off the shelf: what I read in June 2020

Still Reading

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Rules of Scoundrels series) by Sarah MacLean – hmmmm… there are tropes I don’t love…

Finished

Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik – The last in the Consortium Rebellion series. Polaris Rising remains my favorite, but each book in this series shines with rebel princesses, political intrigue, and the space drama. (Jessie Mihalik is one of my favorite authors of the last two years. I already pre-ordered her next book.)

Reborn Yesterday by Tessa Bailey – A fated mates-style vampire romance—not at all what I expected from this author. It was cute. Not quite for me. I had a hard time understanding the reasoning behind the Ginny’s status as a social pariah. I mean, I got it, but I couldn’t understand why… it just didn’t resonate.

The Baby-Sitters Club, books 1-4 by Ann M. Martin – read for the podcast. I now realize how my mom felt when I was kid and insisted on watching Full House… I’m not the audience for this series and I’m not sure I ever was… (listeners will know that I didn’t jive with what passed as children’s/YA hits in the 90s)

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard – I lost interest in this series midway through Book 3 (when it came out), but something drew me back to this world (can it be the impending sense of doom in our own?). I didn’t love it shrug. It’s very drawn out (war war detail detail) and I interest waned early on, but I persisted by skimming to the end.

A Rogue by Any Other Name (Rules of Scoundrels series) by Sarah MacLean – I love an an angsty redemption story and this one has angst in spades! Childhood friends, a ruined Duke turned scoundrel, semi-forced marriage of convenience, and a whole lot of “How you gonna fix this?” drama.

Audiobooks

Untouchable (also called Deep Kiss of Winter? Why does the audio have a different name?) by Kresley Cole – it’s official, the Wroths are some of my favorite IAD males. I love a broody vampire and there’s no denying it.

DNF

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry – not quite what I was looking for… More on the history of individuals rather than the pandemic (though I DNFed in the first section. I didn’t have the drive to continue).

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#projectuseitup: quarantine empties

quarantine empties, the first

In which I continue to use up my stash…

Eden’s Garden, Fighting Five Synergy Blend essential oil

I don’t believe essential oils have the power prevent disease, but there is something to be said for their healing properties… I’ve used this essential oil for sinus infections and colds, and have found it helpful in opening up my nasal passages and clearing things up. Will it clear the air of contagion? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, I’m willing to try it.

Eden’s Garden is a non-MLM essential oil brand and their prices are just right for my budget.

Have since repurchased in the larger size (but not the largest, because I’m not made of money).

Humble brand natural deodorant, Palo Santo, Frankincense & Vanilla scent

In my quest for the best natural deodorant, I came across this. It’s not perfect, but the scent is nice and woodsy. I would consider repurchasing, but need to get through the rest of my stash.

ACURE, Ultra Hydrating Green Juice Cleanser (sample)

ACURE is a regular part of my empties. I like their products and find them reasonably priced (for the eco-beauty sphere). This one did the job, but it’s not as hydrating as the Seriously Soothing or Anti-aging cleansers that I regularly use.

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social distance diaries: days 106-112

you know the drill… wear your mask.

Day 106, Monday

Kitty is still adjusting to being a single cat. Another weird, sleepless night where she kept calling for me.

Despite the tiredness, I was in the mood to dance. Spent an hour playing Just Dance and got a proper sweat session. I’m too anxious to run for fear of hurting myself and ending up in urgent care (wouldn’t be the first time), so my workouts have been limited to walks, yoga (when I can focus), and lately resistance band circuits. Dancing is a nice change.

Spent $75 on summer dresses to enhance the sans pants life. I’m tired of wearing the same three t-shirt dresses I’ve been wearing for three years.

Day 107, Tuesday

A quick morning laundry session as I struggle to find the best way to limit laundry time… it’s tough when you have to borrow your partner’s laundry machine because you don’t have your own and don’t want to risk the laundromat.

Learned that one of my aunt’s had a stroke last night. We’re not particularly close, but it’s still troubling to learn of a third person that I know having an attack in as many weeks.

Day 108, Wednesday

Learned my aunt’s stroke is COVID related and she’s been moved into a special unit for recovery. My uncle and cousins have to get tested. We’re not particularly close, but I hope they recover. Unfortunately, they’re the sort of people that were having house parties with more than the county-recommended 10 guests or less. They all probably got it at a Father’s Day party. Not surprising.

More troubling for me, my sister needs to get tested after one of her coworkers tested positive. She lives with my dad and her mom, both of whom are in vulnerable categories. I’m trying to remain calm and hope she didn’t have contact with that person.

Had to teach my mom how to use Zoom so she can meet with her doctor next week. Some of her chronic issues have been causing some concern. I hope it turns out to be nothing.

Day 109, Thursday

Planning meetings for future reopening of the university. I’m not going to stop working from home any time soon, but I’m part of the review committee to ensure a safe return for students and staff when we start to reopen.

My cat has been acting odd. Vet was closed by the time I called, so I’m going to have to call Friday morning and hope that they’re open. Otherwise, it’s going to be a complicated weekend… I really don’t need more complications.

Day 110, Friday

Took the cat to the vet and he couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with her. Gave her b12 and a steroid in case it’s inflammation or arthritis. Also gave her some fluids in case of dehydration and said to return on Monday if she doesn’t change.

Went to the cardiologist for myself in the afternoon… had an echocardiogram and stress test done (the tech asked “do you ever have chest pain?” while doing the echo, so there’s that… but the stress test was fine.). Sent home with a 24 hour Holter monitor.

Day 111, Saturday

Kitty is not eating much, though the b12 should’ve opened her appetite. I suspect she has a hairball again (there was a big one about two months ago). I have to monitor and see what happens this weekend. I am so tired of being worried about everyone lately.

Day 112, Sunday

Late to bed = late to rise. All the noise was hard to handle and I had a migraine that made it even harder to fall asleep. Finally, rolled out of bed around 9, which meant a late start for everything… A less productive weekend than I wanted, but I managed to have a few pomodoro editing sessions.

If my neighbors actions during the weekend is any indication, we’re in this pandemic for the long haul…

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social distance diaries: days 100-105

keep wearing those masks. make it fashion.

Day 100, Tuesday

Trying to get back into the swing of things after being out for two days. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but emails have a way of multiplying even under normal work circumstances… meetings kept me from getting much done TBH.

Day 101, Wednesday

Day off for doctor’s visits (for myself and mom).

One of my coworkers had a heart attack recently, and my mom’s neighbor had a stroke… that spurred me to finally see a cardiologist to discuss the heart palpitations, faintness/dizziness, shortness of breath I’ve been experiencing for a little over a year.

For the record – I’ve seen my GP twice (after the first time I nearly passed out and, more recently, when he prescribed anxiety meds), as well as my endocrinologist, and my gyno to check all my hormone levels… none of them found anything, but I’m not fully satisfied with anxiety as a diagnosis. For one, my mom has mitral valve prolapse; I don’t want a misdiagnosis if it’s more than anxiety (there was no pandemic when it started), or a regular part of my body being slightly different.

I have a followup scheduled for an EKG, stress test, and Holter monitor.

Day 102, Thursday

Finally catching up on work… It’s surprising how quickly things pile up, even when I tend to stay on top of tasks and prioritize.

We’ve finally hit the summer heatwaves and it’s been miserable being at home (I don’t have central AC and my wall units can barely cool the room when the sun hits in the afternoon).

Sunset was at 8:15pm FFS. The sun was unrelenting.

Day 103, Friday

It’s HOT. I ordered a second fan to try to cool my home office (ie, my living room) while I keep working from home. Kitty is as languid as I feel. I think she’s shed some of her undercoat because she looks slimmer. I feel ya, kitty.

Finally feeling better after a three day migraine attack. I’m pretty sure it was caused by my lack of restraint over the weekend (there was dairy and other stuff that doesn’t sit well with my body) and the heat.

No heart palpitations today, so that’s a plus.

Meanwhile, the state just announced 9000 covid cases in a single day. Wear your masks, people! I have zero tolerance for selfish disdain for human life.

Day 104, Saturday

I’ve felt decent for the last two more… more than decent actually, and I’m taking full advantage of the ability to focus and write.

Since I haven’t been going out to eat (I can count the number of times I’ve had takeout), I decided to take the plunge and try Daily Harvest. 1) because I’m tired of coming up with lunches and snacks, 2) because I’ve been eyeing their ads forEVER. If you want to try it yourself, I have a referral link.

Day 105, Sunday

Another good writing day. Using a timer and setting pomodoro type sessions has helped me reset my writing routine for the weekend. My weekday writing sessions are usually an hour long, but I’ve had a hard time sitting with the words when there’s so much to do at home. This is an improvement.

Listened to an excellent episode of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. Highly recommend. It was just what I needed to remind me that it’s ok to just take care of myself and stop. Episode 411. Caring for Tired Brains with Alexis Rockley

Meanwhile, the number of covid cases keeps hitting new highs. I’m still working from home, my risk is minimal, but I’m also an empathetic person. Between the fear and sense of collective grief, it’s been tough. YouTube videos from folks who’ve survived the virus are one of my weird ways to find hope.

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social distance diaries: days 92-99

Day 92, Monday

It’s a long story, but once again I had to take my mom to an Urgent Care Center. Luckily, this time it was a minor issue (bursitis), but it’s been nearly a month of “do you want to see a doctor?” arguments. This is her third visit to a center in as many months and I’m really hoping to avoid a fourth. My greatest concern is keeping my mom well. She has too many underlying conditions to fare through an infection without complications.

Sat in the car for 2.5 hours and had to drive for another hour each way to drop her off, drop off prescriptions, and drive back to my place. I’m just glad it wasn’t a sprain or tear.

Day 93, Tuesday

Time for my monthly grocery run! I was not as anxious as I was the last two times, so that’s progress. I went in around 8am and was back in the car at 8:33am, which is a record. My gran’s home health aide has been helping with some of the groceries, so I didn’t have to buy nearly $400 worth of stuff this time (1 trip for 2 households = a bad time for all).

Meetings in the afternoon and chat. Trying to catch up on all that I missed yesterday.

Day 94, Wednesday

A blur of a day.

Day 95, Thursday

It’s been a busy week. Meetings and playing catch-up before taking two days off for my birthday. I take a week off each year, but what’s the point this year? A couple of days seems sufficient. It’s not like I’m going to do much other than rest, read, and recharge for writing.

Migraine in the afternoon when the weather turned stormy 😦

Days 96-99, Friday – Monday

Mini birthday staycation, quarantine-style. Had a few days to read and rest and do little more than eat all the things. The boy surprised me with an Animal Crossing-themed cake (because he loves themes) and some very special gifts. My birthday is usually quiet, so it wasn’t that different from the norm. We ordered takeout bbq and enjoyed a forbidden picnic (we didn’t realize the tables were still off-limits at the park).

Covid is back on the rise in Florida. Miami saw a significant spike over the weekend. My worries are on the rise with it, especially with regards to my family and my partner’s work situation.

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social distance diaries: days 85-91

yes, I’m still working from home and keeping my distance. cases are still on the rise.

Day 85, Monday

Interrupted sleep and another bout of whatever hit me on Saturday = a very lethargic day. Maybe it’s a migraine coming? Maybe it’s PMS? Maybe it’s whatever I had in March giving me second go? Who knows. Living with chronic issues is a guessing game.

My general fatigue manifested in some rather low blood pressure in the evening. 75/63

Day 86, Tuesday

Meetings that went on too long, nothing resolved.

Day 87, Wednesday

I’m experiencing empathy fatigue re: my parents. I can’t help them, but the constant barrage of negative emotions coming from my mom, and my inability to do anything for my dad (he lives with people who are actively out and about and bringing people over without a care) are wearing me out. I speak with both of them multiple times a day, but there are times (like today) when all I want to do is say yes, no, and hang up. TBH I have a lot of unresolved issues that stem from the f*ck ups of these two humans.

Day 88, Thursday

We had more than 1600 new cases of COVID reported in Florida in today’s update and, somehow, we’re opening even more places where people gather in large groups… We’re f*cked.

Right now, everything feels hopeless.

On a lighter note, I visited my dad for a distance date. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since quarantine and it relieved some of my anxiety. I brought him a bag of his favorite bagels (he calls them donuts) and he was very pleased by the surprise.

Day 89, Friday

Cue the latest migraine. I’ve been feeling it coming for the last few days — extra fatigue, clumsiness, inability to concentrate, and generalized achiness (also, wrist pain, which is one of my first warning signs). Two days of interrupted sleep and neighbors slamming stuff didn’t help.

Decided to whip out the smaller of my teapots for a renewed, reading time tea ritual. I’ve also started using a small coffee cup with saucer to slow down my morning coffee moment.

Day 90, Saturday

Laundry in the morning, weekend chat in the afternoon. Amused (and confused) to receive an email from the university telling my I owe $3.50 for tuition… I’m a faculty member and haven’t taken a class since Fall 2008. I’m hoping it’s a glitch, but emailed them to investigate. I had enough issues with records when I WAS a student. (as faculty too if we’re being candid).

Podcast recording. (latest minisode)

Day 91, Sunday

Writing and dealing with mom drama. She is the greatest source of stress in my life right now. Yes, including covid, because keeping her safe from infection is compounded by the fact that she has a million health issues and keeps needing to go to Urgent Care Centers with more frequency than ever before… ugh.

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social distance diaries: days 78-84

Day 78, Monday

Meetings and lots of them.

Started writing again. It’s slow going, but it’s a start. It’s been difficult to write in my current mental state, especially when trying to write a Romance that has some heavy angst.

Day 79, Tuesday

I don’t even remember what I did on Tuesday…

I wrote for an hour.

Day 80, Wednesday

Collected Cara’s ashes. They didn’t have my number on record, which is why it took so long. I called to ask and they already had him. They provided a ceramic paw print, which broke my heart just a little.

Meetings that I didn’t have on my calendar threw me for a loop.

Wrote for another hour.

Day 81, Thursday

Tired and feeling a little off, but I suspect mid-cycle hormone mess. I’ve noticed this increases my anxiety and makes my heart race.

Meetings and work on writing projects. I have ideas for future research that I’ve been mulling for months; I think the time is nearing for introspection…

Day 82, Friday

What would’ve been the uni’s chair’s retreat was hosted on Zoom. It was very informative. Our local infectious disease expert spoke candidly about the situation and what’s going to happen moving forward. Her conclusion: herd immunity won’t save us and vaccines (if/when we have them) will likely be annual.

I wore makeup for the first time since March…

Day 83, Saturday

Suddenly, incredibly sick with indigestion. Spent most of the morning feeling awful and the afternoon in a languid haze. Managed to get some writing done.

Day 84, Sunday

Donated blood for the first time ever. I’ve always wanted to but haven’t because of reasons (not least of which is my episodes of lightheadedness). It went well. Phlebotomist said, “Wow! You’re a bleeder.” Friends, I am apparently. It only took about 5 minutes to complete the donation. Part of my motivation was to donate, but the more selfish motivation was to 1) learn my blood type 2) participate in the covid antibody study that the blood bank is supporting.

Stay safe, wear your mask, register to vote!

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off the shelf: what I read in May 2020

Still Reading

Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik – my favorite spacey romance series

Finished

It’s Getting Scot in Here by Suzanne Enoch – It was ok. Highlanders, manipulative mothers, and a trip to Gretna Greene. I skimmed the last quarter because I was in too deep and just wanted to know how it ended.

Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey – Siblings with tons of baggage and a road trip gone awry. Also grew a little exasperated with this one, seemed to rely more on love scenes than plot development. I’ve enjoyed all the other books I’ve read by this author; this one just didn’t satisfy in the same way.

Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson – I’m not sure if this reads like old school romance, or the heroine is just that clueless. I received this as part of a blind box from an indie bookstore, so it’s not an author or genre that I normally go for.

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn – This series is an insta-read for me. Excellent mystery and the slowest of slow burn romance subplots. Historical mystery set against the backdrop of the Ripper murders. It feels like a conclusion, but maybe not?

Audiobooks

Dark Deed’s at Night’s Edge by Kresley Cole – ballerina flapper ghost meets vengeful virgin vampire. We love a virgin vampire! Sort of a friends to lovers in the IADverse.

Dark Desires after Dusk by Kresley Cole – I didn’t love Holly, but I did like Caed. Sheltered, OCD mathematician meets disgraced demon prince. Adventure, betrayal, redemption. A road trip with high stakes that didn’t feel that high TBH, but still a good distraction.

Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole – We enter the realm of light bondage. Enemies to lovers who bring out the best and worst in each other is my kind of kink.

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social distance diaries: Days 71-77

Day 71, Monday

It’s Memorial Day. It’s raining and I’m in no hurry to return to anything that looks like a gathering.

Was a little short of breath this morning. I have a pulse oximeter and my sp02 was 94-95 for a little bit, but then rose to 96/97/98 later in the day. I’m hoping it was a fluke, or maybe a sign of the mild anemia that I’ve started to suspect post-period. Either way, we’re back to careful monitoring. TBH, I’m anxious after last week’s emergency trip to the ER vet and my mask situation at the time. I’m not as anxious as I was following my mom’s ER visit in March, but I’ve had heart palpitations again. Anxiety or the potential anemia? Who knows. My labs were normal last time. I really want to see a cardiologist, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. I’m waiting to see those numbers drop in my area… that two-week drop is still a distant dream.

Day 72, Tuesday

Still having a hard time finding the energy to do much beyond the basics. I’m working, but taking it slow. There’s no writing today.

Posted a check-in video, if only to confirm that I’m still around.

Recorded June’s podcast episode, which was a nice distraction but wired me too much for sleep…

Day 73, Wednesday

Vet got the results. Confirmed lymphoma. At least he didn’t suffer for an extended period of time. Still hard though.

Old department issue came circling back… I’m out of ideas on this one.

Flash floods all over town. Lots of anxiety as the boy got stuck in the middle of the storm and I couldn’t help.

Day 74, Thursday

Took a scheduled day off to celebrate mom’s birthday as best I could. Baked funfetti muffins for her (frosting-less cupcakes, if you will) and picked up dinner for her at KFC, which is her favorite. I ordered her a lovepop card but was too late for it to arrive on time.

Spent some time with the boy. Have to admit, it makes me incredibly anxious every time.

Day 75, Friday

Panic attack or general, un-diagnosed bodily weirdness? I don’t know, but I had to drive the boy to work (his car got damaged in Wednesday’s flash flood) and proceeded to start shaking/going numb/have heart palpitations as I was driving back home.

Day 76, Saturday

I’m starting to learn that extreme exhaustion is a side effect of the attacks I’ve experience. No energy to do anything and dealing with some low-level depression.

Day 77, Sunday

Neighbors started dragging furniture and slamming doors at 5am. This after I couldn’t fall asleep the night before. Another low energy day.

looking beyond myself

There are complicated things happening in the world. My words are not adequate to express the injustice that black and brown folks experience on a daily basis. Take care of yourselves. Protect yourselves.

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social distance diaries: days 64-70

Day 64, Monday

Caved and placed my first instacart order for essentials from a bulk store. I didn’t want to go out three weeks in a row, so it was a choice. I tip well, so this was more than I would normally spend but not like I’m going out to eat, so…
Basically, I’m an over planner and I’m not waiting for hurricane season to ramp up before getting supplies.

Day 65, Tuesday

Dropped the cats off at the vet. Trying to remain hopeful, but kitty has been very lethargic since his last visit, refusing to eat or drink much and just hiding all day. He was fine right before the visit, which makes me wonder if it’s residual pain from the biopsy (having had one, can confirm it hurts) or post-vet visit trauma. Usually, his moods don’t last this long.

Vet called because he found 6 bumps total after shaving him. I never felt these bumps until I felt the first one last Monday. I’m worried it’s an aggressive fibrosarcoma that has already spread, but we’ll have to wait for results. Vet suggested removing the large lump (the first one I noticed) and waiting for those results to decide on next steps. I fear this will be another round of pet cancer and can only hope that I’m wrong.

Day 66, Wednesday

We lost him. Nothing else mattered on this day.

Day 67, Thursday

A rough night, thinking if I should’ve done anything differently, not gone through with the surgery, rushed back to the vet, knowing that he was probably already dying and we didn’t know it until it was too late, that his body couldn’t handle the surgery, that those would be our last moments together. I’m feeling particularly raw. It’s going to be a hard day.

Day 68, Friday

There were meetings. I didn’t have much energy. I took a short walk.

Day 69, Saturday

Starting to feel a little more myself, but I didn’t have the mental space to do anything productive. I worked chat from noon-6pm. The day is mostly a blur. I read most of the day while waiting for chats.

Day 70, Sunday

I thought I would have energy to write, but I didn’t. I read some more. Spent time with the girl kitty.

Much of this week was a blur. Grief is like that.

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