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

Honestly, 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 acknowledging 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.

31 Day Challenge: Day 6


Popping in very quickly after an absolutely exhausting day just to keep my current streak!

6.  My Five Senses Currently

Watching/Sight:  I just finished watching the latest two episodes of Steven Universe Future, “In Dreams” and “Bismuth Casual,” and wow, what a welome, delightful palate cleanser after the last run of episodes.  Of course, having two incredibly soft episodes in a row pretty much means that the rest of the run (I can’t believe there’ll be no more Steven Universe after March 30?!) is going to be a gut punch.  Also, I am unexpectedly but whole-heartedly shipping Pearl/Bismuth now.

Listening to/Sound:  I was listening to the latest episode of The Worst Bestsellers this morning while I was getting ready for work, but only got about 45 minutes into it before I had to pack up and leave the house, so I never finished it.  It’s about Portrait of a Killer – Jack the Ripper: Case Closed, by Patricia Cornwell, which sounds absolutely awful and I was really enjoying listening to them rip on it.  Once I’m settled in bed and Andy is ready for lights out, I’ll probably plug in my headphones and finish it.

Smell/Scent:  My mom got her first ever Fab Fit Fun box and was showing off all her products including something called “Jaboneria Marianella Imperial Jade Body Oil,” which she so persuasively convinced me to try by saying, “I hate the smell of this, put it on.”  It… was not awful, actually, but I did think it smelled vaguely familiar.  I’m sure that the scent varies based on your body chemistry and likely how acute your sense of smell is (mine is shot to hell from chronic sinus problems and years of living with/being a smoker), but finally it ht me that the familiar notes in the scent was basically, uh, Lemon Pledge.

Taste/Eating/Drinking:  I have managed to fend off the desire to snack binge for the last two hours, but within the next 20 minutes, I’m likely going to eat  blueberry fruit br and probably polish off an Orange Vanilla Coke.

Touch:  I mean.  The keyboard, I suppose.  Also, blessedly soon, my bed.  Hurrah.

It. Is. Friday.  Blessed-fucking-be, y’all.  Go, go to bed.  Sweet dreams.  You can deal with whatever it is in the morning.  Go chill.

Nervous Excitement (31 Day Challenge: Day 5)


5.  Soundtrack of My Life

I used to think I was very “into” music when I was younger, but it sort of turns out that actually, I am simply very affected by music.  Music significantly buoys me up (even ostensibly “Sad” music), and I feel a very deep-seated need to listen to music every day.  That being said, my actual musical exposure is really fairly limited.  I tend to cling very tightly to a small selection of artists and songs, and cycle through them with fair frequency.

That being said, I don’t know that my life has a soundtrack.  I can tell you what I’ve been cycling through most frequently most recently, though.

“Toss a Coin to Your Witcher,” a capella cover by Peter Hollens
“Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” a capella cover by Pentatonix
“Believer,” Imagine Dragons
“Eliezer’s Waltz,” Disparition
“I’m the Guy Who Sucks Plus I Got Depression,” Satellite High
“Ring of Keys,” Fun Home OBC
“Bremen,” Pig Pen Theatre Co.

In a move that is as shocking to me as I’m sure it would be to anyone else who knew me (if they actually knew I was doing this, that is), I am submitting three of my sketches to be a featured in a local art show elevating and showcasing the work of “womxn and femmes,” and I am terrified and thrilled in equal measure.  This is a big step for me, and taking myself seriously/valuing myself as a creative individual.  I’m not sure if this is a truly “open call,” or if there is a selection process, but the sheer act of putting myself “out there” for wider consumption is huge for me, and I am incredibly excited to be doing it.  It makes the whole endeavor feel realer, somehow; like I’m doing this for a reason (psst, I know that “it makes me happy” is a completely valid reason for doing something creative, because of course it is.  But there will always be a certain sweetness to a particular kind of external validation; it might not be necessary, but it sure is a treat).

Can I also point out that this is a bucket list item?  I’m so happy to be making some progress on some of my goals, even if it’s not as much or as consistent as I’d hoped.  At least I don’t feel like I’m standing still.

Anyway, I had a few logistical questions before I went ahead with submissions, but if they don’t answer me by lunch time tomorrow, I’m just going forward with the submission as I had intended (I mostly wanted to know how we should submit our work, via attachment or link or etc. etc., but I can attach and if that’s not kosher, they can let me know and I’ll resubmit).  I’m really excited.

Tomorrow is Friday!  I’m pumped.  Let’s all get into bed early, get super cozy, and start tomorrow refreshed, okay?

Little Slice of Life (Also, 31 Day Challenge: Day 4)


4.  Most Afraid Of

I feel like this would be a substantially shorter answer if I were to talk about what I wasn’t afraid of.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I didn’t have fear buzzing like low-level static in the back of my brain.

I’ll try to separate these into hierarchical categories to streamline things.

Things I Can’t Control:  the coronoavirus; war; the election; climate change; people’s perception of me/my worth as a human being/my likability; my son getting hurt (physically or emotionally); my son growing up and apart from me; dying; my parents dying; my husband dying; literally anyone and everyone I’m close to dying; losing my job; losing financial stability; car accidents; being robbed; hurricanes; carbon monoxide poisoning; gas explosions

Things I Can Control (But Feel Like I Can’t):  Having a blood-pressure induced stroke; my health; that I’m an inattentive parent; my house falling into disrepair;  my friends losing interest over my lack of social awareness; never following through and completing any of my goals; missing out on opportunities.

Petty phobias:  Dentists, heights, needles, butterflies, moths, birds.

To paraphrase a comic strip (that I really should find):  “Pfft, ‘get out of my comfort zone?’  I don’t even have a comfort zone.  I am literally always uncomfortable.”

I got an email last night from a former student, class of 2017, reporting in on how his life is going and inquiring about mine.  Because of the nature of the program I work, he is technically still in my system, so I have to temper everything I tell him through the lens of, yes, he’s an adult but I’m still technically a teacher (so I can be casual, but not too buddy-buddy), but man, and I thrilled about what he told me.  It sounds like he’s doing so well, and it makes me so happy.

I never kept in contact with any of my teachers from high school; granted, immediately post-high school, it was a little harder, because social media wasn’t a thing and wouldn’t be a thing for several more years, but even since then, I know some of my friends Friended old teachers; I did not.  I just… I never had that kind of relationship with my teachers.  I think about that a lot, actually; my relationships with teachers could be described basically as, “I Really Want to Please Them Because They Are Nice and Say Nice Things About Me,” “I Really Want to Please Them Because They Are Insanely Hot and I am a Horned-Up Teenager,” “I Really Want to Please Them Because They Terrify Me and I Want to Escape Their Wrath,”  and “I Hate Them (But I Really Want to Please Them Anyway Because I am an Insecure Teenager Seeking Constant Validation.”

I was never “close” with them.  We didn’t shoot the shit between classes; I didn’t go to them when I was in an emotional crisis; I didn’t share personal victories with them, or gush about TV shows with them, or share in-jokes.  But I do all of that with my kids, because I wished, so hard, as a kid, that I’d had someone to do that with me.  I would have killed to have one adult give a shit about the crippling anxiety attacks that made me miss days of school, or didn’t roll their eyes behind my back at my dorky interests (and think, somehow, that I didn’t know they were doing it).  I’m not saying my teachers were bad; most of them were kind, and fair.  I’m sure they had close relationships with other students; hell, I know they did.  It was just never me.  I never really had anyone like that.

So I try to be that person now.  For someone else.

I set an alarm for tomorrow, to write him back (because social obligations are hard, and I have zero energy the last two night).  I’m glad that he apparently thinks of my as One of Those People.

Unrelated, but I looked at the calendar today and felt a jolt.  Back when I first started teaching I had what you would call A Hard Kid, who I adored, who I still remember as just… having a special place in the pantheon of students I’ve worked with over the years.  And I realized that today he turned 31 years old.  Jesus Christ.  My husband is 33.

Starting teaching so young messes you up, guys.

It’s Wednesday!!  I’ve got some really cool plans and goals I want to tell you all about really soon, but for tonight, I will be hanging out in chat with my mom and sister, and then it’s tea, some magazines, and bed.  Sprint, guys!  We’re almost at the finish line.

Yawn (31 Day Challenge: Day 2)

Well, it’s certainly been a day.  The highlights today were a really delightful conversation I had with a co-teacher when we found that we had no students during our joint block (for legitimate reasons, just unexpected) and spent an hour and a half shooting the breeze; and my personal pride in how I handled a particularly delicate situation at work today (not tooting my own horn, I’m just very satisfied with how it went, which is better than the alternative, which I’ve likewise had to deal with many, many times over the years).

Barring that, the day was inoffensive, but uninteresting.  Waking up at 3:50 and not being able to get back to sleep means right now I don’t want to do much but veg out, but before I do that, here’s Day 2 of my 31 Day Challenge:


2.  20 Things About Me

  1. I am an INFJ (Type T), and while I resent the Meyers-Briggs being used as a screening device by employers (because, really, it’s dehumanizing and over-simplifying our complexity as people), it’s a fairly accurate overview of my personality, albeit in broad strokes.
  2. I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember, and have had panic and anxiety attacks since I was at least 11.
  3. Through middle and high school, between my anxiety issues and other typical medical issues, I routinely missed between 16-18% of the school year.
  4. I identify as bisexual and non-binary/genderqueer (I use the first because more people seem to get what it means, but more closely identify with the second).  I use she/they pronouns, the former more in my daily life, the latter more frequently on-line.
  5. I am active in fandom culture and both write and read fanfic; while I will talk freely about fandom on here when it is relevant in my life, I will not (at least at present) post or link any of my fic.  There is a non-zero-percent chance of that changing in the future, but not right now.
  6. Our anniversary of us officially getting together is 5/15, which we chose because it’s a palindrome and Andy and I like palindromes.  Consequently, our wedding is 7/17.  (And actually, Bear’s due date was 12/19, and while we were hoping he’d hold out til 12/21, alas, he came a couple of weeks early, instead).
  7. I love trying new food, but I could easily subsist on crab rangoon and egg rolls if the need should ever arise.
  8. I met my husband on OKCupid, and we hung out for about six months before something actually happened.  After it did, we dated for about a year before he moved in with me.  We got engaged after eighteen months, and married after just over two years.
  9. My hair has, at various times in my life, been brown (my natural color), black, blonde, fire-engine red, midnight blue, turquoise, emerald green, teal, purple, amethyst, rose pink, and hot pink.  It’s also been waist-length, full on buzzed, and about everything in between.
  10. I collect fandom prints by various fan artists, bought through Etsy, Society6, or at various conventions.  Even though I’m not in the fandom anymore, my favorite of them is probably a Destiel (Dean/Castiel) print from Supernatural that I bought at Anime Boston 2012, and a Johnlock (John/Sherlock) print I was gifted from a Society6 artist.
  11. I love clothing with bold patterns and colors, and love androgynous fashion — but for one reason or another, most of my clothing is black/gray and fairly femme.
  12. My go-to shows for comfort watching are Nailed It!, Kim’s Convenience, and Bob’s Burgers, plus any and all Jim Gaffigan and John Mulaney stand-up specials.
  13. The first time I ever got a hangover was at an after-party during LeakyCon 2009, a major Harry Potter convention in Boston.  This was also the night I spilled vodka and Coke on YA author Maureen Johnson, and I may have said something cringey to one of the Vlogbrothers? It’s hard to remember.
  14. I have tachycardia and high-blood pressure, exacerbated by (though not caused by) anxiety.
  15. A major goal for this year is to get an assessment for autism/ADHD.
  16. I am terrified of heights, butterflies/moths, spiders, ad dentist/anything teeth or dental-related.
  17. First crush I ever remember having was on Atreyu from The Neverending Story.  Also one of the first songs I remember listening to obsessively was that films ending theme.
  18. The Harry Potter books and fandom carried me through my first year teaching; it was one of the things my students and I bonded over the most.
  19. I’m a maladaptive daydreamer (on the milder end of the spectrum).
  20. When I crush, I crush hard (and it’s likely on the people you’d least expect; even my “celeb” crushes are often pretty under-the-radar).  I also still low-key crush on Jasper from Steven Universe various animated characters.  I know, it’s bad.

You got through Monday!  Pour yourself a drink and put your feet up.  You’ve earned a break.