social distance diaries: days 254-260

in which I am a productive potato

Monday – Sunday

Took a week off to write and think and spend time with myself, sometimes with the boy, every day with the cats. I wrote for four hours every day, except on Sunday, when I only wrote for two hours around a migraine that started in my neck. I completed 32 hours and 57 minutes of editing for the month (excluding any edits I get done tomorrow), reaching 22,983 words for my NaNo goal (I regularly track hours and pages, but added words for this month), and totaling 141 pages (72 of those during my break). This progress wouldn’t have been possible without this time off; I missed too many days due to headaches, grief, and medical appointments this month, but I’m proud of myself for getting through it.

Still no updates on my shoulder, still waiting for my MRI to be approved. Hoping that will happen this week. Thanksgiving was a simple dinner outside with the boy and a cake that continued to feed me for breakfast into the weekend (I’m a cake for breakfast sort of gal).

Enjoyed lots of walks and several naps. I look forward to my next break in December. After no real breaks since March, I needed the time to disconnect from work mode and experience my home as a home again.

Happy late Thanksgiving to those in the States. Stay safe!

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social distance diaries: days 247-253

in which I still don’t have any answers…

Day 247, Monday

A long, emotionally difficult day. Met with the orthopedic oncologist. She thinks it’s likely benign but may be a wait-and-watch or a get-it-out situation. I have another MRI scheduled for Monday and a follow-up right before Christmas, so all possibility of quarantining/testing in time to spend a day with my parents is out the window. I’m not willing to risk it for their sake.

Late in the day, I learned that my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He doesn’t know the stage yet, but he has several chronic health conditions and clinical depression, so this is sending him into an understandable spiral. I won’t know more until he has further examination. I just hope they caught it early and it’s not advanced.

I bought sushi and rugelach for lunch and dessert. That was the small bit of joy I found in my day.

Day 248, Tuesday

A day of meetings and trying to cope. I took the day off writing; I just couldn’t get into the right headspace.

Day 249, Wednesday

Intended to catch up on missed writing, but managing one block was all that I could do. There have been so many emotional setbacks this year, it’s been hard to celebrate the progress I have made when there is so much yet to be done.

Day 250, Thursday

Cases are ridiculously high in the state, and my county in particular. My mom has to go to the doctor’s office for a required checkup next week (medicare requirements), so I’m going to have to visit despite my wish to stay away until I’m through with my own medical needs. Sigh. My gran needs someone to watch her, but I plan to keep my distance while I’m there. Another pandemic complication.

Day 251, Friday

All my meetings got cancelled, making it the perfect end to my week! Set up my auto-reply and called it quits by 3pm. I’m on vacation next week, which really means I’m going to be writing without worrying about emails or meetings for 5 days.

Unfortunately, my MRI appointment was also cancelled… well, put on hold at least. Stuff happened and paperwork was missing, so my approval was delayed. I’m desperate for a real diagnosis and the fact that our hospitals are overrun is not reassuring.

Day 252, Saturday

Started my morning with a latte. I impulsively ordered a milk frother/warmer earlier this week and it arrived on Friday. It was a lovely start to my break.

I haven’t made as much progress with my edits this month (so far), but I also realized that two of the 5 chapters I planned to edit were EXCESSIVELY long and needed to be split. I’m about half-way through the book and just about to hit the second part of Act II, so my pace might start to pick up along with the action (I hope!). Regardless, I’m on track to finish by January at this pace, making it through 3 drafts by the end of the year and getting ready for betas note to self: recruit betas.

Day 253, Sunday

Today turned into a life reset day. Trying to get all the errands out of the way so I can focus on my writing goals this week. I normally write for an hour a day before settling down to work, and two hours on the weekends. Sometimes, I manage an extra hour in the evening, but evenings tend to be for movement and self-care (re: avoiding migraine triggers). My goal is to clock in for 4 hours every day this week. fingers crossed It’s been a long time since I’ve had the stamina to revise for 4 hours.

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social distance diaries: days 240-246

in which there are distractions…

Day 240, Monday

Woken at 5 by one of those horrifying weather alerts. Nothing to get you out of bed like an alarm blaring by your head. The first time I ever heard one of those, a tornado swept down the road, so I respect the warning.

Tried to get back to bed after feeding the cats, but a second alarm came an hour later. Gave up and got my hour of writing in before my energy flagged.

Had the day off from work, because storm days are South Florida’s version of snow days. TBH, it felt like the storm days when I was a kid and got to stay home from school. Obviously, I’ve been home from school for a while, but the lights are on and the flooding isn’t as bad in my town as it in others, so it was a nice break from the grind. One city reported 17 inches of rain overnight and power was knocked out for thousands; I’m grateful I didn’t have to deal with more than an alarm.

Day 241, Tuesday

Back to work and catching up on projects before meetings. Managed to get my laundry done between the rain storms.

Day 242, Wednesday

Had the day off for Veteran’s Day, but ended up having to take one of my mom’s cats to the vet. Luckily, nothing major, just a UTI, but there went my day.

Day 243, Thursday

Every fall for the last 5 years or so, I’ve hosted a high school class at the library and taught them how to do research. Because of covid, this year’s session was online and I had to adapt my resources to freebies only, since they won’t be allowed to visit the university. About 30 minutes before the class was scheduled, I started to feel the first warning signs of a migraine. Managed to keep it at bay with some advil and a cold pack, but it rebounded with a vengeance.

Day 244, Friday

Migraine all day. I took it easy because it was hard to look at a screen. Attended meetings and showed my face briefly when called, but not much energy to get involved.

Day 245, Saturday

Migraine peaked around noon and improved by 3pm. FINALLY. One of the weird side effects I get is uncontrollable hunger coupled with an upset stomach (fun), so I was starving all morning but also feeling nauseous. Good times. Anyhow, I was craving cake and went to my usual bakery, forgetting that it would be packed during lunch time because people keep eating in restaurants. It took less than 15 minutes to get to the counter, but I must admit, it felt riskier than anywhere I’ve been in the last few months. Hoping my mask/filter and the fact that I was there for less than the suggested time for exposure was enough.

Podcast recording in the afternoon, which was a real treat. For the curious, you can catch the minisode here.

Day 246, Sunday

Feeling more myself today. Caught up on sleep and spent the morning writing. It feels so good to be able to focus without pain stabbing at my head and neck.

Going to the oncologist tomorrow, hoping for some sense of direction.

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social distance diaries: days 204-210

in which we go to all the doctors…

Day 204, Monday

Was in a meeting where folks were discussing their recent increase in meetings… meanwhile, I have three meeting-free days this month, excluding two days for an online conference. None of those include the two new committees I am now a part of, and none are related to the move to remote. If I was working on-campus, I would still be attending the same number of meetings.

Day 205, Tuesday

I took a look at my schedule and realized I had nothing pressing until after lunch, so I grabbed my ballot and headed to the elections office to drop it off. My vote is in. I hope some good comes of it.

Day 206, Wednesday

Off to the ob-gyn for my yearly wellness exam. She also thinks my arm pain is a knot in my muscle rather than something internal, but I’m still waiting on an approval for the MRI…

Day 207, Thursday

And off to the doctor again for my yearly physical. My OBG and GP are a husband/wife pair and both were open about their views on the current administration’s response to COVID and their personal bout with the virus. Both caught it, along with one their kids. His case was worse (he developed pneumonia and fainted several times), but his wife and daughter developed tremors after recovering. It sounded frightening but weirdly reassuring. Like I too might have a chance… Still, he told me, “keep doing what you’re doing if you haven’t caught it.”

Day 208, Friday

Back to the grind… I blocked out a few hours for a pressing project, but it still wasn’t enough. Spent the night reading so I could away from the screens.

My BF reached the let-my-girlfriend-give-me-an-undercut stage of not being a fool in a pandemic. It was my first time using clippers but it went well!

Day 209, Saturday

Mild migraine rolled in with the storm clouds, but managed to head it off with a low dose of advil. I started laying off the advil after I noticed it was making me retain water in a concerning way, but it’s one of the only pain killers that works for me with some success. Managed to get a few hours of writing in before it wore off, but no rebound headache yet fingers crossed

I used to have regular dessert dates on the weekends, just quick trips to a local bakery for treats and coffee, but those stopped at the start of the pandemic. Today, I took a chance and stopped at one of my old haunts for a small cake for myself and cheesecake for the boy. There were two people eating inside but they left shortly after I arrived, and it took less than 15 minutes, so the risk felt less dire than my recent trips to the doctor.

It was delicious.

Day 210, Sunday

Alternated between writing, cleaning, and paying bills/checking my budget. Decent amount of energy too. Days like today me feel almost normal, which is kind of sad if I think about it too closely.

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social distance diaries: days 197-203

in which we reach the 200s

Day 197, Monday

Checked in with my folks and finally started to feel motivated enough to return to a work-related research project I’ve put off for an embarrassingly long time.

Day 198, Tuesday

And the hormonal migraine came back with a vengeance…

Day 199, Wednesday

What happened on Wednesday? I can’t even remember…

Day 200, Thursday

Wow. 200 days of Working from Home and trying not to lose my head every time I need to go somewhere.

Had an ultrasound this morning to look into a weird pain I’ve been having… preliminary review by the tech showed no lumps, so fingers crossed for the radiologist’s report. I didn’t want to take the risk and “wait and see”.

That said, waking up an hour earlier only made my migraine worse and I needed to lie down when I got home. I would call it rest, but there’s no rest, just an all-consuming need to lay down, slap a heating pad behind my head, a cold pack on my forehead, and a black-out mask over my eyes and lay as still as possible. I felt some relief, but I’m working in the dark now.

Day 201, Friday

Dr. called with my results. Ultrasound was all clear, but they can refer me to a specialist if the pain continues. I’m starting to think the pain is muscular, as it started when I was going to the vet on a nearly weekly basis… heavy cats, already injured, not a good combination. I’m going to try to get to the local orthopedic center to see if it’s muscular. No sense in seeing a breast specialist if it’s a muscular issue. I’d rather rule it out first, if it’s not. (really hoping it’s a simple strain, that would be the best case scenario).

Meetings in the morning, followed by a dentist appointment that I could put off no longer. I have TMJ and my teeth have been experiencing sensitivity. I’ve needed a cleaning since March and have been dreading it. This feels like the safest time to go (cases are down, but not staying down).

More news! The ortho believes I may have torn/sprained my Teres Minor, one of the four muscles that assist in shoulder mobility. He found the spot right away and the description that I found matches what I’m feeling. To err on the side of caution, he ordered an MRI, so I’ll be scheduling that as soon as I hear back from the imaging center. fingers crossed the pain will be the result of carrying too many fat cats with bad form and no worse.

While I was at the Dr’s, I received an appointment to another very important university committee… my second one this week. I like serving, but it’s getting to the point where I’m averaging 7-9 hours of meetings a week and it’s starting to affect my ability to do my regular duties. I requested a meeting with my dean to lay out some realistic expectations going forward, because I can’t see myself doing it all without crashing and burning.

I should also point out that these meetings are not the result of Zoom. TBH, Zoom is an improvement over the uncomfortable seating and lighting arrangements that generally trigger the tightness in my shoulders that starts my headaches.

Day 202, Saturday

Back to writing. I took about a week and half to prep and plan for round three of edits, now that the major developmental/revision round is complete. I started the morning with a migraine, so it wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, but I’m also willing to give myself grace. I worked for two and half hours and managed to stick to my plan, which is a a win.

Completed my vote-by-mail ballot, now I have to find some time to take it to the elections office between the 7.5 hours of meetings I have scheduled this week (so far).

Had a Netflix and tea night and was completely charmed by the Enola Holmes movie. I want more! And I want to read all the books!

Day 203, Sunday

Trying to shift my writing a bit earlier in the morning, so I started at 8 and pomodoro-ed my way through a 3 hour block with 10 minute breaks. I calculated how much time it will take to finish this round if I maintain this pace and it’s not bad. Obviously, that’s an idealized situation. Realistically, there will be at least one week a month when I’m knocked out by a migraine and there will be days when I’m too tired to write after a day of staring at Zoom, but allowing for a few days off, it’s still promising.

Took a quick trip to see mom and gran. We’re seeing a slight rise in cases, but still less than we’ve seen in months. I’m worried about the holiday season and trying to take the time I can to see them before we have to quarantine again. The drop in cases is the only reason I felt “safe” enough to get he care I needed this week without immediately locking myself down.

I made espresso for the first time in a couple of months… that may have been a tactical error.

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#projectuseitup: quarantine empties 3

a whole lot of empties

Quarantine empties, part 3! or, what I used up between July and September

EltaMD UV Physical SPF 41 – This used to be my favorite physical sunscreen, until I noticed that it started to dry out my skin. I came back to it this year when I was struggling to find a non-makeup based spf for daily wear… that may have been a mistake. The dryness returned and I think this may be one of the culprits behind my eye dryness/sensitivity. Will not repurchase.

Thayer’s Witch Hazel, Rose Petal – A travel size from last year’s Whole Foods beauty bag. My favorite is the cucumber, but the rose is ok. I dislike rose scents in general, but I dislike waste more, so I poured this in a spray bottle and used it like a face mist. I have one more to use up (from this year’s bag and hope they replace it with a different scent in future bags).

Andalou Naturals, Meyer Lemon C Creamy Cleanser – Not my favorite, but not the worst. I won’t repurchase, but it met the need for a cream cleanser when I couldn’t find my ACURE cleanser.

LaRoche-Posay, Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser – I really liked this but couldn’t find a replacement when I ran out, so I’m going back to the CeraVe hydrating cleanser, which is similar but not as soothing IMO.

Dr. Bronner’s Almond Pure-Castile Soap – an old standard. I use this to make a foaming hand wash and as a travel all-over wash (when travel was a thing that actually happened).

Vitafusion Melatonin gummies – Basically can’t sleep without these. They’re the only type of melatonin that does not leave me groggy the next morning.

Farmacy Cheer Up brightening eye cream – I picked this up soon after it released and the texture was lovely, but it does NOT like the Florida heat because it went from mousse to weird gloopy gel long before the 6 month use by date. Also, 6 months is too short for such a large jar. They need to find better packaging to stop this product from going off so quickly.

Bath & Body Works, Vanilla Coconut & Fashionably Latte antibacterial gel – When covid was starting to become a real thing, I took a last minute, random trip to BBW and stocked up right before they ran out. When antibacterial disappeared from all stores, I still had a nice stock of these.

Andalou Naturals, CannaCell Happy Day Cream – My favorite day cream. Tried it as a sample and bought the full size because it worked so well on my skin. Not too oily and just a little dewy.

Arnica Montana 200ck tabs – do these work? is it a placebo? I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot when all else fails.

Twinkle * Apothecary Orange Blossom perfume – One of Twinkle’s monthly scents, a perfect blend of orange blossom and vanilla that gives me nostalgic, Cuban baby perfume vibes.

2 random pens!!!! – always a success 🙂

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social distance diaries: days 183-189

the one where things get weird

Day 183, Monday

Straight to the vet at 8am. I couldn’t sleep and know a migraine is starting as a result, but my anxiety was way too high and the weather is too variable at the moment.

Kitty is ok and received another shot of steroids to help with her inflamation, but I hate the thought of her having to take steroids for the foreseeable future. I hope this is a seasonal thing that resolve… I’ve tried everything, but can’t determine what the irritant might be. Having so many issues with scents and chemicals myself, my home is generally free of common irritants. All I can think is that there might be mold? It started after my other cat died and a part of me also wonders if she reacted to the cleaning that she received.

Anyhow, what I do know is that going to the vet when I can barely walk and it’s raining is a BAD combination. I ass-planted when I stepped on a slick walk and now my right side is bruised and achy. Luckily, I didn’t hit my head and I fell on the cushiony part of my side, so it’s just a bruised bum.

Day 184, Tuesday

For reasons I had to bring two of my mom’s cats to my place for the day. One was generally grumpy and the other mildly concerned… returning them to their carriers was an ORDEAL and resulted in my BF lifting the couch while I hobble-chased with a towel.

Day 185, Wednesday

I’m really feeling Monday’s fall and the cat toting of the last two days (they chonky). My back is not pleased, but my ankle is getting back to normal.

Anywho, got my flu shot and had a followup with the cardiologist and ortho. My heart is fine, just a “sinus tachycardia” caused by stimulation (probably hormones or diet). Nothing to worry about at least. I’m glad I have a cause, because I’m tired of people telling me to a) relax or b) that I need to breathe. FFS I practice yoga on a regular basis and have low blood pressure, I’m already too relaxed.

Ankle is healing as well. I should be able to start taking short walks soon without the brace. I’ve been making good use of my exercise bands to strengthen the ligament.

Day 186, Thursday

Started getting a migraine. Meetings are even worse when your head is pounding and you just want to sleep.

Day 187, Friday

Quick morning writing session and the draft is just about done…

Day 188, Saturday

YES! The rewrite/dev edit is complete! It feels like such a triumph after all the everything that’s been happening. There were times when I doubted that I would ever have the energy to write again, but slow and steady brought me back to this. I’m going to take the rest of the month to read up on craft, plan my next round of edits, and work on some practice query materials.

Day 189, Sunday

And like that, I learned that at least one of the terrible sounds coming through my wall is the sound of my neighbor’s punching bag. GAH.
They’re not the worst neighbors I’ve ever had, but they have no sense of what it means to live in an apartment or an old building where every thump resonates through the wall. I usually ignore it, but my SHELVES were shaking and all my frames were rattling. I sent a text letting them know, even though I hate making contact. (again, I’ve had REALLY bad neighbors)
By the sound, I suspected a kickboxing workout. Nope. Just a home gym setup in a too tiny apartment with a shared wall. 😦 I skip workouts that involve jumps just to avoid being that neighbor. No such awareness on their part.
Things are being slammed even as I write this.

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social distance diaries: days 176-182

in which time loses all meaning

Day 176, Monday

Another Monday, another day inside despite it being Labor Day… not that I ever really do much on Labor Day. I’m not a beach person, even under normal circumstances.

Day 177, Tuesday

I’ve been turned around all day, thinking it was Monday. My leg woke me up at 2am and kept me up until 4-something, so there’s that. I applied heat today to see if that soothes the muscle. I think my ankle has started to tense, leading to cramping (at least, I hope it’s just cramping).

Day 178, Wednesday

Cookie Cat went back to the vet for what is (hopefully) the last time. His stitches came out and we asked for him to be tested for anything contagious because, yes, I’m bringing him home. Part of me isn’t ready for a second cat—I’m still missing my sugar bear and little girl is still not 100% since her bout of bronchitis (and other -itises)—but I want to give him a chance at a nice, comfortable, indoor life. Basically, my place is a rehab home for my mom’s sick ferals.

Day 179, Thursday

Trying KT tape on the ankle because the boot is making my leg ache. Also adding some stretches and mobility exercises to loosen up my joint. The scabby knee is itchy AF.

Days 180 – 182, Friday – Sunday

TBH, these days were a blur. Friday was filled with meetings and the weekend was filled with writing, podcast recording on Sunday, and worrying on Sunday night. It was a productive time until kitty started sneezing and breathing faster than normal. Her asthma/allergy is acting up again and I have no idea what is causing it, but a vet trip is in order.

The number of confirmed covid cases is going down in the state and locally, but we’re still higher than we were when we shut down back in March. I’m worried about the holidays and kids going back to the classroom 😦

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social distance diaries: days 169-175

in which I am in injured…

Day 169, Monday

Kitty woke me up too early, so I decided to get to work right away… missed my morning walk, decided on a post-lunch stroll and bam tripped on a massive pothole behind my building, twisting my ankle 😦

An officer was driving by and saw me fall. It was pure serendipity because I’m not sure how I was going to hobble back to my apartment without something to lean on.

Glad it wasn’t a break, but not feeling great about being injured, alone, and unable to get much help from my family because of covid. Not being able to reach my mom or boyfriend for well over 30 minutes while crying and stumbling around my apartment with a swollen ankle and a bloody knee brought a lot of my living alone fears to the fore.

Day 170, Tuesday

Living that peg-leg life. Wasn’t able to sleep with the boot, but at least the pain decreased and managed to get some rest after switching to a brace. Being a chronic painer means I’m well-equipped to deal with the situation. sort of sigh Slathering on arnica, triflora, and cbd cream between icing sessions. Elevating all day with my WFH setup. It makes for some interesting zoom sessions.

The knee that I scraped is badly bruised, but my knee feels fine (thank goodness!). Not an attractive sight.

Called the city to report the pothole. I can see it from my bedroom window… hoping they fill it.

Day 171, Wednesday & Day 172, Thursday

Apparently, my body doesn’t like naproxen. Two days of dizziness, drowsiness, brain fog, and near inability to function. The side effects of the meds were worse than the sprain.

Day 173, Friday

24 hours after my last pain killer and I feel significantly better. Switched to advil as needed, which isn’t often. As long as I’m wearing the boot, icing, and taking care to rest, I don’t feel pain. The bruising is well and truly purple now.

Getting my head back helps.

Day 174, Saturday

I stayed up reading, something I haven’t done in a VERY long time, which means kitty was most displeased when I didn’t get up for her breakfast. I received a nip on my arm for my disrespect.

Still having a hard time finding my focus. Edited for about 25 minutes before my attention was shot.

Spent some time with the boy, which always makes me a little nervous (he has to physically go to work twice a week and goes shopping more than I ever do), but he wears his mask and I really need the help if I want to leave the house.

Day 175, Sunday

Back to writing (focus on point today), but there’s so much that needs doing, I have to split my time, even on the weekends. Plus, my leg feels uncomfortable if I sit too long—not that standing is any better. I mostly have to lay, which has me feeling all manner of dejected after 6 days straight.

Started working on a cookbook review project, but I’m limited by mobility and ingredients at the moment, so this is going to be interesting…

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social distance diaries, days 162-168

in which my sense of time only gets worse…

Day 162, Monday

First day of the term, still working remotely. Attended the virtual resource fair as a rep for the library, but it was really too early in the term to host a virtual event IMO. It’s not the same as a pop-up event on campus, where serendipity lures them in (and freebies).

One student showed up for my “table,” with 10 or so showing up for the event as a whole (based on my count).

Day 163, Tuesday

Back to the vet for scheduled surgery. I’m going to call the kitty Cookie Cat, so he has a moniker in these posts. Vet called after the surgery to say the growth may be a tumor rather than the hardened pus pocket he expected to find. Hoping it’s not a sarcoma. My feelings have been pretty tender since I lost my cat in May.

We’ll have to wait and see. If it grows back, we’ll talk next steps. Praying it doesn’t.

Day 164, Wednesday

Cookie Cat was cheerier than expected. The wound is bigger than I expected, but makes sense given the vet’s findings. I hate seeing him in pain, but he has such a sweet temperament. He’s back at my mom’s house to recover.

Watching the hurricane forecast and sending lots of love to the folks in Texas and Louisiana.

Day 165, Thursday

Been frustrated lately by the level of “service” that I’ve been semi-compelled to commit to this year. One of my colleagues tried to volunteer me for another committee and I had to nip that in the bud right quick. On my annual assignment, I have service listed at 20%, but it’s more like 25-30% of my time, if I tally the hours spent in meetings. Then there’s the administrative side of my job and all the meetings attached to that. It’s frustrating because I have a small department and a lot of pressure gets placed on whoever is available when the rest of us are in meetings. Long, complicated story. It’s an uneven level of expectation for my unit because of inter-campus politics.

Day 166, Friday

Woke up early, but feel extra run down… Took a walk before settling in for work, but a migraine is threatening to start (massive storm clouds looming, sinus pressure building). Trying all my interventions…

One of those days where too many people tried to turn their problems into mine… not going to happen.

spoiler – my interventions worked

Day 167, Saturday

My sense of time is a mess… Woke up slightly earlier than I have during the last few months, and suddenly it felt like I had hours to get stuff done. Thought it was lunch time at 10 am and it only got more confusing from there. Still, managed to get a lot of stuff done.

Released the bird I rescued last month. Its mother was hit by a car and its wing was injured, but a few weeks in my mom’s care too care of that and it flew straight into the sky.

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Rescue bird 🐦 graduated to free bird 😊

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Day 168, Sunday

Tired after yesterday’s day of high energy. It’s to be expected. My energy has peaks and valleys.

Recorded a life update… now, to find the will to edit it.

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