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A Slow Anthem For Loneliness

The world is not set up for single people. Yes, there is safety in numbers. And bulk group discounts. But I’ve always been on my own, for the most part. Next week I’m leaving for yet another solo adventure. This time in Lisbon. I’ve been looking forward to this for months. Though I just noticed an odd bit of copy on my hotel’s website:

It’s small, but super cozy! Definitely the starting point for a short stay in Lisbon is here. We do encourage spooning…

Who am I supposed to spoon with? Do I grab a passing hotel staff person? I’ve also reserved a spot for a very special dinner at Kanazawa. The restaurant has just 10 seats, counter style. Curious to see who my dining companions turn out to be.

Five random things vying for my attention:

Tomorrow is the last day of 2019. It was an interesting year with more good than bad, really. Spent a bit too much time re-learning some lessons but also gained more insight into why those were patterns I was repeating. I am looking forward to 2020 and learning new things. And maybe making new mistakes.

Spoon Me

Off You Pop

Lately, I keep losing the plot. I’ll swing by this space intending to make a blog post. But I’ve had trouble pulling my ramblings together. My mind wanders instead. So much has happened. It has been an eventful year. Highlights:

  • At the very start of 2019, I began teaching Front-End Web Development courses in Minneapolis College’s Continuing Education program, part-time. It has been an interesting learning experience. For me and, hopefully, for my students. I just signed my contract to continue teaching through Spring 2020. Though the days I teach feel very long. A three-hour evening class after working my FT day job.
  • For my son’s Spring Break, we enjoyed a wonderful trip to the Netherlands. It was his first European adventure since he was six years old.
  • The time was right for me to become a homeowner again. This go around it’s a lovely, manageable condo in the perfect location. Halfway between my son’s two Dads’ houses (about a mile and a half either way), right off the bus line and walking distance to so many wonderful places including the chain of lakes.
  • Right after the purchase of our new home, a new car didn’t seem quite so overwhelming. Scarier was the thought of trying to make it through another winter with that cursed Volvo. For the first time, I have a car with AWD (very practical in MN) and bonus backup cam and heated seats. I’ve already had it out in freezing rain, on black ice, and in blizzardy conditions and it handles like a dream.
  • For the past five years I’ve been working in tech support for the same SaaS company and burnout was imminent. Thankfully, I was able to make a change without having to leave the company. And it’s a change I’m very excited about! I am now an Accessibility Analyst on the manual testing team.
    The power of the Web is in its universality.
    Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
    - Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

  • Random To-Do list item, tackled. After 22 years, I finally went down to the Social Security Administration office and had my SS card updated to reflect my name change from my 1997 divorce. That’s when I legally changed my first name from Sharon to Sharyn. It feels like a lifetime ago. And it was (for one thing, my son was born two years later).
  • Just last week I checked to see if a certain domain name was available and, lo and behold, I was able to snap up Hoping to hold myself accountable and actually finish writing this novel that I started years ago.

There were lowlights in 2019 too, to be sure (beyond the existential dread of late-stage capitalism in this gun-happy country). But I’ll leave those in the shadows instead of rehashing them.

Moose with tiny human, for scale

Thought Suppression Overload

Sometimes you need to hit the pause button. This past week was a whirlwind of activity, which included an out of town houseguest. The last few weekends have been just as active. So this weekend? Nothing but downtime with my kid. We binge-watched the latest season of The Dragon Prince. I made muffins. We ran errands. We cleaned the house. I walked around the lake while listening to podcasts. We bought a new board game and played it. We enjoyed a delicious vegan meal at Zen Box Izakaya and reserved our spots for Vegan Night at Masu. We also began planning a Solstice / Housewarming Party for next month.

The kid took a break from me today to resume his Dungeons & Dragons campaign with his Dad. I wish my brother could have lived to see the game’s resurgence. But I did come across some of his old D&D worksheets recently. I don’t have much that belonged to him but I’m glad to have these, with his writing.

The newest podcasts in my rotation are The Happiness Lab and Cautionary Tales. Because I am fascinated by human behavior. In groups, and my own. I’ve been seeing a therapist for some time now but have also begun supplementing some changes with a couple of apps. The Calm app, for guided meditation and sleep assistance. And, more recently, Noom, to work on some behavior chains. The triggers and thoughts that have led me to bad habits like eating cookies, candy, banana bread, etc. that is freely available at work. I’m nearly a week into calorie counting. Yes, it is tedious. But has already proven to be very effective. And I hope to stick with it.

Old school Dungeons and Dragons worksheets

Appreciate the Details

Another weekend gone by far too quickly. I stayed up late Friday night, getting sucked into For All Mankind (from the creator of my beloved Battlestar Galactica). I’m a sucker for alternative histories and for space stuff so, yeah, I’m the target demo for this one. I have a few complaints but it is promising. And only available on Apple TV+. We already had too many streaming channels but now? Our household has both Disney+ and Apple TV+. It’s getting ridiculous.

Saturday I stopped by a friend’s birthday party before sneaking out to attend an amazing house show. Left there feeling blissed out, even though this evergreen tweet hits too close to home:

Dating someone in your local music scene is cool if you wanna hang out with them and 9 other people they’ve slept with once every week or two.

Sunday was getting-things-done mode. Not for me, personally, as much as the friend I paid to tackle my To Do list. He relocated my window a/c units to the basement, assembled and installed my new desk (which I am using right this very moment) and replacing my dining room light fixture. This place already felt like home but now it feels even better. After all that hard work (on his part) I took myself to see the Ford v Ferrari movie. Utterly fails The Bechdel Test, which is a bummer, but it was an engaging film.

Five Good Things:

Tomorrow night I would have been torn between two delightfully different events. King Diamond at the Palace Theater and The Allusionist podcast, live, at the Parkway. But the choice has been made for me. Neither. As I am teaching during the exact window these events are occurring. Alas and alack.

Abandoned barstool

All Thoughts Fly

My son turned 20 recently. Today we’re attending a shower to celebrate with friends who are having their first child. We are at very different stages of the journey. I’ve always felt a little out of step with my peer groups. For years I’ve been trying to accept that without judgment. It feels awfully lonely at times. But I do enjoy the freedom that comes with having an adult child, and with being single and not having to compromise. I do what I want when I want.

Five items of interest:

A few years ago I started reading Tana French’s gripping Dublin Murder Squad books. Murder mysteries are not my usual genre. I generally go big on speculative fiction, sci-fi, urban fantasy, etc. But she’s a fantastic writer. I have my reservations about this adaptation though. And it seems I’m not the only one:

Dublin Murders Makes a Murky Mess of Tana French’s Lyrical Crime Novels
Combining In the Woods and The Likeness breaks both books’ delicate spell.

Though I’ll likely give in at some point over the coming winter. We’ll see. I’ve already got the new Watchmen and His Dark Materials series to keep up with, along with Stumptown. And I haven’t gone back to Preacher or Legion for their latest seasons. I’ve had too much non-fiction living to do.

Into the woods on a wintry day

From Darkness Into Darkness

Daylight saving time always messes me up. Doesn’t matter if it’s springing ahead or falling back. My internal chronometer has trouble reconciling the new reality with the time my body thinks it is. It’s worse than jet lag. At least that involves the adventure of a journey - instead of staying in the same place while collectively agreeing on the fiction of a new time. Not the sort of time travel I find compelling. I’ve been flailing all week. And trying not to drown in the dire news cycles. But there have been some random beacons of hope in the murk.

Five glimmers of light in the gloom:

I’m closing out this weird week with some pretty big news. Something I had been cautiously optimistic about. And I’m curious how it will continue to unfold. But I can’t go public with that just yet. Though I may be squeeeeing on the inside a bit.

Olive knows she is not supposed to be on the table

That’s How the Light Gets In

October was strangely eventful and uneven. Full of change. Mostly beneficial. The cultivating of calm is going fairly well and I’ve had some lucky breaks. I’ve already been teaching on Tuesday nights, after my day job. I was scheduled to teach on Thursday nights as well, starting next week. That would have made for two 14 hour workdays per week instead of one. Thankfully, too few students enrolled in the class so it was canceled. I’m not even mad (hugely relieved). And somehow it is November already. The next two months will be the usual blur of the holiday season then boom, I’ll be vacationing in Lisbon. It is so lovely to have this Portugal trip to look forward to. Past Sharyn did me a solid there.

Five fabulous things for Friday, music edition:

In other news, my kid doesn’t have class on Fridays but he’s going down to the college today anyhow, for his first meeting with the anime club. I’m a proud nerd mom.

The adorable tabbies who won't let me make my bed
A sunflower, still hanging on
The last of the Fall leaves still hanging on

Reboarding My Train of Thought

My anxiety can make it difficult for me to focus. For years, I’ve been wearing over the ear headphones while working. And while walking, listening to podcasts on my daily treks. My weak points are stillness and mindfulness. I’m working on it. Recently, I cut off contact with someone I care about because I find him to be exhausting. If he takes steps to take care of himself I will happily revisit this relationship. Until then, I don’t want that kind of chaos in my life. It’s draining. But I will miss his companionship. Last year we came together for “cuffing season” and it was mostly comforting and comfortable (but not without its ups and downs). This season I will be partnerless. Again. But probably for the best until I get a better handle on my anxious attachment style.

I’ve also begun using the Calm app for guided meditation, at the recommendation of my therapist. I’ve been following through daily but I’m still fidgety. I can feel the difference after one of the 10-11 minute sessions but during them I find myself yawning, sometimes nearly drooling - while trying to focus on my breath - and my mind definitely wanders. A work in progress but a worthwhile one to help manage my anxiety.

Yes, I’m trying to focus but I do love my distractions. Here are five of them:

Bonus: It’s that time of year again! “5 Hours of Edgar Allan Poe Stories Read by Vincent Price & Basil Rathbone.” We love Halloween around here. I’ve posted an ode to All Hallows Eve on my photoblog and now I can’t get Werewolf Bar Mitzvah out of my head. Spooky scary.

Sunday selfie, walking around Lake Harriet

Unlawful to Pass

Lately, we’ve had plenty of good-to-great in our lives but that’s been mitigated by the downright draining. Falling into Fall. I’m working on reframing my reality so I don’t feel exhausted all of the time but it’s been an uphill battle. We took a weekend road trip recently, which was lovely, but left me feeling like I’d gotten that much more behind on all the tasks I need to manage. My To-Do list is overloaded. Trying to give myself frequent pep talks though.

Five things I have enjoyed:

  • I missed the bulk of this year’s Arab Film Fest but did make it to opening night, for Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven. It was a delight. Sparse on dialogue but overflowing with visual humor and absurd vignettes. So glad I saw it on the big screen.
  • New music from Trentemøller has been in my rotation so much it’s become the soundtrack to daily life. Soothing. But there’s been a surplus of other great new releases lately from a number of artists I enjoy. Kim Gordon. Uranium Club. Nick Cave.
  • Speaking of Nick Cave, I was lucky enough to catch his music + Q&A show at the Pantages recently. Seated shows can be a bit of a bummer for me, as a mostly unattached/single person. I’ve gone to many alone in the last year or two but it can be an isolating experience. Thankfully, I was able to have my adult step-niece join me and we had a lovely evening out. I’ve also seen Darsombra, Stereolab and William Tyler in the past couple of weeks.
  • The television adaptation of Stumptown (originally a great comic book) is easily one of the best things I’ve watched lately. So far just three episodes are out but I watched them all and was left wanting more, STAT.
  • Last weekend I took the kid to the MCBA FallCon, like you do. And he suited up in his cosplay, like he does. What was unusual? A good friend had flown in unannounced from the Bay Area and surprised me out front. It was so great to see her I nearly burst into tears.

I’ll admit, I have been overextending myself with obligations. So in my limited downtime, I need to focus on what brings me the most joy. To that end, I bailed on all plans today other than staying home in pajamas. And showering, only to change into fresh pajamas. Stress baking may have been involved as well.

Middle Eastern comfort food
single leaf
Maria and Me, cheek to cheek
Son with sunflowers
bumblebee, coming in for a landing
Fall colors
milkweed pods

Darkness Around the Edges

The last week has been death by a thousand paper cuts. So many gripes!

  • Somehow I deleted the last post I published, a few days ago, and I can’t seem to find it.
  • The return of sticky-hot summer weather increased my irritability exponentially. And yes, I do miss the central air conditioning we enjoyed in our last two homes. We no longer have this. Instead, I have an ancient window unit in my bedroom. And when I tried using it? It tripped the circuit breakers. And I haven’t sorted that out just yet.
  • I was tired all day Monday but marched myself through the workday. And dragged myself to therapy after. Only to find my therapist wasn’t there. She had forgotten to tell me she would be at a conference. Which ensured I was driving home at peak rush hour in thick stop and go traffic. Cool.
  • My auto loan lender still owes me $304.26. It took no less than six phone calls to get to the bottom of it. And it sounds like it will take a while before I get it back.
  • Woke to the sound of breaking glass at 3am. Thankfully, it wasn’t an intruder. It was a framed print falling off the kitchen wall. The adrenaline rush stayed with me for hours.
  • There’s a dead squirrel decomposing below my kitchen window but across the property line. I would like the neighbors to deal with it.
  • I purchased a ticket to see comedian Ron Funches next month. It was inexplicably refunded. The date still appears on his tour calendar but his page has been removed from the comedy festival’s site.
  • My Fitbit died but I’d left the proprietary charger at work. I took a long walk around the lake but for a minute I was thinking “but it won’t count! All those lost steps!” Ludicrous, of course, but proof that gamification works.
Looking for ways to turn this funk around.
Cat, about to jump into a windowsill