I’m Still Not Used to Having Seasons

It’s interesting to feel how decisively Summer turns into Fall in Seattle. I grew up in the Bay Area in California, which really only has two seasons: Summer and Fall, but there’s not a ton of definition between them. You just eventually notice that Starbucks is carrying pumpkin spice lattes and decide that, even though it’s still uncomfortably warm out, you’re gonna wear a scarf, dammit. (And then stubbornly wear it all day while your neck itches and sweats. At least it’s cute.)

In Seattle, I just step outside one day and it feels like Autumn all of a sudden. It wavers back and forth a few times, but after that the Summer is pretty solidly over. Even the bright and sunny days that follow feel muted. The sunshine gets a little more golden, like it’s permanently set in late afternoon mode, and the flowers look like they’re getting ready for bed even though they’re still blooming bravely away. There are days like this in California, to be sure, but they’re usually heavily interspersed with heat that feels like it’s been personally sent to punish you for getting out of your air-conditioned car.

I can definitely get on board with this kind of beautiful, crisp Autumn, although I’m still not convinced about the whole snow and ice in Winter thing. I think that I’d still choose light sweaters and sushi at Christmas over getting snowed into the house and watching the neighbor kids sledding down the street with their big old dog, intriguingly novel as that very Hallmark experience was.

Spring is on probation. It’s awfully damp and the days are too short, but it makes the salamanders happy. Gotta think of the salamanders.

Blackberry vines running through a bush that’s turning bright red
Pink fuchsia flowers. They always look like ballerinas to me. If you pluck one and pinch off the stem, you can stick it through the middle bit of the flower to make a tiny little doll.
A hot pink dahlia flower that’s been nibbled at a little bit by slugs. Still pretty, though.
An unopened sunflower with little earwig tenants

More Road Tripping to Come

Spring is really springing here in Seattle, and I’m enjoying it so much. The garden keeps popping up new flowers, and I can go outside so much more. It’s great.

I’m also driving down to California tomorrow to visit my family and meet my cousin’s new baby for the first time. I’m very excited, and I’ve been getting ready for this trip for a few days. One part of my preparations involved making delicious pasta salad to take with me for lunch on the road, because I had a craving and it seemed like a good idea. Another part involved cleansing my very uncooperative dogs. I didn’t budget my time well, which is why this is extremely late, but now I have to go to sleep so I can drive safely, so I’m just gonna solidly half-ass this post and then pass out.

Here are some flowers.

Pink forget-me-nots
Pink forget-me-nots
White blossoms on my mystery tree

Not Feeling the Winter Dormancy

I know it’s a trick, but this week of almost spring-like weather in Seattle is making me want to go out and dig stuff up, and plant other stuff, and just be outside. It’s been cold, but not too rainy. I hear we’re in for a proper cold snap, though, so I guess I’d better prepare to hunker down with various hot liquids and cuddly dogs and/or partners for a while. I did go out and check on the garden today, and found that most of my herbs and berries have survived the winter so far. Hopefully they can hang on a little longer.

My pet snakes are busy brumating, which is like hibernation but without the intense commitment. They’re awake, but they don’t eat, or really move around all that much. They mostly just hiss irritably at me every time I check on them. My little lizard has gone into her version of brumation, too, and she actually does sleep the whole time. I can wake her up to check on her, but she goes right back to her snoozin’ corner after I’m done handling her. She won’t eat anything for another month, probably. Possibly longer. (The frog doesn’t mess around with that winter fasting shit, though. He’ll try to eat my fingers if I take too long with his bugs any time of the year.)

Even all my indoor plants are growing extra slowly, despite all the lights I use to turn my office into an artificial sunroom. It’s funny, because I think part of the reason I’m so ready for any signs of spring being on the horizon is just because I’m not feeling especially dormant myself, even though I usually hate the cold and dark to the point of wanting to copy my reptiles and just sleep through it entirely.

The new year feels pretty promising to me so far, especially with the changes I’ve made over the last few months. Having medication that helps me stay alert and focused during the day, and actually doing most of my sleeping at night instead of during those precious few daylight hours changes my experience of winter dramatically. That isn’t exactly a shock, it’s just a new experience. Previously, this basic stability and control that a lot of people probably take for granted was mostly beyond my grasp.

Even though my garden and half my pets are down for the rest of the season, I feel like I’m just waking up.

You can’t see it, but these strawberry seedlings are shivering. Image: a bunch of young strawberry plants in a terracotta pot.
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This sunset actually made me swear out loud when I turned around and saw it after parking in front of my house. Image: An intense orangey pink sunset over a dark neighborhood

Writing days this past week: 4

Getting in Motion

I’ve been walking a lot more, lately. It seems kinda vital to take advantage of these last bits of nice weather before things get truly wintery and unpleasant. Walking is my favorite form of exercise, and it’s been recommended by a surprising number of successful writers throughout history as a form of meditation when inspiration is lagging. It’s peaceful, the scenery provides stimulation for the imagination, and moving around is generally pretty good for the whole system. I’ve known for a long time that people with ADHD in particular tend to have better focus when they get exercise, but it has to be somewhat consistent to be effective, and consistency is difficult when you’ve got ADHD. Somehow, though, I’ve managed to get something like a routine established.

There’s a beautiful bike path around a lake near my place, and I love going out there, even though my dogs absolutely lose their tiny minds at the sight of all the fat and insolent squirrels who taunt them from the sides of the trail. It takes us a lazy hour and a half to go around the lake, and I don’t usually spend the time specifically thinking about anything in particular. I think it’s been helping with my general mental clarity, which makes it easier to choose to keep going out, and to make choices about what to do with my time without getting overwhelmed. I’ve always unconsciously classified walking in pretty places as “the stuff I do when I should probably be doing the dishes or writing.”

That was not great. Jogging around the neighborhood will never be my thing, even if it might seem more efficient, or like a “better” form of exercise, or whatever other judgement I had in the back of my mind about the whole thing. It’s boring, it hurts, and my dogs would rather tie their leash into a bow around my legs than trot faithfully at my side. It just doesn’t work for me, but walking in a spot with some good trees and water does, and I can do it for a long time before I get bored or tired.

We’re often taught a very adversarial approach to exercising our bodies, but healthy movement really doesn’t have to be any kind of a punishment to be beneficial.

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These shots are all from this evening’s walk. An orange sunset over the lake framed by lacy tree branches.
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A cute red and white spotted mushroom in leaf litter.
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A great blue heron carefully ignoring me and the dogs from the water’s edge.
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Canada geese silhouetted on the lake under an orange sunset.

Writing days this past week: 3

100th Post

Like it says, this is my 100th post on this blog. That simultaneously feels like a really big number and a small one. I’ve been doing this every week for quite a while, so I kinda feel like it should be higher, but 100 weeks is still a significant chunk of time. I wasn’t as regular when I first started out, so it’s actually been much longer than that.

In 2018, I haven’t missed a single week. I’ve been late a few times, but I’ve put out a post every Friday. That’s a huge personal accomplishment for someone who absolutely sucks at consistency. It’s been a struggle, but it’s also been getting a little easier over time. Slower than I’d hope, but it’s still happening.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the season change very intentionally, because fall used to bum me out pretty hard. It has been surprisingly beautiful in Seattle all week, though. It’s just pleasantly crisp and sunny, not soggy and gray. I’m sure that’ll change soon, but for now I’ve been trying to get outside as much as possible. I even got a few pretty pictures today on my evening walk with the dogs.

Writing days this past week: 1

Fighting Through the Invisible Boredom Barrier

There’s soothing classical music playing in my office, but both of my dogs are being disruptive in their own special ways tonight. Toci has been doing her delightful little war scream at random intervals all evening because she believes there are raccoon invaders in the yard. (Possible, I’ll grant, but what does she actually propose to do about it? The average raccoon outweighs her by quite a bit, and she has, like, five teeth.) Tupac is just contentedly chewing a marrow bone and ignoring all the fuss, but that chomping sound can get a bit distracting after a while.

The dogs are definitely not the problem; they’re just where my focus gets most easily shunted off to when it slides off the invisible barrier surrounding my writing work. Writing a paragraph, even when I’m completely inspired, feels like lifting weights with my brain. This post has taken most of the day, and I keep getting into what feels like a little bit of a groove only to be pulled away by my body reminding me that food, drink, and bathroom breaks are all non-negotiable.

I’m pretty frustrated about my medication situation. I had something that kinda worked, but it started making me sick to the point that it didn’t matter if it helped or not, since I couldn’t focus through the nausea. My current psychiatrist doesn’t feel confident tweaking my prescription any more, so I’m being sent off to find someone new. In the meantime, I can use the drugs that make me feel ill, or I can do my best without meds. My best without meds is only marginally worse than my best with meds and nausea, so it’s a difficult trade-off.

I did a home sleep study a while ago, but have yet to actually review the results with a sleep doctor. I’m not really sure how helpful any answers there will be, but that could just be my general pessimism about medical stuff speaking. I’m open to being surprised, at least. I’m also tired, and sleeping ten or twelve hours a night doesn’t do as much to fix that as you’d think. It’s better than not sleeping, though, for sure. I’ve stopped pulling all-nighters and have been getting to bed much earlier than I used to. That means that even though I sleep longer than normal, I still have plenty of daytime to work with, and I think that alone helps a lot with my mood.

I’m taking steps to improve everything that’s slowing me down, and I’m still making progress. It’s hard not to be discouraged, but the progress is real, and I’m holding on to that as much as possible.

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I’m also making homemade chai again, because Fall is good for at least one thing.

Writing days this past week: 3

Balance and Tough Self-Care

As I’ve mentioned previously, balance is not something that comes easily to me, and I’m not just talking about my tendency to tip right over whenever I’m distracted from important stuff like where my feet are and how gravity works. It sometimes feels like I’m either ignoring all my other responsibilities to focus on work, doing all the things except work, or taking a mental and/or physical health day that stretches into a week of feeling guilty and frustrated. If it were possible to make a three way see-saw, that’s what it’d be like in my head.

Still, I think I’m in a better place than I was a few months ago. I’m sleeping consistently, instead of every other night, and running a little closer to normal person time in terms of appointments and deadlines. Work is happening. 

I’m getting better at being kind to myself instead of breaking down when I feel like I’ve failed, but I still need to learn how to be tough on myself without the breakdown. When I’ve been hard on myself in the past, it was pretty much just self-bullying. It had no purpose, it certainly didn’t motivate me, and it was absurdly out of proportion to anything I had actually done or not done. That was no good, but without any internal structure I tend to lose track of important things and miss out on opportunities to move toward my goals. 

Self care has been discussed to death lately, but what I really appreciate are the posts that remind me that self care isn’t just bubble baths and scented candles and wine with breakfast. (Or whatever you do with wine. I don’t really know.) 

Practical self care is taking care of yourself the way you’d care for a friend or a child. Or, as one person put it, like a demon taking care of its host body so that it won’t fall apart. Whatever works. There’s being your own personal bully, which absolutely sucks, and there’s being your own coach, which seems pretty valuable to me.

Till I get better at this, Toci has been appointed my temporary coach. So far, she has ordered me to sit in multiple uncomfortable positions so she can use me as a throne. I assume this is some sort of wax-on wax-off, hidden wisdom type shit. Probably to teach me endurance or something.