A year ago to now

A year ago, I was experiencing the joys of a relaxing day at the Blue Lagoon, outside Reykjavik, Iceland. I had a silica mask, then an algae mask regime, as I soaked in warm waters heated naturally by geothermal energy. I was wrapping up two months of travel throughout 10 countries in Europe, and really living my life to its very fullest. I was experiencing nature in all its glory, sans work, as I was on a much-needed sabbatical. Those were the days.

Fast forward to today, and no, I’m not anywhere glorious like Iceland. I’m not inside the magma chamber of a dormant volcano, repelling against the rocks, and modelling a hard hat. I’m not hiking to the top of and behind seemingly unreal, yet still very real, waterfalls. I’m not treading upon a quickly-melting glacier in a much too thin jacket.

I am in a new city (for me), in a new condo, with a new kitty, and a new job, though. I didn’t realize so much had changed from a year ago until I typed that, and reread it. Seattle has been a great move for me, but it’s just everyday life now. My condo is a work in progress, but it’s in a state where I’m able to live comfortably and happily every day. My kitty cat sleeps with me most nights, and while he isn’t the best at grooming, and sometimes just wants to play with all the toys at once when all I want to do is veg and burrito myself on the couch, he’s wonderful. I love that little fucker so much.

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My new job is lovely. I love going to work. There used to be days when I wouldn’t leave my apartment for days at a time, except to go to the gym or get food. Once, I didn’t bother going into the office for 3 whole weeks. It’s not like anyone missed me. I just worked from home. The stress of living and working in San Francisco was too much for a post-Australia me. Seattle is just right. It’s had some foggy days of late here, and it feels like San Francisco, but without all the shit that made it awful.

My coworkers are smart, funny people, and I enjoy being part of a great team. I’m finally feeling more comfortable in my role, now that I’ve been here for nearly 5 months. The hardest part of my role, which I was specifically hired to oversee, the audits, finalized yesterday for the last few funds for the 2015 reporting year. There were some definite table-flipping, chair-throwing moments of intense stress, but I survived and handled those moments with as much grace as I could muster.

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There’s still a matter of other business duties that goes along with operating hedge funds, like capital calls, distributions, annual investor statements, performance releases, management fees, month-end and quarter-end responsibilities, other review functions, and a slew of other lesser issues popping up. It’s all manageable, though. And interesting, since I didn’t really ever get to see this side of things, being in the auditor role for the last 12 years of my career.

I haven’t had much of a desire to travel, after depleting my savings to make a down payment on said condo. I feel good about my decision to purchase a home when I did though, as that meant selling out of all my long positions in the stock market before this Brexit market nonsense happened. And before the Seattle housing market begins to cool. I would say I’ve definitely enjoyed some appreciation on my home, just for taking the plunge on a purchase sooner rather than later. Crazy what a difference a few months can make. I’ve nested at home as well, not wanting to take any long trips or be away from Cheddar for an extended period of time. I didn’t have the money anyway, as I was furnishing a home three times the size of my place in San Francisco. I’m currently paying off those credit cards, and once I’m back at flat ground again, financially, I think I’d like to start looking into another international trip. It may not be two months long, but I’d like it to be longer than a week, with a couple destinations included.

I find myself getting that old familiar travel bug again: the desire to see new places, experience new things, gain new perspective, and push the limits of my comfort zone. I’ve built a strong comfort zone in my new home, and soon it will be time to leave it again.

Until then, though, this will be my spirit animal, resting in its comfort zone:

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The Orlando response

Ever since the events in Orlando unfolded this weekend, I’ve been processing, very much internally. I gauge the appropriateness of my own response, and responses of those who surround me. True, it’s very judgmental and I’m not usually so judgmental. That’s a whole other issue.

A friend on Facebook posted, “Are straight people just numb to mass shootings or do they just not care that it happened to us?” Comments further in the feed suggest us to look at our friends’ pages, and see how they’d rather mourn and stand in solidarity with France than us. More comments say no one puts a Syrian or a Lebanese flag on their profile picture when mass killings happen elsewhere every day. You have to be white, from a western country, and straight if you want people to mourn for you. I’m not saying I agree or disagree with these, but the viewpoints afforded got me thinking.

This posting resonated deeply with me. To be fair, there were vigils nearly everywhere throughout the US on Sunday night, attended by the LGBT community and allies alike. I didn’t go. So I didn’t see firsthand how people were coping. Vigils just aren’t my thing.

On Sunday, I personally went to the gym and vented all my rage and frustration via my muscles. I can barely walk and lift my arms today, 3 days later, but that is beside the point. I got teary but I didn’t let out a full cry. It’s still in there bottled up, and may present itself at the most inopportune of times, cause that’s how I roll.

The day it happened, a coworker texted me, “People have so much hate in their heart and it’s disgusting. Wanted to send a hug your way.” She just couldn’t eat all day, and she even offered to come over if I needed a friend. She looked into donating blood here. She went to say how sad and pathetic it is when the acts of a few extremists define an entire race and religion. We both agreed that at times like this, more love in the world is the cure. As an afterthought, she is an Indian Muslim, not that it matters. She, her husband, and their 3 kids were going to the vigil, and she checked a website for a local mosque, and many in the Muslim community planned to attend the vigil in Seattle.

But it also sort of does matter that she reached out first, and has been the only (from my place of employment) since. The only person to speak to me since it happened at my place of employment was a Muslim. She expressed more love than most.

I feel like the silence of the straight people around me is deafening. Part of it may be that they support us, but they don’t know how to react, or how to be an ally when something this pervasive and horrible happens. Part of it may be that Orlando is so far away from Seattle, literally diagonally across this great nation. It’s far away from home and perhaps they think there are no impacts around here. Part of it may be that they’ve never experienced fear of their family disowning them just for being who they really are, fear of holding hands with someone they love walking down the street, fear that someone seeing them kissing their partner could ignite a shooting rampage just like this one.

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Who has reacted, and in a typical disappointing fashion, are those who skew the events, or view them through narrow lenses, to forward their own agendas on, say, the radical Islamic movement, or gun control, or alcohol and drugs in the scene. That continues to disgust me to the point of filtering which news I read to weed that kind of response out.

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I looked for the positives, and the helpers. I chose to see those who queued up to donate blood. One of the greatest injustices in this whole fiasco are the antiquated blood donation restrictions on sexually active gay men. They had just seen 100 members of their community gunned down in cold blood, and they were rendered powerless to do anything to help. Blood is tested on site at the donation center, yet they were still turned away.

If it is a plague of numbness to shocking events, due to sheer volume of occurrences like this, that is horrifying in and of itself. While it can be hard to articulate a response, and any words one can come up with feel inadequate, I’d argue the LGBT community needs to hear them. We need to hear something. They may not be the right words, but let us know somehow they’re coming from a good place, and we’re safe with you. That you care. While we’ve come a long way, many members of the LGBT community are at different points in their journey. Some still walk through this world more afraid to be themselves than anything else.

I hope our straight allies are grieving too, and maybe they’re just at a loss for how to show it, like I am. Some people don’t or can’t react until it hits close to home for them – their family, their town, their demographic.

I have no idea if my own response is right or wrong, and some people may judge me just as harshly for not attending vigils or being more vocal. But that is also not my style. I find myself, as always, grieving in my own, very personal, way.

If any allies out there want a good read on how to support us, check this out: To my heterosexual friends

It’s ok to be speechless, but I do ask that each and every one of you just put more love into the world. Before you speak, before you act, think. Save your prayers. Save your political rhetoric. Be empathetic. Don’t assume someone feels a certain way. Ask. Talk to us. Reach out across the silence, even though it may be comfortable to stay silent. Let us know it registered on your radar. Don’t pretend it didn’t exist or happen at all. That’s worse.

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The ambulance and emergency room

I feel like I never should have gotten out of bed 4 days ago. Thursday morning, I boarded a flight to Newark, NJ, bound ultimately for New York City for my first business trip in my new job. I didn’t really want to leave because I’ve done a fair amount of home repair and nesting. I didn’t want to find someone to take care of Cheddar kitty in my absence. But away I did, as there was no backing out once everyone else that had to attend settled on the dates of the trip.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind travel for work – I’ve done it enough, that’s for sure. I just love being home right now.

My flight to Newark was originally scheduled for 7am, which meant a wakeup for me by 3:30 to get in a shower and little time with Cheddar before a taxi to the airport. I didn’t sleep well that night, so I was awake before the alarm went off at 3:30am. I checked my phone… and my flight was delayed 3 hours due to aircraft maintenance. This was no good as part of my business meetings was a dinner the night before with the other company and our key contacts there. I had no prep as to who would be attending that dinner (come to find out later it was some very high up people), and I’d already woken up early for my flight to find out I was going to be grossly late for that dinner. Further, that 3 hour delay put my arrival at 6pm, peak hour for travel from Newark into midtown, where our events were to occur.

I’d never been in this situation before, and I didn’t know whether I still had to arrive at the airport as if my flight was on time, only to hang around just in case there was an update to this. I took my chances, rightly stressed myself out doing so, and decided to stay back and change my taxi pickup to 2.5 hours later. Since there was no more sleep to be had, I busied myself with chores so I’d have less to do over the weekend once I got home. That would make it all the better to come home to.

The flight itself, once it finally did depart, was bumpy. Imagine that video for the BMW commercial where Clive Owen is driving Madonna around, and she’s getting thrown around the back of the limo as she’s not wearing a seatbelt. That’s how my flight felt. One of the bumpiest I’d been on, but for the flight back to Seattle from Newark the next day, but I digress…

I went to the dinner, arrived late as suspected, only to be seated next to an older gentleman who took the friendly banter on a wrong turn to politics, fervently supported Donald Trump, and hijacked the whole table’s conversation to express those passionate feelings.

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I didn’t sleep well that night, in a new place, and funny enough, I miss Cheddar stomping all over me, cuddling me, bugging me, and generally being a sweet nuisance.

Our meetings kicked off the next day, and while some parts were interesting, others were not, and my lack of good sleep made me incredibly tired during a couple of times throughout the day. Finally, it was time to head back to the airport, but not before snapping a photo of Radio City Music Hall on this, the 3rd anniversary of my father’s death. Yes, I managed to distract myself fully from the weight that day usually has since he passed in 2013. It’s a hard day, and I get emotional. So all of the crappy feelings and lack of sleep just seemed to make matters worse. I cried in the taxi on the way back to Newark airport. Not much else to do, sitting in rainy traffic trying to get off the island on a Friday afternoon in June, at the same time as everyone else.

This flight was delayed too, due to a late arriving aircraft before us, and just took forever to board. As indicated, this flight was bumpy too. I had a woman seated behind me who had to be wheeled onto the plane, and pulled with all the might of her overweight frame on the back of my chair every time she got up and sat down. Whose legs were so long, they kneed me in the lower back the whole flight. Who dropped her massive noise reducing headphones onto my head.

We finally arrived, I didn’t kill this woman, though the moments leading up to deplaning and finally being away from her I thought I seriously might. Luckily I’m well trained in the art of not acting on the outside how I feel on the inside.

It was a quarter to midnight by the time I got home, and I couldn’t be happier. Cheddar kept pouncing on me during the night and into the morning, I think just to check I was still there since I’d left him overnight with no cuddles.

Saturday morning, I woke up and treated myself to wonderful breakfast, bound and determined to better my outlook, down the hill from me at my local historical diner with old tools affixed to the wood paneling, the Shanty. After that, the downhill slide took a turn for the worse.

Suddenly, and without warning, a horrible, crippling lower abdominal pain overtook me after breakfast as I tried to push through and do some grocery shopping while I was out. By the time I got home from the grocery store, I was grunting with every breath, hunched over, and sweating profusely. Once I managed to get in my door after what felt like forever, I went straight to the bathroom and lost that entire breakfast in one violent vomit comet. I collapsed to the floor, still in pain, still soaked with sweat. It was then I thought, food poisoning. But I couldn’t hate on that amazing biscuits and gravy with hash browns smothered in green chile chicken pepper sauce.

Then, when the #2 that usually goes with food poisoning never arrived, I freaked out even more as I lay half conscious on the carpet, desperate for any breeze but too tired and in too much pain to move to flip on a fan. Gallbladder. A friend of mine had hers out and I understood it to be a painful affliction before it’s removed. Appendix. No, it wasn’t on my right side though. This sat low, and a little to the left, near where my lady bits are, so then I thought about something exploding in an ovary, naturally.

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In the end, after waves of nausea subsided enough for me to pull on clean undies, shirt and pants, and pack a small bag with my wallet and phone, I managed to plant myself outside my condo’s front door and call 911 for an ambulance to help me. I knew it would be expensive, but I have no one here that I wanted to call to help me. I probably could have, but in the end, I just went the way of the professional.

I could not straighten out my body, as I was keeled over in pain. It felt like forever on that stretcher curled on my side, pushing my face into the pad as if that would somehow ease the pain. I finally got into a hospital bed, they started an IV, and the tests began.

They did blood tests, urine tests, and a CT scan after injecting my blood with iodine, all leading to inconclusive results. They released me, noting my gallbladder and my appendix were both fine, and I assume the CT scan would have shown any issues with the lady bits. All the doctor could note was an increased white blood cell count in my blood. 

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At this point, after overhearing one of the paramedics mention norovirus (which had me right freaked-the-fuck out), and then postulated diverticulitis, I googled the latter. It was pretty much exactly my symptoms, according to WebMD. I was discharged without a diagnosis, but I’m going to another doctor hopefully tomorrow who can help me get on some antibiotics and pain meds to help if it is. The emergency room doctor only gave me a prescription for anti-nausea medication. I didn’t bother filling it. Perhaps he missed the part where I was in the most pain in my entire life.

After taking a very lightheaded and surreal Uber home from the hospital, I am on a self-induced liquid diet, and trying to eat some solid foods. I have no desire to eat; I just know it wreaks more havoc on your system if you eat nothing at all. Every time I eat though, I cramp up in my stomach, I feel bloated, as nothing but liquids are passing through me.

I’ve put myself on a strict regimen of binge watching episodes of Twin Peaks, since I’d never seen the show. I’d taken my friends to Snoqualmie Falls the previous weekend, and it turns out those are the falls filmed in the famous opening sequences and in scenes of that show.

I feel absolutely shitty, which is ironic. I’ve never had digestive issues like this before, and certainly nothing a doctor could not diagnose right away.

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All I know is I’m ready for some good days again, after the crappiest 4 days I’ve had. I’ll be working from home tomorrow and hoping I can get that second doctor appointment to hopefully find some reprieve from the pain.