Thursday, July 09, 2020

July Check In

Thank God I live in Massachusetts! As of now, I am really happy how our governor handled COVID shut-downs.  We are one of the few states with declining infection rates.  I did take advantage of some of the phased openings. Eating outdoors at a restaurant feels amazing. You have to give a contact name and number.  The server wears a mask and you have directions to the restroom with a log of when it was last cleaned.  Eating food not prepared by my home was fantastic.  I ate out on the 19 anniversary of my stroke June 10 and Father's Day. I spent the former with my mom and the latter with my brother. This pandemic crisis has really brought us closer - which is nice and feels different.  Like, my mom tells my to my face that I have good ideas and gives me advice! That is freaking amazing to me.

Work is still remote from home. I had moments of frustration and demoralization here and there. I got some pointers from my boss about the tone of my email responses - which initially pissed me off but I did some research and realized that it can be an issue.  Only 50% of survey respondents can accurately identify email tone as a recipient! So, yeah... it is a good idea to phrase things as helpful and positive via email because intent is lost. I also was told to smile by a random consultant on Zoom which pissed me off.  So I mentioned that to my boss, his boss, and the dept VP. The department VP spoke to him and apologized to me letting me know the intent wasn't negative. That helped a lot. How many times have I been told by strangers on the street to "Smile honey" - ugh!

My roommate's cat, Shanna, passed away June 11 from congestive heart failure.  She was fourteen. It was so awful. We noticed she was listless and her breathing came in gasps so we brought her to Angell. They took her cat carrier and called my roommate. We thought it was allergies or an upper respiratory infection.  They called my roommate as we waited in the parking lot. I saw her face fall, tears gather in her eyes, and voice catch. I started crying. So, Shanna was put to sleep.  My roomie was able to see her afterwards - not me.  Damn COVID! This is the 3rd cat we have lost in my 4 years here. It is absolutely gutting. Angell, as always, was fantastic.

After this shock, we reached out to Fi Fi's former foster mom through Boston Animal Rescue. Now, we have had Ciarwyn for a week.  He is a black male with accents of white. He and Phil are best buds.  Fi Fi has been really skittish an dweirded out but is warming up to him. He is so cute. Fearless, curious, and a snuggle bug. Having him around has been wonderful. We love him!  The foster mom is an absolute cat whisperer.


Finally, I saw Hamilton July 3 on Disney+. I am officially obsessed. I've watched it twice. Bought the soundtrack, watched all the interviews I could. Read articles and cannot get the soundtrack out of my head. I was a drama/musical nerd in high school so I can see the genius of the show plus I am a history major. It is magnificent.  I always cry in the second act.  It has given me more appreciation for my mom and music theory.

Life is pretty good. I'm surviving. My roommate got a COVID test the other day which was negative which means to me that the precautions we are taking are good.  I got involved with the push to remove the Emancipation Group statue at  Park Plaza. I testified at the Boston Arts Commission hearing.  It is being removed. So I feel pretty great about that.  Tory Bullock was the main driving force he -  created a petition and pointed us towards the correct government contacts.
This does not say freed slave.To me, it looks like a shoe shine or Lincoln as Jesus giving a benediction. I was full bore removal going into the hearings but heard great arguments about moving it to a museum or recasting the slave as standing. I'm so glad I got involved. I used to work less than a block away from it and had a pit in my stomach every time I passed by it.  Also, fun fact there is going to be someplace in Boston a Frederick Douglass statue eventually someday!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Anxiety During a Pandemic

This is my second week working from home. It has highlighted that I need to upgrade my desk with a monitor eventually. Right now, I am hunching over my work laptop. At least I have a fantastic office chair! It is over twenty years old - something I bought after lumbar disc removal. That gives you a clue on the great back support. I also love the chair because every single cat of mine has perched on the back.
Handling the current national crisis and uncertainty is a daily battle. Since I'm a number's nerd, this site makes me feel a lot better. Dr. Fauci makes me feel better too. Guess who doesn't make me feel calm?
I have been visiting family and friends via Zoom. That is a joy and solace. My mom is 68 and has respiratory problems so we set August 1 as the next time I can visit her. My uncle has instructed us to track our tenperature daily. It is important to do the little things you can control. This past weekend my roommate and I ran a couple quick errands. That made me feel better - things were different but it wasn't The Apocalypse. But I didn't got into the grocery store. My roommate said that was really scary and weird. I'm taking a lot of naps when my brain needs to peace out from the stress.
On bad days, I wake up with this tiny voice in my head saying, "They are going to let us die" and throughout the day, that voice becomes a scream. The hospital I work at needs mask donations and so many of my friends and family are on the front lines treating patients. But as long as the stock market is doing well, right guys?

Friday, March 13, 2020

Rideshare Hit or Miss

The last couple of months, I have had experiences with drivers of Lyft and Uber where I wonder what is going on.
Example 1 - from my stroke I have problems with feeling and dexterity on my left side. Buckling a seatbelt on the passenger side is difficult for me. I usually ask the driver if it's okay for me to sit behind them. Usually, they are cool. Or you get a driver like I did a couple weeks ago who refuses to let me sit there even though there is enough room and I explain that I have a TBI and using my left hand is hard. The guy a couple weeks ago said he would circle around so I could hop in on the drivers side. He just drove off and cancelled my ride leaving me stranded.

Example 2 - sometimes you get a driver who loves to blast the radio. Okay fine. I can zone out. But sometimes that radio is a preacher screaming about how homosexuality is an abomination and is the reason why society is failing. I don't let that shit fly as an ally. I asked my driver to please change the radio and let him know the statistics of suicide and homelessness in the LGBTQI population.

Example 3 - this driver just doesn't want to be there or have a passenger. God forbid you say hello. You are just a package to be delivered, not a human being.

Example 4 - GPS is such a mystery and so difficult. This driver blows past every turn they should have taken and gets frustrated when they get honked at trying to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Usually, I am so tired I just try to put up with it so I can get to my destination. Not Thursday March 12,2020, this driver was a combination of 1 to 3. I asked for him to please roll up the window as we got on the highway onramp. That was a hassle. I couldn't really hear what he was saying since a guy was shouting on the radio speaker behind my head. For a good block, I didn't realize it was the radio - I thought some angry guy was yelling on the sidewalk. The driver refused to turn off the radio. I was not feeling comfortable or listened to. I saw a cop car on Mass Ave and told him that if he doesn't want me as a passenger, he can pull over. He said no let me drive you.

He also told me he doesn't know what my problem is. I listed out the several requests I had and his responses. I also asked him to please let me out. He refused. We were in four lane traffic. I was crying at this point. He turned down a more residential street. We approached a stop light, I took off my seat belt and said I was getting out. He said no but he pulled over at least. I got out and walked as fast as I could away from him. I had rough idea where I was. I wound up taking a bus home.

It took three requests for him to let me out. He kept the radio blasting as a form of control/disorientation. Any request I had was a problem from me. I know there is an emergency button in the Lyft app. My gut was yelling at me to get out. My brain was equivocating if escalating the situation would make it worse. That fight or flight impulse has not had a workout for a while. It was how I lived for 24 years. Assessing a situation, preparing for the blow, and figuring out how to get away.

I was a crying mess when I got home. I was proud that I took control of the situation. I hated feeling trapped. I also had to confront that my original abuser is dead. Life is exhausting.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Reality Check and Anxiety Mitigation

January 2010, I caught swine flu at age 33. I was living alone. It started with bad stomach upset which lead to a horrible cough. I got a same day appointment, a swab of my nose, and it was confirmed. There was nothing the doctor could prescribe but I got a list of symptoms to keep an eye out for. I called my work and the protocol is that I needed to be symptom free for a week before I could return.
My bedroom was at the opposite end of the building from the bathroom. As I developed a fever and got weaker, I had to set up an air mattress in my living room so I would be closer. My mom checked in on me and brought supplies. The first couple of days were the worst. The chills felt like they were in my bones, my chest gurgled and rattled as I breathed. I had no energy and could barely stand. Then I started alternating between chills and sweats. I remember lying on the air mattress thinking this is how it felt on the frontier with ague or scarlet fever. I read a lot of Little House as a kid.

Slowly yet surely I improved. There was a concern that I had developed pneumonia as a complication because my lungs were a wreck. My time off work was extended a little bit. My breathing was ragged and bad chills lasted until March.

I was also quarantined for a week in a hospital in 2002 when they thought I had bacterial meningitis. That was a very miserable time. I was on an IV of high dose antibiotics that hurt all the time. You don’t realize how much you need to see people’s mouths to feel connected and comfortable until you can’t see them for a week. I watched Denzel and Halle win their Oscars from my hospital bed.

I’m writing this to help me and you know the scary viruses and quarantines are horrible and survivable. People need to keep calm.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Down the Sims 4 Hole

I had to get a new computer, I lost my old Sims 3 game progress. But with a new computer I would able to play Sims 4! Oh my goodness, I have been playing the hell out of it! I started with the base game plus Seasons plus Parenthood and toddler stuff pack. That first week was me figuring out how to rotate items and the new build options. I love the drag to make a foundation and the ability to select rooms! The wall variety is great too. I don’t like how neighborhoods work in the game. The map makes them appear to be connected but during game play, it isn’t as seamless.

I’m a big fan of building families, and learning skills so I decided to make my legacy family The Campbells. I started with James and Christina, kid James Jr and toddler Euphemia. I had no idea how difficult toddlers could be! The stupid glitches with feeding in a high chair almost killed a couple kids from starvation. Luckily, I joined an online Sims 4 community so they suggested just leaving out plates of food for the kids to eat. Tah dah. No dead kids.


I got bored with my builds so I started replicating house plans I found online. I always had to reconfigure garage spaces. There is a fabulous YouTube channel that is full of great game tips and can be a relaxing way to fall asleep while watching a build. I’m a toddler with blocks compared to his amazing freehand wall builds. Here’s the thing, I hate clutter in real life but you kinda need that stuff in the game to make homes more realistic. That is when I stumbled upon the challenge of putting d├ęcor items on shelves or surfaces. That stack of folded towels can’t go anywhere – grr


For the time being, I’m playing Sims 4 with realism so no magic, mermaids vampires, or aliens. I did get the Cats and Dogs, Get to Work, Great Outdoors, Dine Out, Discover University, and City Living expansions (Black Friday sale – woot!) I also made a Sim me and Sim Phil and Fi Fi. I’m living my best life in Brindleton Bay as a vet. My childhood home got built in Newcrest. Adding wrapping stairs to the Sims 4 is fantastic by the way.


No mods and limited custom content because that can slow down game play horrendously. I might buy Get Together. I’m going to wait until I’ve fully played all the other expansions. University is so hard and not that engrossing but those skills and career buffs are worth it. I am also amazed how dirty and sleepless my Sim students can get! Yeah, accuracy points.


Dine Out is making me very happy. I adore building restaurants, designing menus, managing employees, and schmoozing with customers. Ironically, I am struggling with Bakeries with Get to Work. Can I just say, it’s total BS that you can’t hire a baker when you first start? Cupcake factory ain’t gonna cut it all the time. Also, why is that the microscope, and telescope huge? You need a skills barn to house everything! Speaking of, I do miss horses I just read about a Sims 4 challenge that could spice things up in each world – Insane Asylum. Finally I can use the clown costume!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Turning 43 Tomorrow

It is going to be a low-key bittersweet birthday this year. I'd like to look back on where I was ten years ago.

I was working at Beth Israel Deaconess in a newish job and had moved to Quincy October 2009. Rasputin was two years old. I was let go from that job January 2010 and the apartment in Quincy was a complete nightmare. So, through pretty crazy times and putting up with total landlord BS, I have wound up in a pretty good place! I love where I live.  My roommate and I are good buddies. My job is decent. The major negatives are my health - some stuff under my control and other stuff not.  Losing my dad was going to happen and it actually occurred in a time and manner that cushioned the awfulness.