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Birthday Week

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My love scheduled what was basically a birthday week for me. He knows I love to keep busy and get anxious when I have downtime, so he made it so I didn't have to have too much downtime. He wasn't a part of everything I did, but he helped make it happen. My Birthday WeekCollapse )

On Monday night, I met up with my friend Lauren and we went out to dinner. Thuan came, too. We went out to my favorite sushi place and then went out to my favorite bar so I could have my favorite drink, the Sailor Mules. I had three of those things! But alcohol doesn't affect me like it does most people, so I barely had a buzz going on, believe it or not. It was a good time.

Tuesday, Thuan and I went out to a special dinner and then had our friend Kyle over. After that, I went out with my friend Mari to go to Grits and Gravy (it's a night at a local club where they place 60s and 70s music--old Michael Jackson, Funk, etc.). It's a great place to do some couples dancing and just funk out. I proceeded to drink...a lot. I wasn't driving, so it was ok. Turned into a rough night once I got home because it messed with my sleep, but it was definitely worth it.

Wednesday night, I just went over to my friends Monty and Ali's house to chill out and have a low-key dinner.

Thursday night, Thuan and I went out to see his friend, Andy Matchett, put on his show called "Key of E." It's about this guy who survives a massive flood and finds himself on an island following the end of the world and starts having hallucinations. It was a good bit of fun.

Friday night was dinner with the family night. Thuan and the girls and I went out to this special high-end pizza place where the appetizers are scrumptious. It was a quiet night after that.

But the week ended with a great party that had a great turn-out, with friends I love. Matt and Kristi, Lisa, Ali, Monty, Mari, Eric (not my ex, a different Eric) and his girlfriend I hadn't met yet. Eric, Ali, Monty and I resolved to start our TV nights back up again since we've been on hiatus. I'm glad for that. After that, I went dancing and kicked my heels up. I left early because I was tired and I knew my counterparts were tired, too. Tonight, I might go dancing again since Labor Day means my friends don't have to work.

As for today, we are going to the pool for a bit and then out to Universal to keep the weekend going. Nice.

All in all, I think I'll probably have a little bit of the post-birthday blues since my nights won't be taken up with such cool stuff. That's ok. I can use that time to plan things with friends. :)

Life Right Now: A Snapshot (Meme)

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You know how sometimes people on your friends list post about stuff going on in their life, and all of a sudden you think "Wait a minute? Since when were they working THERE? Since when were they dating HIM/HER? Since when???" And then you wonder how you could have missed all that seemingly pretty standard information, but somehow you feel too ashamed to ask for clarification because it seems like info you should already know? It happens to all of us sometimes.

Please copy the topics below, erase my answers and put yours in their place, and then post it in your journal.

First name: J.T. (or that's what I consider my first name to be)

Age: 37

Location: Orlando, Florida. My forever home.

Occupation: Instructor of Writing and Rhetoric at UCF

Partner: Thuan, the most caring and nurturing person I've ever known. He has taken care of me in some pretty hairy moments in my life. And there have been more than a few since we came together.

Children: None. But my partner has 4: Maya (15), Petra and Quinn (twins, 11), and Simone (9).

Siblings: One. Passed away when I was 16.

Pets: One extremely needy dog, Sophie, who has a habit of acting out when she doesn't get her way.

5 biggest things going on in your life right now:

1. Mental health. This is a very, very sensitive and weather-worn subject for me. I was reaching a full recovery from my 2011 episode in August of last year, but then I moved in with my partner and got a very stressful new job and it set me back. Way back. I feel like I'm trying to recover from a whole, new episode. Maybe I am. Maybe it was another episode of its own kind. I just know it wasn't anything like I experienced in 2011, which was so horrible I just don't think I'll ever be able to forget it. My doctor adjusts my medication according to how I'm doing at the moment, but it always shifts. I want so so badly to get back to where I was in 2010, on low medication and doing relatively well. But it's not to be. So, we just keep shifting and I've been seeing my therapist regularly, which will end because our schedules just don't match. We'll see how I do without therapy. I don't know, you know?

2. My job. I'm not a professor like I thought I'd be and I likely never will be. I've chosen to stay in my home town with my partner because, you know, if I have an episode living alone in some town far away from my support network, I'm really screwed. Orlando is my home and I plan to stay here. But what that means is that I'll never be successful like I thought I would be. I'm half the professional person I thought I'd be and I have to admit that hurts. Plus, my job has sent me on a whirlwind of stress and anxiety. I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it has something to do with the way we teach composition at UCF. It's like no other curriculum I've ever experienced and I had to learn it WHILE I was teaching it. I'm not teaching literature, which, at times, breaks my heart. But we live with our choices and I have to weigh things out.

3. Physical health. I let the gym slip for a long time, there, but I'm getting back on the horse at the local YMCA. When things went south, it was so easy to just NOT GO. I'm determined to get back where I was in 2010 in part physically, and so that's going to take a lot of dedication. 3 days a week, spinning and weights. No excuses.

4. Friends. I've been keeping regular visits with Monty and Ali, who have been godsends these last few years, but I need to reach back out to my larger network. I started visiting Lisa, my long-time mentor, and I visit with my newer friend Missy quite a bit. Missy is a wonderful addition to my life, a very close friend of Thuan's, because she is so welcoming and nurturing and kind. If I need to talk, she always listens and she's always there to hold up my soul. She holds a lot of people up; she's chosen to live a life without a partner or children and, instead, devotes herself to the other connections in her life. I'm one of them and she's an amazing person to know. There's also Lauren, who I've recently just been reconnecting with and Jessica, as well. I've just got to keep the network in place because we all need each other. I can't let Thuan be everything to me, as I have in past relationships.

5. Money. I barely even want to go here because it's an issue I'm only now getting a grip on. It's so easy to let it slip by you when the chips are down, so I have more catching up to do than I ever dreamed I would. For an instructor, I get paid quite well (the university has thrown a lot of money at my department) but it's still not enough for me. I'm looking to move, I think, into administration and try my hand there once I've got this job under control. I'll never be a literature professor, so I'll go where there's some damn money instead.

Grades......done!

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I basically just finished figuring out my students' grades for Spring B. That makes me happy because now I can take the two weeks to genuinely focus on revamping my syllabus to make my life better for the coming Fall. It can't be like last Fall or Spring. It must be better. No questions, no nothing. It must be or I'll lose my mind.

Plus, you know, two hours in a composition class every day is just a bit much. You can't hold their attention that long in that class. Now, if I was teaching Women in Literature or similar, two hours would be just fine. We'd argue over that text the whole time. In comp, they really do just want out of there (most of them). That's ok. You know what? Most days, I do too. But I'm looking to change that.

Some people say these things are all about attitude. Ok, fine. But I'm hoping the new syllabus IS the new attitude change I need. External factors definitely come into play. Like, I can't help it that I have chronic anxiety. I can cope and adjust my meds, but it's not my FAULT.

Right now, though, I'm drinking a glass of wine and relaxing before I get myself ready to go out dancing with the love of my life. I shouldn't worry about things because next week? Next week I have off and I don't have the girls, so I'm going to just work on that syllabus and go to Islands of Adventure whenever the fuck I want. The End.

Jul. 30th, 2013

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On A Song of Ice and Fire:

It takes me a long time to read a book. Like, a really long time. I put it down for ages and then pick it back up again. Well, with A Song, I'm only in book 2 and I'm already abandoning it. I love the TV show, but I'm not loving the books all that much. I think a part of it may be that I've already seen the show and I already know the big plot points. Nothing's driving me on, really. There are smaller things that I'm privy to by reading the books, but perhaps not enough to keep me on track. I pick it back up as a time killer more than anything else. Plus, I'm finding Martin's tendency to just kill people off to be a bit of an annoyance--some people love that, it just feels like a gimmick to me in some ways. I'll still watch the TV show, but I think I'm just going to read the books slowly. Maybe I should just start on book 4, since I've seen up to season 3? On teaching and on ThuanCollapse )

On Teaching:

The anxiety is a lot less recently, but I can't tell if it's because I'm getting used to it or if it's just because it's summer and I have a lot less responsibility. I'm basically working part time for the university over the summer. Come the fall, will I slip back into depression and anxiety mode again? I don't know. Maybe I won't. Maybe this go 'round it will be easier. Everyone says it gets slowly easier and that by year 3, you're fine. Another year of that anxiety, though, and I think I'll just crack. Last year was terrible. To be honest, I'm not sure why. I've been teaching for about 11 years, now, and I've always loved it. I don't know. My mentor says it's the rhetoric curriculum we all have to learn to teach at UCF and I think I agree. The students are reading theory and so I have to teach theories and make them applicable to freshmen. Like, I'm used to theory standing on its own without any need for explanation as to why it matters to a person. Um. Because it does? And I'm not even teaching the theories I care about; I'm teaching Rhetoric and Composition, which is not my specialty. I guess that would cause anyone a fair amount of anxiety. I miss teaching literature.

On Thuan:

Things are great. He's still the most supportive partner I've ever had in my life. That's why jaunting off to teach literature somewhere and leaving him behind just doesn't seem like the right answer to any of my problems. Plus, since I'm bipolar, finding people in my life who can catch me when I fall is just less likely to happen if I'm in some town far away with no one but faculty to do things like, oh, let me move in with them to recover and take my dog while I can't care for her.

So, I'll just keep going. There's that whole statement about "The only way out is through" and I'm just going to keep leaning on that for now.

Getting my hairs did.

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On Fridays, I have the day off. To most people this might seem like a dream, but it's seriously boring. Usually, on this day, I'll go out to Islands of Adventure and kill some time in the wizarding world, but I have an appointment at 1 to get my hair done. After that, I don't want to sweat and mess it up, since I have a party I'm going to tonight. Can't show up all post-sweaty park and all.

But seriously, the thing I'm looking forward to is that glass of wine they hand me when I walk in the door. Plus, it always feels good to get my hair done.

Point of this post is that having these days off is great on one level, on another I know I have a day to fill before 7:00 when the party starts. *sigh* I guess I'll just watch Game of Thrones.

I know it sounds great, but it's really not.

The Wizarding World

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I go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter world quite often. I have an annual pass, or, as I like to call it, a sanity pass. Even with all the work I do as an instructor, I still have this maddening downtime where I'm not mentally capable of doing research but sitting still will make me crazy. So, I come out here, ride the rides, have a butterbeer and fish and chips, and have a beer while I sit and watch the ducks with Hogwarts in the background.

I can hear the roller coasters I won't ride and the faint screams of the people on them. There's something comforting about this atmosphere, which is odd to you, I'm sure, since it's a theme park. Ah, well, it's just what calms me down.

Today, I'm not thinking about anything, really. Just calm and just fine. Maybe I really am getting better.

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Ah, therapy.

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I see both a psychiatrist and a therapist. They work in the same office, so they're able to talk to one another about my care and my therapist is able to go to my psychiatrist when I've said something she's concerned about. It's really an ideal situation, but it makes my chart the hugest one in their stack when I go to see either of them. Of course, I've had some hard knocks, which is why I see "the big guy" and not one of his nurses.

Anyway, I went to see my therapist and told her how successful my weekend had been and she said the fact that I was ABLE to relax shows I've come a long way. And maybe I have. I mean, honestly, I was able to just look out at the ocean, enjoy a beer, and do nothing. I can rarely do nothing. I have to keep myself going or I'll lose my mind. It's one of the reasons I have an annual pass to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios--so I can just go out there whenever I need to get on rides and generally get lost.

So, the hard part, though, was coming back from the weekend. I cried to her today because I told her I just wanted to be able to get that feeling back, the relaxation, that feeling like I was miles away from my job. Surprisingly, she did something she never does--she's very clinical--and suggested I do meditation and yoga. You have to appreciate the way we go about my care. We talk about theories of mental health and how people like me deal with these kinds of issues. Normally, she knows to take the intellectual route with me and use my mind in that manner. I was a little taken aback by her suggestion to do yoga and meditation or guided imagery. We just don't deal with my issues in that manner. She even suggested I look for iPhone apps for the meditation part. Kind of strange.

I might try it, though.

It's hard to get back to work.

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After a relaxing weekend away, I have to go teach today. I'm really not ready to, even though it's only for a short time. I need another day to ease back into reality before I can dive back into teaching. Plus, I was ridiculous today and got ready an hour early, thinking I taught an hour earlier than I do. What was I thinking? I have no idea. So, now I have all this time to kill before I go teach. I hate that. It's like just waiting to go and get it all over with for the day.

I'm grumpy, moody, and brooding. Because I teach from 2-4, I'm always starving when I get out. It would seem like the perfect time to teach, but I usually eat too early. I bring a snack, but I get out and I'm always a little on the shaky side.

So, I guess I'm just grumbling about having to go back to work. Same as everyone else today.

Do you guys know how to stop an RSS?

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Does anyone know how I can stop receiving posts from an RSS feed? I don't want to see any more pictures of dogs on my LJ feed.

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