On Lockdown

No 31 Day Challenge today, because today’s prompts seemed like it was essentially a repeat of Day 12, so I’m skipping it.  Not going to rehash what we’ve already gone over.

The Governor has just made an official announcement that 1.) all schools in my state are now closed through April 7th; 2.) all bars and restaurants are closed; and 3.) all gathering of over 25 people are prohibited.

So I’m now at home — mostly alone, since Andy works security and still has to go in, at least until further notice — with a five year old.  Who, by the way, thinks this is the greatest thing ever.

I’m going to try to keep Bear’s weekday routine as close to usual as possible, which means up early, breakfast, circle time, chores, some academics, arts and crafts, and then independent art or reading (basically hobby time).  I also found some basic Draw With Me tutorials for little kids and some pretty simple beginner recorder tutorials so that maybe he can learn to make a pleasant noise on that damn thing.  I’m hoping that I’ll have the opportunity to do some of the things that I’ve been putting off as well.

My Quarantine To-Do

  1.  Clean the basement and the garage.  Once the weather gets nice and the worst of this passes (hopefully), I’d like to open up the garage and use it to augment the finished basement as a gathering spot, as well as use it as a more expansive arts and crafts studio.
  2. Continue with my Sign Language learning.  It’s once again been a very long time since I managed to sit and study lessons, and I feel it slipping from me again, so I want to try to devote at least an hour a day to it.
  3. Read more.  Our library is closed, but I have three books currently out on digital loan and a massive bookshelf filled with books that I’ve never read.
  4. Catch up on TV and/or start some shows I’ve been putting off.  Killing Eve, Derry Girls, Shrill, and Fleabag are onlya few of the shows I’ve had recced to me, and I’m hoping to have time to sit and actually consume new media.
  5. Start painting with acrylic again.  I got the house cleaned today, and I actually have space, as well as time, to spread out my paints and actually work.
  6. Plan out a topic and start setting up posts for Blogging A-to-Z, and get in the habit of note-taking and brainstorming for NaPoWriMo.  I often like to keep to the prompts for NaPo, but it’s not a requirement, and some prep might be good for me this year.
  7. Play some online games with my friends and family.  I’m trying to set up a movie night via screen-sharing on Discord, and my siblings and I want to pick a night to play Card Against Humanity or Uno online.
  8. Do some self-care.  Exercise, maintain a hygeine regiment, treat myself in small ways (pick up a hair mask or an exfolianting face mask on a grocery run, painting my nails a fun color, etc.), do some crossword puzzles, remember to gratitude journal everyday.
  9. Start a YouTube channel.  
  10. Create some ‘zines.  I often have little, fragmented ideas for art or stories that really don’t lend themsleves to something long form, so this would be a great time to turn them into something short form.  And hey, maybe even eventually sell them.
  11. Finish up my fanfics.  All, what, five of them by now.
  12. Pratice calligraphy.  My father-in-law is a master calligrapher, and bought me a set of pens and gifted me an old, ornate book for me to learn, and I’ve just been putting it off.  Maybe now’s the time.

What are you all doing while you’re homebound?

It’s Sunday.  This… suddenly means less than it used to.  Chill out, relax.  Nothing to do now but stay safe, sane, and busy.

31 Day Challenge: Day 14


14.  If I Won the Lotto…

Hoo, boy, this is a classic question, isn’t it?  It’s a hard one for me, too, because I grew up in relative financial insecurity — I wasn’t poor, per se, but it felt like we were always one disaster away from ruin, you know?  So I grew up with an inate need to sort of hoard money.  I rarely spend, I’m incredibly selective when I do, and I always feel a surge of guilt and regret immediately post-purchase, even if what I’ve bought brings me tremendous joy in the long run.

But if money wasn’t an object, I think the first thing I’d do is buy nicer house outright.  There’s nothing wrong with our house, but I think both Andy and I would rather have a free-standing one-family than the half-duplex we have now.  It wouldn’t be big, but I’d like it to be new — new appliances, new windows, everything up to code.  I’d buy my folks a new house, or — since I honestly think my folks would balk at a gesture quite that big — put first, last, and security on an apartment for them (at nearly 70, they’re thinking of downsizing anyway), and pay for any loss on their house.

I’d buy clothes for my son for the next couple of years, and shoes to grow into.  I’d outfit his room with a dozen bookcases, so we’d never have to donate or give away his favorites, because he hates that.  I’d enroll him in the music lessons he so desperately wants.

I’d feel free to buy myself the expansive, joyously genderqueer wardrobe I want; the mix of femme and mac clothing that I’d ideally curate for myself, and I’d hire a personal trainer — oh, and a maid. I’d take art classes.  I’d take writing workshops.  I’d travel.

I would, honestly, just do a lot of the things I see my friends doing on a regular basis.  There is a stark financial discrepancy between us and most of our friend group, and while I don’t begrudge them what they have, during the rougher moments, it makes it really hard to even log onto Facebook or sit around a table with them while they talk about their European trips or all the couple’s classes their taking together or their theatre excursions.  Aside from the first few purchases and splurges, I think I’d really just allow myself the freedom that a lot my friends already have — the freedom to pursue the passions that matters to me without incurring financial ruin.  That’s basically it.

Day One of semi-lockdown!  I’m still horribly stressed and paranoid about everything, yet strangely also feeling a lot better, again, with the added stress of going to work off my plate, and with knowing all my friends and coworkers are in this together.

It’s later in the day — I took the better part of the day to simply decompress — but I’m about to start some chores, and hopefully having a cleaner house will make me feel better as well.  Spending two weeks locked in with a mess is not the way to go.

Also, I am still 100% on board with doing NaPoWriMo and Blogging A-to-Z.  Either the worst of this will have passed in my area by then, or I’ll still be in lockdown, so I might as well keep busy, and we may as well keep each other company.

It’s Saturday.  Even if you’re on lockdown, please remember — you can still go outside (just remember social distance!)  Ride a bike, take a run, go on a long walk, fly a kite, take a stroll with your dog.  Wave to strangers.  We’re all in this together.

31 Day Challenge: Days 11, 12, & 13


11.  Five Favorite Things

Difficult!  Tangible things?  Things that I just “love to see?”  Do experiences count?  Abstract concepts?  I’ve been stressed and anxious to the point of depression lately, I’m not going to lie.  The last couple of weeks have been a little dark for me, and I’ve been pretty down.  I’m going to list five things that have been giving me comfort.

  1.  Rewatching my favorite episodes of Queer Eye on Netflix.  This has been a great, emotionally cathartic release.
  2. Old Jim Gaffigan stand-up.  I can put him on even when my son is around, which is not true of many of the comedians I enjoy.
  3. Cuddling with my husband watching Great British Bake Off before bed.
  4. Finally friending some coworkers on Facebook and getting the absolutely most supportive comments from them while I’ve been sick.
  5. Chinese take-out from my favorite place.

12.  My Daily Routine

Oh man, this is gonna be ridiculously dry.

5:30 am:  I wake up and put on a podcast, usually one of my “bad books” podcasts, though lately I’ve been listening to Dungeons and Daddies as well.  I lay my clothes out the night before, so I shower and dress, then go downstairs.

5:45 am:  I prep.  Prep what?  My coffee, my breakfast (usually eat at work, 5:45 is often a little too early for me to feel hungry), my lunch, and Bear’s snack (he has breakfast and lunch at school).  For those interested, breakfast for me is generally just Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars, yogurt, or some fruit; lunch is Well Yes drinkable soup, seasoned tuna, and fruit.  Bear’s snacks depend on his mood from week to week, but this week has been sort of a “pick three” of drinkable yogurt, Babybell cheese, pretzel sticks, apples, plantain chips, fig bars, and Mott’s fruit pouches.

6:05 am:  Bear’s alarm goes off.  I get up and make sure he’s got his uniform ready, and then I brush my teeth and pack his bag.  I also make sure I have both my badges and my phone charger.

6:25 am:  Out the door.  Ideally.

6:45-7:20 am:  I get to work at about 6:45, and I check my mailbox, then let myself in our Learning Center to drop off my coat, my laptop, and anything I don’t immediately need.  Then — I walk.  I know it sounds weird, but I try to get in as many steps as possible before I start my day.  It literally gets me moving, which I won’t always get to do once I’m actually in class, and it helps hype me up for the day and relieve/release some anxiety.

7:30-2:20 pm:  My work schedule is, um, interesting.  I work a rotating 7 + H schedule, so the order of my classes, and what classes I teach are different everyday.  This semester, it’s some combination of Algebra I, World Civilizations, Academic Support, Social Skills, Career Studies, and Vocational internships.

2:35:  Leave work and head to my son’s school to pick him up.

3:15:  Bear gets out of school and we head home.

3:25:  Coffee, checking social media, and getting Bear a snack.

3:55:  Emptying/loading dishwasher, picking out tomorrow’s outfit, general upkeep.

4:30-5:15:  I’ll hang out in Bear’s room with him while he builds with Legos or organizes his Pokemon cards.

5:15:  Andy comes home, and I start dinner and put something on the TV.

6:00 pm:  Dinner, generally.

6:40 pm:  Bear’s bathtime!

7:00 pm:  Read a story, watch a Bri Reads video, have Bear brush his teeth, and settle him in bed.

8:00 pm:  Bear is settled in, and I have my free time.  Generally that means checking in on social media, sketching, watching my YouTubers, writing blog posts, showering, reading a book, listening to a podcast, etc.

10:00 pm:  Settle into bed to watch Great British Bake-off with my husband and read him silly articles on Buzzfeed.

11:00 pm:  Lights out.
13.  Favorite Childhood Memory

I don’t know if I have one.  There are huge chunks of my childhood that I have very few memories of — apparently that’s not uncommon in kids with ADHD or anxiety, so that’s kind of a double whammy for me.  I have very fond memories of a lot of Christmas Eves, when my siblings and I all woke in the middle of the night to congregate in the living room, poke and prod at gifts, and watch cheesy late-night holiday programming on TV.  I have equally fond memories of being a young teen and recording dramatic performances of various songs from Les Miserables and other showtunes with my siblings and my cousin and sending those VHS tapes halfway across the country to ur penpals.  That was a unique time in my life, and there was never really a time before or since that I had Real Life companions that were so deeply, deeply into the same things I was.  I miss those days.

I hate to bury this at the end of a long and pretty fluffy entry, but I feel like I need to mention: I am out of work (with pay!) for at least the next two weeks in response to the COVID-19 crisis.  My son is home with me as well, and while my husband does not (yet) get time off, he also works in a building where a lot fo people seem to be starting work-from-home, he’s not in an office, and doesn’t have a ton of personal contact with anyone (he’s a security guard, and most of his interactions take place on opposite sides of a rather large reception desk.  So, all this to say, this actually take a little bit of stress off of me, not having to worry about work, keeping my son close by, and being able to spend my days chilling out a little.

I hope you all find yourselves safe and comfortable.  I may be on here less (I want to keep Bear to a schedule, and spend a couple of hours every morning doing academic/school stuff, plus getting some stuff done around the house) or more (more “free” time technically, more of a need to occupy my mind with creative/social purusits and endeavors), but either way, I’ll be seeing you.  Take care of yourselves.

Stir crazy

This has been my only creative outlet lately:

Things have been… rough, mentally, for a couple of weeks now.  I’m not sure quite what to do to fix that, since so much of what is causing it is outside my realm of control, but I muddle on.

It’s Thursday.  Give love to those around you, in whatever weird, wacky way you show your love.  Keep together.  Be strong.

31 Day Challenge: Days 9 & 10


9.  3 Personality Traits

This is hard for me, because despite having many conversations over the years with students in which I insist, “You aren’t your anxiety.  Anxiety is just a Thing you’re dealing with, but it doesn’t define you,” I kind of have a hard time defining myself outside the realm of my anxiety.  Not to say that I don’t feel like a realized human being, just that so many of the qualities I can think of that do define me are anxiety adjacent.  Punctual, hard-working, being a good listener — all tangentially reflective of my anxiety.  If I was pressed to find qualities apart from or further from the influence of that:

Good sense of humor.  Or maybe an awful sense of humor, depending on how you regard things like this.  I love to laugh, I find a variety of styles of humor and comedy funny (from relatively “high brow” to pretty damn “low brow”), I’m able to laugh at myself, and I’m generally good-natured.

Creative.  My execution often leaves much to be desired because of my impatience (though I’ve been working on that, and the results are honestly pretty starkly different — the level of quality when I work slowly and steadily versus when I rush through things is startling), but I think I have good ideas, and I work well under constraints (I do my best work during challenges).

Nurturing.  When people really need me — be they friends or students — I am good at working through things with them, at knowing how and when to give them space, how to approach them, how to offer support, or help, or comfort.  It’s probably what I’m best at, and what I’m proudest of about my work.

10.  Where I’ve Traveled

Ha!  I really haven’t.  Between financial constraints (particularly while growing up) and the fact that for most of my life I’d labored under the impression that I couldn’t comfortably fly because my ears had drainage issues, I haven’t really traveled.

I think currently the list is:

New Hampshire
New York
New Jersey
Rhode Island

And brief overnight stops (en route to other places) in Maryland and South Carolina.

Good morning from a sickie!  I took the day today because I have actually full-on gotten sick (no fever, just a bad stuffy/runny nose, congestion, and sore throat) and I’m hoping this accounts either partially or fully for why I’ve felt so lackluster the last several days.  Hopefully this is the apex of it, and I can be on the mend and start being more productive again, ideally by the weekend.

Sadly, this means I will definitively be missing the Poetry Hoot Open Mic tonight, which is too bad because tonight’s special guests are poets — students an staff — from my high school!  And honestly, having attended my fair share of these Hoots, the student poets are often among the best I’ve ever seen read at these events.  I wasn’t a hundred percent sold on going (I haven’t written in over a year, so I’d have had to choose an older poem, and I would have had to work out babysitting arrangements — possibly overnight, which is a pain when Bear has school the next day) but apparently my body decided for me.  Not thrilled, but it does alleviate the burden of responsibility, and frankly I’ve got enough on my plate.

I’m going to see how the day plays out, with how I feel both physically and mentally, but ideally I’ll be able to both take care of some stuff around the house and have some much needed rest.

Tuesday.  Keep your head up, shoulders back.  Keep walking.  Keep going.

31 Day Challenge: Day 8


8.  What’s In My Bag

I don’t carry a purse.  I’ll shove a random assortment of stuff into a bag before I go out, but I don’t maintain a purse because I really don’t like carrying something around.  I use a huge messenger bag (technically a Handbag of Holding) for work and for the convention circuit (nice to have so much storage when I’m traipsing around the hotel and con space), so I guess I’ll go with what’s currently in that bag.

Approximately 500,000 pens and pencils.  I have absolutely, honestly no idea how the hell I amassed the collection of writing utensils I have.  I think I must mindlessly pick up the pens and pencils kids leave behind, grab random classroom pencils to, say, write a pass and stick in unthinkingly into my bag, etc.  It works because I’m constantly handing pencils and pens out to kids, but it’s still an almost inhuman number of pencils to be carting around.

Nasal spray and about 4 half empty packs of personal Kleenex.

Cherry Chapstick.

My badges, one for work-work, and one for job site-work.

Book I am currently reading.

A PJ Masks Art Activity kit, because I have a kid and I need to have something like that on hand whenever I might be out with him for a while.

A proper charger for my phone.

Empty wrappers for:  Listerine Chew Tablets, Nature’s Bakery Blueberry Fig Bars, probably Sun Chips, possibly a Mott’s Fruit Pouch.

About, I don’t know, $.55 in random change?

My wallet, but not always, because if I’ve done any online shopping recently, it’ll take me at least two weeks to remember to put it back in my bag.

Bathroom/room keys for work.

How are you all holding up after the time change?  I didn’t get up until about 8, which isn’t super unusual for me on a weekend (and I went to bed a bit later) so it shouldn’t hit me too hard, but I’m feeling edgy and anxious regardless, and part of me is screaming, “take a sick day, you have plenty,” especially because Bear is clearly coming down with something and I should probably steal myself for getting it soon (no real cough and no fever, so it’s not coronavirus… though he insists it is).  I just feel perpetually So Stressed, and what I really need is a day to catch up with shit, and then a day alone — like, alone alone.  No kid, no husband.  A day when I can get up, have coffee while catching up on my YouTube channels, turn up my favorite podcasts and do some art, read, nap, and just veg out.

What I really need is a vacation that’s an actual vacation.  That’s not in the cards at the moment, though.  Won’t be until at least July, and even that’s up in the air (though it’s also our ten year anniversary, so if it’s going to happen, it’ll happen then).

Anyway, it’s Sunday night.  Try to rest and start the week off on the right foot.  It’s only five days, come on.  You got this.

Restlessness (31 Day Challenge: Day 7)

31dayblogchallenege7.  Guilty Pleasures

Here’s a cop-out answer that’s also an honest one:  I don’t have guilty pleasures, because I don’t feel guilty for my pleasures.  But, I know that’s not really in the spirit of the challenge, so I’ll give an honest answer.  Let’s do a Top Five.

Cosmo magazine.  Some of the sex tips therein should honestly be considered war crimes, but I can’t help but love their anecdotal features; the most embarrasing moments, the worst dates ever, and their advice section is actually general reasonable.  Bonus points for actually being pretty sex positive and at least acknowledge queer and non-binary folk, so that’s pretty cool.

Buzzfeed listicles.  Because sometimes I need something brainless to scroll through.  They actually have decent harder-hitting reporting, but if I’m heading to Buzzfeed, it’s for stress-free, mindless laughter.  Twitter is a quagmire, so I like any place where I can find quality, funny tweets without having to slog through the mire (they really, really need to work on how often they repeat old tweets.  They do it a lot.  Like, a startling amount).

Lindt truffles and/or Milano cookies.  I can suck back a bag of either of these at a time, left to mine own devices.  We don’t buy them too often (and actually, given how pricey Milanos are, I’m actually looking at trying my hand at making a batch on my own soon).

Jose Cuervo Ready-to-Drink Margaritas.  This has become a problem.  Ugh.  Margaritas are my go to drink, and they are so pricey, but I can buy a 1.75 liter bottle of margs for $13.50?  Brilliant.

The filter button on AO3.  I know some people love to just browse fic archives, but I sail on over to my favorite fandoms (or pairings), and filter down to my most specific whims/kinks (again, depending on my mood).  Finding something that hits that specific niche desire is incredibly satisfying.  And it’s always so heartening when you discover that clearly you are’t the only one with this particular thing on the brain.  How nice is it to know you aren’t alone?

I have been insanely low energy today.  I had wanted/intended to do chores today, but I wound up hanging out with Bear and Andy for a good chunk of the morning before heading out to meet Greg, Becky, and the baby for lunch.  Lunch was amazing; we went to our favorite Indian place again, and they had one of the best spreads they’ve had in a while (literally everything the serve there is amazing, but they had a pakora variation that was absolutely delicious and my favorite dessert (galub jamun), so it was especially good today).

After that, I don’t know; my energy just sort of fizzled.  I came home and napped, then spent some time playing BitLife and watching my favorite YouTube Reaction channels react to the newest episodes of Steven Universe Future.  I did eventually drag myself up and managed to put away last week’s laundry and clean a bunch of trash out of my bedroom.  That felt good, at least, and made me feel like I had done something useful today.

I feel like the ambient stress of the world/current events is weighing on me more than I would like it to, and absolutely draining me.  On the bright side, I feel like I’ve been a lot friendlier and more social with my coworkers, and feel so, so supported and cared for at work, and I’m feeling very creatively fulfilled as of late, as well. It’s just in my more unstructured down time when I sort of just feel like zoning out. All in all, my own life is actually going pretty well, but I just don’t have a ton of energy right now to really enjoy it, unfortunately.

Tomorrow I’m going to devote more time to doing some chores, and hopefully start the next Miss Peregrine book.  It’s been languishing in my Libby app for almost two weeks now, but I’ve been trying to focus my attention on The Fifth Season (which, oh God, is so good.  Why did it take me so long to get around to reading it?)

Saturday night.  Cuddle up with someone you love, turn off your brain, and indulge in some self-care.  No judgement.  Just enjoy yourself.