for the past few months, I have walked in a daze of exhaustion and frustration and, yes, grief—to the point where it often stopped registering because it became my new normal.
“I live here now,” I joked with my student teacher, eve… but we both know I wasn’t really joking. we’d just spent a whole day helping students process the loss of one of their classmates, of one of our students, of someone I had known since he was fourteen years old and who was gunned down within a few blocks of my apartment at eighteen… and we felt numb, cold, detached from our bodies as we dragged ourselves down the stairs.
to be perfectly honest, I don’t know why I’m writing this here, of all places—or now, after all this time.
I don’t know a lot of things right now.
perhaps that is why I’m writing this, after all… so I can try to make sense of things. thus, this will most likely be messy and it might not ever reach a conclusion—but I can promise you it’ll be honest.
and so, in the interest of honesty, allow me to (re)introduce myself: I’m elle, I’ll be 33 in six weeks, I’m divorced and jewish and queer and neurodivergent, and I’m an educator and doctoral student…
…and last thursday, for the first time in over two years, I wished I were dead.
there’s so, so much to talk about that I don’t really know where to begin—but I figured it might be safest to start here, in a familiar format, just trying to do some updates. that should work, right?
buckle in—this will be long and you might get a bit of whiplash.
let’s give it a go.
create a writing routine. man, has this been a wild ride—and by that I mean that my feelings about this have been a wild ride, while my actual writing has been at a standstill. even the bujo fell by the wayside in June after really valiant efforts to keep it going through what felt like literal hell this year! I mean, I literally wrote once in the entire month of May and twice in June. I’ve done a fair amount of writing in the past two days, though, and I’m working on creating a workflow for the summer since I’ll be juggling several projects and setting my own schedule since I won’t be working summer camp or summer school (more on this below). I finalized the revisions on the first chapter of my dissertation and made a fair bit of progress on the second, and I joined a co-writing group so I can hopefully make some more progress on it this summer. I have yet to determine whether I’m also going to try and work on DoA again this month… we’ll see. I might just give it another go in November. I’m also maybe dipping my toes into some more fun writing pursuits to relieve some pressure and try to find some joy in it again. ♥
be responsible with money. this has been pretty solid so far except for one glaring situation—neither summer camp nor summer school are happening for me this year, which means that I’m not bringing in any of my usual income this summer. since we went on strike last October, I also had to fly home for my dad’s funeral and drop several grand on divorce proceedings, so my savings are absolutely not where I would want them to be—so I’ve taken on several freelance projects and extra tutoring assignments to supplement those. I still expect that the summer will be lean and I’m a little nervous, but it is what it is and I know that I am extremely blessed to be where I am in the first place, which is why I’ve also made sure to donate whenever I could. (and, well. there have been some “treat yourself and your closest friends” moments, most of which have included BTS merch. y’all know me—I don’t know how to half-ass anything, I can only whole-ass… so now that I have committed to this fandom, I have done it with my whole-ass heart and I am so glad I have because they have been my #1 source of serotonin in the darkest days.)
okay so far? let’s dig into where things really start to go off the rails.
yes, I’m still here, and stuff is still happening, and I’ve got some updates for y’all.
create a writing routine. y’all, this went so well at the start of this month… I was ahead of the curve for Camp NaNoWriMo! but then the depressive episode hit mid-month and I’ve just been stuck in neutral ever since. I made a lot of progress on this month’s project and I wrote some stuff for it that I really loved, but I’m really not certain where I’m going next or whether I’m gonna be able to do any writing tomorrow so I’m sad to have yet another one where I don’t get to finish, especially since I started out so well. but it was so nice to have a space where I could write this month, and I really appreciated getting to do it, so I want to do so much more of it! we’ll see!
be responsible with money. this has been pretty good despite the madness of this pandemic, and I’ve managed to pay off another two things and just renewed my lease so I’m feeling pretty steady about the next year… I’m just freaking out a little about the summer because of course summer camp isn’t happening and I’m going to have to find a way to supplement my income because I haven’t been able to save like I wanted to what with how wild the past few months have been. it’s been hard to know that I’ve been improving so much on this and I might still end up in that hot mess place this summer! but we’ll see how things end up…
“…that which we call a rose / by any other word would smell as sweet…” ~Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.43-44
(cw: grief, complicated family dynamics)
I feel like I write one of these every few years at this point—a post in which I wax poetic about how many names I have and why I have so many and what they all mean and what I would like to be called, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam. so I figured, for once, I’m going to write that post not on Facebook and I’m going to archive it somewhere where I can just have a handy link for future reference. 🙂
why do I keep having to do this, you might ask?
the truth is that I was doomed from birth—I had been destined to be the third of my name, named after my grandfather (who had no sons) and his father before him, but then I was assigned female at birth and my mom had to get really creative really quickly and ended up saddling me with a host of names that have started many an interesting story.
(yes, that’s a Fall Out Boy reference, let me live~)
if you’ve been around the blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me mention my bullet journal. I started the project last year with some really gorgeous and intricate hand-drawn spreads (like this stunning pride one that I labored over for literal hours)—and I ended up quitting after having several months where I just could not keep up with the standard I had set for myself (even after trying to restart in the face of skipped months).
so, for this year, I decided to keep it simple and do the bullet journal MY WAY so that I would actually keep up with it!
read on to find out how I did it—as well as to see some of my recommendations for printables and supplies to set up the perfect, customized bullet journal layout for yourself in just a few, easy steps!
(weekly updates two weeks in a row? in this, the year of some people’s lord 2020? who is she?)
create a writing routine. this has been… interesting. now that I have a writing nook in my room (pictures coming soon!!!), I am definitely taking some time to sit down and decompress with my bullet journal every night so that’s working well. we’re also only on day two of Camp NaNoWriMo, but I did block writing time on my calendar and I have at least spent some of the scheduled time writing—so perhaps I’ve found a routine that will work in times of quarantine? we just have to see what happens if and when I need to start leaving the house again…
be responsible with money. this is still not back to normal from the furniture I replaced and some of the other household things I got—I’m hoping that I’ll have a better idea of how I’m doing with making these decisions by my next pay period. 😬
(cw: death of a parent, grief, major life changes)
whenever I’ve spoken to anyone in person about my dad’s death recently, I’ve always turned it into some “here is what I have learned from this” kind of situation, so I figured I would share those three lessons with y’all to start off this week since I’m taking a moment to remember them and recenter myself.
listen to your damn doctor(s). my dad was 51, healthy as far as we knew, active—not exactly a top candidate for a heart attack, but he still had one. we later realized that he had some underlying health issues that, if treated, might have led to a different outcome (or maybe not… heart attacks are unpredictable). with that in mind, I came back from Puerto Rico and called literally every conceivable doctor to make an appointment. going back to old doctors, getting new ones, running new tests, looking into prescriptions… and I doubled-down on this year’s goal to make better health choices so I can maximize my time and the quality of whatever time I have.
say what you need to say while you still have time. a recurring theme during my dad’s funeral was the, “I never got to say ______________.” a lot of us hadn’t spoken to him in a while or, if we had, it had been about something inconsequential—we’d been dancing around big things that are now forever unsaid. so, if there’s someone in your life you need to make amends with, or someone you really have things to say to? do it now, while you can. especially since we’re social distancing—write the email, make the phone call, schedule the video chat. show people that you care… they need it now more than ever.
life is too damn short to be miserable. as we recapped my father’s life in our attempt to write our own eulogy, my siblings and I realized that life isn’t a series of achievements/ accomplishments/purchases/travels—it’s about the connections and the way we touch each other’s lives and what we do with those achievements/accomplishments/purchases/travels. so we sat there and thought about our own lives. if we were to watch the montage of our lives flash before our eyes like some overwrought death scene in a film, would we like what we see? would we feel satisfied? would we feel like we did all we could and lived as well as possible? the answer for several of us—definitely for me—was a resounding no… and that answer has haunted me for the past couple of months as I tried to figure out what needs to change.
my dad’s death changed my life—not just because I lost him, but because his death forced me to confront and accept a lot of things that I had been talking myself in circles around for weeks and months and years. and now, in the midst of a global pandemic, these lessons seem to me more important than ever.
I guess that, in his own way, my dad’s still trying to guide me on to a better path. ♥
let’s see how much we remember and when we’re at with stuff… I’m hoping this is a new baseline and that I can start getting back on track with stuff next month (but something awful has gone down every month so far so I’m not suuuuuper hopeful).
create a writing routine. as is obvious by the fact that I didn’t exactly blog for, oh, two months, this is totally something I haven’t been doing. I particularly have struggled with starting my dissertation as my life’s been falling apart over the past almost eight weeks. BUT, better times are in sight—I actually worked on chapter one of my dissertation tonight and should have a draft of it sent to my chair by EOB tomorrow, and I will be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month with my student teacher and our students. I’ve also been a lot more active on here over the past week and I’m hoping to continue posting at least once a week moving forward… we’ll see!
be responsible with money. this has been… a total mess. the madness of the past eight weeks required some unexpected spending in the form of flights and a lawyer’s retainer—so, several thousand dollars later, I had to sort of rethink my financial goals for the year. that said, I’ve officially paid off another credit account, I’m current on everything, and I’ve been true to my work of rethinking my relationship with my possessions and going through my closet/drawers/bookshelves with some KonMari magic. spending time going through memories and choosing to cleanse my space has actually been really healing… and I’m looking forward to sharing some more information about The Unfuckening™️—aka my big apartment makeover—as soon as it’s done in a couple of weeks.
(recurring cw for the THIRD goal: mentions/discussions of mental health [specifically anxiety, bipolar depression, ADHD], psychotropic medications, weight loss, food/nutrient/calorie tracking. if any of these could be remotely upsetting, please take care of yourself and skip that whole section! to make it easier to know what’s where, I’ve tagged mental and physical health in bold italics.)