What I’ve been up to

I got a very nice email from someone who liked my blog, and who noticed I hadn’t posted since last spring, hoping I was still all right. Which, yes! Just work is still eating most of my brains.

However, I thought it might be a good time to do a “What I’ve been up to” sort of round up, so here’s what I’ve been up to in July and August. (I went through and pulled numbers because I was sort of curious, and because I’ve been feeling like pieces of this are off balance from what I’d like them to be and data might help me make choices I liked better.)

I’m also hoping it might be a useful sort of view for people wondering what a random Pagan’s daily life looks like, in a manageable chunk.

Things written:

7 new articles for Seeking : These are the ones under “About libraries and finding resources” on the Learning More page, plus “Deepening interactions with a deity“) Which turns out to be about 13,000 words. I had draft notes for some of these previously, or they started as things I wrote more casually.

An updated version of my “Care and Feeding” document, which I share more privately with friends who see me regularly, and people who’ve known me in more day to day spaces online who find it interesting or are looking for ideas for managing or talking about similar health issues (which turned out to be 2500 words this time – I hadn’t updated since I moved to Massachusetts.)

It has a handy list of things I eat and don’t eat, how I manage scheduling, and other things that are useful for me to remember about myself so that if someone wants to make plans, I don’t have to remember the full list of “Oh, yeah, this thing matters” while we’re sorting out details.

(Most people who see me in person remember “Oh, yeah, there’s some stuff you don’t eat, right?” but my list is a little weird, and several parts of it are “That’s fine as long as it’s not the base of the meal” It’s also not a problem at most restaurants or potlucks or other places I can choose from a few dishes, so it only comes up if someone’s cooking for me.)

A total of about 75 posts with about 17,000 words in July and about 9000 words in August in various threads on The Cauldron (where I’m also staff these days, and therefore also read pretty much every thread.) My time spent there also includes a couple of hours doing some research related to some problematic user behaviour, and some work on background materials.

About 15,000 words of general commentary via Dreamwidth about daily life things I want to keep track of and/or that people who read me there might find interesting or amusing.

6 emails from people via contact forms on this site or the Seeking site or backchannel from the Cauldron with specific questions, all of which got moderately lengthy answers.

The tail end of a fiction project that will get posted later this week.

(Plus, y’know, all sorts of other casual contacts and chat with friends and the other things I do online.)

Things read:

14 books (or rather, I expect to finish the 14th by the end of the month) in ebook format: specifically the Mary Russell series by Laurie King. The first 9 I’d read previously, but about 5 years ago now, and I wanted to catch up with the series because there was one (The Pirate King) which I thought would be right up my alley (Gilbert and Sullivan!), and I also wanted to read Dreaming of Spies which is the most recent one out.

Plus, I think, three or four books while in the bathtub. (All rereads. I’ve been reading less in the bath because I’m swimming more and therefore showering after swimming instead of having a bath in the evening. Showers and books do very badly.)

This is somewhat under my current average (I usually read 8-10 books in a month, which is way down from when I was in college, but I read a lot more words online now than I did then.) It’s also sort of somewhat mono-focused being a single series (my usual reading runs about half non-fiction, half split between mysteries and speculative fiction, with a couple of Pagan books in the mix in a month.)

Speaking of online, my RSS feeds usually pick up about 100-150 posts in the average day (not counting the handful of Tumblr feeds) and I probably read 25-40 of them in reasonable depth (some are fairly short, others are much longer, include long form journalism, etc.)

Plus more generally casual social media and online space conversations (mostly via Dreamwidth and LiveJournal, with the occasional dip into Twitter. I don’t do Facebook except for work for a variety of reasons.)

I’ve also gone through some number of podcasts. I usually go through 3-5 a week while exercising now (depending on how long they are: I have them on three days a week usually for about 45 minutes or an hour) plus usually one each day on my commute home (the ones I pick for that are about 30 minutes) plus one or two more most weeks while doing household stuff.

Mostly history, at the moment, with a mix of other stuff – Sawbones (medical history), Stuff you missed in history class and Backstory (both general history, though structured differently), specific episodes of In our time (a BBC history segment on a topic) and a few others like Note to Self (technology and culture).

Other reading. Two chapters of a friend’s current project (turning her dissertation research into a book) with commenting. Also a bunch of grant and related materials for the workshop in August, about 40 cover letters and related documentation, and a bunch of other related things.

Things gone to:

One science fiction conference (Readercon in mid-July) where I spent a lot of time with one of my best friends (who lives in Minnesota), saw a number of other people I like, and had a couple of really nice meals. I didn’t actually get to much of the convention programming because my lungs violently disagreed with the hotel, which both meant I was out of sorts a lot of the weekend, and took forever to recover afterwards.

One professional conference which involved two long bits of travel (and a very early plane) and three days in Texas in 100+ F degree heat. I do not do heat well. The actual event was great, and I got to meet people who are about as much in my exact field as I get these days, and that was awesome. However, it also took me a week or two to recover from.

Pagan related things: One initial meeting with a potential student, which went well. Our ritual group Lughnasadh, which was also lovely (and which potential student and spouse came to). We continue to recommend a pinata of suitable shape for your ritual sacrifice and reward needs.

However, the potential student had a sudden attack of life (he got a promotion at work, so it’s a good one!) so no further pursuit of training for at least a bit.

I also put in a proposal for Eastern Massachusetts Pagan Pride Day (which was accepted! It’s September 17th, if you live at all locally and are interested. I’m doing a shorter variant of what I presented at Paganicon about universal design and sustainable Pagan practice.

Miscellaneous social events and appointments: One day socialising with a friend back in the area for a month, yay! (And a bit with the two friends she was staying with.) One outing for coffee with someone from online. One outing to a movie with a co-worker. One dinner out with friends who live nearby.

Medical stuff: One eye appointment (getting a baseline and making sure there’s nothing that needs attention, since I hadn’t had one in a while), one nutritionist appointment. This is way down from a couple of months ago, since I am now at every 3 months with my doctor (we’re still calibrating how meds + other things are doing with my body.)

But it’s a lot better than June, when I had five separate appointments: a nutritionist appointment, labwork, an ultrasound, and two doctor’s appointments. Or May, when I had an ultrasound and a nutritionist appointment.

The day to day: 

July and August are not great months for me – I do very badly in heat and humidity, and Massachusetts has both over the summer.  We’ve had two actual heat waves so far, and a lot of days with the highs in the upper 80s. (I have air conditioning at home and in my office, but there are still the necessary outside bits to contend with.)

My usual daily stuff involves: 

  • Work, which for me means leaving the house around 7, starting work at 7:45, leaving work at 4:15, and getting home around 5. (Monday to Friday)
  • Mostly exercising 3 days a week, which means leaving home around 6am the days I do it (I have been swimming, by preference, so there is a certain amount of fiddling with gear involved here even though it reliably cuts at least 10-15 minutes off my commute time.)
  • Groceries, laundry, and other such things.

I have been working with my nutritionist and doctor about both working up to that amount of exercise and trying some different food habits (which is complicated by the fact that cooking gets tricky when you have conditions that affect both how tired you are and how coordinated you feel, and also whether or not something looks like food to you today.)

These changes have mostly been going well, but they’re also taking me a lot of extra time and attention to think through right now because they’re not yet routine.

Work is still excellent, but it’s been eating a lot of attention because of one project (updating some sections of our museum) tends to expand to fill available time. Plus hiring a new assistant and getting documentation ready for her (she starts this week!) and doing stuff the assistant normally does until she starts, some of which I’ve never done in my current library.

None of it’s terribly difficult, but there’s a lot of “Argh, I have never printed labels on this precise copier, which way do I put in the labels to get them to print right?” and “I know we have supplies for this, where are they?” Also, there’s just plain a lot of hiring paperwork and coordination (and I have an intern starting in September, too!)

And on top of that, they’re using August (the one month there are no classes on our campus) to do various construction projects, which have mostly not been as noisy as I was afraid they might be, but are still causing a lot of changes in small daily things like which bathroom I use (about twice as far as my usual one) and the fact there’s no soda machine for a backup mid-afternoon and so on.

Which is to say, there’s been a lot of stuff eating my executive function skills which are naturally very good, and even modified by the medical stuff that makes them not work as well, usually more than adequate, but it’s been harder going than usual the past two months.

Other projects: We’re back to the Pagan life part again, but it became clear to me early this year that my ritual year needed to focus on getting my life into a shape that was sustainable and building toward the things I want to do long-term (now that I’m in a job that should be fairly stable, and living in an area with both a lot of people I know, and that I love in general.)

Some of that has been the medical stuff (yay, finding a doctor whose response to a couple of “Oh, and there’s this thing, but my last couple of doctors didn’t want to do anything about it” was “We can fix that! I’m pretty sure!” and she’s right!)

Some of it is financial stuff – getting a better saving rate going (I now have a salary where that’s a lot more feasible), and this month, when I got on work’s retirement plan (there’s a year’s delay to qualify), figuring out how I wanted to arrange that.

Some of it is household stuff. I’ve been slowly rearranging things so they work better and take less effort (and I am so far enjoying the addition of an electric grill and an Instant Pot to my kitchen. Also the new thing that makes spiral vegetables.) I also had the apartment professionally cleaned last week, and will do that monthly going forward, because there were several things (like mopping floors) I’ve been finding take all my spare energy for the day, and therefore were getting done less often than they should be.

I’m really pleased with how these things are going, but there’s no denying they take time and attention.

Daily practice: You’ll notice there isn’t much explicit ritual or daily practice stuff in here. I am currently doing a lot of little small things (deliberate choices about passwords, computer desktops, other things like that) that encourage the goals I want to meet spiritually. I read a lot, and talk a lot to other people about various topics.

I do centering/grounding/shielding/cleansing stuff as needed but by this point in my Pagan life, it’s pretty much a ‘I do bits of it without thinking through it as a thing I need to do specifically’ regularly.

And I do a lot of M’Lady’s work for me in the things described above.

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