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Occipital Neuralgia Headaches

Fuck. I didn't do my PT neck stretches reliably while we were on vacation or during the week+ that I was sick after we got home ... and my occipital neuralgia headache is back. It's not at its worst (yet), but my scalp is very painful again (feels like getting stabbed in the head every time I brush my bangs to the side) and nothing helps the headache (except distraction) and it's absolutely unrelenting (for the past two days). I just can't help remembering what it was like when these headaches were at their worst, when I couldn't focus on anything–not tv, not an audiobook or podfic, not a conversation, nothing–and I would just lie down in the bed for hours, just crying. Days at a stretch.

Just this past hour or so it's gotten bad enough that I'm not able to reread favorite fanfics anymore, which is what I've been doing to distract myself the rest of the day. I keep frantically doing the PT stretches every few hours, because I think that maybe helped at one point, but thus far it's only getting worse.

I took my extra .25 mg of Xanax for the day a little bit ago, just because I can feel myself starting to panic at the memory of how bad these headaches used to get and how helpless I was against them. I don't want to feel like that again! It was the worst period of my life!

Thoughts on Moving to Kauaʻi

When we visited Kauaʻi in 2016, we weren’t planning to live there. Shannon had considered it a possibility, but I had always insisted that I wouldn’t want to live away from a city’s convenient public transportation, restaurants, mental health support resources, etc. Plus, I didn’t want to leave my friends. But on that visit, I just … fell in love with Kauaʻi and the joy of being around my in-laws with their positive attitudes and open hearts. I think it was the first time I’d spent much time around them since really getting into my trauma work and realizing how much I’d missed in my relationship with my mom, so I was feeling much more aware of the love and support Mary and Gary offer with absolutely no conditions or hesitation. After we got home from that visit, after I’d had time to sort of absorb the experience, I approached Shannon and told him I’d be interested in moving there … and soon afterward we started talking about it seriously. Now, it’s our plan for 2020, as long as nothing gets in our way. So on this trip, our 2017 trip, I was looking around me with fresh eyes, thinking about what it will be like to actually live there.

Of course, I’m used to how beautiful and quiet Kauaʻi is (especially compared to noisy, busy central Berkeley), but I appreciated it even more this time, imagining what it would be like to have all that beauty as a part of my life every single day, as something I might eventually even take for granted. I hope that never happens—I hope I live decades on Kauaʻi being thankful for its unique loveliness every single day—but I suppose the shock of it will subside with time.

I’m also used to the relaxed atmosphere on the island, which is one of the reasons I decided it might be a good idea to move there, as I think the quiet tranquility and general feel of kindness in social interactions even with complete strangers might be very good for my anxiety level and possibly even my mood stability. But I noticed it more on this trip and just soaked it in, imagining that being the norm rather than just “vacation mode.”

Aloha

I thought a lot about the spirit of “aloha” on this trip, too, because I was thinking a lot about the culture of the island and how I could show respect to that culture. People often think that “aloha” just means “hello” and “goodbye” in Hawaiʻi, but it actually means something more like “affection, peace, compassion, and mercy” (per Wikipedia); and words like “namaste, peace, salaam and shalom have similar meanings” (also per Wikipedia).

State law actually mandates “the spirit of aloha” for its political representatives. An excerpt from Hawaii Revised Statutes (State Law) Section 5-7.5 states, regarding the spirit of aloha:
“". . .It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii. ‘Aloha’ is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. ‘Aloha’ means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. ‘Aloha’ is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. . . ."

The concept of “aloha” reminds me of much of what I like about Buddhism, and also something of what I like about myself. I think I have a tendency to want to reach out to people, to offer them kindness and respect, and so the idea of living in a place that tries to embody that idea as a core aspect of its culture is very appealing to me.

Native Hawaiʻians

I feel very uncomfortable about the situation of Native Hawaiʻians on Kauaʻi and in the state in general. The islands were basically stolen by the U.S. in 1893 when we annexed them without the agreement of the Hawaiʻian people. President Clinton even issued an official apology, United States Public Law 103-150, admitting that this was an inherently unjust action and basically just a really crappy move on our part and that Native Hawaiʻians have every reason to feel pissed about it. So I feel weird about the fact that Native Hawaiʻians now make up only about 9% of the population of Hawaiʻi, and that about 20% of them live below the poverty line.

On this visit, I noticed that the only places where we saw a lot of Native Hawaiʻians were fast food establishments (the Snack Shop in Kōloa and the McDonald’s in ʻEleʻele). Everywhere else, it seemed to be mostly white people, though there are also a lot of Asian residents on Kauaʻi (as many men from Asian countries were brought to work the plantations in the 1800s and early 1900s). I get the impression that there is considerable racial segregation on the island, not only with the Native Hawaiʻians holding separate from the haoles, but also with the people of various Asian ethnicities choosing to socialize primarily with people who speak their own language and share their culture. (I’ve gotten this impression largely from the fact that my mother-in-law, Mary, seems to be close friends primarily with a considerable number of Chinese ladies living on the island, so my sample size is laughably small.)

The segregation of Native Hawaiʻians from haole society on the island had bothered me on previous visits, especially when I’d noticed that Native Hawaiʻians seemed to be simultaneously oppressed and fetishized, with so many of them living in poverty conditions while tourists attend artificially constructed luaus and hula performances to watch “the real Hawaiʻi” and expect the staff at their fancy hotels and expensive restaurants to look Hawaiʻian to give that “authentic” feel to their island experience. This felt really creepy to me.

But on this visit the segregation started feeling a little bit like Tallahassee to me, where all the low-paying service industry jobs are filled by black men and women, and all the higher-paying jobs seem to be filled by white people. I started wondering how many of the doctors on the island are Native Hawaiʻian. How many of the hotel managers? How many of the elite chefs? And am I inflicting my own biases on Native Hawaiʻians by even asking those questions of myself, since their culture might not value those kinds of economic measures of success?

What Can I Do About All That?

Even just visiting the island, let alone living there, I want to show respect to the native peoples, the native culture, and the native language (e.g., the correct use of the ʻokina mark in Hawaiʻian words). When we were getting off the plane in Lihuʻe, I asked the flight attendant if it is considered rude for a non-native to say “aloha” and “mahalo,” because I didn’t want to be presumptuous in using the native language, but she assured me that it was fine and urged me to embrace the local culture. I still felt a little weird about it, because I felt like a fraud using words from a language I don’t speak, words that are used liberally in tourist contexts, but then I thought about the fact that I never felt uncomfortable saying “bonjour” or “merci” when I was in France, but rather viewed it as a show of respect in making an effort to speak to people in their own language even if only a bit. So I tried to think of it that way on this visit, but I was still very shy about it.

And when I got home, I read a few articles online that talked about the overuse of the word “aloha,” because it has a deep meaning (as I described above) and is not simply a greeting. Apparently, one should not use the word “aloha” lightly, as you aren’t always feeling the complex nuances of the word every time you greet someone or part from them. If you’re feeling stressed or distracted or upset or something, then you shouldn’t say, “Aloha,” to greet someone. The word should be reserved for times when you are truly feeling the full meaning, or you are sort of watering it down and disrespecting the concept. I had noticed that people in the tourist industry tend to say “aloha” constantly, to the point of almost making the culture into a caricature, and had wondered about it. Flight attendants smile robotic smiles and say, “Aloha,” to every single person who boards the plane, and then, “Mahalo,” to every person who disembarks. It’s like wearing plastic flowers behind their ears—a fake sort of representation of something real. I’ll try to be careful with how I use “aloha,” and only say it when I really mean it mindfully, not just to casually replace “hello.” Even if most people on the island don’t care about the nuances, I want to be respectful.

With a bit of research, I found that the community college in Lihuʻe (not very close to where we’ll be living, unfortunately) offers classes in Hawaiʻian studies and Hawaiʻian language that I might find interesting and educational (as well as classes in culinary arts that might interest me), and Shannon pointed out that I might feel less awkward about the racial segregation if I work with the island’s branch of Habitat for Humanity or find some other ways of getting to know Native Hawaiʻians. That made me feel a bit better. I might not be able to make a difference regarding the far-reaching and long-standing issues, but it would mean a lot to me to just be able to reach out a hand to individuals and say, “I see you. You matter to me. I respect your right to this island. I want to know more about your perspective.” I worry that simply moving to the island, in and of itself, is an act of aggression toward Native Hawaiʻians—yet another haole taking over their land—but … well … the house we’re moving into is already owned by haoles. It’s already too expensive for most Native Hawaiʻians to afford. It’s part of a larger, existing problem that I can’t do anything about. But then we would be becoming some small part of that larger problem. It can tie me up in knots if I let it, so I’m trying not to let it.

I’ve also looked for some books that might educate me a bit about all these issues and give more of the Native Hawaiʻian perspective, and found some on Amazon. I’ve been having a lot of trouble with reading for years now, but I still looked. Realistically, though, I think I’ll have an easier time learning from people than from books.

Other Minor Things

There are a lot of smaller, less emotionally loaded things I noticed on this visit about how our lives will change when we move to Kauaʻi. For one thing, people spend a lot of time in their cars there, because everything is very spread out. You might spend half an hour (or more) just driving to the grocery store. Some of the drives are very scenic, but it’s still a lot of time in cars. That will be a big change for us. Since I’ve been living in Berkeley, I’ve spent very little time in cars. I ride in a car maybe an average of once a month. Sometimes I have to take buses, but mostly I’m used to being able to walk to everything I need—groceries, pharmacies, restaurants, friends’ homes, the hardware store, many of my doctors’ offices, the art studio, Buddhist communities, the local community college, etc.—and that just won’t be the case anymore. It’ll be a completely different way of interacting with the world.

Because of the unrelenting humidity, everything rusts like crazy. Chain link fences need to be constantly maintained and repaired; garden tools need to be frequently replaced; even metal objects that rarely go outside are no exception. Everything rusts. The house we’ll be living in has a chain link fence which I suggested to Shannon we might want to someday replace with one of the low volcanic rock walls that a lot of people have around their yards on Kauaʻi. It would still require a bit of maintenance, as I’ve seen some of them crumbling a bit here and there, but it might look nicer (more organic) and require less vigilance than something made of metal.

There are TONS of bugs, including giant poisonous centipedes that invade your home and have to be cut into multiple pieces or they will continue to come after you. They’re literally like horror movie monsters. All food has to be stored in completely air-tight containers or it will be invaded by hoards of ants. Even containers that seem air-tight might not be good enough. Ideally, you need to use containers with screw-on tops or the creepy crawlies will somehow find a way in. Lizards and geckos also invade houses, but those don’t bother me so much because I think they’re cute. There’s nothing cute about poisonous centipedes or entire colonies of ants streaming through your kitchen.

The house we’ll be living in has a large yard we’ll need to take care of, most of which consists of a huge, useless back yard with a slope so steep you can’t plant anything on it or mow it with a mower. The current tenants hire someone who comes every two weeks to swing a weed-wacker on a rope to trim the fast-growing grass. Shannon and Mary talked about the possibility of putting fake grass back there to eliminate the need for such ridiculous measures, but I couldn’t tell if Shannon was joking or not. I think it sounds like a fine idea. I wouldn’t want to use fake grass somewhere where we would actually be walking or seeing it up close, but a giant useless slope that no one will ever actually approach … why not?

Hawaiʻi makes great use of renewable energy, and solar panels are everywhere: on top of public buildings, in open fields, and on top of a large percentage of private residences. Shannon and I are hoping to be able to afford to install solar panels on the roof of our house after we move there.

Our house is closer to a “busy” road than I had realized before really checking it out on this visit. When I say it’s a “busy” road, I’m talking in Kauaʻi terms, so there’s maybe one car every 10 seconds during the busy time of day … but that’s a pretty busy road on Kauaʻi. If we do plant an avocado tree, we will probably have to expect some of the fruit to be stolen by passersby, and the current tenants had a “break-in” recently in which some laptops and Kindles were stolen. I put “break-in” in quotes because of the fact that the tenants had left the front door unlocked while they were gone, and so the thieves simply opened the door and walked in, grabbed some stuff and walked out. I don’t know where these tenants grew up, but Shannon and I—both having lived decades in California cities—would never be stupid enough to leave our house unlocked and expect all our belongings to still be there when we got back. So I’m not too worried about home security.


Anyway, I think that’s all my thoughts on the Kauaʻi move at the moment. Lots of stuff spinning around in my brain. Still 3 years to figure everything out, and most of it we won’t be able to figure out until we’re actually there.

SFMOMA visit

Shannon and I went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) between Christmas and New Years, and I've been meaning to write about my favorite exhibits.

Emily Jacir

My favorite exhibit was Emily Jacir's "Where We Come From (2001-2003). "Jacir, holder of an American passport, asked more than 30 Palestinians living both abroad and within the occupied territories: 'If I could do anything for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?' She collected responses and carried out tasks in an extended performance of wish-fulfilment by proxy."

Jacir's exhibit consisted of a series of photographs, each accompanied by a plaque with a lot of text on it. I didn't approach the exhibit in the "correct" order, and began looking at the photographs without reading what the exhibit was about, assuming that the visual element of the exhibit was the obvious "art" and the text was merely supplementary, and so it only gradually began to dawn on me what I was looking at. Each plaque had one line of text at the top in bold, larger print; then a long description of a person; then at the bottom in very small type what looked like a footnote. I was just skimming the text initially, assuming it was the usual description of the "actual" art (the photographs). The photos weren't very exciting: a bowl of soup, the trunk of a tree, a pile of fabrics.

But as I looked at one photo after another, I started noticing that the text was integral to the exhibit. The "title" in bold print was a person's answer to the artist's question about what she could do for them in Palestine. The longer text in the middle was info about the person, why they couldn't go to Palestine, why they wanted/needed to go there, why they had answered her question the way they had. The tiny text at the bottom was a description of how the artist had attempted to act on the person's request. The photo was simply a glimpse of a moment from that action.

I became extremely moved by the exhibit and actually started crying. I felt like this was a revolutionary approach to art, combining interview with writing with action with photography. I felt like the artist's actions in Palestine were an integral part of the artwork, which was something I'd never seen before. I felt like kindness and compassion were actually part of the artwork, which was what made me cry.

People had asked the artist to do a wide variety of things: visit their childhood home, spend an afternoon with beloved relatives, water a specific tree, bring clothing and food to people they hadn't seen in years, etc. One that stuck with me was a man who simply asked the photographer to pay his phone bill. Through some bureaucratic weirdness, the place where he was supposed to pay his phone bill was in Palestine, but he was not permitted to go there, so he always had to ask someone else to pay his phone bill. It just made people's dilemmas so real and concrete to me.

Shannon found the exhibit boring, because he felt like every item in the exhibit was pretty much the same, asking for basically the same things, but I saw each one as a unique individual with a full, complex life and a specific relationship to the artist. I was extremely moved.

Transparencies on Oil

Another piece I liked was Paulina Olowska's "A Portrait of the Artist - Indoors" (2012), which was a multi-media work combining oil paint, ink, and transparencies. At first glance, it just looked like a sort of weird painting, but on closer inspection, especially from different angles, the multi-media aspect became more clear. It was really creative and interesting.

Tomás Saraceno's Dodecahedrons

One of my other favorites was Tomás Saraceno's "Stillness in Motion: Cloud Cities," a collection of metal dodecahedrons suspended in the air by cables, created specifically for the SFMOMA site. Some of the dodecahedrons were mere frames of the shape; others had some panels in solid metal or mirrors. The shapes were in various sizes and configurations, and you could walk among them. It was like a magical garden of floating metal shapes. They were fascinating and beautiful! I really encourage you to click on the link above and look at some of the pictures.

Sohei Nishino's Collages

The last exhibit that really fascinated me was the collection of collaged maps by an artist called Sohei Nishino. Each map (Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, San Francisco, etc.) was constructed out of thousands of tiny aerial photographs, but not all the photos were on the same scale. So, for example, on the SF map, you couldn't really make out any detail in Golden Gate Park, but elsewhere there was a very obviously legible Amoeba Records sign, and elsewhere some people walking, and elsewhere a row of "painted lady" Victorian houses. So he collaged the photos together in such a way that he emphasized certain aspects of each city, which was done in this amazingly beautiful way.

Okay. I've finally written my post about the MOMA visit, which I've been planning for weeks but was too sick to deal with. My flu is gone now, but I still tire easily, and I've slept very badly the last two nights because of a medication change. I'm going to back off the med change and hope that tonight will be better. Today will be busy, though, with acupuncture in the morning, then someone coming out to deal with our mysterious bathtub leak, then getting together with Katherine before dinner. I hope I don't wear myself out!

Golden Gate Park

Lovely day today at Golden Gate Park with Shannon. Picnic in the Fern Grotto, respectful visit to the AIDS Memorial Grove, stroll through the Music Concourse admiring the fountains, and a walk around the island in the middle of Stow Lake.

Tuesday was just as nice a day together, spent exploring the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), admiring many exhibits, mocking some. (I mean, seriously. A triptych of three plain white canvases counts as art? And a room with the floor covered in black sand, with a broken mirror propped up at one end and a constantly looping recording of a heavily accented man's voice saying absolute nonsense?) We also made a lot of "art vs. craft" jokes, referring to my mom's arbitrary distinction, as much of the neatest content of the MOMA would not satisfy her definition of "art." Alexander Calder's mobile sculptures, for example: clearly "craft," not "art." Shannon joked that we actually went to the MOMC, "Museum of Modern Craft." I hope to write about the whole visit in more detail when I've recovered a bit more from all the social activity.

Because Saturday and Sunday we were with the Wiedlins, as I've already written, then Tuesday at the MOMA, then yesterday we were with Melody and Jared (my SIL and BIL on the Appel side), then today at Golden Gate Park. It's all been wonderful, but it's also been a bit of a social gauntlet. Shannon has some two-player games he'd like to try out with me this week, and we're sort of running out of week. I'd planned to go to CWC as usual tomorrow, but I think I'll mostly be recharging my emotional batteries via solitude. Thank goodness my usual Saturday plans are canceled!

Mostly Fun with Meds and Christmas

I haven't posted a journal entry in ages. I've had some kind of medication issue that has been causing me to sleep 12-14 hours/day, but we think we may have fixed it by lowering my risperidone/risperdal from 1.5 to 1 mg/day. It's primary purpose is to control mania/hypomania, and I'm no longer hypomanic, so it seemed fine to reduce it, since it seemed a likely culprit in the sleepiness department. I seem to be less sleepy these past couple days, so I have high hopes. It was difficult to get things done *and* find time to relax in solitude enough for good mental health when I was spending so much of my time sleeping, so it was starting to affect my mood. I was getting more and more anxious, and more and more unhappy.

This all was not helped by the fact that we've been reducing my anti-anxiety meds recently. My Meds Doc really wants to get me off Xanax entirely, so he's trying to transition me to a much lower dosage of Valium. I was taking 1.5 mg of Xanax per day, but about a month ago we replaced .5 mg of Xanax with 5 mg of Valium. Now we're working on keeping the Valium dosage constant but gradually getting rid of the Xanax entirely. Thus far, we've taken me down to .75 mg of Xanax per day, but even that .25 mg reduction was enough to increase my anxiety level. Apparently, Xanax is extremely difficult to get off of, so this is going to be fun.

So for the past few weeks I've been sleeping a lot, increasingly anxious, increasingly desperate for time to myself, and increasingly unhappy. I'm hoping things are going to start getting better now.

At the moment, I'm a little socially overwhelmed because of the holidays. We went down to San Martin to spend the Christmas weekend with the Wiedlins, and that was great, but my introvert tendencies are never as obvious as when I'm around a bunch of extroverts for hours or days on end. I kept running away to hide in the guest room to take breaks from all the socialization, but I still ended up pretty overwhelmed by the time we left. I played one really fun game of Tichu with Shannon, my brother-in-law Jason, and my father-in-law (Bob), but otherwise didn't really participate in all the board and card games they all played, which were many and varied. Still, I really enjoyed myself, but was ready to hide out for a few days afterward.

This is one of Shannon's two weeks of vacation each year (the other being our annual trip to Hawaii), so we have plans to do things together 3 of the days, but I've been hiding out and watching YouTube videos today. Tomorrow we're going to the MOMA; Wednesday I have an appointment in the morning and we're getting together with his sister and brother-in-law immediately afterward; Thursday we're planning to go to Golden Gate Park for a nice walk and picnic (and possibly the Conservatory of Flowers again, since that's always fun); and Friday I'm back at CWC. No real relaxation time except today. We'll see how I do.

I hit the jackpot when it came to Christmas presents this year, especially when it came to art-related stuff. My brother-in-law Robby got me a bunch of large canvases (after hearing me talk excitedly about the project I'm currently working on); my mother-in-law and father-in-law gave me a nice set of brushes and an extensive set of acrylic paints which go nicely with the canvases; and Shannon gave me two beautiful coloring books that I can't wait to work in. I also got the softest blanket ever for cuddling on the couch, again from my parents-in-law. I got lots of other great presents, too—so many that I couldn't keep track! I think it was probably my best, most exciting Christmas haul yet!

I just heard Shannon come in downstairs, home from his day's hike, so I think I'll head down to say hi. But at least I finally wrote a journal entry!

Bad dreams

I had terrible dreams last night that woke me up repeatedly. The worst one was when I found a tiny kitten that had been disemboweled, and I was trying to push its internal organs back into its body and figure out how to sew it up. I knew the kitten would be okay if I just did it right, but I didn't really know what I was doing, and the sight of the suffering kitten with its guts all showing was very traumatic. I woke up and was really afraid to go back to sleep, because I was afraid the dream would pick up where it left off.

I've been having health troubles of the physical and emotional variety. I caught a not-terrible-but-very-persistent cold that has had my nose stuffed up & my head very muzzy for more than a week. I've been feeling a bit better the past 2 days, so I'm hoping to have enough brain power to be able to tackle some computer issues today (problems that arose resulting from using Time Machine after my hard drive had to be replaced a couple weeks ago, like Photoshop no longer working, the Google Drive folder disappearing, etc.).

Anxiety has been a serious issue, and it looks like I've swung back up into hypomania, or at least Shannon and my therapist both think so & I've seen some symptoms myself, such as irrational spending urges. I considered spending $25 to commission a piece of "phan" art ("phan" refers to the Phil/Dan relationship, as regards the two YouTubers I've been obsessed with lately) for someone I've never met, because I received their name in a Secret Santa exchange. In the end, the artist said she would prefer that I write a piece of fanfiction for her, which I did happily and easily (since I've been writing prolifically while hypomanic) and so did not, in fact, spend a bunch of money on some ephemeral gift for an unknown person. I've also been considering subscribing to the new Photoshop (since mine stopped working and I keep feeling overwhelmed by the recommended process to try to get it working again), even though it costs a bazillion dollars a year (well, $240, but that feels like a bazillion when it's a continuing cost instead of a one-time purchase fee). I've tested it out with the free trial, and I like it fine. I don't know. Maybe I'll pay for one month with my own money, then pay for a year with Christmas money or something.

For a little while, it looked like our move to Hawaii might be less certain as a result of the election results, because Shannon might lose his health insurance if the ACA goes away, and that contributed to my anxiety a lot, because awareness of this upcoming move to Hawaii has been really shoring me up emotionally for the past few months. But then he did a bunch of research, and it looks like even if the ACA disappears, insurance won't be a problem, so that helped my mood tremendously. I hadn't realized how much the prospect of not getting to move to Hawaii was getting me down until it lifted.

I've also been thinking (and discussing with my new CWC intern, Laya) that my fear of water and swimming is fine when we visit Hawaii one week a year, but that I might want to work on it in advance if we're actually going to be living there. So I'm thinking about joining the local YMCA and doing a number of things to help become more comfortable in water: taking some water aerobics classes, taking their aqua tai chi class, working up to being comfortable with the deep water aerobics class (where they use floats to keep you at the surface), and practicing putting my face in the water while I have my feet on the ground and one hand on the side of the pool. I think just jumping right into attempts to snorkel in the ocean waves was maybe not the best way to do it, and I'll try a more gradual approach instead. I'm even thinking about paying for individual swim lessons with someone who can help me work with my fear resulting from my two near-drowning experiences (one when I was a small child and one just a few years ago). I'd like to become more comfortable in the water if I'm going to live on a small island surrounded by warm ocean, living with a husband who loves to swim, and living near two relatives who swim regularly.

In other news, I've finished a self-portrait that I love madly. It's my favorite thing I've done in a long time, and it's been a while since I said that about any of my art work. And I've started a big new project (on a 20"x24" canvas, which is much larger than I usually use), which is a sort of multi-colored night sky—sort of the colors of my hair, in blues, greens, and purples—which will have a silhouette of a tree in the foreground. My art tends to include a lot of night skies and trees, along with the numerous self-portraits. And this one is mostly painting with acrylics, with little or no collage, which is new to me, but I'm using it as an opportunity to play around with something unfamiliar. I've already learned a lot, like the fact that canvas is "thirsty" (it soaks up a lot more paint than paper), and so I have to use a lot more paint than I'm used to. It's fun to play around and learn new things!

My most recent self-portrait pleases me so much because it's largely about childhood trauma, but from a perspective of now being protected and safe, so it didn't feel scary or upsetting. It was just like looking at the past as an explanation of why this new feeling of safety is so important and precious to me. I'll try to get a good picture of it to post here.

Yesterday we got to spend a nice Thanksgiving with Shannon's mom's side of the family (Bev, Bob, Robby, Jason, and Lisa), though the very tasty turkey put me into a coma for a while and then the pumpkin pie triggered my egg sensitivity. My egg sensitivity seems to have become much worse over the past couple years, to the point where I mostly need to just avoid it as much as possible. Very upsetting, because I love eggs and eggy things like custards. Recent experimentation indicates that I can have french toast or fried rice if I haven't had any other egg recently, but I think that's sort of the limit. No more omelets for me, unless I want to feel very sick. Sadness.

Well, I think that's all for now. My Dan and Phil obsession continues unabated. I've written a fair amount of "phanfic" now and have even tried my hand at "podfic," which is when you record yourself reading a fanfiction story aloud so people can listen to fic while doing housework or going for walks, instead of only being able to read actual fic text. I love podfics, myself, and have listened to many of them in the Sherlock fandom, so I got the idea a few weeks ago to give it a try. I can't do it right now, because I'm still sort of congested and sound funny, but I've finished one short one (20 minutes) and plan to try a longer one when my voice gets back to normal. It's fun to try new things.

All this interest in trying new things is probably also indicative of hypomania. Well, at least I'm not depressed.

Things to remember

Trump is not Ernie. He doesn't live in the same house with me and cannot physically harm me.

I am not 6 years old. I have power and resources that I didn't have at that age.

I am not alone in this. I have support from numerous people who love me, especially Shannon, who *does* live in the same house with me.

*

And so of course my computer chooses today to die in a rather catastrophic manner. Shannon says it was obviously a reaction to the election results. Maybe the people at the Apple Store's Genius Bar will be able to help fix the whole problem?
Jesus fucking christ.

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So scared about the election. I honestly feel like Ernie is following me everywhere I go, just waiting to smack me upside the head when I'm not looking.
Woke up from a terrible dream around 6 a.m. Due to some fairly innocuous mistake we had made, our apartment (because we weren't living in our current house) had become infested with disgusting insects.

Something had happened to the bathroom mirror, and all around the edges it was now crawling and writhing with maggots and cockroaches. This was the absolute worst part, but some part of our kitchen had become similarly infested, and some part of our living room. My doctor told me that I needed to stay away from all of these places or I would become terribly sick, so I didn't know how we were going to get rid of the infestation, or how I was going to be able to prepare myself food in the meantime, and my doctor handed me a can of soup & said, "Well, I just happen to have this with me," and then he prepared me a bowl of canned soup (though I don't remember him actually heating it—just opening the can and putting the soup in a bowl and such), and I was thinking, "Okay, dude, that's one meal, but what am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?"

Maggots, in particular, are one of the things that totally freak me out. Shannon's scared of snakes. Some people are scared of bees. My big thing is maggots. So my dream woke me up totally freaked out, and I was afraid to close my eyes again lest I fall back into the maggots dream, so instead I just got up.

I'm trying to be quiet so Shannon can keep sleeping soundly, but both cats have been disturbed by my early rising and are moving about the house restlessly. I hope they just leave Shannon alone, so I'm avoiding locking myself in my office to work on the Photoshop stuff I was wanting to work on, and instead hanging out in the living room where they can easily hang out with me while wandering to and fro.

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