Another half a year has gone by.

And life has gone on. Our lives have changed, our world has changed. The new coronavirus has wrought havoc on our healthcare systems. Mass paranoia and delusion has wrought havoc on our public’s health, both mental and physical. Mass protests and riots (which I wholly support) have brought the issue of justice for Black lives to the forefront of global attention. And, on a personal level, a newcomer has turned my life inside-out…

So from my individual perspective, I will start from the beginning. Even before COVID-19 swept the U.S., 2020 got off to an unusual start. Early in January, my grandma’s dog Leah passed away. Almost immediately after, my grandma was rushed to the hospital when her blood pressure dipped to dangerously low levels, and she was admitted for several days.

A few weeks later, my family adopted a new dog who we named Darby. She was skin and bones, but we quickly fattened her up. Now, Leah had been a pain in my ass because she would poop in the middle of the pathway in the backyard. But I would gladly welcome the turds back in exchange for the barking, clingy, cat-chasing, leash-pulling, neighbor-attacking beast that took her place. Darby has no self-awareness, and will have no issue bowling over our poor elderly golden retriever, Abby, or my cousin’s toddler. Needless to say, I am not afraid to admit that I am not at all a dog person. I liked them in theory as a kid, but as an autistic introvert, in practice, their sounds, smells, and personalities are much too big for my tastes. But Darby is not the aforementioned newcomer that has turned my life inside-out, although she is a frequent source of headaches.

A bit later, my grandma got readmitted to the hospital after a fall, again due to low blood pressure. This was during spring break, and a few of my cousins had come to visit her in the hospital. One of them was on her period, which seemed to trigger my own uterus to menstruate a bit earlier than expected. It was also during their visit that my university made the announcement that spring break would be extended another week due to the spread of COVID-19, after which classes would be held online indefinitely. Soon, the entire nation was on lock-down. My cousins went home, and the three-month quarantine ensued. The only people I saw during that period besides my immediate family were my boyfriend and my brother’s fiance.

I was grateful that my genetics class had moved online, because I was able to review the lectures as many times as I needed, which greatly improved my performance. I was even more grateful that my organic chemistry lab was online, because doing those labs in person was pure anxiety. I’d always feel totally lost, and my lab partner was just as clueless as I was. However, my microbiology lab being moved online was a disappointment. That is my major, my special interest. I loved Gram staining and plate streaking and watching my organisms grow. I think I might have been able to get an A in normal circumstances, but it was too easy to procrastinate with it being online, plus my TA compensated by making the quizzes and exams more complex. I ended up getting straight B’s.

As my finals were approaching, I began exhibiting extremely concerning symptoms. I had completely lost my once ravenous appetite. I had a low-grade fever that peaked at 100.4 F. I was nauseated and my body was aching, and I was sleeping one to two hours a night, max. I began to panic about how all this would affect my performance on the finals. Obviously, the first thing in my mind was COVID-19, but some of my symptoms weren’t matching up. Another minor concern in the back of my mind, and not really much of a concern really, was that it had now been over a month since my cousins had visited, and since I had gotten my period. But given that I was slightly manipulating the timing of the insertion of my Nuva Ring to minimize or eliminate periods altogether, it didn’t strike me as out of the ordinary. Since it was early last month, it would probably go back to its regular schedule this time around. But more days passed by, and nothing.

You can probably see where this is going.

Pregnancy scares are nothing new to me. The slightest menstrual delay has triggered a trip to the pharmacy to pick up a test on multiple occasions over the years. Last summer, I had a two-week long headache that prompted such a trip, since headaches aren’t very typical for me. This time, it was the lack of appetite, extreme nausea, and aching gums that prompted me to take another test. One day, my brother’s fiance was hitting up a pharmacy before heading over, so I requested she pick one up. Although it was the late afternoon and morning pees are recommended for taking pregnancy tests, there were two in the box so I figured I’d take one right away. I visit the restroom and go through the same process as before: unwrap the test, pee on the stick, place it on the counter and wait.

Well, I didn’t have to wait long. The urine traveled up the first half of the stick, revealing the initial pink line, nothing new. The urine crept up further up the stick. And immediately, unquestionably, loudly and boldly as anything, that second pink line appeared.

“What in the FUCK”

I didn’t really feel anything. I guess I already knew what I would see. Numb and now cruising on autopilot, I had my sister-in-law and bro take a look to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. They verified that my eyes had not deceived me. So obviously, the next thing I had to do was call my boyfriend and tell him the news. He was stunned, too, but told me he’d support whatever decision I made.

My first gut feeling was that I wanted to keep this baby. But I still spent the next several weeks weighing my options.

I had to tell my parents soon, since I live with them. This was the most harrowing deed, a thing I had dreaded since high school, should the occasion ever arise. A couple years ago, my mom found a pregnancy test box and flipped out. Based on this experience, my expectation was that she would lose her shit, and that my dad would express his silent disapproval. The reality did not go as expected.

My brother and I hatched a plan on how to break the news. I needed him there to support me. One morning, my mom returned from her daily trip to the gas station for her Diet Coke. As she walked through the door, my brother announced some good news concerning his upcoming medical school exam (it was under question whether it would be delayed due to COVID). She congratulated him, her mood perked up as planned. Now it was my turn.

“I have some good news too, Ma,” I announced. “It turns out that I don’t have COVID.”

“How do you know that? Did you take a test?” she asked.

“Well, I took a test, but not a COVID test.”

“So what do you have?”

I tapped my belly and said, “A baby.” And the sky didn’t fall, and hell on Earth didn’t rain upon me. Beyond my wildest expectations, her response was to give me a big, joyful hug.

So then we all waited for my dad’s meeting to end to share the news. When the moment finally came, my mom made the announcement with a wide grin. And HE was the one who flipped. “Why are you all smiling?! This is horrible! There’s no way she’s ready to have a kid! It’s going to be dumped on us!” My mom went to talk to him privately, but I wasn’t really shaken up. Her support was monumental, and he’d eventually come around. I wanted to talk to him myself to alleviate some of his concerns, but he went on a bike ride to clear his head. My mom assured me that he was just shocked, and concerned about finances, and that she and my dad would support me and this baby.

So then we went next door to inform my grandma that I, in fact, did not have the coronavirus, but was pregnant. Considering she was expecting the worst, it was a pleasant surprise. From there, I called all my closest relatives. I was still on autopilot and hadn’t done much processing, mind you. It was also early and miscarriage was still a possibility. But I think in order to process it, I needed the input from my loved ones. Because ultimately, it is the breadth of my support system that would inform my decision on what to do.

Later that night, my dad came in to assure me he would support me and gave me a hug. I figured my mom had pressured him to do that, and he still had some processing to do, but didn’t we all?

Weeks later, I had my first appointment with my ob-gyn. She confirmed my pregnancy and performed my annual exam, but I would have to schedule another appointment for the ultrasound, and the next appointment available would be another couple weeks. This was a bit infuriating to me. I wanted to see with my eyes that there was something growing inside me. It still didn’t feel quite real.

As it turns out, I didn’t need to wait a couple more weeks for that ultrasound.

A few nights after my first appointment, I developed a cramp on the right side of my abdomen. The pain began at around 11 PM. I tried to go to sleep, but it escalated to full-blown agony. A couple hours went by as I contorted my body into all possible positions trying to get comfortable. The only position that felt even slightly okay was on my hands and knees, rocking back and forth. Figuring it was a bout of severe constipation, I tried to poop. At 2 AM, I woke my mom up and told her what was happening. She joined me in my room and watched as I continued to squirm, making fruitless suggestions such as, “Take a hot shower. Eat an apple.”

“THAT WON’T HELP,” I insisted. “I FEEL LIKE I’M IN LABOR.” She watched helplessly as I writhed as if I were possessed. Eventually, the pain caused me to vomit. She dialed the on-call ob-gyn to ask for her advice. We were advised that it could be appendicitis, and we should go to the ER. So at 3:30 AM, we got into the van and she drove me to the hospital. Neither of us mentioned the word “miscarriage,” though it was in the back of my mind, and probably in hers too.

Thankfully, this all occurred during a time before my city became a COVID-19 hotspot. Beds were immediately available, and I was wheeled to one right away. I continued to vomit and was given medication for pain and nausea. After about an hour, the pain hadn’t subsided, so I was given a dose of glorious morphine. That worked for a while, but then I was taken for an ultrasound at around 5:30 AM. The technician had to dig the probe right where it hurt. If my level of pain on the pain scale was a 10/10 before, it had now reached 11/10. I couldn’t even look at the screen. I had no idea what she or my mom was seeing. I just needed her to stop. It felt like she was probing around for about ten minutes, silently taking pictures from multiple angles. Finally, she relented, and said we should be notified of their findings shortly. She left the room, and my mom said, “I saw the heartbeat.”

“So the baby’s fine?” I inquired.

“Looks that way.” She smiled. I got back on my hands and knees until another transporter came to return me to my bed in the ER.

I got another dose of morphine upon my return. The pain subsided to about a level three, and a combination of the drugs and sleep deprivation had me feeling loopy and giddy. I started joking around with my mom and listening to what was happening with the other patients nearby. Finally, the ER doctor came in with his diagnosis.

“We saw a 10-cm hemorrhagic cyst on your right ovary, the size of a newborn baby’s head. Your regular ob-gyn will be on call at 7 AM, so we’ll notify her immediately. We’re going to have you admitted. We also confirmed an intrauterine pregnancy.” That eliminated my concerns of a possible ectopic pregnancy.

The sun had already risen by the time I got wheeled into my new room, a massive maternity suite with a TV, couch, table, fridge, snack bar, and bathroom. My new nurse was a gentle and sweet young lady who reviewed my medical history and checked my vitals. Around mid-morning, my ob-gyn arrived to inform me of the procedure she was planning to remove the cyst. If she’s able to find another ob-gyn to assist, she could perform the surgery laparoscopically. I was given shampoo and a special soap for me to shower with before the procedure, and was instructed to put on a hospital gown after showering.

My doctor was able to find an assistant, and the surgery was set for 2 PM. However, there was a delay because I had to get tested for COVID-19 and await the results.

Wonderful.

But compared to the absolute agony I had experienced over the past several hours, the uncomfortable test was comparable to a mosquito bite. The results returned negative, and I was transported to the OR at around 3 PM. The surgical team prepped me for surgery, and I made sure to inform them about my last experience with anesthesia during my breast reduction, and how I had a horrible reaction to the drugs which had delayed my discharge. So they transferred me to the surgical bed and gassed me with an alternative anesthetic, which hopefully wouldn’t cause the same reaction.

Two seconds later, or so it seemed, my eyes fluttered open. For a brief time I was confused and surprised about my own existence, and remembered I had just gone in for surgery. Now I was in a bed in a large room with other recovering patients. The nurse noticed I was awake and asked how I felt. I gave him a thumbs up. I started tapping my fingers to reintegrate myself with the rest of my body, and to let the personnel know I was doing fine. They took me back up to the maternity suite where I was reunited with my mom. We were told that the cyst had been removed, along with my right ovary and Fallopian tube.

I made arrangements with my boyfriend for him to take my mother’s place that evening, since I was only allowed one guest. She left in the late afternoon, and I slept until he arrived at around 8 PM. We tried to hook up our Firestick to the TV, but it was a weird hospital TV that didn’t give us that option. Fortunately, we were able to find Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on one of the channels. We cuddled and watched together on my hospital bed, and then he went to sleep on the couch.

The next day, after a nice French toast breakfast and my night nurse showing me how to take a vaginal progesterone pill, my doctor returned to check on me. She inspected the three incisions, one on each side of the abdomen, and one in my belly button. She showed me images they had taken of the enormous teratoma, as well as the torsion of the ovary it had resulted in, the source of my pain. They had found hair growing inside the cyst, which had been present on my ovary probably since my own birth. Then she went to obtain an ultrasound machine to see how my baby had fared during the procedure. This was the moment my boyfriend and I had been waiting for!

She turned the screen towards us and probed my belly, commenting on my full bladder. Then she located our little bundle of joy, who seemed to be wriggling around. We listened to the heartbeat, and she measured the crown-rump length. “You’re at about 11 weeks, 3 days.” So there really is a little creature in there!

I’ve recovered from the surgery smoothly, though another medical issue did occur when half of my face swelled up a few weeks later. I had the dentist check it out with an X-ray, but it didn’t seem to be tooth related. I was prescribed antibiotics, which seemed to do the trick. I suspect that my sub-mandibular gland had become infected, somehow.

I’ve had my second prenatal check-up during which we listened to the heartbeat, after which I had my blood drawn to do genetic testing which would indicate any chromosomal abnormalities as well as the sex. I received the results the day after my birthday… but I’ll share that with you in my next post.

So. This has been a rather matter-of-fact update of the absolute chaos that has been my 2020 thus far. I am now about 17 weeks pregnant, 28 years old, and am due December 16. Perhaps in my next post, I will deconstruct my emotional state-of-mind and dare to share my plans for the future.

Until next time,

K

I Blinked and it was Over

Well, 2019 has certainly been a year. The last time I updated this blog was on this exact date, 2018. And then I just… stepped into another dimension.

A year ago, I was writing in my journal about how 2019 doesn’t seem like a real year. 19 itself has never seemed like a real number. Even my 19th year, age-wise, was certainly a year. It’s not that 19 is an unlucky number for me… it’s barely a number at all. 19 is a dimensional shift. It’s a state of temporal flux. Age 19, 2019, both were surreal. Even as a child, each age meant something different to me, except for 19. 15 was quinceñera. 16 was driving. 17 was graduating high school. 18 was adulthood (psht, barely). 20 was decade numero dos. 21 was getting wasted. Everything after that was grown-up nonsense. But 19? It was shrouded with mystery, a dark gray void swirling with cosmic gases. It’s not a real fucking number.

So what has happened to me in this past year that made it feel surreal? A change of occupation is one thing. There was already some fuckery going on as we rang in the new year, but shit started to hit the fan in March. On Sunday, the CEO made a frivolous decision based on her own pig-headed ignorance about how things worked that completely changed the nature of my job description. On Monday, the education director was fired for standing up for her team. On Tuesday, my supervisor was fired for standing up for us. That’s when I really just checked out and stopped giving a fuck about what was happening there. I didn’t enjoy or take pride in my work anymore, and it was clear the organization that I once believed in had become a dumpster fire. I was there strictly for the paycheck and health insurance. But because everyone and their mom was either quitting or getting fired, I had to pick up the slack. Thus, I got swept away in the drama and the stress it brought along with it.

I became more dysfunctional. It became difficult to take my medications, and things REALLY started to unravel. My mind was consumed with obsessing over things I had no control over, both in the workplace and on the planet itself. The panic and anxiety I had kept at bay for several years returned with a vengeance. I ended my romantic partnership in a most unceremonious and insensitive fashion, because my brain could not even comprehend the added responsibilities of that interpersonal dimension. I went into a sort of survival mode where I had to take life one day at a time, and not look too far ahead into the future.

Yet I did look a little ahead, because I knew I had to get out of that place. I considered following my brother’s footsteps and heading to medical school. However, after I determined what my GPA actually was, I realized it wasn’t a likely possibility. So maybe I’d do nursing. I re-applied to my university as a post-bac to obtain the credits I’d need to apply to an accelerated nursing program. But whatever it was I decided on, going back to school seemed the right thing to do… especially because of the health insurance. It’s expensive, but it at least meant I could safely quit my job (I have too many medical needs to go without).

I quit the day before school started, the day after submitting my two-week notice. I submitted the notice, but decided, “Fuck them.” I had expressed over a month prior about wanting to quit before school started, but graciously waited for them to hire a replacement. Well, they lagged on hiring that replacement, and now school was about to start. Fuck them! They had all the time in the world to hire someone and have me train them, but they gave so few shits about what my team did there that it wasn’t anywhere on their priority list. I also requested a 30-hour workweek, and that was rejected. They really expected, knowing that I’m autistic and mentally ill, that I would work 40 hours while doing school at the same time. There’s just no way. Every single fuck I had was gone, so I went in on Sunday, packed up all my stuff, turned in my key and ID, and fucked on out of there forevermore. I received many entertaining updates the days thereafter from an inside source about how shit hit the fan when they realized I wasn’t coming back, that there was no replacement for my duties which, because they hadn’t hired replacements for my other former colleague or myself, literally nobody else knew how to do. ZERO. FUCKS. GIVEN. I have a lot of love for many of the people I worked with, but the place as a whole, especially the administrative part, was incredibly toxic. I had to break free. I have zero regrets.

Nevertheless, I am autistic, and change doesn’t come easily. I got incredibly ill that first week of school. I regressed to a state of anxiety and fear that I’d had as a small child, and went several days without a wink of sleep. The only thing that worked, but only for a couple hours, was my mom sleeping next to me. I was legitimately afraid of dying in my sleep. My blood pressure was through the roof. I thought I’d have a heart attack. The build-up of stress was just too intense, and now that I had at least some space to express it (not having to be at work 40 hours a week), I sure as fuck expressed it.

But I survived, and the anxiety eased up. My body finally realized NONE of the bullshit that had been stressing me out was relevant anymore. I could give all of my attention to school. I had already fallen behind, but managed to catch up. I was taking three classes that were required for the accelerated nursing program: microbiology, nutrition, and an online sociology course. Sociology was a breeze, but microbiology was taking a significant amount of resources. Nutrition ended up requiring more effort than I had considered putting into it, but I was so caught up with microbiology that it fell by the wayside. In the end, I received an A in both sociology and microbiology, and a C in nutrition.

And in the course of taking those courses, I realized, once and for all, what my path shall be: not nursing, but biology. The initial dream which I had to give up on at age 19, because at the time I did not have the mental capacity, study skills or concentration to study that level of science. Getting a degree in psychology was exactly what I needed to accumulate those skills, and now it’s time to put those skills to the purpose they were always destined for. Science and math doesn’t come effortlessly to me like it seems to for some, but I certainly have the motivation now that I didn’t have a decade ago.

Feeling more at ease in life, I re-initiated my previous romantic relationship and have made some efforts at strengthening my social connections. But that’s still the hard part, which I will certainly work on in 2020 and beyond.

Ultimately, what I have going into 2020 that I didn’t have going into 2019 is clarity and purpose about what I hope to accomplish in life. One year ago, nothing was certain: I had a psychology degree, but no idea what to do with it. I had a job, but it was unrelated to my career goals, which were non-existent. I had my left politics, but unsure how I could be of service to humanity. Therefore, I had no resolutions, no goals other than to coast and hope I survive. Now I know: I’m going to be a biologist, and I’m going to study the effect of our resident microbiota on our mental health. I’m going to be a writer and help to radicalize others by clarifying revolutionary ideas that have been muddled by capitalist propaganda. And primary, above all else, I’m going to become the person I need to become: more patient, more open to human connection, and hella gay. 2020, the year of my Golden birthday, is my Golden year.

Hopefully you’ll hear from me many more times before this time next year.

Until next time,

K

Spoons, In My Own Words

To begin with, this is my first post in about six months. Whoops. I assume the website has been withdrawing $2 from my bank account every month, regardless. My primary excuse for not keeping up with this blog is that I haven’t had the spoons to do so. Psychological blockages, writer’s block, lack of energy, and other distractions have hindered my motivation to express myself. I figure New Years’ Eve is a good time to hop back on this wagon. I also figure that I should begin by articulating a concept that I would like to communicate to my friends and coworkers: namely, what the heck I mean when I say I don’t have spoons.

I don’t mean that I need anybody sending me boxes of plastic utensils. Rather, I’m talking about the Spoon Theory of chronic illness and disability, initially illustrated by Christine Miserandino. It isn’t a theory in the scientific sense; it’s an analogy with a catchy name. In her narrative, Miserandino describes sitting in a restaurant with a friend who asks what it feels like to live with a chronic illness; in this case, Lupus. She hands her friend a bunch of spoons, tells her to count them, and explains that each spoon represents a decision that a chronically ill person must make throughout their day about how to allocate their limited energy. Such an individual needs to know how many spoons they start out with when they wake up to a new day, and carefully plan how to use those spoons. Certain activities use up more spoons than others, and one should keep a “spoon reserve” for the unpredictable but inevitable emergencies.

The Spoon Theory has become an important part of the vernacular among those living with disabilities and chronic illnesses of a wide variety. In any space in which “Spoonies” congregate – Facebook groups or message boards, for instance – you will hear much of the same: “I don’t have the spoons for this,” “I woke up with a bunch of spoons, but then x happened and now I have none,” “I’m trying to preserve my spoons.”

Of course, everybody’s experience with disability is unique; yet, at the same time, similar. So many factors could affect how somebody experiences it, such as what kind of disability it is, the environment they’re in, what medications they’re taking, if any. That’s why it isn’t enough for me to simply link you to Miserandino’s description if the goal is to help people understand me. 

I have multiple invisible disabilities: I am bipolar, I am autistic, I have hypothyroidism, social anxiety, panic disorder and mild agoraphobia. My body hurts a lot, but I haven’t been diagnosed with anything in particular on that front (I suspect osteoarthritis). Over time, I have learned how to allocate my spoons more efficiently, especially after being prescribed the appropriate medication to moderate my mood. Although I am capable of a lot more than I was before, it still takes a lot of planning to do what I gotta do and a lot of rest to prepare for what’s coming.

Working a full-time job, my days are almost always the same: work, then rest. Preparing, mentally and physically, for the next day. Or awaiting a weekend of deciding which errands to prioritize. Cleaning my room is something that’s always on my to-do list, but never gets done. You see, it’s not just physical activity that exhausts me: merely THINKING about engaging in physical activities costs me spoons. Sitting on my couch and observing the mess around me, weighing the enormity of the task before me, is enough to cause me to crawl into my bed and sleep instead. And then maybe, after a nap, I’ll clean about 10% of it before deciding, “Good enough.” It certainly doesn’t help that merely existing in a messy environment depletes my spoons for other activities.

I have the easiest job in the world. After a year, I’m quite skilled at getting things done in the most efficient manner, and am known as a jack of all trades. But there definitely seems to have been a shift in my job performance when my 30-hour work weeks were increased to 40 hours. Those extra two hours a day have a serious consequence on how I function for the entire day. On six-hour days, I didn’t have to worry too much about getting a lunch. I could get by on snacks, and by the time I was ready for a meal, my shift was over. Now, I have to plan for both breakfast and lunch. Take away two spoons. I have to go without my mid-to-late afternoon nap. Take away three spoons. I have to interrupt my mind-flow when it’s time for a mandatory break. Take away one spoon. I have to re-enter a mind-flow when the break is over. Take away one spoon. By the time I get home, there’s no way in hell I’m doing anything besides potatoing on the couch, watching Netflix.

Six hours was more than enough time to enter charts, run reports, and file away case notes in an uninterrupted work flow. Now there are more spaces, more in-between moments. In-between moments are very costly, spoon-wise. I’m basically sitting there, idling, wasting precious energy just by existing. The more in-between moments I have to endure – that is, the time it takes to transition between two activities – the sleepier I become and the less my mind is able to process.

This is the cost: for the first several months of my job, I was quite impressive to my colleagues and to myself. But now I feel more forgetful, more sluggish, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. I make mistakes and come across as lazy. I become flustered when talking to clients, in person or on the phone. It feels like a definite regression to the days of grade school, when the long, exhausting days led to minimal effort and poor marks.

Needless to say, having a limited spoon reserve affects my self-efficacy and productiveness. (And I mean productiveness in activities that are worthwhile to my personal development, not by accumulating profit for capitalists.) The good news is that I’m aware of why I’m so exhausted by the end of the day, and that it’s not my fault. There are techniques I can use to help complete activities. It helps to visualize myself doing a thing before actually doing it, so that when I’m doing it, I’m not wasting too much time trying to figure out what the next step is. To-do lists and planners, as inconsistent as I am at using them, are crucial to not forgetting absolutely everything. Even if I can’t reach everything, I’m still aware there are still things to do.

Hopefully, I will be able to find accommodations at my work place that take my Spoonie-ness into account. I have a few ideas: arriving at work earlier and leaving later so that I can take a longer break (30 minutes is nothing but disruptive – an hour or two would be more worthwhile, and I could spend that time re-charging), breaking my day up by activities so that I’m not spending as much time multi-tasking, and making my colleagues aware that I can’t just jump from one activity to another on command without losing a bunch of spoons. Thus, one of my New Years’ resolutions is to not only be aware of my own limits, but to not be afraid of making others aware so that we could work together to get the job done as efficiently as possible.

Happy New Years!

I Can Hear Music

How do I even write about music? How do I do it justice? How do I comprehend and describe the transcendent realm in which music exists? Because it certainly comes from somewhere magical. A gift from the gods. The voices of angels. Or just the melodies flowing out from ridiculously creative human brains.

Not my brain. All my mental faculties come to a halt when I’m holding an instrument in my hands. I was last chair among violinists in my middle school orchestra for three years in a row. I’ve taken bass guitar lessons and gave up after a couple months. I’ve been trying to teach myself the piano for damn near 15 years. I’ve been told I’m not a bad singer, but what good is that when any kind of audience shuts me down? I purposely sing badly in front of people, like it’s all a joke. Nope, music is a mysterious language to me, and although it speaks to my soul, I cannot translate it directly.

I think being autistic makes my music listening patterns a bit weird. My music tastes have evolved over the years, but it’s usually the same pattern: I have the one favorite band that I spend 80% of my time listening to, a smattering of individual tracks of no one particular artist the other 10% of the time, easy listening probably at 8%, and nostalgic music as the last 2%.

In high school that sounded like this: a shitload of Queen, every possible track and B-side track and solo track I knew existed; random indie, emo and 80’s hits; ambient space music; and songs from the good old days, namely the 90’s and early 2000’s.

Nowadays, I still like listening to 80’s playlists when I’m in an energetic mood, or when I want to sing privately. I know most of them. As for easy listening (basically background music), I rely primarily on KRTU 91.7, Trinity University’s jazz station. Nostalgia music now also includes Queen and the aforementioned random indie/emo music from the mid-2000s.

But now my favorite band is Mew. I’m not nearly as obsessed with them as I was with Queen. With Queen, I wanted to know every little detail about the band members, the meanings and inspirations behind the songs, the intimate details of their private lives, every bloody possible thing. When it comes to Mew, I don’t know shit about them, other than that they’re from Denmark and the main singer’s name is Jonas (and he’s cute af). But their music… I cannot get enough. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. It’s otherworldly. I think it exists beyond our locale in space-time. It transports me to another plane of consciousness.

I discovered them on some French indie radio station, back in the days when iTunes had an incredible list of international radio stations. Not sure what they did with that, but I have absolutely no use for iTunes anymore (and if that thing still exists and I just don’t know how to get to it, halp plz). The first song I heard was “Cartoons and Macrame Wounds.” Truly an incredible introduction to Mew.  I downloaded the song instantly. The station would also play “Beach,” which is a fun song to listen to while driving on a bright, sunshiny day. Or always, but especially then. I went ahead and downloaded all the albums that were out at the time.

One of the amazing things about Mew is that I enjoy pretty much every goddamn song they’ve made. Even with Queen, there were some songs that I would skip. But I couldn’t tell you what my favorite Mew song is. I can say that my favorite album is “And the Glass-Handed Kites.” Almost every song flows seamlessly into the next… unless you’re listening to it on a crappy music player that separates them half a second.

Yet there’s an experience beyond the usual transcendence of great music that Mew has revealed to me: having a crush on a song. Or just part of a song. I’ve had crushes on many a musician. But never before on a song. I’m talking about songs that fill me with a sort of romantic-sexual giddy feeling. More specifically, I have a crush on his voice when it does The Thing that it does. I can’t even explain it. It happens at the end of “Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy.”

Safety net, I regret
I am shaking
We move along
I am shaking

Then again, during the last two minutes of “Clinging to a Bad Dream.”

I was held to be
For no one
No one lasting
*cue angelic choir*
I think, I thought
Maybe you can change me
I know you and I are
Clinging to a bad dream
And in between the shades on your screen
They come and go
Sometimes they never show…

And there’s a part during “The Night Believers” where his voice does The Thing and then That Other Thing.

The thing: Outside, and it occurs to me we’ve lost the light.
(That other thing: We’ve lost the light!)
We shared a box in someone’s dream
‘Till the ponies arrive
We’re only wasting time
Which I know, I know something about

I imagine Mew being played at my funeral. Call me morbid, but this is how I would want it to go: during the wake, or the reception, there’s a compilation of home videos from my childhood playing on a screen, and playing over it is “Drinking Soda.” I think I would want to personally edit it together to have it prepared for that time, because it’s very specific in my head. As soon as I can figure out how to convert my home videos to whatever format they need to be, if it’s even possible, I will put it together for my funeral, which hopefully won’t occur for at least a few decades. Or maybe it could be for another occasion, like my birthday, but could also be used at my funeral.

Then there’d be a far more dramatic scene: my casket being lowered into the ground, my friends and family gathered around dressed in black, as the song “The Seething Rain Weeps for You” blasts throughout the cemetery. Honestly, I’m not sure how anyone can listen to that song and not imagine singing to somebody in a casket.

Saying goodbye now
Looking at friends
A lump comes in my throat
Hearing them all speak of you

And that’s it, really. Just copy/paste this post to my Last Will and Testament. I don’t care how the funeral goes beyond that. But please, no flags or religious symbols.

Sometimes, I need to take a break from music. I love it too much to let myself burn out on it. During these periods, the extent of my musical consumption is just listening to jazz on my work commute.  I hadn’t listened to Mew for over a month until the other day, and it’s as magical as ever. I’m not entirely sure why I need music breaks, but it might have something to do with the fact that when I want to be productive, it’s best not to listen to music that captivates my whole attention. No Mew-level transcendent experiences, no 80’s dance parties. Sometimes, I just ain’t got the time for it. I’ve been pretty darn focused on my cross-stitching for the past couple months, and my preferred background stimulation is some show I’ve watched a million times (The Office, Parks and Rec, the various Star Trek series, etc.).

Music is too deep, too distracting. I want to listen to it with my noise-canceling headphones, close my eyes, and let the melody embrace my entire being and carry me to that magical realm.

Cross Stitching Update: I’ve Been Busy

It appears that my most recent update on my cross-stitching projects was a couple months ago. It doesn’t feel like very long ago that I made that post, but a lot has being going on, and my hands have been busy.

First things first: I had mentioned that I was working on a gift for my Uncle Pat’s birthday. Here’s the final product, held by my uncle with pride!

20180630_110521

Another birthday card I made in April was for my BFF, Josey:

20180415_132617

This is a bookmark that I made for a coworker’s birthday:

Two of my coworkers got married (not to each other) so I made each of them a romantic bird card:

20180418_090041

I was commissioned to create this decorative pincushion for somebody’s mother on Mother’s Day:

I decided to do something new and stitched on this wooden box. I think I’ll stick to fabric.

20180427_210523

This is what I made for my own mother for Mother’s Day:

20180522_001537

I made some buttons for Autism Acceptance and Pride:

20180526_005211

I made this one a couple days ago for my coworker’s birthday:

20180627_235325

And here are my active Works In Progress (W.I.P.):

These photos were taken today. However, I have made considerable progress on the angel’s frill in the hours since taking this picture.

This was an unnecessarily long post due to not updating frequently enough. I’ll make it my goal to post about cross stitching, and my other SIs, on a weekly basis.

Until next time,

K

Silver Hairs

I think I’m goin’ back
To the things I learnt so well in my youth
I think I’m returning to
Those days when I was young enough to know the truth

Within one lifetime, we live many lives. We become many different people. Our egos die a number of times before the final breath. We are fluid beings. One decade ago, when I was planning my 16th birthday party around the theme of childhood nostalgia, the physical components of my person were composed of an entirely different generation of cells than those living in the present. The whole of the sum of those ancestral cells were permeated with the consciousness produced by neurons living in a more primal cognitive landscape. That primal cognitive landscape was a dark, twisting maze with existential horrors lurking in every shadow. Monsters, injustice, suffering, loneliness, failing, aging, death. I wrapped those horrors in a whimsical bow and threw a celebration that I hoped would reverse the clock.

Now there are no games
To only pass the time
No more colouring books
No Christmas bells to chime

I committed to never losing my youth. It was what I called a Peter Pan Complex. My future was so unstable and unimaginable that it was difficult to accept I even had one. I wanted my future to be the present forever. I wanted the moon-bounces and sleepovers. I wanted to hold on to the exhilarating recklessness of young love. I wanted to sustain the predictable annual cycle of school, summer, school, Christmas, and the daily cycle of class to class to class to home to bed. I couldn’t imagine a future in which three half-assed jumps on a moon-bounce would wear me out, and maintaining close enough friendships for platonic sleepovers was a distant memory. I didn’t want to imagine getting to a point where I was too emotionally wary to dive into love head-over-heels. I didn’t think I would ever be capable of making adult decisions for myself, or of withstanding the many inevitable major changes of adulthood: going to college, moving out, getting a job, making my own doctor appointments. I might have preferred to die than endure it all, and in a sense that person did.

But thinking young and growing older is no sin
And I can play the game of life to win

And from the ashes of ten years of hellfire emerges the person I am to the core. This person is familiar, reminding me of a more authentic self, many selves ago, before being molded and contorted by shame. This person can be comfortable in the present while planning for the future. This person can dream big while living simply. This person is open to connecting to people, and not being afraid of seeing my own reflection in others. This is a person I am content with being. But I also accept that this person will not exist after another ten years of experiences. These cells will wither and die, making way for a new generation, a new way of life, a new perspective.

I can recall a time when I wasn’t ashamed
To reach out to a friend
And now I think I’ve got a lot more
Than just my toys to lend

I’ve begun removing the masks that once substituted vulnerability with normalcy. I had swallowed my heart that I once wore on my sleeve and it got stuck as a lump in my throat. Now, through a series of social Heimlich maneuvers, I’ve managed to dislodge some of the fear that has suppressed authenticity, and at a time when authenticity is needed most. I have things other people need: my compassion, my skills, my resources. A lot more is at stake than just my ego. Self-doubt, self-restraint, self-righteousness, self: pulling off the layers for the sake of our shared humanity. I am more than an I. I am part of a we.

Now there’s more to do
Than watch my sailboat glide
And every day can be
My magic carpet ride 

Life is hopping from one stepping stone to the next from the day I was born, and the harrowing future promises sharper stones across turbulent waters.  The weight of the world does not rest squarely on my own shoulders, but the responsibility is nevertheless enormous. At the same time, there is little use worrying myself sick. I have a job to do, and that is to balance on the stone I stand on today. And when I’ve found my balance, I can reach out my hand to another’s and help them cross to safety, knowing that someone would reach out their hand to me.

And I can play hide-and-seek with my fears
And live my days instead of counting my years

My mother sees a silver hair on my head glistening in the sunlight. For a moment, the lingering existential horrors threaten to unravel. Yet my mind is now less like a maze and more like a storage cabinet. Rather than lose myself in a series of hypothetical dead ends, I can unpack. Here’s a box overflowing with medical knowledge. There’s a box jam-packed with coping mechanisms. I compare this information against the silver hair, and oh look, it’s really not a big deal. My body is keeping track of time so I don’t have to. I am here, now, content in my mortality.

Then every one debates
The true reality
I’d rather see the world
The way it used to be

Navigating relationships is complicated in this culture of manufactured isolation. Gone are the days of communal togetherness and extended families. Gone are the days of villages working as one for common goals. Our neighbors want to cut our throats. Our leaders would leave us to die. The dogged individualism of my adolescence was untenable. In a sense, making human connections has become a moral imperative. I can no longer gleefully attempt to corrupt people; they must be uplifted, validated, loved. I cannot write off personal ethics as something for sticks-in-the-mud. I need to reach back, back to a time before nothing seemed to matter, when everything mattered. Because it actually does.

A little bit of freedom’s all we lack
So catch me if you can
I’m goin’ back.

My passion comes from my strength; my strength comes from my relationships. My being is inextricably tied to other beings. We can dream of more peaceful days enjoyed by our ancestors and work for more peaceful days to be enjoyed by our descendants. All that’s needed is keeping in touch: with each other, with our own authentic selves, with our nature. If I can reach deep within myself, I am reaching out to all. And one decade from now, when my hair is flecked with silver, I’ll think to today as the day when I finally made peace with my own humanity.

Panic! everywhere

For almost ten years on the dot, panic attacks and anxiety have been the bane of my existence. If I experienced anxiety before that, it was minor compared to the monster that was about to be unleashed. I woke up one day as a high school sophomore, and went to bed that night as a whimpering ball of existential terror. One acute episode of absolute panic triggered what will probably be a lifetime of chronic generalized anxiety.

Some details I had left out in my previous accounts of this event to friends and family, but I’m not embarrassed by that anymore. So this is the full story.

At my high school, we had what was called Mentorship Day. The seniors would be assigned to a classroom of underclassmen of varying grade levels and would give a 45-minute long presentation on a mentorship project they’d spent the year on, usually as it related to their chosen career path.

I was not a senior, of course. For the rest of us underclassmen, it was supposed to be a chill day of staying in the same classroom as seniors filtered in and out to give their presentations. The classroom I was assigned to was that of my English teacher, Mr. Scott. The first person did their presentation without incident. I think it was during the second presentation that my brain short-circuited.

The story I’ve previously told involved overthinking the whole presentation thing and freaking out over the inevitable fact that in two years, that would be me speaking to a bunch of kids for almost an hour.

The truth is that I really, really had to take a shit.

I didn’t want to interrupt the presentation, however. So I sat there, sweating, and pleading with my bowels to not cause any embarrassment for me with a fart or whatever. The pressure became too much. I forgot how to breathe. I thought I was dying. I gesticulated wildly to Mr. Scott from my seat and mouthed, “I can’t breathe.” He nodded toward the door, and I silently slipped out of there.

Apparently I didn’t have to take a shit after all. I tried and nothing happened. I also tried to throw up, because I certainly felt like it. Ultimately, I paced in the hallway and then sat on a bench with my head between my legs, hyperventilating. Mr. Scott sent a classmate to check on me, and I explained that I thought I was dying. They walked me to the nurse’s office, and I told her my symptoms: shortness of breath, sweating, clammy hands, fast heart rate, and certainty of impending doom. A heart attack, probably. But she treated it as she would any panic-ridden student, and lo and behold, I began to feel better. She said if it happened again to come back and she’d send me home.

After lunch, I got confused about where to go because the next presentation was going to take place outside of a classroom. Nobody I asked knew where Mr. Scott was. So I just went back to the nurse, said I’d had another panic attack (I hadn’t), and she sent me home.

In the weeks after that, I discovered it was not to be a one-time thing. Every once in a while it seemed like a raging storm was threatening on the horizon; it was like an aura, which usually precedes migraines, but for panic attacks instead. I’d do what the nurse instructed and breathe deeply, desperately trying to keep myself from being swept away.

After a while, I was able to keep my shit together during the day, but when I lay down at night, there was no other option but to ponder how horrifying it is to exist, how death is inescapable, blablabla, basically just chipping away at my own sanity until I managed to fall asleep.

I suppose that was the story of my life for the next few years. I did a great job on my mentorship presentation, considering all the time I’d had to prepare. I can’t remember how often I weathered panic attacks. Over time all the stress of worsening bipolar II, depression, and identity crisis after identity crisis resulted in dropping out of college, going back, dropping out again, going back, changing my major several times, and working several crappy restaurant jobs. Age 18 through 23 was a blur, and I didn’t retain very much from that time.

Things came to a head in early 2014 or 2015 (again, it’s a blur, so I don’t know what the timeline is). My anxiety manifested itself through clamminess and vomiting. I became suicidal. I was so afraid of dying that I wanted to be dead. I knew death itself was infinitely better than the anxiety associated with fearing it. I have always been a huge hypochondriac, and I was convinced I was dying of multiple things at once. I went to the ER one night for suicidality, which was entirely useless. Feeling dehumanized by sitting in a hallway in a hospital gown and no one around me paying me any notice, not allowed my phone, sitting for hours with absolutely no idea of when anyone is going to do anything about me, only to have a five-minute Skype session with a psychiatrist in India, was not helpful in the least.

A few weeks after that, I was feeling suicidal again, so I followed my psychiatrist’s recommendation and drove to Laurel Ridge, a psychiatric and substance abuse facility. I assured them that I didn’t believe I was in any actual danger, and just wanted help, so I was admitted to their outpatient program. And that really turned my life around.

I hear doing inpatient there is a different story, but the outpatient program was pretty good, I thought. I was there from 7:30 AM to 2:00 PM, Monday through Friday. I’d eat breakfast there, always biscuits and gravy. We did group therapy of various sorts, meditation, yoga, and even slack-lining. I learned about grounding, wellness tool-kits, and safety planning. I filled out worksheets that helped me visualize a future for myself. Most importantly, the psychiatrist diagnosed me as bipolar and prescribed mood stabilizers. And wow. I just can’t believe how much I needed that, and how long I’d gone without it.

I enrolled in summer classes at SAC, and applied and was admitted to UTSA as a psychology major. After a while I got the sense that the facility was keeping me there to milk my insurance, because I had cycled through the entire curriculum and things were getting repetitive. I was able to get out of there because the summer session at SAC was about to commence.

The next two years whizzed by. I never knew what an excellent student I could be. I finally graduated with a 3.6 GPA. For the most part, anxiety wasn’t taking over my life.

Things are different in the springtime, however. Just based on various traumas that always seemed to occur in the spring, it is a time associated with great anxiety. It’s also a time associated with the peace and calm of my stay at Laurel Ridge. So seeing as it’s spring right now, I am simultaneously a nervous wreck and a sentimental fool. I eat biscuits and gravy for breakfast several times a week. I sit out on my swing in the morning, peacefully reflective of the things I learned while there. I dry heave at night and go to bed early before the anxiety makes me sick. This is my life, before the heat of the summer evaporates my anxiety and replaces it with straight-up crankiness. Then fall and winter comes and everything is alright.

So that’s just an introduction to my experience with panic attacks and generalized anxiety. I will probably make future anxiety-related posts that are more specific, such as coping mechanisms, triggers, etc., so stay tuned for that and more.

Diligent Cross Stitching

As much as I try to stay organized, like most things in my life, all my cross stitching stuff is in a state of disarray. Bit by bit, I am trying to get it all sorted out to the point that I have a steady inventory of all cross stitching necessities, an organized archive of patterns, a time sheet to keep track of how much time I spend on each project, and a cross stitching planner in which I keep track of the half dozen projects I usually got going at one time. This blog post will serve as a reference point for me in accomplishing all that.

Also, I got chewed out this weekend by my aunt and cousin for not stitching my signature on what are now family heirlooms. So I guess I gotta start practicing my… stignature.

Here are a few bullet points on how to be a diligent cross stitcher.

INVENTORY

  • several hoops of different sizes
  • at least one skein of every color of DMC thread, and I check inventory and re-up every six months
  • several types of fabric: important stock are 14-ct white/black aida and a couple 28-ct evenweaves
  • a small cross-stitching supply pouch in various locations (home, work, travel) that contains scissors, needles, tape measure, fine-point sharpie, anti-fraying stuff, and the plastic thread holder things
  • keep track of all my inventory

PLANNING

  • have a calendar for events, occasions, birthdays, etc.
  • start cards a couple weeks in advance of the event
  • start bigger gifts a month or two in advance of the event
  • keep a list of projects I want to complete within the next year
  • replace threads in my traveling thread holder every week according to finished and new projects

TIME KEEPING

  • spend a couple hours on a couple different projects a day
  • turn on a timer while I’m working
  • keep track of time spent on each project in a notebook
  • take progress pictures of bigger projects every week
  • get all my materials together every month for upcoming projects

Hopefully, doing these things will help me be more efficient and finish more projects. I should try to start all these things right away. I’ll post updates on how it’s going.

For now, enjoy my newly finished needlebook.

Untitled

Coming Out Autistic

When it comes to being queer, it is just something inherent to my identity that I’ve accepted since middle school. I’ve been fully “out” as bi since I was in ninth grade, and came to terms with being agender in college. It’s not something I feel is necessary to hide, and if someone reacts the wrong way then they’ll probably catch, if not my hands, then a good verbal lashing.

When it comes to being autistic, I’m perhaps shier. It’s a newly realized aspect of my identity, and I’m still coming into my own understanding of it. I still feel that nagging sense of, “I’m just talking about it for attention,” “I’m lying to myself and everyone and all my doctors,” and, “It doesn’t even matter.” That oh-so-familiar self-doubt of being halfway out of the closet. Then I talk to other autistic people, and a lot of them feel the same way, especially being newly diagnosed later in life.

There are even research papers exploring the parallels between being autistic and being queer. Knowing there are people who oppose you, who think you should be “cured” or “changed.” Feeling a sense of isolation amongst your cishet/neurotypical peers and a sense of belonging in (segments of) the autistic and LGBTQ+ communities. Getting sick of people trying to debate your humanity with you.

When it comes to those more isolating aspects, I am personally infinitely blessed to be surrounded by people who are comfortable with my queerness and autism, and for the most part my mental illnesses.

Up until today, I think while most people at my workplace knew I was queer, I had told only one or two about being autistic. But then here comes the ol’ “Light It Up Blue”/ “Autism Awareness Month” nonsense that gives plenty of autistic self-advocates a headache, and probably a few anxiety attacks, so I felt like I had to at least say something just in case someone else was planning on “Lighting It Up Blue.” I hate confrontation. Better to take preemptive action by typing up my views on the matter in a mass email to every full-timer in the organization. Thus far, all responses have been very positive. I can certainly rest knowing that if someone missed the memo and does “Light It Up Blue,” I’ve equipped my colleagues with the information to call it out.

There are probably extremely few workplaces in which someone might feel comfortable doing something like that. But in the context of my own workplace, being an outspoken advocate is what we’re all about. Challenging rape culture also means challenging ableism, transphobia, racism, and all the myriad other factors that can affect how a person experiences sexual violence. If I want to be a helpful advocate for autistic survivors of sexual assault, then who better to practice on than myself?

These are my words:

***

Hello everybody!

I’d like to introduce, for those of you who do not know, a cause near and dear to me: Autism Acceptance!

Nationwide, April is widely known as Autism Awareness Month. Specifically, April 2 is designated as Light It Up Blue for Autism. The color blue was selected to represent the fact that boys are overwhelmingly the ones diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorders. A lot of those in the autism community, including myself, feel that this does not paint a very accurate or inclusive portrait of autism – young autistic girls are often misdiagnosed as children and don’t receive their ASD diagnoses until later than boys, because many health professionals aren’t aware it can even affect girls. Autism in girls also tends to present differently than it does in boys, and hasn’t been extensively researched as it has in boys. Therefore, we would like to challenge the stereotype of autism being a “boys’ disorder” by encouraging people to wear RED INSTEAD!

We also prefer the phrase Autism ACCEPTANCE, rather than simply Autism AWARENESS. We feel that while many people are certainly aware that autism is a thing, a lot of the nationwide dialogue around autism stems from misunderstanding and sometimes even prejudice. For instance, the best known autism organization in the United States is Autism $peaks, which plays its own part in producing hysteria and prejudice around autism. Very few actually autistic individuals serve any role in the organization, undermining the activist motto “Nothing About Us Without Us.” Against the wishes of actually autistic individuals, their funds go toward research for finding a cure (that will probably never exist). Because autism is pervasive and colors the way we experience the world, a search for a cure implies that who we inherently are is bad and wrong.

We believe that the real challenge to face is fighting societal ableism and existing eugenicist beliefs surrounding people with disabilities and our right to exist as we are. Many of the challenges associated with autism stem from communication barriers that arise from overstimulating environments and poor accessibility, including communicating with autistic individuals in ways that work for them (which for many does not involve speech at all, and certainly limited eye contact). But whether someone is verbal or non-verbal, communication is key! AUTISM ACCEPTANCE means accommodating autistic individuals’ unique communication needs, which varies from person to person, rather than expecting autistic people to communicate in traditional ways. AUTISM ACCEPTANCE means celebrating neurodiversity. AUTISM ACCEPTANCE means learning about autism from those it DIRECTLY affects – actually autistic individuals!

Because I could probably write a multi-volume encyclopedia on the matter, I’ll leave it at this. Here is a link full of wonderful resources, and of course I’m always willing to answer your questions!

As for myself, there’s only a couple of y’all who I have informed about being autistic, so consider this my coming out autistic! (And as a queer person, I must confess that “coming out” autistic, which I was diagnosed as only a couple years ago, is certainly more intimidating for me than coming out queer, which I’ve known since I was a young child!)

Thank you for reading!

#RedInstead #AutismAcceptance #WalkInRed #CelebrateNeurodiversity

 

Cross Stitch

One of my special interests is cross stitching. If you’re wondering what makes something a special interest as opposed to a regular interest, it’s the intensity with which many autistic people engage with their interests. Another word I’ve used to describe my special interests is obsession. We want to know everything about our special interests. We want to talk to people about it, although frequently end up annoying them. For me at least, my special interests tend to become incorporated into my identity. I’m “that girl who’s obsessed with Freddie Mercury.” I’m “whale girl.” (Those were mostly just in high school.) At least with cross stitching, people seem to be interested in what I do.

As with any other special interest, I want to collect anything that has to do with it, and will meticulously organize that collection. In cross stitch terms, that means owning a billion cross stitch magazines, making sure my DMC thread inventory is complete (I need to re-up on a few right now), and having a Google Drive that stores all my favorite past, present and future projects that no human could ever complete in a lifetime. But I like to dream.

I’m usually working on several projects at once. I have a few abandoned projects that I started a few years ago and will get around to finishing eventually. I have many partly-finished projects that still need to be pillowfied or framed or whatever.

My active projects tend to include: a big, major project that will take several months to a year and is intended to be a special gift for a special someone, a medium-sized project for my own pleasure that I will use to decorate my own space, and a small one that takes from a few hours to a couple weeks that I give as gifts. I kinda switch it up every few days to stay interested.

The big project I’m working on is a Celtic Angel for my grandma. Every once in a while I show her my progress. I started it in early December 2017, and first revealed its progress to her on Christmas. I don’t know how long I expecting to take to finish it, but it was intended as a belated Christmas gift. Maybe by her birthday in November.

20180320_213139

My personal project is this soon-to-be pillow with a fox pattern.

20180320_213112

I’m working on something else for my Uncle Pat’s birthday, but I’ll post a photo after it’s been gifted.

As I mentioned earlier, people tend to be interested in this special interest. And as I mentioned in another post, I don’t really speak about things I’m passionate about until someone else expresses interest. I’ve learned from past experiences that it can be annoying. However, when people see me working on a cross stitch project, they often want to know more. “How long have you been working on that?” “You must have a lot of patience.” “When did you start cross stitching?” “How much time do you spend on it?”

As for my responses: “Oh, I started it on [x date].” “I guess so. It just relaxes me.” “I did some as a kid, but then I picked it up again a few years ago.” “I like working on it during Netflix binges or just whenever it seems appropriate.” I often add, “I’m making it as a gift for X.” “I’m also working on a couple other things.”

If I was an adolescent with poor impulse control as I indeed once was, I’d go overboard by showing them the million other projects I want to do, and listing every project I’ve done in the past four years (and there have been many).

So that’s an introduction to what is currently my primary special interest. If anyone reading this is interested in knowing more, feel free to contact me. Also, allow me to share my Cross Stitch Google Drive, which is pictures of the projects that I have available, frequently updated. On your requests, I could upload PDFs containing patterns that you might want to do yourself.