and paid the $2.99 for the full version, without ad banners and such. It’s FANTASTIC. You take a snapshot of a book page, tell it where the borders of the text are on the picture, then use the OCR text recognition. Then it is text that you can edit, save,  or in my case — I have my phone set to read aloud to me with just a 2-finger swipe down from the top of my phone screen. I personally use the male voice English/UK-US accent. I find the female voices very annoying and they break my concentration.

Anyway, it’s awesome. The app is called TurboScannerOCR. I needed to read an instructional manual last night, and I used this and got through the important bits! Fabulous. Technology is awesome.

I’m seriously debating buying technology like the Livescribe Smartpen for school, but the reviews are pretty iffy. It sounds like the best case scenario is that they’ll last about 2 years and then at the minimum will have issues with the display screens and become basically worthless. I don’t think it’s worth the money for something so expensive and short-lived. But the potential they have is amazing.

Friendly Cat

Friendly Cat

In other news, I’m doing something that is to some degree … immoral. I trimmed just the barest tips of 2 toenails off of my boyfriend’s roommate’s cat who has cut me so many times. I have scabs all over my hands from her, and the majority of my clothes now have holes or pulled threads. She is very, extremely friendly and sweet and loving and playful and a great cat, except her nails are so damn SHARP. And when she’s happy, she likes to knead. And she has no idea how to stop catching them on things — I’ve watched her get stuck on the tablecloth and pull it off and things like that. So I kind of … bought a high-rated pair of cutters and um, just let her see them, hear them, pet her with them… rub her paws with them (my boyfriend got her used to having her nails handled as a kitten, back then expecting them to get trimmed). Oops, *snip* one tip gone, she didn’t even notice. More rubs and love and happy times. 8 minutes later, the same thing kind of happened to a single nail on the other front paw… Okay, I KNOW it’s not my cat and I need to obtain permission… And I have all kinds of rationale for just doing it myself w/o asking… But really, I do know better. Not my cat, not my business. And I don’t reeaally want my boyfriend to know I’m a secretive sneak… But this seems like one of those things that is easier to ask forgiveness about and live with those consequences whereas if I asked up front and got a “no”, I’d keep having my clothes ruined and my skin scratched up. I’ll have to be honest about it at some point, but I’d like to get the rest of the front tips snipped before I tell them.

Then I took some selfies with the cat and they’re kind of cute, but stopped when she decided to climb onto my shoulder (ouch! I only did 2 toenail tips, after all!).

Fast forward. Peter came back and we made dinner together and cleaned up afterward together. Then we went on a walk. It was 8:30 pm. I only thought I’d go a couple of blocks, but I stayed feeling okay and we ended up at a park. And swung on a swingset for a while, with a small view of the city far out, between some palm trees. Me in my sandals and hoodie. I wondered at how I could have ever made it here, to this place. In my previous life, I could have never dreamed that I’d be in the middle of a big city at 9 pm, swinging on a swingset in a park, looking out over the city in summer clothes and a warm breeze in my hair. And rats rummaging around in the park around us (they were cute).

But we didn’t get to bed until midnight and I almost cried when he suggested getting up at 6:50am. I said he could, but I would set my alarm for 8am, so I’d have a hope of getting 8 hours of sleep. He decided to get up at 8 with me! ❤ I’m so glad. I was still too anxious (about not being able to get enough sleep) to fall asleep for a while, so I took 1 mg of clonazepam. I’ve hardly taken any in the past month. Then I went back down to my floor mat and sleeping bag, and put in EARPLUGS and wore an eye cover. And I SLEPT. I don’t remember waking up at ALLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Sadly, my sleep detector turned itself off during the night, so I don’t know how much movement I had.)

Wednesday: Not a lot to do yet at work today. It’s okay. I want to leave now, go to my uncle’s house, do my long-long-overdue laundry and pickup some other items, and then I wish I could nap. But instead, I think Peter will join me, we’ll go to this restaurant I got a coupon for, and then we’ll head back to his city, assuming my laundry is done.

I’m so behind on so many things. It’s feeling very pressured and out of control. It’s the textbooks and my horse and the non-action I’m taking. It’s so much going on and I’m still so far behind in sleep, but I’m working on getting caught back up. It just takes a long time and I can’t afford a messed up night.

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Log: Jun 23 – 29 (Tue – Mon) Grandma’s Death and a Bar Mitzvah

Jun 23 (Tue): @ Grandma’s
Jun 24 (Wed): @ Grandma’s
Jun 25 (Thu): @ Grandma’s
Jun 26 (Fri): Fly back from Grandma’s by 10a; Fly to Peter’s cousin’s place at night
Jun 27 (Sat): Peter’s cousin’s bar mitzvah
Jun 28 (Sun): Peter’s cousin’s place; Fly back home in afternoon
Jun 29 (Mon): Work 9:30a – 5:30p; Go to Uncle’s after work

Tue, Wed, Thu: With my grandma, my mom, two aunts, two uncles, and a cousin (briefly). I’m not posting TW’s because I think the title is clear: I was there again because my grandma was dying. I was there for my own sense of closure and saying goodbye as well as wanting to commiserate with my family and be of any support for them as possible. I suppose I won’t go into too much detail here but hospice was involved so we were able to help take away Grandma’s pain and take care of her there at my aunt’s house. My grandma was much more at peace there, and always surrounded by love. Some family issues came up; two siblings had a pretty severe blow-up and might not speak with each other for many years to come. Let me rewind. Also, my aunts and uncles helped me to pick out an outfit for the upcoming Bar Mitzvah, because I left all of my formal clothes back Home (with my parents and dog). I talked to my grandma or just sat near her, and each day I played some gentle piano music for her. She was in a state similar to a coma but not quite; she did respond in certain ways when we would talk to her and stroke her arm or forehead. Her eyes would blink although closed, and her mouth would close, and her breathing would steady a little. She could definitely hear us although there is no way of knowing what she could comprehend; the hospice nurses said her brain was also starting to shut down.

Fri: Left there in the morning, flew back here. Leaving there was hard. I did not want to leave. I would not have left but for the $600 plane ticket that Peter had already purchased for me. So I did decide to leave. I said my goodbyes to Grandma on Thursday night and reinforced them again on Friday morning before leaving. She’s been basically in a coma or maybe a morphine-induced fog, but there were things I wanted to say. So then I flew. Got back here, napped and packed for my flight with Peter and his dad for Peter’s cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. We left that night.

Sat: Arrived on Saturday morning. Met Peter’s paternal family. Everyone was nice. I rested a bit (hadn’t been able to sleep on the plane that night; my restless leg syndrome was being severe AND every time I started to nod off, I would jerk awake with horrible, horrible OCD intrusive thoughts). Then it was time to get dressed and ready for the Bar Mitzvah. It was really nice. I haven’t been to any before this, but I am sure it was a really nice one. The cousin’s speech was really interesting; I’d been afraid I wouldn’t be able to relate to it because I don’t know much about the religion, but he did a wonderful job and I felt very connected to what they were talking about. Of course, I didn’t know to expect a prayer/words for those mourning loved ones’ deaths near the end, so I cried and had no tissue for my snotty nose. Afterward, the reception/ceremony was pretty amazing. There was an open bar and catered food that was really good. There was mandatory dancing and I liked that. Then Peter and I danced to many of the rest of the songs anyway, although neither of us knows any dance moves. So we basically were just shuffling our feet in random ways, but it was fun. I hope a relative sends a picture so I can show my parents (pictures were allowed during this part). They’d LOVE to have seen it.

Sun: So, we left Sunday, early afternoon, after they had a bunch of family photos taken and more chatting and celebration. I got to talk with more, very nice relatives. Peter was asked to play piano for ambiance again. Then we had to leave. Flew back, said goodbye to Peter’s dad, dropped off our stuff at Peter’s place and went out to eat dinner. It was really good food. Then went to a store for a couple of supplies and that’s when my mom called me that my grandma had passed away.

She had been without food or water for a week already, and hardly eaten or drank for a long time before then. It hurts but at the same time, there was an element of relief for me. She died very peacefully, not like her husband, who struggled at the very end. My grandma’s breathing was becoming more infrequent and then at last she did not inhale again. She had waited until the family was back from a walk and they were all with her, and I’m glad for that. But it’s hard not to be there with them now. But I cannot go back right now; a coworker was getting anxious about my absence because of a large, important report that he needs me to print + bind shortly. I was hoping he’d give it to me today and then I could consider leaving again later in the week, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen today.

I had worried so long, SO, SO long, about how my mom would not be able to live on without her mom. I thought she’d be lost forever once her mom died. But it turns out, and so I think I needed to have been there and seen with my own eyes, my mom will pull through this. I saw it. She even helped with some of the night shift medicating. Reality turns into the New Norm and she is adjusting to it. I imagine it helped her too, to see Grandma during this stage of her decline. So there was this chance to see and to adjust and to live differently. I underestimated her. I guess we will all adjust to the New Norms as they happen, and I needn’t have worried so much for so many years. We deal. We handle it. We let our mental expectations change as the reality changes. We adapt.

Mon: I woke up in a pretty severe, serious mood. No joking, just taking everything very serious and saying very serious things. In contrast, I think Peter woke up in a light mood, and our conversation this morning was confusing and I’ve already written him for further clarification. I’m at work. I briefly saw my uncle. I’m going to go to his place after work today, and I’m going to watch a stupid movie with him (we’ve already planned it). He was one of the siblings involved in the blow-out and there are certain topics we’ll avoid discussing, but I’ll be glad to be with him. I talked with my mom for a while last night when she called to tell me the news about Grandma, and then I called my dad and talked with him for a while, although he and I mostly talked about my dog. I needed to talk with family. I texted with my brother some, too. ❤

UPDATE: I’ve been in a shitty, shitty mood all day today. I’ve just gone on a 2+ mile walk in the sun and I’m STILL in a shitty, shitty mood. That’s how bad it is.

Pro: Customer service phone calls

Do you ever feel a bit sad when you have to hang up on a wonderful customer service agent at the end of a call? Have you ever had to spend 3+ hours on a technical call with a company and felt a lot of positivity in the interaction? Sometimes, I enjoy chatting with the customer service reps so much that I’m genuinely sorry to have to say goodbye and hang up on them.

I suppose this is nothing new for me. I once spent days chatting with an army recruiter. In the end, we came to realize that my then anxiety disorder would prevent me from being placed in the stations we thought I might fit (i.e. my anxiety disorder then prevented me from being able to leave my near-Home vicinity). It was going to have been some kind of technical work. This was post-college and I didn’t care what I did with my life at that point; I would not “normally” wish to join an establishment that intentionally kills other humans.

Good customer service reps are well able to chat with you and establish a personal-feeling connection. Other reps go overboard — you know the ones who call you and instantly begin to chat with you as if you are old buddies. Sorry, buddy, that’s not how this works. That’s how you get others to resent you because you are being invasive. They are more the sales cold-calls people.

But even with them, some are quite friendly and you can learn a lot about the area where they live if you have an extra minute and don’t mind that they are offering a product. But alas, you must also learn the techniques of a firm “no” or else you will be placed on the “call-back-every-week” list.

I’ve even had a customer service rep from a company I happened to purchase a product from via Amazon call and chat and we hit it off so well, we ended up emailing additional information several times, about the towns where we live.

I love a positive social exchange. I want to learn all of the social rules and etiquette I can cram into my brain so that talking with others is always so smooth. It’s easy with a good customer service rep because they are well trained socially and even the major technical issues we’re working through can often be resolved without either party becoming frustrated by the process. And it’s easy for me to separate out a bad company policy from a bad customer service rep. At least some company feedback surveys allow you to differentiate, so you can express your frustration with the company policies without maligning a good customer service rep.

Anyway, the next time you have to make that call because some service you pay for is not functioning as it should or whatever it may be, feel free to let yourself enjoy the process a little bit.

Log: Apr 4 – Apr 8 (Sat – Wed): Bicycling trip with family and friends

Apr 4 – Apr 8 (Sat – Wed): Bicycling trip with family and friends

This is going to be fun to write.

Sunset

Sunset, taken by my brother

Apr 4 (Sat): “Peter” had stayed over after his mom had driven me home from Friday’s Passover dinner. He left early to go pack for this trip and for his upcoming work trip to France. My parents arrived. My mom helped me make my list for packing. I packed. My parents and uncle went out walking. We all somehow got everything gathered and the bikes packed up into the vehicle. My parents, me and “Peter” drove to the location. We got there by evening. My brother and his gf were already out there, touring the area. We dropped off our stuff in our rented room and then we all went out to dinner together, including the family friends we were also meeting there.

After dinner, we returned to the hotel room just as the sun was setting and the sky was beautiful. I asked if we could go on a walk, and we all went. I gave my brother my camera because he is an amazing photographer. I will post at least one pic that he took here. In the late evening, we all went down to the pool area. “Peter” and I swam in the pool. My brother joined for a while, as well, while everyone else went directly to the hot tub. Then we all ended up in the hot tub and chatted with the other folks (strangers) who were staying there.

Scenery

Scenery

Apr 5 (Sun): On this day, my brother and his gf had to leave in the morning because she had to catch an airplane and he had to get ready for work. The rest of our group went out bicycling and the weather was very pleasant. The scenery was beautiful. We crossed many roads, some of which had quite a lot of traffic. We had a view of the agriculture the entire way.

That evening, my mom made us all pizzas on an outdoor grill. She had made me gluten-free dough at Home before she flew down here! She had been planning a pizza night. So “Peter” and I helped shop for and chop up the vegetables and such. The experience was very interesting and fun.

Neat woods

Neat woods

Apr 6 (Mon): Okay, this was my favorite bicycling day. This ride brought us into a sort of valley area and we rode along a very private road alongside a creek. I saw a wild turkey and domestic horses, and a lot of turkey vultures. On this ride, “Peter” and I stopped because I needed to “use the green door” (I just learned that euphemism). Meanwhile, he had sat down against a large rock and taken out his book. So when I came back over, I sat down next to him and he set his book down and we just sat there together for a long time, listening to the birds and the wind and the distant creek and watching the clouds. On our ride back, we felt a few drops of rain. “Peter” was sad that he didn’t get to ride in a downpour, which I’m adding here because of foreshadowing.

I took an excellent picture of my dad entering a stationary outhouse. I know that we all stopped at a neat food place, too, and I locked my helmet to my bike for the first time in my life and that was interesting. This food place happened to have a gluten free area, if I’m putting the pieces together correctly.

I think that we all ate the delicious pizza leftovers for dinner on this night. Then, my mom, a family friend, myself and “Peter” went and played music together in the evening! The family friend had brought her traveling piano and a tenor ukulele with her. My mom and I had brought our recorders and music. We all played various types of music and “Peter” and I got to show my parents some of the songs we’ve been practicing!! It was so much fun!! (And also somewhat nerve-wracking to have an audience.)

A break in the rain

A break in the rain

Apr 7 (Tue): This morning was beautiful and sad. It was, ironically, pouring rain at 4a when “Peter” had to leave. In this short period of time, I had gotten so accustomed to having his constant company (and loving it), and I cried when he drove away in his taxi. But he had to leave for a work conference in France. I’m glad he’d been able to attend for as long as he’d been able to. I went back to my bed alone and moved over to where he’d been sleeping, and went back to sleep. I had trouble waking up later in the morning.

On this day, our group had a late start, due mostly to me, and we drove to our new destination. It was very windy and very rainy. So we went into an interesting building and toured the exhibits there. I bought a small book at the gift shop that I think “Peter” would like to read after I finish with it. I also bought a little pig clip for my uncle, but you’d have to understand the kitchen-pig link for that to make sense.

After our weather app said the weather should start to clear, we got on our bikes and started riding. This time we were in another agricultural area but on very quiet roads. It was lovely and peaceful and … pouring rain. By the time I got back to the car, I could WRING the water out of my shoes. The roads had such deep puddles and we had to keep riding directly through them to get out of the way of traffic on the last stretch. But it was very fun. I think my dad said that this ride had been his favorite of the three.

For dinner, my mom and I whizzed through the grocery store to gather ingredients for tacos/burritos. Another family friend arrived and it was such a joy to hear all of the laughter and catching up. This is one of my dad’s favorite people in the whole world and they just cracked each other up the entire night. Joy. She left late that same night.

Two small birds chasing away a raven

Two small birds chasing away a raven

Apr 8 (Wed): On this morning, I had trouble getting out of bed again, but then we re-packed all of our things and played music together again. It was beautiful. Then we had to say goodbye to our family friends and drive back. We made it back, dumped off our stuff, returned the vehicle, and then I had to go to work for a short time! I showed my parents around my workplace and the surrounding area. I wrote about this already in another post. We walked around a lovely lake and I took a million pictures of birds and flowers and my parents. I’m not sure how this connects, but I know I already wrote about this day somewhere else. Anyway, then we had dinner with my brother near his apartment.

Total Trip Mood Ranking: 5-8

Lost Meaning is irrelevant. New Meaning is what Matters Now (Topic#047)

The list of things that lost their meaning to me is too vast to list. Instead, I am going to list things that I Currently Love. For me, love in the heart is 100%. It’s a small bubble of joy. It’s a second of bliss. It’s a moment of excitement and freedom. It’s an emotion. It’s a feeling.

Flower

Flower

Here Is What I Love Lately:

  • Finishing a project at work, no matter how tiny.
  • Missing my train because I was helping other people figure out the ticket machine.
  • One elderly gentleman actually trusting me enough to handle his $10 to show him which way to insert it into the machine.
  • The salmon, yellow, and greens of the single cut flower on my desk right now.
  • I am clean and wearing clean clothes, and am at the perfect temperature.
  • That I just turned around and got someone a missing W9 form from another company within 2 minutes of our payroll informing me that we still needed theirs.
  • Some of “Joe’s” texts making me literally laugh out loud.
  • Cars honking out my office window. No joke. I laugh SO HARD sometimes. I am waiting for a world-record of honking at that corner. Sometimes a person will just lay on the horn so long, I wonder if they’ll ever let up, but sadly, they always do.
  • The cooing of pigeons that settle on the ledge of our office windows (I don’t have a window seat but I always get up to peek on him).
  • The banter of two office workers in particular, who happen to both be in the office today.
  • The sound of their laughter. ❤
  • Watching nobody sit down on a just-vacated train seat because everybody is being polite and offering it to everybody else and nobody knows who is going to take it. LOL
  • Phone calls where you are exceedingly polite and ask to take a message and the other party says no-I’ll-try-back-later-*CLICK* hahaha Noooo YOU weren’t a spam call…not at all.
  • Having the soundtrack to “Into The Woods” in your head the entire day. (I thought the movie actually did a great job of it, EVEN THOUGH they let some happy endings slip through that were NOT supposed to be there, and hacked out “Agony Reprise” which is one of my favorite songs from it.)
  • Having a little baggy of moistened seeds on my desk, that may or may not germinate (I don’t think the seeds were fully formed when they dropped; I think the pods dropped from dehydration. But I’m going to try it anyway.)
  • After missing my train, sitting in the sunshine with my face exposed for a full 15 minutes.
  • The random musicians (or non-musicians) that try to play music for change all around here. The recorder player is my favorite. Or maybe it was the percussionist in the wolf mask…
  • Practicing guitar
  • Singing (however poorly; the vibration in my throat is comforting)
  • Calling my uncle White Trash and having him call me a Hillbilly (referencing movie “Wedding Crashers”) (“What does that even mean?!”)
  • Gluten-free, vegan pizzas
  • Taking the dogs on a walk
  • Sketching (although I have stopped that yet again for now; pressure got too high)
  • Blogging
  • Taking pictures
  • Not letting my adopted bedroom get too messy (quite an accomplishment, for me!)
  • Walking down sidewalks and just happening to be behind an adorable little dog with the cutest trot the whole way
  • Being at the Meditation center (which hasn’t happened in forever)
  • The pictures of my baby boy (dog) that my mom sends me
  • The stories of my baby’s adventures

P.S. My blog is winding down to a close now. It’ll still be in progress for a while yet, but I’m nearly done with all that I wanted to tell.

Anxiety, Insomnia, That YOU guys helped resolve tonight! (Journal#064)

This is kind of funny to me so I want to share it. I actually tried to go to bed “early” tonight. But as I lay there, I became more and more anxious on some topic and finally decided I would blog about it so it would stop playing out in my head.

Only, once I got here, I found myself scrolling through my WP Reader and reading Your Blogs. And although so many of you are going through so much trouble right now, I find myself feeling like I fit in, like I am somehow part of this community that Annie and a few other bloggers have mentioned recently. And strugglingbutstillfighting, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but your recent post was really powerful for me. Although it stemmed from nearly ending your life the other night, the determination at the end of your post, the tone of your “voice”, to turn this life around, even though nothing had really changed outside of yourself, was really something. It really motivates me again to hurry up and find some place to volunteer – that’s personally how I want to fulfill that aspect of finding “meaning” in my life.

I just feel so much more at peace after having “dropped in” on so many of Your Blogs tonight. OOhhh I never got to the funny part of all this: The funny part is that I’m totally calm now and literally have NO IDEA what I was going to post about in the first place! 😀

Goodnight, All.

P.S. I’m going to do a Journal post tomorrow, but only one. Then, I will do no Journal posts on Wednesday.

My parents surprised me tonight (Journal#038)

Lights

Lights

My mom texted me to FaceTime her once I had a few minutes to myself. I instantly thought something must be wrong. She did assure me that everything was fine.

So after I reached a quiet time, I FaceTimed her. To my surprise, she and my dad answered the call and immediately started to play/sing Christmas carols! My mom played on the harpsichord and sang, and my dad sang, and of course I sang along via FaceTime!!! Just like the old days!!! ❤ That made my day.

We got to a special song, I insisted that they use another phone to FaceTime my brother. We interrupted him during a fancy dinner with his girlfriend and made him run outside, due to poor reception, so we could all sing, “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas”. hehheh 🙂

I may have no snow around me, no presents under no tree, and no real mention of any holiday around me at all (my family here is technically Jewish, but don’t celebrate; my uncle did serve an amazing dinner, though), but my parents brought my most beloved tradition to me long-distance. 🙂