Mid-week check-in

Clever Manka, · Categories: Check-In

This is the weekly post for those of us who are traversing together this hellscape called Personal Growth. Brag about this week’s accomplishments, ask for support, talk about what worked, what didn’t. Tell us how things are going for you.

200 Responses to “Mid-week check-in”

  1. CleverManka says:

    1. Thank you Rillquiet for posting the correct link to yesterday's collection. I didn't get that posted until Monday night, was bumping up against my no-screens-after-eight rule, and forgot to check the link worked. Ughhhhhh

    2. I haven't yet had time to look through all the comments from Friday's OT or Rillquiet's Monday post but basically yes, please, a blanket acceptance for anything and everything you'd like to send my way for Monday posts until Amy is back from hiatus. Bless you all.

    3. I talked to the ADA lawyer yesterday and have information about my options. I'll put that in a reply. I'll also put my recent attempts at food re-introductions and additional data on my swelling issues.

    4. I see Dr. Sexy tomorrow morning to see what he feels we can/should propose for any further accommodations.

    5. Work is currently overwhelming and I don't know how I'm going to get everything done in my four hours a day right now. I know for sure I'm going to fail to complete both my "goals" for this year's evaluation which has never happened in the 17 years I've been in this job and even though I know these evaluations are ultimately meaningless (we never get raises anyway) it still sucks.

    • CleverManka says:

      My options for (potential) further accommodations mostly rely on what my department is willing to approve. I think Dr. Sexy trusts me to know my body and my body's limits and he'll recommend what I suggest (unless, I guess, he thinks I'm putting too high of expectations on progress). What I'm hoping to propose is a continued four-hour workday in the office and then two hours a day work from home. That would allow me to go home, sleep as long as I need to, and then work on the things (like those two goals I'm going to fail) when I don't have to answer my phone or respond to people popping in my office for assistance.

      I have no idea if the department will approve that or not. I would like to say they would, but I have no idea. We have a new chair starting in January and although I get along fine with her personally I can't predict her response to this. If the department doesn't approve it (which they're legally allowed to do since my six months of allowed "reasonable accommodations" will expire sometime in January), I can:

      1. Sacrifice my long-term health to stay in this job and return to work full-time until it wears me completely down and I eventually have to resign.

      2. Apply for any part-time job at the university for which I'm qualified and if the ADA office agrees that I'm qualified, the office has to accept me for the position, even without intervewing.

      3. Just quit everything outright and be jobless for…a while.

      Number 2 is the least appealing. I would hate to move to an office where I'd feel like they were forced to have me and also I'm not sure how moving to a part-time position would change my retirement status. I'm going to call HR about that soon.

      Number 3 is fucking terrifying but thank dogs I have a good, loving, supportive, and reliable life partner. I honestly don't know how I could manage (could have managed this far) without his emotional and financial support. So even though he drives me up the fucking wall sometimes, I'm incredibly grateful he's here for me. Thanks, Burgomaster!

      Okay, so less stressful stuff. I attempted to introduce nightshades yesterday in the form of tomato soup (which I made off the top of my head from scratch! I felt very accomplished). Aaaaand my stomach felt a little weird after? But mostly it was the "wow, I swelled up two inches after eating that" that made me think that was a failure. But then I realized I haven't been measuring myself after every meal. Maybe my stomach always swells and then goes back down before I measure before bed?

      Sure enough, my waist was down to 35" by the time I went to bed (from 33" on waking and 37" immediately after eating). So now I'm going to start measuring my waist after every meal I eat at home (what a PITA but necessary I guess). If it turns out I'm swelling that much after every meal (even ones where I'm not trying a new food) then I'm going to try introducing egg yolk again because god damn I want some fucking mayonnaise already.

      I think that's it? I hope so. That's a lot of stuff.

      • jenavira says:

        Ooof, that is a lot. Hopefully the department will approve work-from-home (is there any way you can make it clear to them that it's probably work-from-home or quit? Please do not ruin yourself trying to work full-time, I know the alternatives are scary but it is Not Worth It). Sending all the good vibes at your new chair, that she might be reasonable and accommodating and understanding.

        I hope you can have more food again soon! That does sound promising.

        • CleverManka says:

          Yeah, I'm going to work with the ADA lawyer so she can make that clear in her meeting with them (she's the one who proposes things–I'm not supposed to even broach the subject).

          I should have clarified that Number 2 is the least appealing because Number 1 is Right Out. =D

          • jenavira says:

            I should have clarified that Number 2 is the least appealing because Number 1 is Right Out.

            Oh, good. 😀

            I didn't really know that ADA lawyers were a thing, but I'm glad they are, because this whole thing is Fraught and it's nice to have someone semi-objective to do the negotiating.

          • CleverManka says:

            Well, the KU ADA office only started last year (or maybe the year before) and this woman is basically the one who started it so not everyplace has one but wow I'm grateful that we do.

          • Fancy_Pants says:

            I should have clarified that Number 2 is the least appealing because Number 1 is Right Out.

            YES GOOD, correct.

            I'm sure you've already thought of everything, but is it possible to take an extended leave of absence for like a year and be able to come back to your job afterwards? Like a maternity leave but without the baby? Is that a thing? If it's possible it might make the jobless situation a bit less scary.

            Also, thanks, Burgomaster! Supportive partners make a whole world of difference.

          • CleverManka says:

            It's really not. One, it's a state position and the position can't go unfilled for more than the length of a normal FMLA/maternity leave. The department would basically lose the budget line and never get the position back. =/

      • Lynn says:

        Oof. If you do have to go to number 3 option, I wonder if it would be possible to find a non-profit that needs some part time remote assistance. It might take some time to find the right place, but I feel like the right nonprofit can be more flexible about these kinds of situations — especially if it means they can hire a contract or part-time person who can do stuff that doesn't quite add up to a full-time employee.

        I am a huge advocate for how transferable academic admin skills are to nonprofits (especially at orgs that fund and/or work with a lot of academic institutions and professors), as that's the path I took. I hope it doesn't come to that, but it could potentially be an option.

      • Xolandra says:

        Holy snakes, you are going through some STUFF. I hope that your employers are willing to accommodate you ♥

      • Doc_Paradise says:

        I'll throw in my personal two-cents… EVERYTHING (including his health) improved when Dr. TBD quit his toxic job. It often isn't clear how much stress and how much the stress is affecting until after it is gone.

        • CleverManka says:

          I have thought about that a lot, but other than occasional irritating stuff (which happens in pretty much any job) I really like what I do here. I think the work I do is important and I'm good at it. It's definitely not a toxic environment (anymore, anyway, now that the previous chair is no longer in office).

          That's not to say I wouldn't heal faster if I wasn't working, though. I know that's definitely true.

      • Kazoogrrl says:

        The job options, ugh! I have a friend who is a self employed costumer (for burlesque costumes and wrestling gear) who is currently dealing with debilitating health issues. It's so fucking frustrating that people have to chose work or health.

        I'm glad you have a supportive partner, though I understand occasional frustration. <3

      • redheadfae says:

        Oh, the hits just keep on a-coming, don't they?
        I think that's awesome that you totally made your own tomato soup!
        Go you!
        Work and disability… those choices that aren't really choices do suck.
        I'm so glad you have someone to broach all this for you. I hope that takes some of the anxiety out of it. A little.

        I have also reached the "everything swells, everything hurts, so fuck it, I'm going to eat something I want." I think I've now had two weekends of "margaritas and tacos." Surprisingly, tequila isn't messing with my gut.

        • CleverManka says:

          The soup didn't come out quite as smooth as I'd have liked. Next time I'll start sauteeing the celery before the onions instead of at the same time so they're soft before the onions start to caramelize. Also, half a can of tomato paste would've helped the depth of flavor a lot.

          Sorry you're at a fuck-it stage. That's frustrating.

      • Heathered says:

        Ai yi yi, Manka, that is too many things. But I thank you for giving me the opportunity to write something I never thought I would: I send you heartfelt affirmations for mayonnaise in the near future. <3

        • CleverManka says:

          FUCK YEAH MAYONNAISE. Seriously, I eat it (well, used to eat it) on, like, everything. Greens a little bland? MAYO. Need an emulsifier for that vinaigrette? MAYO. Fried potatoes too dry? MAYO. Need something to sub for sour cream? MAYO. I make my own, so it's super cheap, and extra delicious.

          Anyway. Mayonnaise, yes. Thank you for the affirmation.

          • littleinfinity says:

            Just jumping in here to say that my family nickname is Mayo because of how my little sibs pronounced my real name as toddlers… so I approve this message 😀 #MAYO

      • littleinfinity says:

        That is a LOT of stuff. Yikes. I'm glad you have the Burgomaster to support you in all the ways he can, but I truly wish you didn't have to make this stupid, sucky choice between work and health. Sometimes I enter "solution mode" and so as I sit here I am thinking to myself "maybe x? maybe y?". But none of them are useful or previously unheard-of ideas, so instead of doing that, I will just say HUGS, and of course please let me/ us know if there is anything we can do to help you!!

        • CleverManka says:

          Thank you for the hugs! And yeah, I wish I didn't have to deal with this, either. It actually would be easier if I hated my job, you know? Like, hey, looks like that decision is made for me! But who knows, maybe I won't have to decide anything. Maybe the department will be like "anything we can do to keep you, Manka!" but I'm not banking on that.

    • Doc_Paradise says:

      Would having someone else host open threads a few times a month be helpful for you?

      You could still post, but the responsibility of making sure everyone has a timely and welcoming response to their posts on a certain day would be lifted from your shoulders.

  2. burningupasun says:

    I just wanted to thank all of you for your well wishes last post. I really, truly appreciate it. I'm looking forward to getting my surgery and recovery over with, so I can begin posting again.

    Just in case anyone wanted medical updates, the more specific diagnosis is that I have a very large (VERY large, as in, 3rd trimester) cyst on my right ovary. On 12/19 I will have surgery and they will cut down my belly and remove the cyst along with one ovary. They will then check the other ovary, which will hopefully be fine and not need to be removed. (Because if it does need to be removed, that is a whole other can of worms.) Then I stay in the hospital for a few days and then I have weeks of recovery.

    Right now I'm basically waiting on the pre-op appt on 12/13. I was supposed to have an endometrial biopsy this past Monday, but it was so painful that they had to stop and they're going to do it before surgery now. (They don't think I have cancer, but they keep wanting to do different tests and this is one of them.)

    That's it, pretty much. I'm in less pain, but I'm uncomfortable a lot because of the size of it. I can't eat half as much as I used to, and I've lost a good chunk of weight as a result. It's fun times, basically. I'm a nice mix of terrified and really eager to get it done with.

    • CleverManka says:

      Oh my gosh, honey, they're going through your abdomen? There's no way to do this laparoscopically? Yikes yikes yikes you poor thing. I hope you have a local support team who can help you through this.

      Hey, so something not many people talk about post abdominal surgery stuff is you're gonna be constipated like whoa in the days following and with the incisions it's gonna be painful to, well, push too much, so as soon as you can start getting some good fiber in your diet. You might not feeling like eating much, especially fiber, so get a bag of prunes (dried plums) and eat the max number it says on the label (I think it's five?) a day.

      • burningupasun says:

        I think it's just too big. The original plan was tiny cuts to drain it and then remove it, but the new surgeon (gyno oncologist, not cancer, he just has more experience) wants to just go through my abdomen and remove it and the ovary. My parents and sister have been going to all my appointments tho, and will be helping me out after so there is that.

        Good to know! I think someone else mentioned that, too. I will keep it in mind.

        • Xolandra says:

          I had my left ovary and a 10cm cyst removed just last October (2016). It was equal measures of terrifying and hopeful, like you say. I can confirm that you will heal (my procedure was laproscopic, tho, which is way less invasive) and you will feel MUCH better after the fact.

          Ditto the prunes, and also maybe make yourself some bran muffins for the freezer before hand. You're not going to want to be doing any baking for a minute (I was _astonished_ at how much abdominal strength is required for cooking). If you get opioids for pain, demand stool softeners. My da had brain surgery and they gave him opioids but not stool softeners and he re-opened his surgery site trying to poop. If you need to freak out at someone about this, I AM HERE. reneegibbins (at) gmail (dot) com.

          Note: Surgery is emotionally _exhausting_. For me, it took a full month post return to work for me to not feel like I wanted to light everything on fire. Tell anyone you don't want around you to go away; I did not, and I still harbour resentment.

          O yes, and if you haven't had surgery before, the OR will look eerily like the set of the Monty Python hospital sketch in the Meaning of Life, but it'll be ok.

          Fell better!

    • Rillquiet says:

      <img src="https://i.imgur.com/xJ3s4Js.gif"&gt; All good comforting wishes for your recovery.

    • jenavira says:

      YIKES. I'm glad you're in less pain, and that you've got a treatment plan well on the way. (Seconding Manka's recommendation for good fiber. I didn't have abdominal surgery but even being laid up in bed for two weeks from foot surgery the constipation was…honestly one of the most unpleasant parts of the whole ordeal.)

    • Fancy_Pants says:

      Well that sounds just awful. Best wishes for your surgery and recovery!

      Let us know if you want us to, for instance, compile a list of fic/book/Netflix recs for the recovery weeks.

    • Kazoogrrl says:

      Whoa, that is a lot. Best recovery wishes!

    • Lynn says:

      Oh man. This is almost exactly what happened to me this summer (although my big cyst was actually in my uterus pressing directly onto my stomach and intestine). But I had to have the "hey what if both of your ovaries need to come out" discussion too and it was weird and unsettling, even though I have always been ambivalent about having children (they took one but the other one was salvagable).

      I was so weak and the cyst had been impinging on my stomach so thoroughly that as soon as they removed my cyst I developed a voracious appetite and started recovering very quickly once I was actually able to eat enough food.
      (They initially thought I'd be in the hospital for several days but I only stayed one night). The first week was a little rough for the reasons Manka mentions, but I was so happy to be able to eat and not feel completely exhausted from standing on my feet for five minutes that it was worth it.

      I will say that now, several months out, I'm still not fully back to pre-cyst strength and stamina, largely because I got so out of shape and then took it easy on my ab muscles for awhile — I just started being able to get through some of my old workouts without feeling exhausted afterwards and maybe about a month ago started being able to walk several miles in a day (which was pretty normal for me at least a couple days a week before). But it is way better than immediately pre-surgery.

      As a bonus my periods have also become much much easier (basically less of every symptom that makes them unpleasant, including PMS).

    • Absotively says:

      That sounds like a lot. I'm glad to hear they're at least acting quickly. May your surgery go smoothly and your recovery be speedy.

    • meat_lord says:

      Yeesh, that does not sound like fun. All my best wishes to get that thing the heck out, and for your recovery!

    • Doc_Paradise says:

      May this surgery work out stunningly well for you and may you heal quickly.

    • redheadfae says:

      Wow. that's a lot to take out.
      I highly recommend getting a bellyband or support, and a small pillow you can press against the incision for any coughing or moving. Seriously, it made a huge difference for me and supported my back as well. I got an adjustable one like this set,* which seemed like overkill, but for the price, the "pelvis band" was the one I used and set the rest aside for later. The recovery is much harder than we expect.
      I empathize with the endometrial biopsy. I know she said it would hurt, but JFC, I've never had anything like that, and I was all inflamed inside as well.
      I totally understand rescheduling that.

      * https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LWKSUJM/ref=

    • mowinda says:

      (I don't know if this is very obvious advice so apologies if it is!) I'm a social worker in healthcare and if you are feeling like you need help after discharge in terms of physical therapy (home or outpatient) or a visiting nurse most insurances cover that! As far as I know most hospitals have some kind of discharge planning assistance (nurse/social work/case manager) but sometimes they don't see you unless you ask and sometimes MDs don't know or think you need it for some reason. It's a lot easier to get set up for when you're discharged while you're still in the hospital rather than get it through an outpatient appointment later. Just an FYI, feel free to ignore if it doesn't apply

    • Heathered says:

      Wow, that is a lot to contend with. I'm glad you have an action plan in place and I hope all goes smoothly & you come out on the other side feeling better. Why must bodies behave so weirdly?

    • faintlymacabre says:

      Chiming in as yet another unilateral oophorectomy haver! I really really underestimated how much recovery time I would need- although my incision was only about two inches, getting strength to walk again took a bit. Also, it may just be me, but pain killers messed me up. Yes to the constipation, but also percocet made me puke (super fun after surgery) (and my mom had to move heaven and earth to get me different painkillers, which while I can appreciate in light of opioid crises, but was not appreciative at the time) and I was in a brain fog for a lot of the time on the other painkillers. Having an advocate was so so so helpful. Someone who knew what I was supposed to be doing and when while I was freaked out before surgery and messed up afterwards… That's my main advice, really. Also, this makes me want to thank my mother, because man, did I need her then!

      • faintlymacabre says:

        Oh, and coloring books! My sister bought me crayons and coloring books, which was about the highest mental exercise I could handle for awhile.

    • littleinfinity says:

      So sorry to hear about your ginormous cyst :/ I will be thinking good thoughts for you, I really hope it goes as smoothly and painlessly as possible!!

    • RoseCamelia says:

      I'm sorry this is happening to you. ::Mankanaut hugs::

      Manka is correct about prunes.

      Also coffee! Coffee mitigates constipation.

      I was able to have (black) coffee with my first breakfast post hysterectomy (big ol' vertical incision, navel to pubis). But I had to ask and ask and ask. The hospital allowed cream in my coffee on Day 2, I think. And Mr Rose had permission to bring me extra coffee on Day 3.

      So if you aren't a coffee person, experiment now to find a way to enjoy it. Least off-putting might be iced with enough cream and sugar to resemble melted ice cream.

    • Lee Thomson says:

      That sounds like such a LOT of things all at once – I hope you get settled and the surgery itself goes well. There is a lot of solid advice here, and we are rooting hard for you.

  3. jenavira says:

    I wrote this in my Tarot journal last night and it is still true and still bugging me: the most unfair thing I have yet come across in the universe is that it doesn't matter how smart you are or how much you know about things, you still have to do the actual work. Like. I know how to create willpower and mindfulness and resilience! I know what to do to make that happen! But I still have to do it. Which sucks.

    I went to the dentist on Monday for the final filling and the permanent installation of my last crown, at fucking last. It hurt and it sucked and the anesthetic (which is apparently not Novocaine any more) didn't wear off for four hours so I was hungry and cranky all afternoon, but it's over now. At least the only good habit I built up last year that's still sticking is flossing, so hopefully I won't have to do anything like that again for a while.

    • CleverManka says:

      Yay, flossing! My mom is a big-time flosser (like, usually a couple times a day flosser) and I picked up the habit from her in childhood. THANKS, MOM! It really is a good and simple thing that has a huge impact on overall health, not just oral health.

      • jenavira says:

        Yet another thing that's disgustingly unfair how important and yet how annoying it is to do.

        (My mom told me over and over again the reason they were making me get braces – I did not want them – was so that my teeth wouldn't get as many cavities as hers did, and apparently I internalized that as "teeth are relatively straight, don't need to floss." When actually the braces just jammed everything real tight together, making it even more important to floss. Le sigh.)

        • CleverManka says:

          My dental hygienist gave me a special tool for flossing when I had braces but it was still an enormous PITA. Also, wtf, Mom, not only is that some weird reasoning but it's just plain wrong

    • Fancy_Pants says:

      it doesn't matter how smart you are or how much you know about things, you still have to do the actual work

      Thank you for putting this into words for me. Planning and dreaming is fun, but practice is just…work. It's also everything.

      I've been becoming more aware of this in the context of my own limitations. Like, I want to do everything! I want to have a million interesting skills and hobbies and know how everything in the world works. But practice is the limiting factor. I have to narrow the whole wide world down into like 3 or 4 things that I can actually do the work for.

      • jenavira says:

        Oh do I know that feel. (I'm starting to wonder if it isn't an ADHD thing? Like, my job is not intellectually stimulating enough, so I spend a lot of time fantasizing about and planning projects that I do not actually have the skill to complete, because I don't have the time to practice, and then I get frustrated and overwhelmed? I'm hoping it is, because there might be a solution then.)

        • Fancy_Pants says:

          Maybe! Planning and daydreaming is certainly *rewarding* in a quick hit of dopamine sort of way.

          For me, I think it's the combination of:
          (1) I'm afraid to commit a lot of time and energy into one thing that might not work out, especially when it might mean missing out on something cooler and better, and
          (2) I honestly really need a creative partner to keep me focused and engaged, and I haven't found the right person yet (which is one of the great tiny tragedies of my life)

          • jenavira says:

            Fear Of Missing Out is a big one for me, too. Fighting it is…well, let's just say that believing in reincarnation helps. 😀

            Best of luck with your search! I am sure you will meet the right person when the time is right.

          • Doc_Paradise says:

            What would your ideal creative partner be like? What skills would they have?

          • Fancy_Pants says:

            That's a great question. Honestly, at this stage of my life, just someone willing to commit enough time and energy to a project, and with enough confidence to keep thinking it's a good idea when things start getting into the weeds. I suppose there's also a host of intangible chemistry/artistic sensibility-type things that either click or don't.

            Specifically, I would love to work with someone with a knack for storytelling or humour. I do not have a natural aptitude for it, and have never really worked on it, and it seems like utter wizardry to me that people can do it.

            In general though, it doesn't take much! It's just such an enormous relief to hand something off to someone else with fresh eyes/ears.

          • Heathered says:

            What kind of projects do you envision a partnership like this working on? (Not suggesting myself, but I suffer the same problem re: solitary work, and realize I haven't spent any time at all specifying what I'm looking for. Someone is going to beat me up with a copy of The Secret and I will actually deserve it.)

          • Fancy_Pants says:

            Hmmm…I do need to get better at figuring out what I specifically want. I'm going to think about this and come back to it in the next Wednesday OT. Maybe I'll see you there?

          • Heathered says:

            YES! Specifics tag team, it's a date. This is the stuff that keeps me up at night and then too sleepy to cultivate a life by day.

        • Lee Thomson says:

          You've read the Ira Glass quote about doing creative work? https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/113989.Ir

          It means you have good taste, and need practice, nothing more.

          • jenavira says:

            Hah, but you have to understand, I'm like this with everything. Writing, drawing, painting, knitting, weaving, crochet, sewing, cooking, and those are just the ones I've actually tried. At some point the 24-hours-a-day-7-days-a-week-one-lifetime-per-person limit becomes the problem.

          • Lee Thomson says:

            I take it back – you are like my friend Red Kate who loves ALL THE MAKING and, like you, would use several lifetimes perfecting ALL of them!

    • jenavira says:

      Also: In an effort to eat better, I've just priced out CSA shares for 2018, and it turns out I can get 12 weeks of vegetables and eggs plus ~50lbs of meat delivered to my home for less than $800. Like. That is an outrageously good deal, especially for organic vegetables and pastured chickens and grass-fed beef. And I love having the financial stability that means I can afford to put down money up front for groceries.

    • Heathered says:

      High fives for crossing the dental finish line! I got a cleaning in a week when a bunch of us here did, and the site of my first root canal is all inflamed and weird now. I mostly look normal but I feel like Popeye. Re: your theory on doing the work, it also *really* chafes that using willpower depletes it rather than strengthening it. What kind of stupid-ass muscle tone is that? That whole system needs to be turned on its ear.

      • Lee Thomson says:

        I think some of the research on will power was undermined by later studies but I can't actually find it. I (personally) think it is like a muscle – it can be improved with practice, and in a day it can also be depleted. Does that make sense?

        • Heathered says:

          It does make sense, but my experience this month (developing a really horrible compulsion as a side effect of meds, then having to shut it down with no resources or support in order to be able to leave the house for appointments two days in a row, THEN feeling like I've been murdered ever since) made me think of the idea that sometimes when you use it you also lose it. I could always retrain, but geez.

          • jenavira says:

            I've come around recently to the idea that willpower doesn't exist, or rather, that it's exclusively an in-the-moment kind of deal. (Like when you keep running even though you're exhausted, or you concentrate really hard for an hour.) The rest of the time it's all systems and habits.

            Which is to say, *solidarity fistbump* and I hope you're getting some support (and hopefully different meds) now.

  4. Fancy_Pants says:

    Hi all, some of you expressed interest last Wednesday in contributing to a travel series for Monday content posts. Because I would be garbage at writing in personal essay format, and also because I don't think that travel always culminates in a Big Life Realization moment (god, so many personal essays about travel irritate me), I'd like to have a list of "small moment" questions for people who have traveled recently to answer.

    I'm going to post some sample questions in a reply here–please add in your ideas! I'll compile them into a document and figure out the best way to share it with everyone. Then if you've gone on a trip (big adventure, small road trip, weekend getaway, any trip at all), you can answer whichever ones you want and send them to Manka and we can all live vicariously through each others adventures.

    • Fancy_Pants says:

      Start by giving us a brief summary of your trip: where did you go, for how long, with whom, what was the main focus/activity? Then tell us some glorious details by answering some of these questions:

      (1) Most satisfying food you ate
      (2) An interesting view through a (car, bus, plane, train) window while in transit
      (3) A lovely micro-interaction with a stranger
      (4) A fascinating conversation you had
      (5) Best cranky/hangry/overwhelmed meltdown moment
      (6) A planning or logistics problem that you handled well and are proud of
      (7) A new life/travel hack that you learned
      (8) An animal friend that you made and/or adored from afar
      (9) The earliest morning and/or latest night that you endured
      (10) Best shower that you had/or nicest bathroom you used
      (11) Most disappointing food you had
      (12) Wildest luxury you indulged in (not necessarily the most fancy or expensive thing you spent money on, just what felt the most out of character for you)
      (13) A book, podcast, music (etc) that you engaged with while you were traveling and will likely be forever linked in your memory with this trip
      (14) A beautiful space you saw that you desperately covet and want to attach to your house/apartment
      (15) Everyday thing at home that felt like an enormous luxury once you returned

      • Rillquiet says:

        These are great! They make a lovely frame for revisiting memories of past trips.
        Other suggestions:
        What advice would you give someone considering doing the same trip?
        What would you do differently if you went again? Or would you go again?
        What thing you packed was the most useful, and which was the least?
        What was your biggest worry about the trip?
        What was the most challenging thing about the experience? What was the easiest?

        • Fancy_Pants says:

          These are great, especially the packing one! I'm such a weird nerd for travel packing, like I literally daydream about optimizing my travel gear even when I'm not planning a trip.

      • Xolandra says:

        These are GREAT. I have nothing to add but I am excited to read all of these and maybe contribute one of my own!

      • Kazoogrrl says:

        As someone planning a trip, maybe: how/why did you decide on this trip; was it a challenge mentally/logistically/financially, and if so how did you deal with these (learn a new skill, work around a fear, etc.).

        Did you travel with someone or alone? If with someone, how did that go, and did you make sure to take some time alone?

        • littleinfinity says:

          I second the planning questions! How did you decide on location and activities, how did you budget, what were the surprising challenges of getting to X location (visas? limited flights? etc).

      • redheadfae says:

        Oh those are good, yes, I'll participate at this later today!

      • RoseCamelia says:

        What important item did you forget to pack and how did you cope?

  5. Absotively says:

    I still feel more alert and energetic than before I switched iron supplements, and I'm still not entirely sure that that isn't all in my head, given that I thought the previous supplements were helping. I did feel a bit out of breath after going up the stairs this morning, but not as much as I would have before, and I was carrying laundry. I have been cold at night, which has cut into my sleep because I tend to lie there for an hour being all, "I'm sure I'll warm up in a minute, I don't want to get out of my at least slightly warm bed to turn up the heat/put on warmer pyjamas/find another blanket." But I'm fine once I give up and actually do those things, and my apartment is badly insulated, so I'm not sure this is any worse than the standard winter night coldness. Even with lousy sleep, I do think my ability to focus has been a bit better.

    On the topic of Monday posts, about the only thing I can think of to write about is Netrunner. Would people be interested in contributing to a series of posts about hobbies and such, sort of in parallel to Fancy_Pants' travel series? I wouldn't mind reading more about sailing, and horses, and goats, and karate, and all the other things people post about here.

    • Doc_Paradise says:

      It would be really cool to see photos of people's artistic endeavours (or goats).

    • Xolandra says:

      YES! I could contribute a personal essay on the subject of All The Things People Used to Torment Me About Are Now Somehow "Cool" because that's been weird.

    • Rillquiet says:

      If you haven't tried a hot water bottle, heating pad, or (my personal solution) an electric mattress pad with a "preheat" setting, then does the world have joy in store for you! Getting into a toasty bed that's warmed by maaaagic is just the bomb.

      • Absotively says:

        I do have a hot water bottle. I thought about getting it out, but grabbing another blanket required less time in the cold air. I should try remembering it in advance. If this does continue, an electric mattress pad is definitely on my list. I had an electric blanket for a while once, and it was very nice but (a) I didn't like having to worry about bunching it up and (b) this was long enough ago that you could feel the wires in it. Heated mattress pads sound like a much better solution to the same problem.

        But I think the blanket I dug out last night is going to be a big help, so hopefully I will sleep better tonight with it and won't have to figure out next steps.

        • redheadfae says:

          I don't have a hot water bottle, but I bought a big "corn bag" from someone last year and immediately bought three more for friends.
          It's just a sewn up bag of dried corn and I heat it in the micro for about 3 min and then toss it at the end of my bed. I've found if at least my feet are cozy, I can relax, and then sometimes I pull it up and cuddle with it.

        • Lee Thomson says:

          heated mattress pads have been MAAAGIC for the cold people in my house! BUT!! We had to install one just on Mr. Crow's side of the bed because otherwise I end up hot and sweaty and miserable and with hair-raising nightmares.

          • Absotively says:

            I'm pretty sure my grandma has one with separate controls for each side. It might be worth seeing if the separately heated halves of that are narrower than the one he currently has, if you ever find that too much of the bed is heated. But it's probably more money for something you'd literally only use half of.

    • Fancy_Pants says:

      YES PLEEAAAASE! I would LOVE to read about everyone's hobbies. I'm not sure if I'd have anything to contribute, but maybe reading a few posts will spark something for me.

      Also seconding Rillquiet on the hot water bottle solution. It's cheap and low-tech and works so, so well.

    • CleverManka says:

      I would love to hear about other people's hobbies, yes!

      Hope you find a way to stay warm. I highly recommend the technique of turning on an electric blanket about fifteen minutes before bed and then turning it off when I climb in. That way the bed is toasty at first but I don't have to worry about overheating while I'm sleeping.

      ETA: Ah, I see other people have already suggested this magical solution. =D

    • redheadfae says:

      I'd love getting to know interests of anyone else here. I like those bits.

    • Heathered says:

      Would be super excited to read these pieces, and maybe but I'm not sure able to contribute one myself; I'm in a fight with my whole life at the moment so all my hobbies are enemies, but hopefully that will change.

    • Lee Thomson says:

      I would love to see pictures of people's current projects – children, goats, art, music videos, and especially the produciton that Raven was working on because I am still consumed with curiousity.

  6. Xolandra says:

    O HAI Y'ALL. You may have noticed that I haven't been about much, of late. This is in part because Scorpio Season has been rough (but also AMAZING) on me; there was a minor flood in my house, and now I am having the electrical done! Like, all of it ripped out and replaced. GentlemanX is in the bush, and my social calendar is legit untenable these days. But I am in a relatively good mood, and am working on a photo series for my Instagram: who is cuter – me or Lune? (I am 110% aware that Lune is way cuter than me, is just an excuse to post pics of us being weirdos).

    O, right, and I have a preposterous story to share in a comment because long.

    • Xolandra says:

      Since GentlemanX is in the bush rn, I send the occasionally racy selfie. Usually right before bed or directly out of the shower, because I am lazy, hahaha. ANYWAY, the other morning, I matched my bra to my tights (green) and I sent the snap to GentlemanX with the text "if you were here you'd be making me coffee rn", chat with him for a bit, then head off to work. So when I got a message from my good friend who lives in Berlin that read "Looking Great, Xolandra, what's the occassion"? I was like ?????? but also at work and not able to deal at that exact moment. So eventually I open my whatsapp and to my HORROR discover that I have sent said racy photo not only to GentlemanX, but to a group chat started by said Berlin friend to invite myself and 4 other uni friends to Berlin to celebrate his wedding (he got partnered up ages ago, but Germany just made gay marriage legal, so MOAR PARTIES).

      Full disclosure: three of the four humans have, in the past, performed Best Friend function in my life. So although a lil embarrassed, I was not, like, dying, nor was I particularly concerned that this group of humans had a racy photo of me. But then? The Berlin based friend? Texted us a pic of himself in the bathtub with "well if we're sending racy photos"… and then another member of the chat sent a steamy bathroom pic of his torso with "all these steamy things are heating things up at casa [last name]"! and suddenly I felt _so much better_ about life.

      My. Friends. Are. Amazing. My 20 year old self chose wisely, it seems.

    • RoseCamelia says:

      I noticed. You were missed.

  7. Doc_Paradise says:

    Would anybody like to volunteer to host one open thread post a month?

    This would involve being available to check in on a regular basis during the allotted day and make sure that everyone who comments gets a welcoming and timely response to their comments. This is a community building endeavour.

    This would give Manka a rest from the responsibility of hosting, while still allowing her to comment as she wishes.

    I'm volunteering for the last Friday of each month. It would be useful to have more than one host for any particular day.

    • jenavira says:

      Put me down for December – I don't know that I can do it every month, but I can give it a try (and that's going to be a slow day for me anyway).

    • Fancy_Pants says:

      I'd be happy to help host, BUT I am not good with knowing my schedule/energy levels more than a couple days in advance, so I don't think I should commit to anything.

      I might be able to do some last-minute fill-ins, like if you ask on a Wednesday for a co-host for that Friday. I don't know if that's helpful or not though!

    • Heathered says:

      I may be able to tag in on a floaty basis, but am not 100% confident in my ability to do the thing correctly, so someone may need to take a valium and offer a low tech grandma-level instructional first.

      • Doc_Paradise says:

        Here's what I did:

        1) Made sure I checked in at least every half hour during the high posting times and every hour during medium posting times and once in a while in low posting times.

        2) Wrote a comment on each post that neither myself nor my co-host had commented on. Comments were:

        a) Something emotionally supportive,
        b) A question about the topic in the post, or
        c) A comment that directly related to something they said.

        • Heathered says:

          Oh! Somehow I thought you had to get inside IntenseDebate like Tron and ride a motorcycle around. These are things I can do! I am sometimes erranding on Friday mornings PST but you can definitely ask if you need me if I can show up slightly late. (I made my parents take me to see OG Tron even though I can't sci fi my way out of a wet paper bag–there was a Journey song on the soundtrack, and then it was barely in the movie at all. I still want my ticket money refunded.)

    • RoseCamelia says:

      I can help. rose camelia toast at g mail dot com

    • Lee Thomson says:

      I can help – and you know how to find me!

  8. Xolandra says:

    O yes also music. Am tryna decide if I want to go to this show Saturday night: https://coldspecks.bandcamp.com/

  9. Kazoogrrl says:

    I haven't had to implement by strike yet because we have so much food leftover from Thanksgiving that we're still plugging away on leftovers, cheese and crackers, and a sausage and apple pie I made Sunday (note: make more apple/onions, cut cheese topping in half as it is rich). I applied for another job last night, and I need to work on my Linkedin profile and upload my resume. I'm also thinking of spending some money to work with a career counselor, a number of women I know recommended the same person. At work I'm trying to keep on-track and not screw around so much, but it is SO HARD.

    Between people talking about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, I'm feeling overwhelmed by the holidays even though I didn't do any of those things. I had $100 for Giving Tuesday that I split between 4 organizations. I think I need to sit and figure out what I really want to do this year, I've thought about hosting a Yule get together: seasonal foods, mulled wine, a fire, very low key. We'll see.

    Two things that may make people feel better:

    Garrison Keillor was canned (I am NOT a fan)

    Louis vs. Rick: THE STORY OF A MAN WHO TAUGHT HIS CAT TO USE INSTANT MESSAGING., we quote this at each other all the time.

  10. Rillquiet says:

    Flesh prison content: I've picked C25K back up and am trying to get back into running. But since I'm also trying to continue a lifting program, ride twice a week, and dance at least twice a week, I'm starting to max out on free time. Spending Sunday mornings on meal prep and cleaning would help, but honestly I sit around in my PJs and drink coffee while idling about the internet. Giving up on exercise feels like admitting failure, though. Learning moderation is a work in progress.

    I successfully observed Buy Nothing Day and am trying not to go berserk on holiday gifts this year. But I did succumb to Anthropologie's Monday sale and bought a dress that may do for New Year's.

    • CleverManka says:

      Learning moderation is tough, but please take it from me, rest is important and crucial for strength increase and muscle growth, even for healthy people! Lifting, riding, and dancing is puh-lenty, both physically and psychologically. Allow yourself your Sunday morning down time and revel in it.

      That dress is right out of a 60s SF movie/illustration and I love it.

      • Rillquiet says:

        Grumble grumble, 24 hours in a day is not enough.

        Part of my issue is that Sisquiet does yoga and Crossfit, Momquiet is working with a boxing trainer six days a week, and one friend is chewing through 50Ks and marathons multiple times per season. It is difficult not to look at the relatively easy cardio involved in dance and riding and think that more should be possible.

        If the dress works out, the next question is shoes. I'll probably play it safe with some Latin heels, but oh, temptation.

    • Kazoogrrl says:

      That dress reminds me of Mandy' New Years silver mod one from Velvet Goldmine. And looking that up led me to this delicious photo.

    • jenavira says:

      …I don't think you're in any risk of giving up on exercise, tbh.

      • Rillquiet says:

        Rational thought: No, you're entirely correct.

        Noisy brain raccoons: BUT WHAT IF THO.

        • RoseCamelia says:

          Authoritative Daycare Director Voice: Hush now, raccoons. Here, take this pile of Swedish Fish and wash each one in the river. One at a time. Wash thoroughly.

          Conversational Peer Voice: There. Your noisy raccoons are gone now.

  11. CleverManka says:

    Oh, her voice is lovely! Thank you for the link.

  12. Absotively says:

    Ok, let's have a Monday hobby/art/sport/animal husbandry post planning thread. I think Fancy_Pants' approach of having a list of questions people can build a post around if they want is a good one. Here is a Google Doc with a few questions to start. Anyone can edit it right now, so feel free to add questions there, or suggest/discuss things here and I can add them to the doc later. I'll post my short starting list of questions in a comment, too.

    • Absotively says:

      What do you most like about [hobby]?

      What new skills are you happiest about learning from [hobby]?
      How long did it take you to develop enough skill at [hobby] to feel not frustrated with your beginner-ness?

      What do you need to have to do [hobby]? What’s the cost to get started?
      If [hobby] produces stuff (pieces of art, goat milk, etc), what do you do with the stuff?

      Does [hobby] more involve spending time with other people, or spending time working alone?
      How would you describe the community of people who do [hobby]?

      How much time do you spend on [hobby]?
      Do you wish you could spend more time on [hobby]? Do you wish you could spend less time and still get the results you enjoy?

  13. redheadfae says:

    OH, that's a stunning dress!

    I made a call to a SSDI attorney today who will get back to me later this affey.

    Crows are slowly approaching for feeding. I had three in the yard yesterday came down after the blue jays told them there were peanuts. Yes, Manka, I'm feeding the squirrels, too. Everybody gotta eat. I think by doing this, I can skip the fostering urge until after the hols. I can't bite off more than I can chew right now.

    • CleverManka says:

      I hope feeding the wild beasties help ease your fostering urges. Disappointingly, our current crop of squirrels is really unfriendly. Nobody comes to the door to ask for food, they chase each other off, and there are some outright bullies who pick fights. =(

  14. vladazhael says:

    Still in Wisconsin. Still going well. Work has consistently been super busy since I've been here, including a bit over the holiday weekend, but I've been staying on task better than I do at the office and keeping up with what needs to be done (at least as well as any mere mortal can, because everything apparently needs to be done yesterday). I talked to my boss today and he wasn't even sure when I was coming back and told me I could stay longer if I wanted – like until January, even – and once I made him tell me flat out what that meant (all seems to have gone well, I don't *need* to stay longer and gather more data, he's just being accommodating and considerate of my weird life), I rescheduled my departure from Saturday to Wednesday and saved myself $100 on the car rental and gained myself more time with my somehow increasingly fabulous manfriend. I could have stayed even longer as far as work is concerned, but I'm sure my cats miss me (and I do miss them), and I have important friend plans the next couple weekends, and I need to get my ass back down south to vote for Not Roy Moore. Plus I'll be back here over the holidays, so… cool. Beyond that is a big question mark, but the answer to that question will be me moving for real, and there's less time between now and then than there is between now and when this all started (by any marker of time one chooses as the start).

    In personal growth news, I learned over the weekend that sometimes when life and personal relationships are going unprecedentedly well, THAT is when the breakdowns/breakthroughs sneak up on you. Which is not a thing I knew. And which I learned by crying over a Cyndi Lauper song I have heard a gajillion times over the last several decades, and then just continuing to blubber about… well, the last several decades. And which my manfriend has apparently been through himself and helped other people through and knew exactly what to do with. So I guess I kind of leveled up in emotionally intelligent humaning? It's a lot to explain, and I'm not sure I can anyway, and it was unpleasant in the moment and I still don't really know how to answer the question of who the fuck I am if all these walls I've built become obsolete and/or structurally unsound, but I am sure as hell glad I was where I was and had the companionship I did for such an intense episode.

    • CleverManka says:

      I'm so happy for you that things are going so well with the job and manfriend!

      And ugh, personal growth is the worst, even when it happens in the best of times.

      I still don't really know how to answer the question of who the fuck I am if all these walls I've built become obsolete and/or structurally unsound
      I'm still struggling with how to think of myself now that I'm not the busy person I used to be, and it's been years now since I started having to slow down. It takes time. Best wishes navigating that. I'm so glad your manfriend is in a place where he can help you with that!

  15. faintlymacabre says:

    I am so happy for the Garrison Keilor hate, because when I heard the news I wanted to text the ex so badly, but just last night I said we should go no contact. It's so lonely on this mountain of schadenfreude, but now I have company! Yay!

    In other news, former job (where sister currently works- she took over job when I left about 3 years ago) offered me a job, as they need two people to do sister's job now. The pay is okay, I really like old boss, but that place is so dysfunctional and I really really don't want to work with sister… but no one else has been interested in hiring me, and it's been 10 months since I last had a job, so gosh golly, making money would be nice for a change. But I feel so ugh. At least it's the devil I know?

    • CleverManka says:

      Happy you found a place to revel in the schadenfreude!

      Now that you know the place is dysfunctional and you're going in with eyes open, will that help you deal with it? The sister thing might be dicey, though. Yikes.

    • RoseCamelia says:

      And it's temporary. Take the job. Keep looking for the next/better one.

  16. Heathered says:

    Thanking all gods there is only one day left in this astonishing punisher of a month. It has been a 30 day acid bath and I am now just a bunch of clean bones. I hope December is gentler to all of us.

  17. Lee Thomson says:

    Oh hai – I am again windswept and chilly but home again, and storming through the last 8 (eight!!!!?!) cards of the tarot deck. Today was mad full of things; I finished one card, started four more, cleaned out the car, vacuumed it (!) (mostly because my dad has been saying for the last six months that is it "scandalous") and fixed the cover on the boat. And went for a walk.

    I'm actually kind of looking forward to December? I hope it will be cold and dry and lovely, and I will wear sweaters.

  18. Lee Thomson says:

    and this purse is on sale and I have never wanted anything as much, but it is too much dollars, but SEEE!!?!

    honestly, I would just stand her on my table and talk to her while I worked

  19. phantom says:

    I don't have much to share but I finally finished writing the Cover Letter for a job application I probably won't get, it requires a full Early Childhood Care and Education certificate and I only have an Assistants one, but I felt it was worth a shot and I can finally close the tab for the job application.

  20. Lee Thomson says:

    I … might have taken a bunch of pictures and started drawings for recreating her… anyone else want one if it works??

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