We chase down library delinquents.

I endured a week of appointments, including a biopsy of something in my jaw.  I started another round of antibiotics, because the first round didn’t finish the job.  I was given more hydrocodone, some 800 mg Motrin, and the disgusting antibiotic pills that are chalky, and begin disintegrating before I can wash them down with water, leaving a nasty aftertaste.  I have to take 8 of them a day, which feels ridic.  Unfortunately, I can’t run until they’re gone, so I’m complying.  The pain is history, but I’ve been running a low grade fever today.  I went to the new ER that’s just down the street.  It was full of shiny, and I felt like I was dreaming the whole time I was there.  I’m home now, and feeling a bit better.

Next week, I have more appointments.  I’m not as stressed out about it as I would have been in the past.  Therapy is helping.  I’m much better at taking a deep breath, and just getting things over with.  I don’t fear meltdowns so much anymore.  They don’t have much power over me anymore, because I’m pretty good at shutting them down before they ruin my day.  That’s awesome.  Here is a photo of my cat in the little fort I made her.  tuxedo cat under a blanket

It’s like swimming through a flabby armed spank machine.

Today was good.  I had therapy, and we discussed my upcoming move.  We also discussed recognizing when I’m triggered.  In the past, I’ve existed on autopilot as a way of avoiding being triggered.  I’ve also restricted what I view on TV or in movies for the same reason.  I watch a few sitcoms, Adult Swim, and Conan on a regular basis.  I stick to sci-fi/fantasy, comedy, and animated films at the theater.  Sometimes the sci-fi movies are too intense to watch in the theater due to overstimulation.  I hate when that happens.  When I saw Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace in the theater, it made me physically ill.  No, the film wasn’t that bad.  It was the pod racing.  The volume level was excruciating, and it went on for a fair bit of time.  I refused to leave before it was over, but hurled in the parking lot on my way out.  That sucked, and I had a wicked migraine right afterward.

The pod racing was exciting, though.  It just exceeded my stimulation tolerance.  I’ve been wary ever since.  I did see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the theater on opening night.  Because duh.  I think seeing General Leia, which made me cry, countered any overstimulation that may have occurred.  That was an event I’m certain I’ll remember until I die.  Or more hopefully, until I upload my memories into a digital format, and put my body in zero tao.  Or something.  And I’ll make the grandchildren of generation Z roll their eyes and groan every time I tell them the story of Princess Leia, and the rebellion she led.  Right after telling them to get off my virtual lawn.  Frakin’ kids, those days.

Oh, I see. You’re friends with the Urinator, aren’t you?

I miss running daily.  I can resume on Friday, but that seems a long way off right now.  I’ve been compensating for the inevitable attempts by The Depression Monster to derail me by rocking, while listening to songs I used to run to when I was a teenager.  The power of music to evoke vivid memories fascinates me beyond words.  It’s been quite comforting.  I’ve mostly recalled scenes and sounds from past running routes.  My route on Fort Bliss, in El Paso brought back a lot of memories from that time in my life.

It’s made me really appreciate the fact that my routes are now completely on bike trails, which means no exhaust fumes.  I’ll be very tempted to do a long run on Friday.  It’s cooled off considerably, but the adult in me is advising caution.  My inner child, (the smart-ass who strongly suspects that life as we know it is actually an astonishingly advanced game of The Sims), is pushing for a 10 mile run, followed by a bubble bath while eating chocolate cake.  Yeah.  I’m going to go with option 2.

Uplift desk

I ordered a new desk online the other day.  It’s a powered sit/stand desk with a bamboo top and a black C-frame base.  I got the 72″ version to accommodate both my gaming setup and my Mac setup.  I’ll be using a 32″ curved Samsung monitor with AMD FreeSync for my gaming setup, and a 27″ Dell Ultrasharp for my Mac mini.  Unfortunately, my Mac mini isn’t working right now.  It boots up, but won’t talk to my monitor.  I tried to troubleshoot it by changing the DisplayPort to miniDisplayPort cable, using an HDMI connection, and a different monitor.  Nothing.  But the good news is that I purchased AppleCare this time.  It’s less than a year old, so I’m still within the original warranty, but only by a little over a month.

I suspect it’s something I could fix myself, but since I have AppleCare, I won’t bother.  I’ll take it to a local authorized repair shop this weekend, because the hacker in me won’t let it out of my sight while my hard drive is still in it.  It’s not that I have anything illicit on my hard drive.  I just try to practice good security.  Besides, I’m such an airhead that I might not notice a stealthed keylogger, or similar.  Also, it amuses me that I’m hypervigilant with my data security, because I don’t really have anything worth hiding, (that isn’t already encrypted).  Overkill FTW!

uplift-motion-stool-127uplift-large-keyboard-tray-342

uplift-cpu-holder-257

I also got some accessories, and one of those anti-fatigue mats.  The monitor is VESA mountable, fortunately.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll use a single mouse/keyboard for both setups, but that would probably be ideal.  My speakers are Kanto YU5’s, so they’ll connect to both systems via Bluetooth, but I’ll probably just use my headset for my gaming computer.  I’m excited to get it all set up.  I’ll try and remember to take photos when I’m done.  I’ll be moving it with me to Denver, along with my filing cabinet and my armless Tulip chair.  My nephew wants my recliner, so that’s going too.  The rest of my furniture will be given away to whomever gets it out of here.

I had therapy on Monday this week.  My therapist was cracking up when I told her about the last time I moved, about 5 years ago.  I got rid of most of my stuff then too, and began by having a garage sale.  However, I suck as a salesperson, and after a few hours of anxiously talking to the strangers who came by, I hung up a sign that said, “If you want it, take it”.  It worked.  By the end of the day, everything was gone, including the tables they were displayed upon.  I watched a steady stream of people carrying things away from a window for a bit.  I was just glad to see it go.

I’m kind of amazed by how much stuff I’ve acquired in the 5 years since.  I really need to stop with the geek subscription boxes.  It’s basically lots of junk I’d never otherwise purchase, plus one or two things a month that make me squee.  And a black or grey t-shirt each month, because apparently those are the approved colors in the geek uniform.  It’s nice to get a surprise package in the mail each month, but I’m going to find one that uses the same model with candy.  That way I can go one step further, and be a consuming consumer.  Sigh.

I’m going to adopt a minimalist lifestyle in Denver.  I’ve already made the transition.  It’ll just be far more evident when I get rid of all my excess stuff from before I outgrew vapid consumerism.  I’m going to use my money to amplify my values instead.  More specifically, to strategically help a few people.  Veterans, disabled people, and those who just need a small boost to vastly improve their circumstances.  I’m going to do some research, and find out where I can make a positive difference in the lives of others, instead of accumulating a lot of stuff that will only end up owning me.

Therapy is having a powerful effect on me, and it’s happening quickly.  It’s changed my views on psychology, for one thing.  I’ve seen it’s effectiveness firsthand, and I’ve realized that part is due to having a really good therapist, but an even bigger part is due to my willingness to listen, comprehend, and apply what she teaches me.  It’s not easy.  Usually, I want her to figuratively hold my hand for every difficult step I take, but my desire to meet a challenge by myself is far stronger.  I’m already addicted to her giving me positive feedback.  She’s totally like a SGT about it, too.  She does it sparingly, but when I most need to hear it.  Yesterday, she told me she liked the progress she sees in me, but also made it clear that I have a way to go yet.  It made me laugh in reflection because it reminded me of how my brother Steve used to give me the bigger cookie, but lick it first.

 

Jerry… You gotta see the baby!

I didn’t sleep well last night.  My cat has learned a new trick, and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.  I lay down and quickly fell asleep after a tiring day.  I apparently started to have a nightmare, and my cat woke me up.  She’s a tiny, squeaky, normally quiet, kitty.  But when she wants my attention, she yells.  There’s really no other way to describe it.  It’s loud, and insistent.  I awoke immediately, startled.  I was too far gone to know if I made a noise or was restless and disturbed her.  She decided the thing to do was wake me up.  I looked at her, and then I said, “What?!”.  Because she scared the shit out of me.  So she made her meow sound that sounds like I just offended her, which I probably did by speaking loudly in my exasperation.

So I rolled over and attempted to sleep again.  It took a little longer, but I fell back into sleep, and nightmares.  And she did it again!  Only the second time she climbed on my back and didn’t bother to retract her claws.  Ouch.  So I sat up and was a bit disoriented, and a lot irritated.  “It’s 3:18 AM! WTF do you want?! It’s not time to eat yet!”  This, again, was in an exasperated tone, and she took umbrage in a major way.  She did one of those loud, long meows.  Translated, she said, “Look.  I was sound asleep.  Twice now, you’ve done whatever you did that woke me up, and then got all up in MY shit, like it was MY fault.  Bitch, I’ll cut ya!”, probably.

So I got up and fed her.  It was a hush feeding.  I’m not proud of it.  Then I thought about playing WoW, but decided I’d better wait until it’s actually daytime.  I tend to get excited and a little stompy when I play.  I sit on the floor, and get up often between daily quests in Draenor.  Whoever lives below me probably doesn’t want to get in on being awakened too early.  Being loud before dawn on a Saturday is bordering on cruel.  So I worked on a jigsaw puzzle.  It’s been awhile since I’ve worked one.  I used to have a 1k piece puzzle a day habit.  My life is changing, and there doesn’t seem to be as much time for puzzles of late.

I had a good session with my therapist yesterday.  In reflection, she reassured me about some things, (my fear of becoming too dependent on her), and helped me see things from a different perspective.  She’s really good at correcting me in a manner that’s so gentle that I don’t even realize it happened until later.  That’s so different than how the Army approaches it.  Gentle is the best word I can think of to describe it.  In the Army, if you fuck up, they tell you to stop fucking up.  Pretty much in those words.  They aren’t worried about your ego.  They don’t pay you to have a fucking ego, soldier!  Which *always* amused me very much.

With my therapist, she explains what she means, and if I misunderstand, she waits for me to finish misunderstanding, then explains again with different words.  I gotta say, it’s delightful.  It’s also amusing to me, because of the stark contrast to that which I’m accustomed.  It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting there bawling, or experiencing obvious post-crying hiccups.  She doesn’t shame for tears.  She doesn’t pretend she’s unaware of my tears, either.  She just talks to me, and listens as I stumble over words, trying too hard to get my meaning verbalized.  She doesn’t cut me off and finish what I was obviously trying to say, either.  That is a wicked silencer with me.  I acknowledge that it’s likely a chore to listen to me stumble over speaking out loud, and trying to remain calm enough to string together some semblance of my meaning.

I really struck gold with this therapist, and I’m proud of myself for scrutinizing the things that matter most to me, and doing my research before moving forward with her.  It makes a huge difference.  It’s much better than being assigned to whomever the VA has available at the moment.  Especially considering the fact that I remain convinced that many who work at the VA do so because they don’t measure up to the requirements for civilian health care.  There are also many who are working there in exchange for education or citizenship, it seems.  And of course, a small number of people who are excellent at what they do, regardless of where they do it.  But since you rarely see the same person more than a few times before it changes, it’s probably good to be a bit suspect of the revolving door.

I’m not used to developing a relationship with a single caregiver for this long.  It’s been about 2 months now that I’ve been seeing her.  That’s 20 years in VA time.  It’s different.  There’s trust, for one thing.  And we have goals that we’ve discussed numerous times.  The biggest one being that I don’t need her assistance any further because I’ve mastered coping with life by myself.  That’s the prize at the end of the journey.  It’s hard to remember that it’s a jog, not a sprint.  I’m impatient.  I want to absorb everything she can teach me as fast as she can teach it.  Faster.  I want to be self reliant.  Needing assistance from others makes me cranky, I think.  But when others try to assist me with things I can do for myself, I get frustrated.

When my sister tries to hold me back from pursuing total independence, it makes me resent her.  I appreciate how much she’s helped me, but I need her to understand that it’s temporary.  That I’m not rejecting her, just her unneeded assistance.  She’s old enough to be my mom, and that doesn’t help matters.  She sees me as the kid who used to stay with her during summer breaks.  The one who blended in with her own kids, and read all the time.  They were more like siblings to me because they were closer in age.  She didn’t see me grow up in the Army, or watch me earn my PhD.  She doesn’t seem to know how to see the adult me.  My therapist is going to help me communicate this with her, so hopefully she will learn to see the me I am now.

If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.

I didn’t get much done today.  Just my chores, and I cleaned my vacuum.  My kidney stone is on the move, so for most of today, I’ve been pacing in a futile attempt to make the pain go away.  It’s getting ready to hurt again, I can just feel it.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be passing it soon.  I really want to go for a run, but I’m afraid the pain will flare up again, and I’ll be miles from home.  It’s 38° F right now, which is perfect for a long run.  I had forgotten how much kidney stones hurt.  I’m voiceless right now.  I haven’t been able to speak since freaking out over my lease renewal coming up unexpectedly.

My body rarely manages to keep pace with my mind, which is très annoying.  Now that I’ve calmed down and talked plans with my therapist, it should be back.  I hate this.  If I stress about not being able to talk, it only makes it take longer for my voice to come back.  Every single time, I have a tiny bit of fear that this time it’s never coming back.  It’s not even a rational fear.  I hate irrational fear.  I like things to make sense.  When they don’t, I figure my way of coping doesn’t have to make sense, either.  I have my vinyl bodyguards to protect me from irrational fears.  They do nothing but entertain my need to fight irrationality with irrationality.  I keep them lined up on a picture ledge above a window in front of my Mac desktop.

Muttpop, Michael Lau, and I forgot the artist for the one on the far left.  My Michael Lau figure (4th from left) is kinda rare.  No irrational fear is getting past these vinyl bodyguards, dammit.  They’ll intimidate it to death.  If that’s not irrational, I don’t know what is.  I’m off to writhe and curse until this damn kidney stone passes.

I think I see a nipple.

Brace yourselves.  I have unbelievable information to report.  I totally missed my Seinfeld fix today.  I usually catch it on TBS.  I haven’t started shaking or anything, but I am considering subscribing to HULU+, and streaming a few episodes later.  Yes.  This is happening.  This is America, dammit.  Nobody should have to go more than 12 hours between Seinfeld reruns.  We’re a civilized country, for gosh sakes.  Ask anyone who plans to vote in the upcoming POTUS election.  They’ll tell you, (to vote for their candidate).

I’m in a mood.  It involves my being too lazy to identify it as good or bad.  I passed a threshold in therapy today.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but it became quite clear later.  As with all challenging things in life, the ones you choose to face will come to a point where you have to decide if you will continue fighting onward, or if you’re going to cut your losses and try another tactic.  Once that brief window closes, you can either decide to fight onward, or you can decide to allow it to level you.  I’m not 100% convinced that the latter is an actual choice, or if it just happens sometimes.  Either way, hesitating is foolish.  Nothing good can come of it when you’re playing chicken with yourself.

So the way I see it, I have to fight onward.  I can’t pursue a tactic I know will fail.  So onward it is.  I’m scared.  I was going to say I hate that feeling, but who doesn’t?  I’m vulnerable because I chose to trust my therapist.  It’s not something I regret.  It feels to me a lot like posing nude for an art class.  Intellectually, you know they are looking at your naked body, and are now privy to a part of you that was previously private, but also that they aren’t seeing you as a person, but as a form to recreate.  So you pose, and you wrestle with your mind and self esteem, and it becomes a whole new level of privacy.  They can see your naked body, but they can’t know the many thoughts racing through your mind as they stare.  (It’s an experience where you can measure positive personal growth in a single afternoon.  I highly recommend it).

So I’ll be scared, and I’ll probably have some nightmares here and there.  She told me up front how things were likely to go, and so far she’s been spot on.  I’ve been scared before.  It’s very uncomfortable, but I can survive it.  Some people like that feeling, and are thrilled by it.  And of course I can survive nightmares.  So it’s not really a mountain.  More like a hill.  I’ll just lean in.

I sent 16 of my own men to the latrines that night!

My therapy session on Tuesday left me feeling reflective.  We talked about my family members who have died.  I shared with her why I cried for a year after my brother died, and told her about him.  I think she really understood why I loved him so much.  I had never done that before.  Even thinking about it now has me smiling.  It was incredibly healing.  He visited my dreams last night, but I don’t remember the circumstances.  Just that I was glad to see him, and was aware it was a dream.  He’s never far from my thoughts.

I’ve also shared with her aspects of my relationship with my Mom that have previously been private.  I feel like my Mom is with me 24/7.  Not a physical presence, but a lifelong acknowledgement.  For my entire life, I’ve been in an ongoing internal conversation with my Mom.  It’s so seamless, it’s like breathing.  Even before I could speak, I thought my thoughts to her, and accepted her words as her answer.  It wasn’t always logical, sometimes was hilarious, but was most often effective.  When I left to serve in the Army, I continued.  I had a good idea by then what my Mom would say in many situations.  When we talked on the phone, I would report the incidents in which I used her “voice” to guide me through a tough situation.

It probably hasn’t been helpful when I talk to other people, though.  I struggle with conversations.  It’s a sophisticated dance between controlling my anxiety, and comprehending/staying present well enough to remain on topic in real time.  In my eyes, I come off to others as having a low intellect, and an intermittent ability to connect with others.  I know that in actuality, I have a high intellect, and suck at conversations.  I do far better when I can type versus speaking aloud.  But texting is ideal.  I text back as soon as I notice.  This could be immediately, or a few days.  The time it takes to respond means nothing negative.  I have 2 phones. I only give out the number for 1 of them.  The other is an extension of my brain.  I don’t even know the number for that phone.

Therapy is exhausting, but that’s not really a con.  I’ve been sleeping regularly.  Every single night I sleep now.  For between 4 and 6 hours.  I haven’t done that since I was in the Army.  It’s a combination of a new sleeping med, having the mountain on my back excised, being drained from therapy, and not being afraid to go to sleep.  The fact that I can run outside now is probably contributing as well.  I like the awake me better.  I despise feeling sluggish.  It’s a panic trigger, which becomes a twisted level of hell, Dante style, when I don’t sleep.  Fuck that.  So I’m pleased with how it’s going.

I just found out that Prince is dead.  I’m going for a run.

He has a 12 minute bit about Ovaltine!

Today has been quiet and peaceful.  I feel disconnected and free.  My largest accomplishment so far was washing my car, but I’ll be doing laundry tonight when it’s cooler.  I’ve been sleeping at least 4 hours a night recently.  It’s nice to have my brain operate in real time for a change.  I had to pause just to recall my own name the other day.  That’s ridic.  Being an airhead is one thing.  Getting distracted by hearing the breeze is another.  I’m happy to report no more accidental injuries.  I ruined my 2 day streak of no bruises, though.  The toilet grabbing gravity check left a doozy on my thigh.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need more schooling.  I’m not certain yet if it will require my enrolling in another degree program.  I sincerely hope not.  One PhD is plenty for me, thankyouverymuch.  I love learning new things, but I resent the amount of time wasted while attending a formal school.  I want to see strong A.I. in my future.  I know many doubt, but I don’t care.  It’s been the overall goal of my life.  The one thing that always gets my undivided attention.  The thing that I think about when I run, and in my sleep.  I don’t care about fame or fortune.  I care about being fascinated with every ounce of my being.

I know I’m not alone in my obsession.  I avoid networking with other A. I. devs and researchers who are working for some companies.  Many assume there is a single path that we’re all climbing together, with a clear and compatible goal at the end.  That’s not the case.  There are already sinister application goals, of course.  You can put the cart before the pony if you throw enough money at it, I suppose.  I also don’t share information at this point, because deep learning is profitable, and I’m not strictly speaking financially.  But you can refocus your eyes, because I’m done with that topic.

I saw the new Kindle, and want it.  Dammit.  I just got the paperwhite.  So I won’t get it unless my paperwhite meets with some sort of accident.  It probably won’t.  It’s odd that I still crave new gadgets, but haven’t bothered opening the latest ones I’ve acquired.  I even put it on my schedule, but everything got flipped, turned upside down, and it didn’t happen.  I feel like I’m running from something, but it’s different.  I’m not running out of fear.  I’m running because it’s what I used to do, and I haven’t figured out how to stop yet.  It never felt this uncomfortable when I was running out of fear.  Now, I think I’m starting to resent it.  It’s interrupting me, and that’s my pet peeve.

I realize this makes me seem simple minded, but I don’t mind because I’m pretty sure I am.  When I feel like I’m stuck, be it from a misinterpretation, a shocking revelation, or being overwhelmed, I act out my mental resolution.  I literally clean and organize my living space to help get my brain unstuck.  Even when it’s a minor hiccup.  I’ve caught myself aligning magazines while trying to keep it together in loud, bright waiting rooms.   Sometimes, counting everything isn’t enough.  I miss a lot of appointments because the waiting room situation kicks my ass.  Oddly, the waiting room at the dentist is the least stressful.  Walk-in on a Monday morning is the most stressful.

I suspect one of the things I’m going to gain from therapy is an off switch.  We talked about routines and schedules.  I could tell she wasn’t impressed with my half-ass solution for when I hyperfocus on work.  She didn’t say, “How’s that working for you?” with words.  But the awkward pause and almost laugh said it loudly enough.  I’ve admitted to the fact that I’m depressed.  It’s a low level depression, so it’s something I normally would ignore (deny?).  And that defeats the purpose of striving for a happier life.  So… Hi.  I’m Alison.  I’m depressed.  But I’m drinking milk, and… No.  I know.  Joking about it doesn’t make it disappear.  It just makes coping with it more fun.  It’s my depression, and if I want to have fun laughing at it, then that’s what I’m going to do.  Because laughing is the opposite of depression.

Say Vandelay Industries

It’s been a good day.  Things went well at work today, and the guys were marvelling that after only 1 therapy session, things are “back to normal”.  I told them that it’s true we had a good day, but not to assume that it means 50 minutes of talking her ear off and listening to feedback was all that was needed to eliminate the issues with which I’ve struggled.  I said the can of worms is open, and now I have to keep fighting through symptoms until my subconscious catches up.  While I do that, she’ll teach me some new skills for coping so that the next time I’m struggling, I can work it out by myself.

Now that I’ve calmed down about opening up to her, I can comprehend her feedback better.  At one point she asked me for further details about what we were discussing.  I felt myself start to shut down.  It felt like I was being yanked back and up at a very high speed.  But before my body locked up, she said it was okay, I didn’t have to tell her.  It happened in an instant, and the timing was perfect.  A moment longer, and I wouldn’t have been able to understand that she retracted the request.  I would have had a meltdown in front of her.  I’m so glad that didn’t happen.  But it also made me recognize the fact that I’m afraid of that happening in front of her.  So I’m disarming that minefield.  It’s irrational, and I hate being irrational.

A few friends on Twitter helped me make a form to address sexual harassment in the workplace.  They read it, and agreed not to continue with the behavior.  The guys like to tell dirty jokes, and make sexual innuendos at work.  It’s uncomfortable to me because it doesn’t fit in the co-worker relationship category.  I ignored it for a long time.  Then I didn’t want to hear it anymore, so I just worked from home most of the time, and kept my office door closed when I went in.  My work performance hasn’t been where I want it, either.  Low level depression symptoms are easy to miss.  I took a depression assessment quiz the other day, and some of the answers I chose were inaccurate because I didn’t realize at that time some of the symptoms I’m experiencing.  It didn’t click that my new VR goggles and Alexa Dot gadgets, still sealed in their packaging, is an example of my interests waning.

Normally, when I get a shiny new gadget, I’m like teenager who just bought their first car.  I want to spend time with it, show it off a little, and figure out everything it can do.  I keep thinking about them, but still haven’t touched them.  A friend on Twitter figured it out when I mentioned this.  I need to put it on my schedule.  I have to push myself to do the things I normally love for now.  Eventually, the effort required will decrease, until it’s gone.  Then I’ll be able to experience the joy again.  For whatever reason, knowing this helps.  I always find comfort in knowing what I need to do.