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Posts Tagged ‘Amy Sundberg’

You know when you really can’t be perfect? When you’re recovering from a brain injury!

Eight weeks ago I was in the car accident that gave me this concussion. Three weeks ago I was back at the doctor’s office because my symptoms were still so bad. “You need to go back on brain rest,” the doctor said.

But, but, but, I had never really gone OFF brain rest. I was so upset with this advice, even though it was obvious. Yes, I needed to rest even more. Yes, even though it was interfering with everything in my life. I spent about twenty-four hours being really upset while simultaneously trying to set everything up for what I knew I had to do while, you know, my brain was refusing to cooperate with me.

Since then, I’ve kept everything as simple as possible. I couldn’t shut all stress away, but I could certainly avoid the majority of it. I couldn’t meet the high standards I’m used to setting for myself so I stopped aiming for them. I settled myself into my new reality of Healing from Brain Injury as comfortably as I could.

I’ve developed this mental shrug. It’s for all the times (and there have been so many) when I think of how I would normally do something or how I ought to do something. And then I mentally shrug and say to myself, “Well, that’s not going to happen.” Some of them will obviously have small consequences, like I can’t deal with going to a new dentist right now so there’s going to be more plaque on my teeth when I do finally go and that will probably suck. But it’s amazing how many of those things don’t actually seem to matter all that much.

In being forced to simplify my life so extremely, I’ve realized how hard I am on myself when I’m fully healthy. I am so hard on myself! Even now, I think to myself, why did you miss that gathering, you are such a flake, or why haven’t you texted or called this person, you need to try harder, and then I catch myself and am appalled. I have a brain injury, you ridiculous self! I don’t have to go to any events or talk to anybody and I get a pass because BRAIN INJURY. I don’t have to say everything perfectly because BRAIN INJURY. I can’t figure everything in my life out right now because–yeah, you guessed it–BRAIN INJURY. I doubt I’m only being this hard on myself because I’m convalescing. I feel like my little shrug is going to be useful for a long time to come.

I try to go outside every day and walk with Nala. Sometimes we walk for over an hour. We walk surrounded by lush greenery, and if we walk far enough down the path we can catch a glimpse of Lake Washington. Sometimes we cut through the fern forest and pretend the car sounds are the wind blowing through the fir trees. Sometimes Nala tries to convince me to walk in the mud.

We walk and I feel more and more like myself again. I may have to avoid most stress, I may struggle with headaches and mood swings and fatigue, I may be unable to do many things, but I can walk.

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I’ve been asking myself who I am all these weeks. Who am I when I can’t write anymore? Who am I when I’m easily overwhelmed by stimulus and decisions and stress? Who am I when I must abandon my usual goals of perfection? Who am I in this new state, in this new apartment, surrounded by new people and places and things? Who am I when I can literally feel not like myself?

My life is stripped down to essentials, and I am too. I am relieved to find there is still someone there. Someone who is not defined by physical place or relationships to others or passions or hobbies or work. Someone who is not even necessarily defined by this moment’s particular thoughts.

I stare into space. I breathe. I shift to find a more comfortable position for this body I’m wearing. I breathe again. Time passes differently.

I’m still here.

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It is hard for me to know what it is I want to say. This might be because I have a brain injury, or then again, it might be because I’ve recently gone through a traumatic experience that is hard to talk about. I revolve around this question–is this a brain injury issue or something else?–several times every day.

I didn’t know anything about concussions a month ago, except that you’re not supposed to sleep through the night with one. Only that might not be true because I slept through the night eight hours after sustaining a serious one and didn’t die. Hooray?

I mean, yeah, definitely hooray. I really really really don’t want to die right now. There were times when I was in such bad shape I was asking to make sure someone would take care of Nala if something happened to me and trying to give instructions about reaching my sister, who is off on her annual silent retreat right now and therefore complicated to reach. We (we being mostly myself and my friends Sara and Tony, who are two of the best people I know) tried to downplay it a bit on social media because freaking everyone out didn’t seem like the thing to do, however much I personally was freaking out, but now things have gotten a bit better, I will say things were pretty bad. They are still not great, although I look great and if you have seen me, I might have seemed great, and when I have company to distract me, I am certainly greater than I am the rest of the time.

One thing about concussions I didn’t know is that concussions can cause mood swings, anxiety, depression, you name it. Like, BIG GIGANTIC MOOD SWINGS. Like, I am in so much pain and it is very early in the morning and I don’t know what to do and I don’t know who to call so instead I will just cry for an hour straight type of mood swings. Combine those swings with cognitive impairment that makes it almost impossible to engage in critical thinking or make decisions and things get very interesting indeed.

In case you haven’t gotten it, by interesting I mean nightmarish.

Focus in on me that morning, in pain and sleepless in the dark in what felt like the middle of the night but was probably more like five a.m., questioning myself, my life, and the decisions I’d made that had led to me lying there, terrified and alone. What, then, did my life amount to? I suddenly wasn’t sure. It seemed as if every other person on the planet was an impossible distance from me.

I questioned my recent move. I questioned all the time I’ve spent writing books that practically nobody has read. I didn’t question relationship choices, but I did feel terribly sad. All that time and effort fostering connections with other people, and there I was, so confused I couldn’t figure out if there was anybody I could call who would be okay hearing from me at that time of night and in that terrified state of mind. I wanted my sister very badly.

I thought of this blog, and I thought, “That has been some good work, even if hardly anyone reads it.” I thought of Nala and how devoted we are to one another. I thought of integrity and courage–even a faltering courage, which is what I was experiencing at the time–and love. So there was some comfort.

Eventually I did call a friend, cried for another half an hour on the phone, and said I wanted to go to the doctor. Voluntarily. I voluntarily thought it was a good idea. (For context, I hate going to the doctor. I never want to go. Sometimes I force myself because going to the doctor is part of being an adult.) I kept coming back to the panic of knowing I couldn’t do this, and the only answer I could come up with for not being able to do it was to get some help.

When the advice nurse told me to go in, I was relieved. If the doctors could do something to alleviate in any way even one of my symptoms, I thought it would be worth the horror that is Urgent Care when you have a concussion and are super confused and light and noise sensitive and about ten seconds away from bursting into tears at any given point and also have neck and back injuries that make sitting in their uncomfortable chairs a particularly unpleasant kind of torture. That is how awful I felt. When the nurse brought out the needle to take a blood sample and get me started on the IV, I again felt relieved, even though I have a lifelong phobia of needles. And indeed, he had to make two tries to get the IV going because of my teeny tiny veins. Whatever, I thought. It was so worth it. Anything to lessen the pain. Anything to blunt my awareness that I was about to go in for tests to show whether my brain was bleeding and the knowledge, given to me by surreptitious forays into the internet, that if it was, there was brain surgery in my near future. I told Patrick, who was with me during the wait, that if I went into brain surgery, THEN he had permission to contact my sister.

There was no brain bleeding. I want to say thank goodness, but that doesn’t even begin to cover it. Instead there was me trying to get all the information I needed from the doctor even though I was confused and exhausted and not even with it enough to think to take notes or record the conversation. But hey! I had already figured out how to take cab to Urgent Care, and that had only taken me an hour of dithering.

Even doctors don’t seem to quite get how disorienting having a concussion can be. When your primary means of self-definition is your brain and suddenly your brain isn’t working right, it feels like the bottom has fallen out from under you. Suddenly easy problems seem completely insurmountable and normal stresses want to consume you whole. And it’s not like brain injury is a particularly normal stress anyway.

Today marks the three-week anniversary of my car accident. Like I said, I am doing somewhat better. I have good days and not-so-good days. Yesterday was pretty bad, today is better. I have recovered some of the cognitive function I was missing, which is a relief, although I still become easily overwhelmed with decision-making. I am no longer stuttering or pausing as much between words, and the sound and light sensitivity have improved. I still have spikes of anxiety. I still have sudden weird memory gaps. I still lack focus. I still have frequent terrible headaches. My neck really hurts. When the pain is bad, I become more confused. I’m exhausted all the time, and I usually need an afternoon nap. If I don’t get enough to eat and drink, things can go downhill quite quickly.

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Me today. Turns out concussions aren’t always very visble injuries.

But I am here, and I am very grateful for that.

Next time I am well enough to write, I will tell you about the help I’ve been receiving and how it feels like a miracle.

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Yes, I was in a car accident on the freeway a couple of weeks ago. A guy ran into the back of my car in stop-and-go traffic, and I ended up with a concussion. At first the doctors thought it was a mild concussion, but last week they upgraded it to a more severe concussion.

For those of you who have never had a concussion, I can tell you it is both painful and terrifying. Also frustrating. At least in my experience. Once I am well again, I am happy to answer questions for writers who want to portray more realistic head injuries because now I know a lot about it.

I am not supposed to be writing. Or be using screens very much. Or doing lots of other things. It is unclear when I will be able to do more, but hopefully it won’t be too many more weeks. It is hard to say. Right now I spend a lot of time sleeping and hanging out and petting Nala.

I am writing this to let you know I haven’t forgotten you. I still write blog posts in my head. This is not the best idea as it gives me a headache, but sometimes I do it by accident. I look forward to being able to write more. I especially look forward to being able to write an appreciation to all the people who have been incredibly kind and generous and have been helping me and keeping me company during a dark time. I love you all.

Please don’t forget me either.

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Nala looks disheveled and out of focus…kind of like how I feel.

 

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Well, I’ve been living in my new home for about a month now. Not long enough to be completely settled, but long enough that the flood of moving-related tasks has slowed down to a more manageable pace, and a definite end is in sight.

Overall, things feel calm. Amazingly calm. Beautifully calm. Calm calm calm. Probably the worst thing that’s happened to me this week is that I had to spend half an hour on the phone with Comcast sorting out yet another problem caused by incompetence. Which is a little irritating, but as problems go, it’s not so bad, and the customer service rep was really apologetic and nice and appreciative of me being nice, so it was really especially not so bad.

I keep talking about how nice everyone is here, and I hear the slightly unbelieving note in my voice as I say the words. It also feels like damning with faint praise, but what I really mean is people are treating me with respect. They are listening to my preferences and boundaries. They apologize when that’s appropriate. They aren’t pressuring me to do things I don’t really want to do or be someone I don’t really want to be. I don’t feel like they’re going to do things they don’t want to do either. In short, we appear to be taking care of ourselves.

I feel a Flinch sometimes. For example, my friend wanted to come visit at a time that wasn’t good for me. So I delivered the news, and then I flinched and waited for the hammer to come down. In the past, and with this particular friend even, there most definitely would have been a backlash. But this time, there was a bit of disappointment, and then we actually ended up finding a different time that did work for me. I could hardly believe it. I simultaneously felt gratitude and a more prosaic, “Well, you know, this is not actually noteworthy because this is how things should generally work.”

This should be how things are.

This is how things are.

I look forward to the time when the Flinch no longer happens.

Do I think this shift is unique to Seattle? Do I think the people in Seattle are just plain better? No, not at all. I think what we might be seeing here is the beauty of a fresh start.

While I know many people here, for the most part we don’t know each other well, and certainly not as local friends. This gives us a chance to get to know each other as we are right now. Not two years ago, not five years ago, not ten years ago. Now, in this moment. And Amy Now, I am thrilled to discover, really is a different person. Amy Now pushes back when she feels pressured. Amy Now communicates her preferences. Amy Now says no when she needs to. Amy Now gives the side eye to people who say egregiously sexist or unkind things, or who are very obviously lying. The kind of people who aren’t okay with this sort of thing are probably not the kind of people that are going to want to be friends with me as I am today.

Over time, we accumulate habits with one another. Things we do with one another, what we talk about, ways we communicate, ways we DON’T communicate, behavior we tolerate, things that are simply “the way things are.” This is simply human nature. Some of these habits are wonderful and positive and contribute to that sense of knowing and being known. And in any relationship there is going to be some compromise and give and take.

But some of these habits can be less helpful. Sometimes we cannot be the person we’ve become and have the relationship continue to function as it has been. At this point, there are three main choices: to continue the status quo in spite of problems; to go through an adjustment period until the relationship supports you as you are now; or to distance yourself from something that is no longer working. All three of these choices come with their own difficulties, and sometimes they blur one into another. As with anything related to change, there tends to be a lot of inherent pressure to maintain the status quo. And if you actively decide NOT to, things can get…interesting.

Moving, then, becomes an opportunity to work outside the accumulated habits and build new habits without having to work against that pressure. There is no status quo to maintain. There’s no weight of the past. There is, relatively speaking, little to risk and much to gain. There’s simply me and you deciding whether we’re going to be friends and how that friendship is going to work in a way that supports both of us right now. And even existing friendships are naturally in flux in a way that encourages the building of new habits.

So how does a fresh start feel? It feels calm. It is hard in some ways, but it also feels right.

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I am so glad to be here.

Which is not to say things are perfectly easy. The other day I had a moment, and I thought, “I wish I could just sit down with someone who really knows me.”

I have it so good with this move, and I’ve been really aware of this the entire time. I know a lot of people for someone who landed here four weeks ago. Many friends have gone out of their way to include me. I haven’t had any problem getting enough social contact to not go completely insane with isolation. If anything, my first month has been the opposite; I’ve gone to so many events. So very many.

But we don’t really know each other yet, my Seattle friends and I. We’ve never lived in close proximity. And while I have a few friends who aren’t local with whom I talk regularly, I don’t have that many, and none of them live in Seattle. Most of my long-distance friends I talk with once in a while and then get really excited when I see them in person. We’ve built our friendships in fits and starts, often at high levels of intensity and low levels of sleep, bridged by Facebook and Twitter and probably this blog. We’re friends in spite of the plainly felt fact that there is never enough time.

Now there is more time, and we will get to know each other in a different way. We will slowly fill in the gaps of our knowledge and build more memories together and fall into comfortable friend routines. When I think of a particular friend I’d like to see, I’ll have some idea of what that person would like to do, instead of now when I’m often at something of a loss, which means I hesitate to issue invitations. I will get more one-on-one (or one-on-two) time with people, which is what I like best. (There is nothing like a full calendar of large group events to remind me how much I need this.) And some months from now, the landscape of my life will have shifted.

I remind myself of this. There will come a time when I can sit down with someone who really knows me. Here, in my new home. But that shift can’t be forced. It will happen when it happens.

In the meantime, I continue to make a home. I’m mostly unpacked. A friend is going to fix the computer table I’ve had since I was ten in the next month or so (it got smashed in the move). I have a new monitor I need to hook up. I need to hang up art. I need to go buy a new writing chair. And I have a special new addition to the apartment coming soon that I can’t wait to share once it’s here.

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On the whole everyone here is treating me so well. I have my boundaries up and ready to go, but it’s such a sweet relief to not have them being constantly battered against. It actually shocks me what a relief it is because I didn’t expect the contrast to be quite this striking. There have been a few small boundary issues, but only a few, and each time I’ve been able to respond immediately and pro-actively, advocating for my own well-being. Having a prolonged onslaught against my boundaries last fall and winter burned me out really badly, but now, here, I finally feel like I can come up for air.

Yes, I am so very glad to be here. I am so glad to be starting something new.

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It’s a weird time to be writing a personal blog.

When I sit down to write these posts, I think about everything going on in the news: the black men killed by police, the shooting in Texas, the shooting in Florida, Brexit, the coup in Turkey, the American presidential election season, the shooting in Munich, the terrorist attack in Nice, and on. And on. And on.

I don’t think I’ve ever lived through times like these, I tell my friend on the phone. And she says some of her friends have compared what’s going on now to the 1950s and 60s with McCarthyism and the Civil Rights Movement. I don’t know how apt a comparison that is, but yes, it is well before my time.

And then I write a list on my blog about Seattle, and it does pretty decently as posts go, and another friend tells me after looking at so much bad and stressful news on his feed, he clicks on my post because it’s a relief to take a break from all that.

It’s weird because I’m very aware my life is the tiniest piece possible in a world that is quaking and breaking and changing and questioning in a hugely dramatic fashion.

Also when reading the presidential campaign news, I realize I’m much less of an idealist than I thought. You know what I’m not an idealist about? Money, politics, taxes, health care, and dysfunctional families. I’ve been playing the “choose the lesser evil, keep things afloat however possible” game in my personal life since I was eleven. I am very practiced in not getting what I want, in having to think about the longer term, and in exercising damage control. The very fact I believe change is possible makes me an idealist by some definitions, but I don’t think change is fast or easy or without scores of compromises you make along the way. But I also know how exhausting pragmatism can be over time. Of course, some of us can afford to discard prgamatism more than others.

So here I am writing a personal blog during Interesting Times, a pragmatic idealist (or practical free spirit!) and I am reminded of the small stories set against a larger backdrop in science fiction and fantasy. I’m talking about My Real Children by Jo Walton, or Life after Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson, or Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, or The Last Policeman by Ben Winters or The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke. These and the many other books like them are all intimate stories about individuals who don’t make a huge impact on the world around them. These are not Chosen Ones or heroes and anti-heroes whose actions save or ruin the entire world. They are smaller stories, quieter stories, stories of personal revelation, stories of one person searching for meaning in their more or less ordinary lives. Lives that are nonetheless affected and influenced by the worlds these characters inhabit.

And this is how a personal blog can fit into these times we are living in right now. I am often going to choose not to write about politics, not to write about all the wider tragedies we find ourselves facing. Alas, my strength as a writer is not in debate, nor is it in abruptly shaking people awake.

No, I mostly write the smaller stories. Here in this place I write my small story.  It is not the most important story, but it is what I have to tell. It is personal, but the context also matters. I look at the news, and I am heartbroken again and again. I am cognizant of the chaos that’s going on around me. I feel the injustice and the widespread fear down to my bones.

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Here is a photo of Nala looking particularly goofy. In case you need that today.

We live in Interesting Times, my friends. This blog is a drop in the ocean of the world. But I like to believe sometimes this blog may cause you to think about something in a new way. I do hope the small stories it tells can sometimes lift up, inspire, and soothe. Or at the very least, that me writing here can provide a small respite from the larger stories with which we must wrestle and agonize.

Perhaps it can serve as a reminder that we are all here, and we are all human, and that in spite of all the tragedy and all the deep rifts between us, there are also some things about us that are the same.

I am still enough of an idealist to believe empathy matters.

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I had a particularly difficult night of insomnia last night, so I present to you: Amy’s Impressions of Seattle, as told through the filter of sleep deprivation.

  1. Everyone is really polite here. Especially drivers.
  2. The average road speed is much slower. I am often on roads that don’t have that many cars on them when it is not the middle of the night. I find this strange.
  3. Compared to the Bay Area, pretty much everything is cheaper here except for food. Maybe also movies and concerts? I don’t know, I haven’t been to any yet.
  4. When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, things seem harder and darker than they really are.
  5. I haven’t found my favorite sushi place yet, but I do not consider this to be a hardship.
  6. I gave away enough board games that my remaining games fit onto three shelves. I like to look at them.
  7. I now own seven throw blankets. Winter is coming.
  8. Nala is still not entirely convinced. But I like how many dogs seem to live here.
  9. My allergies are terrible here, and it is July. I think of springtime with a small shudder.
  10. There are so many writers here. SO MANY.
  11. They don’t charge for grocery bags here, so no one brings their reusable bags into stores. It feels strangely backwards to me, and it also takes me more trips to bring my groceries into the apartment. I think I might start using my reusable bags anyway.
  12. I can drive ten minutes to dinner and then walk down to the lake right afterwards. This blows my mind.
  13. Moving is expensive.
  14. My complex has an indoor hot tub. It is a great reason to live here.
  15. The lightrail is amazing. It is fast, efficient, cost-effective, temperature-controlled, and weirdly clean. Its only drawback is the limited number of stops.
  16. People smoke here. Where I can see them.
  17. If you spend a nice day indoors, people will act surprised. People here love being outside. They love being outside regardless of the weather.
  18. I learned what glamping is, and I am afraid kayaking will be hard but everyone does it here, and if I learn to kayak I can see otters.
  19. I know there must be bad traffic here because everyone tells me there is, but I keep not finding it. Meanwhile, people persist in believing that a 20-minute drive is far. It is baffling but not without its charms.
  20. I see something beautiful every day without trying.
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My new home.

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  1. You write in an effervescent, breathless style that makes you think of tiny, tiny bubbles in champagne that tickles your nose. You know it tickles your nose because hundreds of writers have insisted this is so.
  2. You must repeat words. Especially adjectives. Especially simple yet descriptive adjectives like fresh and soft and tiny and smooth.
  3. Also fragments and short sentences. As many as you have the stomach for. A firm, taut stomach or a poochy, loveable stomach. Any kind of stomach. The type of stomach does not matter.
  4. Lists shine like chronicles of diamond brilliance. Everyone loves lists because NUMBERS and PERIODS. Even if you actually have no structure whatsoever, a list will make it seem like your mind works in an orderly yet quirky fashion.
  5. Irony oozes out of your articles like fresh, fresh honey. It hardens into impenetrable armor that allows you to say what you want with fewer repercussions because no one can entirely tell where the irony ends and the truth begins.
  6. Or fuck, you can also just swear a whole fucking lot so you sound like you have a goddamned edge, like maybe you’re a little angry but also you’re just so fucking cool that everyone should shut the fuck up and listen to what you have to say, which is good old-fashioned hard-nosed no-shit wisdom, y’know?
  7. But if you’ve already got some of the manic pixie dream girl vibe going on, then the gentle sarcasm-dripping flow of honey armour is definitely the way to go. People will love you. They will love you so much, they will share your article on Facebook without ever knowing your name. Eventually you can start the next Toast except named after a different breakfast food or maybe crème brûlée.
  8. Your irony is like a scythe if you’ve ever used a scythe. Otherwise it’s like the X-acto blade in sixth grade art class. You make long careful cuts against the grain of society’s bullshit. Long, smooth cuts. Long, incisive cuts. Long, insightful, sharp yet understanding cuts that are way healthier than the way physicians used to practice bloodletting on sick people via cupping or leaches.
  9. You can also use ridiculous metaphors and not-very-obscure historical and pop culture references that may or may not apply. Either way you will be creating sly but searing commentary. People will think you are clever.
  10. It also helps if you include a refined and artful graphic related in some way to the past. Here is an 18th century painting. Here is a bucolic landscape. Here is a brass lamp that is definitely more than ten years old. Even better if you can insert either a sweet sense of superiority or a relevant allusion to one of today’s societal woes.

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    Each one of these objects holds a profound yet subtle significance.

  11. Suddenly you know how to write tongue-in-cheek articles about Seattlites’ obsession with bridges, men’s urges to make a pass at you while you’re crying, Burners’ conviction that by not going to Burning Man, you are missing out on the greatest experience known to man, and the strange propensity to want others to admit you have it worse than them while simultaneously acknowledging your innate and glowing greatness.
  12. You also begin to plan the most ironic post on dating that has ever been conceived by a human mind. It will be scathing but human. Bitter but sweet. Absurd but relatable. Your single friends will read it and laugh. Your married friends will read it and polish their rings.
  13. Bubbles. Fresh. Fresh fresh bubbles. We all love bubbles and freshness and everything about this post that makes us remember that pleasant sensation of being too clever and fresh and laundered to breathe. Like a magazine ad. Like crisp ironed cotton. Like a blog post that has gone at least one list item too far.

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Birthday time!

While I was moving, I missed talking about a few big milestones: my birthday and this blog’s birthday.

My birthday first, shall we? This is the first birthday I have not had a birthday party in…oh, maybe fourteen years, give or take. But throwing myself a party while moving would have been dicey at best, and in any case, I was more in the mood for some quality one-on-one time with close friends. I had birthday sushi, and birthday cake, and birthday chai, and birthday BBQ, and birthday pie, and birthday steak, and my friend took me to see one of my favorite musicals (Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, for those curious). And I got jammed and sung to at my regular weekly dance venue. From all this, we can divine that I really like food. And most importantly, I got to spend time with some of my closest friends.

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Taken on my birthday in an empty apartment.

That being said, all this birthday celebrating was doubling as farewell meals, and the farewell aspect often overshadowed the birthday aspect. So it was a weird birthday. And without its usual marking, it doesn’t entirely feel like it actually happened. I find myself hesitating an instant longer than usual before being able to answer the question of how old I am, because in my head, the number hasn’t completely flipped.

Last night someone suggested I throw a housewarming party, and that there could be cake at this party. Like a stand-in birthday cake. There’s no way I can pull anything like that off until the fall, but we shall see….

Meanwhile, while I was making the drive from California to Washington, this blog turned six years old. Yes, this is the 610th post on the Practical Free Spirit, and I’ve been posting here regularly since 2010. When I began, I had no idea what this blog would become or how it would change my life.

I gave some serious thought to closing down the blog this spring. I simply wasn’t feeling it; the majority of the themes and issues I was thinking about at the time were not ones I wanted to write about, so I was left struggling to find things to write about that I felt were worthwhile. This was the first time since I started the blog that this had happened, and this combined with the conventional wisdom that blogging is dead and mostly irrelevant made me wonder whether it wasn’t time to close up shop and move on to something else.

Obviously that didn’t happen. I knew I was going to be moving, and I thought my continued blogging would help my California friends and I stay in touch. I also thought making such a big life change might potentially lead to some interesting topics to write about, in addition to some topics I already had in mind to write about in the future.

And finally, I know this blog occasionally makes a difference to someone, and that matters to me. I know people sometimes feel isolated. I know it sometimes helps when I write candidly about emotions, about trying to overcome the past, about grief, about things many of us are thinking about or experiencing but that we don’t always get to talk about. Normalizing these things is important work. It helps us process, work through feelings of loneliness and shame, and build empathy.  It helps us learn more about what it is to be human.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the future year brings, both for me and for the blog. Happy birthday to us!

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Well, my stuff came on Thursday, and it was…not good. Nala hurt herself in the morning, and she really freaked out, which it made it seem like she might be a lot more seriously injured than she actually was. (She seems totally fine now.) I hit a wall dealing with bureaucracy and customer service representatives, and there’s just been so much of that over the last few weeks, along with stuff I can’t fix and problems with no optimal solution.

And then the actual move was not what I’d call smooth. Not by a long shot. When the movers finally left, I ran after them to give them their tips, which I’d almost forgotten, and then I came back upstairs, sat on my couch, and cried for half an hour. After which I didn’t really feel any better. And then the news of the shooting in Dallas rolled in, and I couldn’t get my new microwave to work, and all the stress and strain of the last few months caught up with me in a big way.

I am so very tired.

On the plus side, at least I’m no longer sitting on the floor.

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And like the grandfather in The Princess Bride, I will now reassure you that in spite of the seemingly dark situation of our heroine, all is not lost. She does not get eaten by the eels at this time.

Instead I am trying to sleep a lot and take it easy and not push as hard on…pretty much everything.

One interesting side effect of this exhaustion is that I can’t make as much social effort as I’m used to making. As in, I am literally incapable of it right now. I have trouble reaching out, I can’t really initiate plans, I can’t ask people to dance, I’m not tracking my friends as well as I normally do, I can’t be bothered with any situation that smacks of pressure or complicated scheduling. I am just too tired and using too many of my resources to recover from moving overwhelm.

What I can try to do is receive, respond, and show up. And it is very touching how much I am being offered right now. To be honest, I really need it, and for people to be so generously offering what I need, well, it is both humbling and inspiring.

A friend of mine texted me on Saturday to ask how everything was going, and I answered with the truth, that I had been having a rough few days. And he said, well, this was a big move, and big moves are difficult and extremely tiring. And I thought to myself, “Oh yeah. They are difficult, aren’t they?” And then we talked about some of the problems I had been having, and by the end of our conversation, I felt so much better. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference. Validation–oh yes, this is actually challenging–is golden.

Several friends have been checking in semi-regularly to see if I’m doing okay. And then they tell me what they’re up to, which I love hearing about. One friend lent me her toolbox. Some other friends offered to lend me some furniture before the truck came. Some new dance friends have been letting me know about other dances in the area. I’m being invited to parties and events, and then friends are watching out for me at those events. People invite me to dinner, and then they are the ones to figure out where we’re going. (By the by, that advice about making specific offers and invitations to people who need support? THAT IS SUCH GOOD ADVICE. It is so much easier to just say yes or no.)

One of the best things is when someone looks me in the eye and tells me how glad they are I moved here. It makes me feel like I’ll be able to find a place for myself here.

And slowly I continue the process of turning a place into a home.

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