The Crash

“It kind of feels like rushing out to get a new dog right after your dog dies,” I joked to Pete the car salesman as I sat inside the newer version of my car. I had last seen Pete the year before when he helped me close up my 2016 Nissan Rogue’s lease and swap me over to owning the car outright. A solid, quintessentially New Jersey Italian American man, he was kind, helpful, and not super pushy towards me about actually getting a new car instead of keeping my leased one. I assumed that I would never see him again, but the summer of 2020 had other plans for me in the form of my first car crash.

It was a Tuesday morning in late July and I was stopped at a red light near my house on my way to work, waiting to make a left turn. As the light turned green, I saw a car was about to come straight through the intersection so I decided to wait for them to pass before starting my turn. Suddenly, a driver on the cross street full on ignored his red light and barreled right into the other car. I yelled in surprise when I saw their impact, and then, of course, screamed when the hit car rammed into mine. My left knee bashed against the underside of the dashboard as I scrambled with my right foot to relocate the brake pedal it had been jolted off of by the impact. Once I found my footing and came to a stop, I put my car in park, applied the parking brake because we were on a hill, and turned off the engine, not knowing that it was the last time it would run.

To my uneducated eye the damage to my car didn’t look that bad, and in fact my airbags hadn’t even triggered. But I had a bad feeling because the engine wouldn’t turn over when one of the cops who responded to the accident asked if I could move my car from its resting place in the middle of the street. I walked the couple of blocks home unscathed after the accident, apart from having to wrap my bruised, sore left knee for a couple of weeks. My car had properly done its job of keeping me safe, but when I found out the cost I was devastated. A few days after the accident I received a phone call from my insurance company informing me that they were declaring my Rogue a total loss due to damage to the electrical system. To say I cried is a massive understatement.

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you will be aware that I have a tendency to become unusually attached to certain objects that I use often. I had gotten my first Rogue because I had to give up the hand-me-down station wagon that had been in my family for 20 years and had intended to keep it just as long if possible. I’d had nearly four years with the car and it had been a refuge where the world couldn’t reach me. The first year that I owned it was full of very high highs and extremely low lows and it had been my constant companion (and place to cry my eyes out without drawing attention) through it all, and had been just as helpful to me in the years that followed. I was nowhere near ready to give it up and it didn’t seem fair that I was forced to by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As soon as I knew I wasn’t getting my car back I decided I would just go back to the dealership who had sold it to me, and within a week of being told my car was unsalvageable I was driving a new one off the lot. I feel very fortunate that I was in a financial position to do such a thing, but I was also resentful and wanted nothing more than to have my own car back. My new Rogue felt familiar, because it was after all another Nissan and they hadn’t changed the layout of the dashboard buttons much in four years, but it also felt slightly off. The fact that many of the radio buttons had become touch screen controls was a big mental adjustment to make. I also immediately noticed it seemed slightly bigger outside and roomier inside (I won’t be bashing my knee under the dash of this one), and thought it was my mind playing tricks on me until my brother confirmed it. It made me jumpy in narrow lanes, paranoid that I was somehow too wide even though tractor trailers fit in the same lanes no problem. (I’m still more nervous on the highway than I used to be, which confuses me because I was at full stop in a suburban area when the crash happened.) On top of this, I was upset about having to put my savings towards the car instead instead of the new computer I had actually been saving the money for.

Additionally, alongside all of those feelings, I was locked in a battle of sorts with my gap insurance company. My main car insurance company valued my totaled car at a few thousand dollars less than I still owed on it. “No big deal,” I thought, “I have gap insurance which will cover the rest for me.” But I had also signed a couple of service contracts when I financed the car, and the gap people wanted proof of their cancellation before they would pay out. The contract people said the dealership had to cancel them and the dealership said the contract people had to cancel them. I made many phone calls and got no helpful answers Confused, frustrated, in despair, and just wanting it to be over, I quietly paid the few thousand dollar balance over the next few months, feeling ashamed the whole time that I couldn’t figure out how to get these various companies to do what I needed and again grateful that I was in a position for this to not be financially debilitating in a major way. So, long story short, when financing a car take gap insurance, but do not accept any special service contracts because sure you may not have to pay out of pocket to replace your tire on the off chance you get a flat, but if you total your car the contracts may become a total fucking pain in the ass.

TL;DR: I was too stressed and upset in various internal and external ways to enjoy my new car.

It’s only now, about 10 months since everything happened, that I feel like I’m bonding with my new Rogue and finally leaving the resentment behind. I first realized it was happening back in March. I’d been feeling low for weeks, so I called out of work and jetted off down the shore. It wasn’t the first time I had driven this car to the sea, but this time I did something different. After visiting my usual haunt, I decided I wanted to go to a town near there that I’d never been to using only signs on the road and my general notion of what direction I should drive in. It was a sunny, unseasonably warm day and I meandered through the area with the windows down, probably technically somebody’s definition of lost, but not bothered by it in the slightest. I felt at peace cruising around in my new rolling refuge. It suddenly dawned on me that all of my awful feelings about what had brought us together were firmly behind me, and ahead was only a bright open road. The safety sensors beeped at me worriedly as I slightly went over a line on the road to avoid a pothole and I patted the steering wheel reassuringly and said, “It’s okay. We’re okay,” as we continued on our way.

Alone in the Storm

“Does anyone else have something they bought recently that they really like?” asked my friend B while we were on a group video call that was theoretically supposed to be a session of D&D, but which had devolved, as it so often did, into extended chit chat — in this case a game of show and tell. I had recently received a small print that I’d bought from one of my favorite artists. It took several months to reach me, traveling from Finland by the slowest untrackable mail. Even knowing from the outset that it would take a long time to reach my hands, I had to have it. I was drawn in by the oceanic imagery, because nautical stuff is one of my things, but also I looked at the girl alone in a tempest, on a narrow perch in a storm tossed sea, and saw myself. Melodramatic, but true. But when I showed it to my friends and explained that, B joked, “You’re not alone, you have us! You have to send it back.”

But somehow I do often feel quite alone. I’m a bit of the odd duck of my family, the only daughter, bookish and introverted. I also sometimes feel like a tangential person in my friend groups. Yes, I do think I am well liked and appreciated. I consider my close friendships to be solid, and I am grateful for that. But sometimes I do feel like everyone else’s connections with each other are stronger than they are with me. I get the sensation of being on the outside looking in.

I know that I do it to myself, though. When I can’t see friends in person I tend not to reach out as much. This is partly because if I’m not hearing from a friend I always just assume they’re busy living their lives and I don’t want to be a bother, but it is partly out of sheer shitty forgetfulness. I have literally lost close friendships due to these bad habits (although for the record, those people I drifted away from in silence didn’t try speaking to me either — it takes two people to make a friendship work, and I would have responded had I heard from them). However, equally harmful is my habit of withdrawing when my mental health is tanking. I would rather call out sick from work and run away from home for a day than tell my friends I feel shitty and need a pick me up, which is because I am worried about being a burden (despite repeated reassurances that I am not).

I live as the girl on the stony spire, silent as the rock erodes beneath my feet and I am swept into the stormy sea that I have wrought for myself. Sometimes at this point I’ll send out a text message expressing some of my misery, a rope flung out in a panicked prayer that someone will catch it and pull me to shore. I am lucky because someone always does. However, more often than not I allow myself to slip under the waves and be dashed on the sharp fragments of the stone that had been holding me up, preferring to tread water until I drown instead of risking worrying the people around me, because I know I am ultimately the one responsible for maintaining my own well being (although my loved ones are not stupid and can often see me slipping under anyway).

So far I have always managed to outlast my riptide, redevelop my sea legs, paddle back to shore, and start over again. The storm always passes and I find a new outcropping to stand on. As the clouds roll away I convince myself that continuing in this fashion is just fine because, after all, I survived, didn’t I?

(And here, please allow me to read your mind: yes, I know I probably need a therapist, but who can afford it? Blogging is cheaper.)

I fill my nights with my friends so I don’t have to live with the silence that often brings the storm. Two different D&D campaign groups. Watching friends’ streams. Thursday game night and the conversations with the late night crew that often follow. My closest friends just a text message away and more than willing to schedule time to hang out over voice chat. But everyone currently being only faces and voices inside of screens sometimes feels worse than I think it would be to be totally isolated and not have any of that at all.

Their voices fill the space until one by one they log off and disappear, leaving me with only the sound of my own breathing and the wind roaring in the trees behind my house, sounding something like the raging loneliness of a stormy sea. Somehow it feels too silent, too empty, too alone.

Farewell, Old Friend

When we met, it felt like fate. I was looking for a fluffy hooded jacket and there you appeared on one of the five racks my local Target seemingly grudgingly allots to plus size clothes, and in one of my favorite clothing colors to boot. I tried you on, olive green and cozy, and immediately fell in love. But all things come to an end, and now you have as well.

This parting has been a long time coming, as over the years you have been slowly decaying. First, months after we met, one of the buttons on your hood popped off. I always meant to give you a new one, but never got around to it and just lived with having to hold your hood up in strong winds.

Then it was your snaps, were one by one giving way and disappearing under the duress of the repeated fastening and unfastening of daily wear.

Your first drastic injury was the split up your back which I kept putting off sewing shut until finally on New Year’s Eve Eve I felt an odd sensation getting into the car after work and realized you had torn up to the middle of my back. I spent the night frantically sewing you as best I could because I knew I would have trouble replacing you, partly because I’m picky and partly because retail’s season ahead nature and my plus sized body meant my options would likely be limited. I didn’t want to replace you anyway, because I’m the kind of person who gets too attached to inanimate things.

We had spent four winters together. Your body sheltered me from the cold. Your sleeves accepted my tears without question. Your massive fluffy hood brought me a lot of joy in its oversized ridiculousness. Your long length allowed for deep pockets that let me go on winter adventures without a purse, as everything I needed fit neatly inside. (I apparently wrote about one such adventure in the first year of this blog.)

The next day I ventured into a mall for the first time since the pandemic started only to come up empty handed. I was okay with it, though. I hoped that sewing up the back would help you last the rest of the winter and then I could lay you to rest and buy a new coat next fall. But that was not to be.

It started with a tiny hole next to the right side pocket that I really didn’t pay very much mind to. Such a little hole didn’t seem poised to become a huge problem. But then as I settled myself in the seat of my car one night after work in late February I heard a ripping sound and felt something tear by my right hip. When I got home, I inspected the damage. I considered sewing this tear as well, just to get me through the last month of winter, but had a feeling that it would just pop open again and again considering how the hole wanted to gape open when you were worn. I resigned myself to your immediate retirement.

I luckily have a peacoat that I wore instead of you, for the last few weeks of cold weather, but it isn’t as warm and it made me mourn you even more. When I seek a new coat next winter I will likely have to settle for something lesser and it somehow doesn’t feel fair. I have loved you immensely, as silly as it feels to admit it, and I am very sorry to see you go.

I suppose it is lucky that one of my most significant pandemic losses (besides, you know, a year of my life) was “just” a coat. But you were never just a coat to me.

New Years I Have Known

(My first selfie of 2020!)

1. When I was a child the high school in my aunt’s town would hold a First Night event on New Year’s Eve, filling the school with activities and performers. My aunt would bring my brothers and I over to check out a few acts before decamping to her apartment in the building across the street where we would enjoy junk food and struggle to stay up until midnight. I didn’t always make it, but on some of he years that I did the town set off fireworks as the year changed that we could see from the apartment building’s parking deck, the blasts sometimes setting off car alarms in the area, much to my amusement.

2. Most of my New Year’s Eves from the time I could drive have taken the same course: a simple get together with whoever of my friends is in town and available. These gatherings are much like our normal hangouts – video games, takeout, maybe a movie. But around midnight we find a feed of the ball dropping in Times Square and maybe pop open a bottle of sparkling cider or (rarely, we’re not big drinkers) having a little champagne or prosecco if someone has brought it, although it is usually far too dry and bitter for my taste. Low key hangouts like these with my friends are probably the thing I’ve missed the most during the pandemic.

3. I’m not sure what year it was, it was either while I was in college or just after, my friend B invited our group to a New Year’s party at his parents’ house that he and his brother were having. I was a little apprehensive because I knew there would be a bunch of people there that I didn’t know, but enough of my friends were going that I decided it would be fine. It was interesting to see someone else’s traditions. Despite the fact that B and his brother not being Hispanic, they insisted we had to find a Spanish language broadcast of the ball drop for midnight. (I forget the reasoning behind this.) Just past midnight we huddled together outside in the cold to smash a pinata that B’s brother and a friend had built that day. We didn’t have any place to hang it, so someone tall awkwardly held it while trying not to get hit in the process. There were a few little other party games and some good food. All in all, a good, memorable New Year’s Eve!

4. Last year, 2019, my younger brother and his girlfriend hosted a New Year’s Eve party at her parents’ house. I had already been to a game night they held earlier that year, so I already knew the other guests a little and I knew it would be a good time. I don’t often drink, but decided I was in the mood for it (only to be reminded after I sobered up and drove home, that while I love prosecco it does not love me). There was a lot of delicious garbage food to eat and we played Jackbox games and laughed until we cried. Also, the family’s dog was there and ready for attention and pets that I was only too willing and excited to provide. At midnight we found a ball drop on the tv and the party did continue, but I left shortly afterwards because I had sobered up, but was starting to get sleepy. I went home that night very content, having enjoyed myself thoroughly.

5. I thought that this year would be one in the series of New Year’s Eves that I have spent on my own, watching the clock tick past midnight and feeling lonely, but the universe has deemed that that should not be the case. Obviously I’m staying home, but I’ve somehow wound up with invitations to multiple virtual parties. One of them is a session of Red Dead Online that my younger brother plans to stream. The other invitees are members of the D&D group we became part of this year. We’ve had a lot of fun playing all kinds of games together this year. The other invite is to spend an evening with my Massachusetts/upstate New York/college friends playing Among Us (aka “sussin’ and stabbin’”) and chatting on Discord. Usually I’d have seen at least some of them at some point this year, but, again, the plague happened. I’m going to buy myself some good snacks and maybe some alcohol even though I’ve been a bit wary of booze since my ER trip for a kidney stone in September. I’m just going to try to relax and have a good time trying to drown out the dread in my head that 2021 will just be more of the same awfulness that 2020 was, because the calendar flipping over to the new year is not a reset button, but a continuation.

(My last selfie of 2020, snapped when I had to unfortunately go to a mall for the first time since March because I have emergency need of a new winter coat. I was unfortunately unsuccessful.)

Mentally I am here.

There’s this meme that’s been going around Twitter lately of tweets that read “mentally I am here,” captioning some sort of photo, usually setting up something humorous in nature that expresses one of the many depressing vibes of 2020. But as for me, mentally, I am here.

It was the end of August in 2013. I was on vacation down the shore with my aunt and younger brother and was just beginning to come out of the deep, post-college, “shit I’m an adult now” depression that had plagued me ever since I graduated at the end of 2012, but which had especially affected my summer.

Long days of lounging poolside in the sun with my family were followed by evenings cut loose on the boardwalk, my nightly spending money from my aunt in my pocket waiting to be spent on whatever treats or entertainment I wanted. Many 22 year olds would use this as an opportunity to get wasted, but not me.

I bought delightfully unhealthy fried sweets and played my way through the arcades, as one does at the Jersey Shore. I also spent a large amount of time just wandering through the crowds or strolling to the more residential ends of the boardwalk, looking at the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy the previous fall with a melancholy eye.

Here is an ancient video from my defunct YouTube channel that I wrote and filmed on this trip!

But the first thing I did most nights was sit in the sand as close to the sea as I could while staying dry, watching and listening to the crashing waves while the never ending carnival of the boardwalk thrummed distantly behind me.

Being by the sea has been a balm for my soul my whole life, even before I knew to call it that, and this time spent quietly thinking and dreaming and occasionally scribbling away in a little notebook, was what I needed the most. And since this was my first extended beach trip since I’d received my DSLR on Christmas in 2011 I took so. many. photos. I had a list of photo opportunities in my mind that I wanted to pursue and I checked them all off.

The weekly fireworks show.

Playing with fancy settings like shutter speed by the lights of the rides.

Snapping what I could see on a walk down the jetty.

And in a little place by the part of the inlet where people fish during the day I took a whole series of these sunset sky photos.

I don’t think I can adequately put into words the feelings of freedom and satisfaction I got from my nightly wandering. I think it possibly had a lot to do with feeling in control for the first time that year. I got to determine where I went and what I did. I didn’t have to worry about the unemployed mess my life at home was, especially because my aunt was generously giving me spending money. She didn’t care what time I came back to our motel room because I was never outrageously late and she never asked much about what I’d been up to. I think I just really relished not only being my own person, but being a person who felt like I had options and possibilities.

Seven years later and this is still one of my favorite photos of myself.

I think my mind has drifted back to this particular trip now because 2020 has been a year where I don’t feel like I have a lot of control over my life, which is a sentiment I’m sure is shared by much of the world.

I know I could revisit this location now. The town still exists, after all, and I still make day trips there to this day. But I can’t go back to the feelings I had on that trip, especially given the current pandemic. I confess, I did venture down to this town back in July, and it was an incredibly odd experience. So I suppose, in the meantime, if you need me, mentally I will be here.

Flowers (Meditations on Dating)

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It’s just after the new year when I finally make it to the salon for my quarterly haircut. It’s the coldest day of the winter so far. My hairdresser’s coworkers are gently teasing her about the massive flower arrangement she received at work that afternoon. She’s embarrassed, but excited, pink with the flush of new romance. Her joy could turn the winter to spring. I’m happy for her, and her mood is adorable and infectious, but my heart twists slightly with jealousy as I admit to her that no one has ever given me flowers. (Well, my grandma did once when I was in a play in middle school, but that doesn’t really count, does it?)

What I don’t mention is that the lack of flowers is entirely my own fault. When I was younger most of my partners were the kinds of immature guys that would never think to buy flowers, but when I sensed someone might try to buy them for me I said “don’t.” This wasn’t because I didn’t appreciate the thought or how pretty they were, but because it seemed pointless and wasteful to spend the money on something with such a short shelf life, to spend so much on something that would inevitably die. 

And yet, when I think about it I see how I have repeatedly spent so much of myself on situations with short shelf lives. If I had paid attention, I perhaps could have protected myself from being left to wilt. The past shouldn’t be changed because we are who we are because of our experiences, but who I am is so tired, especially by the thought of dating. 

My mom keeps a big ornamental grass in our backyard. Every winter she cuts it low when it dries up and every summer it grows back, full and lush. My last date was about two and a half years ago. Part of me was cut back then too, but I have not yet found the energy for regrowth.

How pointless to give time to someone, to become comfortable and open up, when they can suddenly decide you no longer fit the scheme of their garden, yank you up at the root, and chuck you out.

How wasteful to spend time grieving something you could not preserve, clinging to the memories like you’re pressing flower petals for framing only to have the blooms dry up too much and crumble to dust.

But when romance is freshly blooming, when they send you flowers at work, when they smile at you in a way that makes your heart feel so full it could blossom out of your chest, that is the point, that is the opposite of waste.

So when I see Sara, flush faced, caught up in something new, the flowers not yet wilted, I think that maybe this will be the year I try dating again. Maybe this time I’ll wind up with a field of bright blooms.

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time there was a female who felt herself to be (in the words of the immortal Ms. Spears) not a girl, not yet a woman. After all, on the cusp of 28 years old she was well past her girlhood and probably didn’t even qualify as a young woman anymore. But for a number of reasons she could not escape her family home and live a life with full adult responsibilities and therefore often felt like a child. (Although, for the record, she was very thankful that her family home was a pleasant place to live. Just wanna put that out there.)

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Additionally, there were aspects of her personality that occasionally made her feel childish. For instance, she would much rather stay in and play a video game than go out into the world and make connections that could perhaps advance her adult life. She had no long term goals besides “be happy and be able to support myself” which really was getting in the way of finding a job that would help her achieve those goals, as she had no firm direction to point herself in. When she reached her point of ultimate frustration, her body’s reaction was to cry (and then to cry more out of embarrassment for having cried).

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However, her greatest problem was that she had very little discipline. This can be traced back to her years in college. After spending high school driving herself crazy to get good grades in her full course load of high level classes, she very quickly noticed that she had enrolled in a college that was perhaps slightly too easy for her. She realized that she could do the bare minimum and still get good grades, and so that is what she did (while somehow still managing to graduate a semester early). By the time she left the mountains to return home to the land of Jersey, her discipline had fluttered away on a breeze.

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She turned her attention to various endeavors as she started her adult life, but she had lost her ability to follow through when it was not required by an employer. She took up the ukulele and wrote a handful of songs that were well received by people she knew, but when her inspiration fled, so to did her relationship with her ukulele. She bought a beautiful blue guitar and attended lessons, but when her teacher left the community center she let the guitar sit in the corner because there was no outside force compelling her to practice. There was a watercolor kit that she’d purchased after watching a few videos that had been barely touched. She couldn’t get herself to stick to an exercise regimen even though her overweight body begged her to by developing hypertension. There was a box of video games in her room that had been started, but never finished.

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Then there was the whole slew of internet videos, over 100 of them, made over the course of many years. YouTube was her most successful attempt at keeping up with a hobby long term. She occasionally took breaks for months at a time, but always returned. Until one day it hit her that she did not want to go back. There wasn’t any particular reason, she just somehow lost interest in creating online videos (although she did still spend an inordinate amount of time watching online videos instead of doing any of the things mentioned in the last two paragraphs).

If she was being really honest with herself, in most of the things she tried she grew to feel she was hopelessly mediocre and would never be good or worth notice no matter how much effort she put in, so why should she even bother?

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But just because she had given up on talking to a camera did not mean that she never wanted to talk to anyone about her more long-winded thoughts on the internet ever again. The internet can give the impression that we are meant to share everything about our lives, and while she knew that many aspects of her life were probably too dull to share, she still wanted to share some things. So she started a blog. She could have kept a physical journal, but the notion that someone might read her words and interact with her because of them excited her. She had made some quality internet friends on YouTube and thought that once she got going she might make some blogging friends as well.

She plugged away at her blog, dedicating time to make sure there would be a new post each week. While she didn’t make any new friends, she did feel herself to be free to talk about topics that she never felt alright talking about on YouTube. She finally unburdened herself regarding a few heavy stories from her life and was more open and raw about her mental health than she’d ever been before. She had friends and family to talk about these things with, but she could be clearer and take her time composing her thoughts. Somehow it was easier to write everything down instead of having to use her actual voice. It was freeing.

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But then, the inevitable happened. After taking a week off to go on a trip, her posting became more irregular and ultimately ceased entirely. Her main excuse at the time that she stopped was “it’s too hot to sit at my laptop for hours during the summer to put these posts together” and she swore she’d return in the fall. But autumn came and went and winter began and still she had not really posted anything, besides a post saying that she would be posting again soon that had actually been posted quite some time ago.

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The blog tugged at the back of her mind, but she was nervous about returning. She realized that was scared that she had nothing new left to say after all of the YouTube videos and blog posts she had already made. Nothing interesting anyway. But she wanted to write. So just after the new year started she put Google Docs on her phone so she could work on the same documents both at her desk and away from it and she started typing away. She wasn’t sure if it was any good, or if she would even be consistent about it, but she very badly wanted to be. She wanted to prove to herself that she could follow through, even if she felt like a worthless mediocrity while doing it.

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It was a new year, a new start, a new chance to do and be better. Hopefully this time something would stick.

[All images are from my collection of photos/YouTube thumbnails that I’ve taken over the years.]

Blog-a-versary!

Hello, all! It’s been a loooong while, hasn’t it?

If you thought I had given up on this blog, you thought wrong. It’s just that this summer has been A Time. By the end of it, I was referring to it as a cursed summer, because it seemed like less than ideal things were happening not only to me, but to everyone around me.

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Pictures in this post are all from a walk in a wooded place in my area last fall that I never used for anything!

For instance, just as I was beginning to feel confident in my new position, I had to cover our calendar for a week because of a near death in someone’s family, which always puts me in a bad headspace. (Why are people so fucking rude??)

My doctor put me on a low dose of a diuretic at the end of July because my blood pressure finally went from borderline bad to actually bad. Needless to say this made me feel like shit mentally, but I didn’t have time to worry about that because the day after that appointment, one of my close friends experienced a major medical emergency.

Thankfully they survived it, and while they could’ve suffered major losses of mental or bodily function, they did not. They were home by the end of August, but that month was full of a lot of hospital visits and anxiety and trying to take my mind off of that anxiety by driving through the desert in GTA Online. (My friend is doing relatively well most days now, although they still have a lot of healing to do at home.)

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A relatively minor gripe, all things considered, is that we had kind of crummy weather on a lot of the weekends, so I couldn’t get down the shore at all.

However, the biggest thing that always keeps me away from computers after work in the summer is the heat. Even in my YouTube days, I was always less active in the summer. I’ve spent the past two summers getting by with just a big fan in my room, without putting an air conditioner into the window. The only thing I want to do when I get home on a hot summer day is sit myself right in front of the fan doing something that requires minimal energy (like reading or, again, video games) until it is time to flop my whole body down in front of the fan so I can go to sleep. The cord for the fan isn’t long enough to reach that close to my desk, and if I plug another thing into the ancient powerstrip at my feet, I’m sure it will catch on fire, lol. As a result of all of that, sitting at my desk is too sweaty to tolerate during the summer.

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But! Now that the weather is cooling down and life is becoming calm, I am ready to make my return. I’m not ready for a full return just yet — I want to prep at least two blog posts first, to give me a head start on a regular schedule. You can look forward to posts about Flame Con! The New York Renaissance Faire! Portland, Maine! And much more!

However, I noticed that my first blog-a-versary just passed, so I wanted to throw up a quick post to say hey, let y’all know why I dropped off the map, and to thank you if you’re still willing to read my stuff after I disappeared without warning.

Throughout my life I’ve tried to keep many different diaries, and then blogs once the internet came along. I always lost interest in them very shortly, but I’m somehow still interested in writing here after a whole year has passed, and I intend to keep on doing so for quite awhile.

See you soon (for real!),
Krys

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Summer Has Arrived

At the end of the day when I enter the lobby of the building where I work, I can feel some of the heat while I’m still a couple of yards from the revolving door. I push through, freeing myself from my air conditioned office prison, and for the first minute or so the heat is a refreshing contrast. But by the time I’ve crossed the courtyard and properly entered the parking lot, I’m wilting. Halfway across the asphalt that separates me and my car, I feel sweat pooling on my forehead, on my upper lip, under my arms.

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All of the photos in this post are from more pleasant summer times than the sticky week I’m currently enduring. Here’s the first Dippin Dots I ever had, taken at Six Flags in 2009.

I make it to the car and haul myself inside, desperately turning the key in the ignition as quickly as possible so I can roll down the windows. I feel blood rushing to my face and the sensation of all my pores opening up like I’ve just steamed them for a skincare treatment. The breeze from driving with the windows open calms my heat borne agitation (the AC is reserved for only the hottest of days, or when it rains).

I get home, and do I get to go inside where it’s cooler? Not yet — I have the task of pulling the rest of the family cars into our long narrow driveway once mine (the last to leave in the morning) is properly situated at in the back of the property. My brother’s car is black, with a black vinyl interior. Even if he remembers to crack the windows and park in the shade, I feel like I am sitting in hell.

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Here’s a weird baby head that was on one of the carousel horses in Dorney Park. This was the second carousel, way in the back of the park, that played hilariously out of tune music. Taken 2010.

Once that’s done, I go inside and eat dinner before going up to my room and cranking on my big boxfan. Last summer I successfully shunned the window air conditioner on the floor of the spare room that has my name on it, as it dries me up inside and out, usually giving me a cold. Hopefully this year I shall remain strong again. I’m usually wearing long pants or a cardigan in the interest of being office appropriate, and I curse them as I peel the sweaty cloth from my body. I flop down on my bed in my undergarments and let the cool air of the fan blow over my sticky skin.

Yes, I hate being cold. But I hate the heat even more. When it’s cold you can put on a sweater or grab another blanket. But when it’s hot, you can remove all of your garments and still be miserable, and I am absolutely not about that life.

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A beautiful view from the fortress of Wulzberg in Germany. Taken in 2012.

A New Job, Sort Of

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I’ve been able to personalize my new work area a little bit more than my old one!

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for awhile, then you’ll know that for over a year now, since March 2017, I have been desperately wanting a new job. When I asked the universe to help me out with that, I was incredibly specific that I wanted one at another business, but apparently all it had to give me at this point in time was a new position at my current place of employment.

I work at a law firm. I’d been the receptionist for the past four years (my anniversary is the start of May), but two weeks ago I moved up in the ranks and became a proper legal secretary!

How this came to pass is a story full of panic and cautious optimism. About a month ago now, I came into work one morning and was getting settled at my desk when my coworkers A and T rushed over to my desk. This was odd, and I immediately felt a slight sense of alarm.

“We have news!” they said.

“What happened?” I asked warily.

“L gave her notice this morning, she got a new job!”

I was incredibly jealous (Why wasn’t I getting to escape?) but I also felt happy for her — I knew she’d been very unhappy at work for a long time, largely because of one of the attorneys she was assigned to, a woman I’ll call C.

I could go into a looooot of detail about how awful C is, but for the sake of looking at least slightly professional to any future employers who might come across this blog, I’ll keep it to this: she is nice to your face, but is an incredibly demanding extreme perfectionist, to the point of toxicity. When I went to congratulate L on her new job, she confided in me that she’d been having frequent panic attacks because of C, and that C was pretty much the entire reason she was leaving. (Fun Fact: in the past four years the only people that have left our firm have worked with C.)

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A closer look at my figures! Everything except the mermaid and Morgan from P5 had been previously tucked in a corner of my old reception desk that no one could really see.

A legal recruiter I’d met with earlier in the spring had told me that my resume was a little awkward for her to market because I’ve been in a firm for years, have a good admin background, but had no experience with dedicated legal secretary paperwork. L’s vacancy would be a good opportunity for me to get more skills so I could get out. But….C. C was the entire reason that I didn’t immediately run to F and ask for the job.

I’ve been working with C often myself — she’s been frequently giving me different types of work ever since I started with the firm, because she decided early on that I was smart and capable enough to work with her. So I’m extremely familiar with how she is, and I knew that if I worked for her, I’d be shortly having frequent panic attacks myself.

I consulted with my office manager and the other secretaries and they all agreed that there was no way I could take C and F, especially considering I hadn’t been a full-on legal secretary before. But my office manager floated an idea with F and our other boss E: “Krys can’t possibly take on two partners, so why doesn’t she take F and…I don’t know, maybe G?”

G is super nice, and easy to work with. F is also pretty easy to work with, and while he does put out a lot of work, he’s not overly picky about how it gets done the way C is. It’s a long complicated story, but we were able to swap some of the attorneys around between the secretaries so I could have F and G. They’re also in the process of hiring a new attorney, and my assumption is whoever they hire will get assigned to me as well, just to keep all the numbers even between the secretaries.

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The trinkets I keep under my monitor — a tiny lucky cat from a Neko Atsume blind box and a squishy Aggretsuko that a friend recently brought me from Japan.

Being a legal secretary is somehow not that different than some of the work C was having me do, but there’s just a lot more of it. Also, large portions of my day are spent typing F’s long dictations, to the point where sometimes the thoughts in my head are in his voice, lol. I find myself feeling more tired at the end of the day than I did when I was receptionist, probably because there were more lulls at the front desk than I get now. But I feel more satisfied about work, and the day goes by faster because I’m more occupied.

Plus, C has largely gotten off my back, which my office manager predicted! She was still giving me a lot of work for the first few days (which caused me a fair bit of anxiety because I just wanted to be rid of her so badly and it hit me that it will never happen as long as I work here!). But I’ve made it clear with my actions that she’s less of a priority to me now (aka, I’m taking longer to do her stuff because I’m doing work that F and G asked for first). Supposedly I’ll be getting a raise as well, but I still need to talk money with F. I’m honestly not expecting to get the figure I have in mind because they don’t really pay any of us what we’re really worth, but any money is good money.

So I guess I’ll be staying at this office for another eight to twelve months before I start looking for a new job again, just to be sure I have the skills firmly under my belt. I didn’t mean to wind up in the legal field now, but since I’ve wound up here, I’m going to start making the most of it. My career future feels brighter than it has in a long time!

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(My final piece of cubicle decor are these two prints! The Journey one up top is by Etherelle — I bought it at Anime Boston and had it up on my whiteboard at home before bringing it to my new desk. You can buy a larger version of it here — they don’t seem to sell the postcard size on their site. The lower one is the Pokemon Swablu and Altaria,  done by Cryptovolans. You can buy it here.)