social distance diaries: days 296-302

in which too much happens

Day 296, Monday

Back to work. I was convinced that the semester started today, so imagine my surprise when I realized it won’t start until next week. I guess that’s a good thing since I have the biopsy scheduled for Wednesday. Really hoping it leads to a diagnosis (and REALLY hoping it’s not a bad one).

Day 297, Tuesday

Started my morning at the crack of dawn to prep for a quick grocery trip. The biopsy shouldn’t require much recovery if all goes well, but I wanted to take care of all the house stuff in advance, just in case. It’s nice and chilly this morning (what the local news calls “comfortable” weather). I wore a blazer and leggings to go shopping because why ever not at this point?

I didn’t get much sleep. I continue to wonder if the pain in my arm is caused by the lesion or the muscle strain that refuses to heal… Sadly, I’m used to living in pain. I can’t even tell which pain I’m feeling anymore. I hate it. Part of me wonders if the lesion is the reason I’ve always had a hard time doing push-ups or downward dog (I get shoulder pain if I hold too long or do too many). I always figured I have weak arms. Maybe not.

In preparation for the biopsy, I watched a video and almost wish I hadn’t. I’m glad that I’m prepared but I’m not sure I was ready for the visual of a big ass needle being hammered into the patient’s arm.

I am on week 5 of an 8 week workout plan, but I think I may be going on hiatus for a few days…

Day 298, Wednesday

Biopsy went as planned and our democracy was under attack. I was awake for all of it (on both counts).

Day 299, Thursday

I should’ve taken the day off, could barely move my arm, though it’s more swollen than painful. Feels like I got punched in the arm, which I guess is more or less what happened.

Day 300, Friday

Wow, just 65 more days until this log becomes a year. A bit more mobility today, but still unable to lift my arm or lift anything, really.

Day 301, Saturday

Starting to return to normal mobility, but occasional twinges of pain if I reach too quickly or lift my arm without thinking. I planned to return to editing this weekend, but my arm hurts if I reach for the laptop for a sustained period of time.

Released another of my mom’s rescued creatures; this time, a young Muscovy duck.

Day 302, Sunday

Went to check on the young duck an he seems to be doing ok, but he seems to have a limp. At least he’s in a safer place than the parking lot he came from.

Follow-up appointment is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Hoping for a good outcome.

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social distance diaries: days 275-281

in which I stop full stop.

Day 275, Monday

I made the critical error of scheduling back to back zoom meetings and overwhelming my introverted self. It was nice to catch up but a little too much smiling at a screen for one day. This also came on the heels of having to engage a part of my brain that has been largely dormant for the last few years–tallying ratios and FTEs and accreditation-related justifications for a position. All part of the admin side of my job that I haven’t had to perform on a regular basis in my current position because that’s why we have an assistant dean, rather than as assistant director (which I was once). I sometimes forget that I used to do that sort of work. Writing policy and reports and the like.

Day 276, Tuesday

I accepted the fact that I’m tired and burned out. I’m taking a break from writing so I can refresh before my writing retreat next week (where I retreat from work, not home…), as a results, I turned to decluttering to fill my day between work projects.

Day 277, Wednesday

A long day of meetings. I’m still worn out from Monday’s meetings, but I’m so glad I meal-prepped. I was sitting in the dark by the time my last meeting ended.

Day 278, Thursday

Sat through my last meeting of the year! Vacation starts next week and my Friday is all cleared.

Day 279, Friday

Wrapped up a few projects and set my away message. I’ll have to check mail and approve timesheets, but I’m done for the year. All I want for the next year is an end to the pandemic. I likely won’t be returning to the office until I get a vaccine.

Caught up on podcast notes… Our latest mini ended up being more of a half-episode. You can hear me rambling about the 2020 Emma adaptation @bluesoxcircle.

Day 280, Saturday

Woke up with a hormonal migraine that made it hard to focus on anything but laying as still as possible. It’s partly fueled by the weather, so I get moments of respite before the pain starts up again.

Cookie Cat is getting better about being a house cat. I managed to sit him on my lap for a few minutes. It was the highlight of my week.

in which my love is tolerated…

Day 281, Sunday

Still struggling with a migraine. Spent the morning cleaning up what I was too tired to tidy last night and wandering around the house with a TENS machine attached to my back to try to ease the tension.

Treated myself to a latte and donut from Starbucks. I ordered a flat white, but it was definitely more of a latte consistency… the donut was perfect.

After much dithering, I set up my bullet journal for 2021. It’s simple and clean and I STILL can’t get the spacing right even after doing math and using a ruler.

My follow-up with the orthopedic oncologist is on Monday. Hoping for good news.

leuchtterm 1917 and happy planner stickers.

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social distance diaries: days 268-274

a day late because Sunday was a DAY

Day 268, Monday

Back to work so I recorded a “study with me” work from home video :). It’s chatty in the middle, because this was entirely unplanned, but I might make some no talking videos in future.

Day 269, Tuesday

Because I was inspired by yesterday’s video, I recorded a “day in the life” vlog. I briefly considered trying Vlogmas this year, but I really didn’t need another daily project while editing and working…

Day 270, Wednesday

MRI done and, since I was in the area, I popped into my local(ish) Asian market to treat myself to all kinds of stuff (only two of which I was actually there for)… It’s like a Target run, but tastier.

Since, I was on a roll… I recorded a haul 🙂

Day 271, Thursday

Woke up at 2am in a panic because something was obviously burning in the area and the smell of smoke filled my bedroom. Searched all over and woke up my BF just so I could be sure it wasn’t the office downstairs that was on fire.
It was not.
But, yikes, was that scary. My heart goes out to all the folks on the West Coast who lived through the recent fire season. It’s terrifying! Of course, the smell and interrupted sleep triggered a migraine and I was still experiencing side effects from the MRI. Not a fun day. Ended up needing to call it quits when my dizziness made it impossible to work.

Day 272, Friday

Back to the lab to drop off my mom’s specimen (see vlog for first lab visit). We will speak of it no more.

I was craving Argentinian croissants (media lunas) and fries, so I indulged in both (separately, of course). Unlike a French croissant, Argentinian croissants have a sweet glaze and what I suspect might be cream (perhaps cheese?) in the dough.

Day 273, Saturday

In an unexpected turn of events, I slept in until nearly 9am, something I haven’t done in ages. Somehow, the cats’ meowing wasn’t enough to drag me out of bed. I suspect I needed it after so many days of migraine.

Did some writing and started the de-cluterring project that I’ve been putting off for months. First to go: all the bras that don’t fit the way they should. I am OVER uncomfortable bras.

Day 274, Sunday

No extra sleep today. I woke up in the middle of a weird nightmare and was too rattled to get back to sleep. Early start to my writing session and a bit more decluttering. I might document some of it, but so far I’ve cleared out paper clutter, an old toaster, and some perfumes that I’m giving to my mom to rehome. My old vacuum will be going with them and the bras I culled yesterday.

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social distance diaries: days 261-267

in which we try to balance things out

Day 261, Monday

Back at work and feeling a little overwhelmed. It’s a feeling I often get when I return from any length of time off, had to remind myself to tackle each project one at a time. I’ve done this before; I can do it again.

Had some bad news in the afternoon. More of a complication than an insurmountable challenge, but still troublesome. My insurance rejected my MRI approval, so I had to make calls and hope the doctor’s office can figure things out. Otherwise, I’ll need to submit an appeal and/or pay $300 out of pocket to get it done myself. I’m grateful that I’m in a place where I can afford it (there were years when I couldn’t and went into debt), but I don’t want to pay it unless I have no other choice because I’m not sure what co-pays are going to look like going forward with treatment.

Day 262, Tuesday

A productive day. Taking it slow, listed all that I have to do and created a time block schedule to feel more in control. It worked!

Day 263, Wednesday

Spent an inordinate amount of time trying to create a password according to the rules for my insurance provider’s new website. I don’t how someone who is older and/or not tech savvy is going to figure out their rules. Ended up having to use a generator and modify to fit their crazy requirements. Finger crossed that I submitted the appeal to the right place because whoever designed their new portal has no knowledge of user experience.

Day 264, Thursday

Just a regular workday. Nothing new, nothing different.

Day 265, Friday

Did proper groceries (in a store!) for the first time in weeks. Woke up at the crackiest, crack of dawn to get to Publix before anyone else decided to go shopping, which worked, but also left me drained for the rest of the day and feeling pretty meh about all the stuff I needed to get done.

Received some late night good news: my MRI was approved!

Day 266, Saturday

Back to the 4-hour writing schedule I set up during vacation. Finished another chapter and have 100 pages to go before this draft is done! I’m excited to get through it and the edits are getting easier now that I’m past the section that needed extra attention. I have a list of details to work through before I send it to betas, but I also have to recruit betas… so there’s that. (Note: If you’re interested in reviewing an angsty friends-to-lovers romance set in Knoxville that features a bi-racial, Cuban-American heroine, comment below or use the contact form to email me!)

Day 267, Sunday

Another writing day. I’m nearing the 300 page mark, which means there’s less than 90 pages to go! I’m starting to really believe I can finish this draft by the end of the month. What joy! I even spent some time organizing my character boards. No one looks exactly the way I picture my characters, but I curate features more than people.

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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 233-239

in which we weather several storms

edit: I got the numbering wrong in the first post and have updated the days.

Day 233, Monday

I finally got some sleep after the cats started to tolerate each other. They’re not friendly, but no one will attack. Locked them out of my room and hoped for the best… woke up to find an unexpected victim: one of my jade plants was knocked from the sill, smashing the pot. Luckily, it was decorated with washi tape, which held the pieces close enough to prevent further destruction.

It was a long day.

Day 234, Tuesday

Kept busy all day to keep from thinking about the election… Obviously, received reports from my friends as soon as the numbers started rolling, but I disconnected fairly early and went to bed.

Day 235, Wednesday

Early start to my day with a visit to my endocrinologist for my yearly checkup. All is well and any weirdness with my headaches, cycle, etc, is unrelated to my thyroid (though, must admit, these have improved in recent months).

Still tensely watching the election results and hoping for something positive.

Day 236, Thursday

Waiting along with the rest of the world. This week has been extra productive as I a) hold the existential dread at bay and b) clear my to-do list for a partial day off on Friday to celebrate the boy’s birthday (and by boy, I mean my partner not some secret child, in case anyone is confused). He doesn’t know this (yet), but I’m making mini cheesecakes as a surprise. Making rather than baking because they’re pressure cooked! I’m so excited to taste them, but have to wait until tomorrow.

Trip to the doctor was not as reassuring as I had hoped. Need to see a specialist.

Day 237, Friday

The verdict is in! Instant Pot cheesecake was a success! It takes just like a baked cheesecake, except the crust isn’t crisp (that can be remedied with a blind bake, if you really like a crisp crust). I tried a piece (screw my lactose intolerance) and was very pleased. Will purchase a few more spring forms for Christmas treats. – for the curious, this is the recipe I used from Little House, Big Alaska.

In the process of scheduling a visit with an orthopedic oncologist. As per usual, I had to figure it out by myself because my doctor referred me to the wrong kind of oncologist.

Day 238, Saturday

Prepping for the story by charging ALL the things–laptops, switch, backup batteries, cute but surprisingly functional kitty lamp. I’m sticking it out at home because I don’t want to stress the cats and I’ve been to too many doctor’s offices to feel comfortable staying at my mom’s.

I’ve been finding joy where I can – celebrating Joe and Kamala, enjoying takeout with the boy, and sneaking up on one very alarmed cat.

Day 239, Sunday

Stormy weather started around 10 am. Brought all the plants in because the succulents DO NOT appreciate a soak.

All day rain and dramatic gusts, the scariest part has been the horrifying flood alert from the county. So grateful that this wasn’t a worse storm but the flooding is pretty bad based on reports.

On a side note, the weird foot fetish stalkers have emerged again. I post one shoe review and this nonsense starts.

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social distance diaries: days 226-232

in which a lot has happened and not much at all

Before we start…

Cases in Florida are rising at an alarming rate.

Every day, the numbers in the tri-county area are going up and Miami is getting closer to the kinds of numbers we were seeing in July and August. This gives me the same level of hopelessness I felt this summer. I hate it. Wear your masks, everyone.
And if you’re coming to Florida for the theme parks or the beaches, remember we’re open because our economy is based on tourism, not because it’s safe.

Day 226, Monday

A busy start to the week with another trip to the vet for Cookie Cat, this time to re-test for FIV. His last test was inconclusive and I need him to be clean before I can bring him home to live with my super delicate little flower of a girl kitty.

Worked on projects that were piling up now that one of my working groups is sort of done… I think. Anyhow, I’m in between tasks for that one so I get to catch up on everything else.

Day 227, Tuesday

Great news! Cookie Cat is clean! I’m not 100% ready for a new addition, but keeping him indoors is the best option for him and my mom already has one secret cat too many in her apartment. I already had a collar for him (was saddened when the first test came back inconclusive), so I ordered a tag to go with it. I need some more supplies to ready for his arrival since I retired Candy Bear’s bowls when he passed. He’s a sweet boy, so I’m hopeful that he’ll get along with baby girl (she has a grumpy face but a sweet temperament).

Day 228, Wednesday

Day 1 of an online conference… Not as enthused about this one as I was the last one I attended. And I’m on the planning committee (yikes). It’s kind of a mess IMO. The online format leaves a lot to be desired for this one. (some do online well, some don’t)

Day 229, Thursday

Underwhelmed by day 2 of the conference, so I spent most of the day writing and catching up on some much needed rest (migraine broke last night, so I was feeling good for the first time in days). Did some cleaning in preparation for Cookie Cat’s homecoming tomorrow. Fingers crossed
Also, recorded a short life update because it’s been months and I never bothered to upload the last one I recorded.

Day 230, Friday

Cookie Cat came home. It was an uneventful homecoming. Waiting to see how they react to each other.
Got my MRI results. My shoulder is fine but there was a concerning spot on the image. It’s likely a nonaggressive cartilage tumor, according to the radiologist’s report, but they recommend further study. I made an appointment for my PCP per the ortho’s recommendation but I’m feeling pretty low. Wondering if I should reach out to a specialist rather than wait.
Had the long-coming, inevitable political fight with my mom. She’s old Cuban. In Miami, that means one thing.

Day 231, Saturday

It was a rough night. Between the cats being too scared and intimidated by each other, I didn’t get much sleep. Add my anxiety about the MRI results and it was not a restful time. I woke up with a very stiff neck, soreness in my arm where the strain was aggravated by poor posture, and one heck of a migraine that made me nauseous for hours.
I puttered around the house, tidying and trying to encourage the cats to get closer. Not much luck to start. Squeezed in a 25 minute writing sprint to wrap up a scene, which leaves me with my most productive month of editing, clocking in at 30:32 hours.
It’s been a struggle to get into the headspace I need to revise this novel. It’s a romance with a heavy dose of angst leading up to a friends-to-lovers HEA, but getting to that HEA means I have to work through my own anxieties to find the mental space to write.
Every time I think I’m moving forward, something throws me off.

Day 232, Sunday

Happy first day of NaNoWriMo! I’m sort of participating as a rebel while continuing edits. Also told myself I would be more active in the community this year. We’ll see how well that goes, but if anyone wants to add me as a buddy, I’m @emperatrix.

Sleep was not had last night. The cats are still skittish around each other and Cookie Cat wants love but also runs away when I approach. Apparently, this is normal behavior for him. It’s going to take a while for him to be comfortable, but I REALLY need sleep. sigh.

All that to say, my weekend writing plans were all a bust, but I managed to wrap up a chapter.

Addendums

For the curious, I filmed a brief October recap/life update. It’s short because my connection can’t handle a massive upload, but such is the current state of affairs (I really miss the ludicrous speed of the university network). Also, filmed before the latest development in my health journey.

Finally, if you need something to listen to while dealing with the existential dread of the upcoming election, the latest episode of The Bluestocking Circle Podcast on Ella Enchanted is now available. I didn’t enjoy the book, but the movie was an experience.

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