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So, yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Damian's death. I expected to feel Something Important and spend some time writing, but I actually didn't feel much of anything and just drifted through the day lazily. I only did one creative project (cannabis-infused olive oil) and did not attend yoga or do any chores.

I went to a "Bach & Friends" organ concert with Lois at 5pm at St. Andrews in Beaverton. I am not an Organ Fan, nor do I usually care for events at churches, but I'm glad I went. The organist, Cheryl, is a friend of Lois's, and I wanted to spend time with Lois. The music was quite nice, and the organ was joined by a flute and soprano for a few pieces. The musicians we're all very accomplished and I appreciated the intricacies of the classical style. The concert lasted about 75min, which was just right: I had been a little afraid of being trapped in a church for 3 hours of cantatas. Lois and I had sushi afterward and caught up/reminisced about Damian. I'm glad we were able to do that. My relationship with Lois is becoming closer and more important, as I've confided in her about my family of origin issues, and she's been wonderfully understanding and supportive. I told her about my plans to read Joseph Campbell and she highly recommended his series of interviews with Bill Moyers (which I already have on hold at the library)! Lois is the MIL the world needs.

I got home in time for my 8pm Star Trek online game, a nice surprise (I'd expected to miss it). Our story was at a point where we had a ceremony honoring fallen colleagues in the arboretum of the ship, so I'm glad I was there to participate; it made a meaningful coda to my day. I miss Damian, but I also seek new life and new civilization, boldly going.
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A slice of humanity for just $2 a ride. I rode the streetcar home this evening because it started raining. I usually walk to/from work, but today after work it was raining and my feet got wet, so I went to Side Door Cafe and waited until the next convenient streetcar arrival at 5:53pm.

I soon discovered a disturbed individual sitting nearby (on the departure steps near the door, even though there were plenty of seats open) loudly voicing threats to the general public.

"I can't stand people coming up to me, knocking on my door. The next time someone does that I'm going to knock them out."

"I should hang a sign around my neck, DO NOT APPROACH, because I'm a bad dog and I'll bite. I'll bite so hard, I'll bite their head off. FUCK."

A few stops later, the threatening person left the streetcar, with a parting comment "Get me off this fuckin train!!"

Yes, good riddance and hope you find the help you need, dude.

At the next stop, Blanket Jesus got on the streetcar. BJ is cool, he wears pajamas and 2 huge blankets and sandals year-round. I was a little skittish around him when I first saw him at the streetcar stop a few years ago, when he had long hair and a long beard and appeared somewhat disheveled. Recently, I've seen him on the streetcar regularly, and we recognize each other. He's clean-shaven and apparently has regular haircuts now; he looks like a friar but I still name him Blanket Jesus in my mind. I've never heard him speak, but he always waves at me and give me a thumbs-up, and I mirror that gesture back to him. I don't believe in a god anymore, but Blanket Jesus keeps popping up in my real life, and I believe in him.
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I'm doing better at sleep and mental health now that I'm on month 3 of closely monitored medication and therapy. It's good to feel better, but it's also expensive, time-consuming, and I'm looking forward to stepping down the meds and appointments in favor of exercise and my naturally developing coping skills.

A feeling of softness around my midsection is a side effect of being on antidepressants and not doing weightlifting/CrossFit recently. I have been going to yoga 2-4x/week, and I walk for at least an hour most days (doctor/therapist/dietician-approved activities) but I miss weight work, and pull-ups most of all. I'm ready to get back at it, but yo, fitness classes be expensive and my budget is tight. I'm going to have to find time to lift weights outside of work time at the local 24hour (I have a membership there, which I should take advantage of). I should attend my neighborhood yoga studio more often too, since I have a 5 class/month membership and extra classes are very affordable. I usually wake up for 8:15 hot yoga on Saturdays and Sundays. I hope to expand that morning yoga habit to the Tuesday+Thursday 7am (!) class as well, but that's a stretch goal right now.

It's also the time of the month where my body is cramping and leaking, which makes me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. My trainer friend Rachel just posted a selfie of her 6-month #fitpregnancy body, and she looks amazing... and when I looked at myself sideways in the mirror today, I compared my protruding tummy to hers. My belly is just swollen from menstruation, and it will change again within the next week as my cycle subsides and begins again. I shouldn't compare my body to the other lovely bodies I see on social media, but hey, I live in 2017 and that is a thing that I currently do.
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I rarely dream about weddings, but when I do, I'm on the verge of same-sex marriage with a stranger and there's some disaster occurring. I've never recalled a dream about marrying any partner I've been with or anyone I know IRL.

There was one dream a couple years ago where I was marrying this awesome lady named Laura. My awful mom burst into the venue and tried to interrupt the proceedings with a bigoted religious rant, but Laura stood up for us and said some brilliant things that totally shut down awful mom. I was still in contact with mom at the time I had the dream, and I thought nothing of it, but in hindsight, my dream life was giving me heavy foreshadowing. Now I reflect on the dream and realize I have the power within my own mind to act against bigotry, but since I rarely speak up for myself, my imagination invented my bride Laura to speak for me/us.

My most recent dream was different: no awful bigotry was involved, but there were more subtle disturbances. I was wearing a floofy white strapless wedding dress (totally not my style, I felt uncomfortable and hot and needed to pee) and a pair of kick-ass silver boots which I own IRL. My fiancee was a petite Asian-American woman wearing a similar elegant wedding dress and her own kick-ass boots. We were about to marry in a luxurious B&B we'd rented for the occasion, and my brother and his partner were attending, along with a few other childhood friends, all wearing outfits with kick-ass boots. My bride-to-be started panicking about having forgotten rings for the ceremony, so we went on the hunt for my jewelry box to look for rings. There was a big mess of stuff in our room at the B&B and my jewelry box was hidden (and open) underneath some gross wet towels, making our wedding jewelry all wet and sticky. I realized that I didn't even know the name of my soon-to-be wife, I felt pressured into the marriage, I hated wearing an uncomfortable floofy dress, and I was pissed about the mess in our room. I woke up at that point and was glad it was a dream.

I'm hoping to sleep better tonight and wake up in time for the first hot yoga class of the day... enough of nightmarez, time to live and breathe into my healing.
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I just got home from a 7-night celebrity nerd cruise to Baja California. Cruising is not really "my jam", and I was barely familiar with the celebrity headliners, so it's odd that I ended up on this vacation. But I did it! I cruised for a week, and it was relaxing, but I'm glad to be home.

Brian's friends from college, Steuard and Kim, are JoCoCruise veterans and the architects of our presence on this trip. Mike and Meredith were also on the cruise, so we had a critical mass of friends to hang with, as well as a boat full of fellow Seamonkeys to befriend. For the first time, JoCoCruise chartered a whole ship, the mv Westerdam on Holland America Line for a 1-week cruise out of San Diego. We had our own schedule of entertainments in all venues of the ship, special theme nights, and a 24/7 craft room.

Compared to Skeptic Cruise in 2011, when we were part of a small group on a generic cruise vacation, I felt at home on JoCoCruise. The 10th-deck lounge was officially referred to as Ten Forward, there was a dedicated quiet room, the aforementioned craft room, and a full menu of nerdy activities from board games to magic shows, live podcasts to author readings. In the New Seamonkey Orientation meeting as we set sail, Jonathan Coulton pointed out that some aspects of our humanity would be on hold for the duration of the voyage, and that was okay. This statement resonated with me as the vacation wore on.

In cruise world, everyone seems to lose track of time immediately after sailing. Watching land recede, the open ocean ahead, does wonders for clearing the mind of all thoughts and responsibilities. A daily schedule was magically delivered to our door each evening, and the elevator floor mats were labeled with the day of the week to keep us oriented. There were official and "shadow" community-organized events going on at almost all hours of the day and night.

With a ship full of nerds, we stressed the limited WiFi network on day 1 and forced a reconfiguration. I believe at the peak, 2,300 devices were connected to the internal network. I didn't purchase the expensive satellite internet package, but Brian and other seamonkeys reported lots of lag when accessing the internet at sea. The internal network also had a server running a custom Twit-arr web app, so there was a lively online conversation going within the seamonkey community. Twit-arr also had the schedule, forums, and messaging, which made it easy to find events I was interested in and connect with my group.

Dining is a large aspect of the cruise experience. Fortunately, Brian and I cruised with Holland America 5 years ago, on the Westerdam's sister ship mv Oosterdam, so we adjusted our expectations accordingly. Cruise food is generally designed for old white people, and tends to be bland and salty, with few vegetarian options. This held true for the most part, although I was pleasantly surprised at the daily availability of sushi and tiny salads on the lido deck buffet, as well as the "no sugar added" desserts. I filled up on 🍞+butter or oatmeal cookies when I was snacky, which was fine. I wasn't very hungry after the first day since I spent so much time relaxing.

I was minimally interested in the entertainment, but I attended all the daily shows and was pleasantly surprised by each one. Cameron Esposito + Rhea Butcher did a lovely stand-up set together. I was blown away by Zoë Keating's cello performance. I saw Portland feminist duo The Doubleclicks; their song My Jam was relevant to my experience. I caught the first part of Jean Grae's set at the concert in port at Loreto. Aparna Nanchurla's emoji comedy slideshow was so funny. And I formed a positive opinion of Pat Rothfuss after hearing him read and talk about his recent experiences.

I spent lots of time reading in the quiet room in the first day or two. After that, everyone else discovered that a quiet ocean-facing recliner is a great place to be. All the recliners were full, and some machine was making a loud vibrational noise, so I wandered the ship looking for a new place to do my introvert thing. I found Afternoon Tea at Ocean Bar on deck 3. Tea is the best meal on the ship: smoked salmon on bread, cucumber cream cheese on bread, fruit tarts and shortbread, scones with cream, and waiters in white gloves offering tea and hot water in silver serving vessels.

The staff are efficient and professional at all times, working long hours to ensure that guests will enjoy their vacation. There's an element of manic servitude in how quickly and thoroughly the crew clean, tidy, polish, and finesse every inch of the ship. If I left our cabin for an hour, it would be clean upon my return, with the bed made, breakfast dishes whisked away, and bathroom surfaces disinfected. Almost all aspects of my existence were managed, leaving me free to drift about, considering the intersectionality of being a wealthy white person attended by brown people in service jobs.

The Westerdam's first port of call in BC Del Sur was Cabo San Lucas. My period was happening in full force during the first 4 days (thanks stress) and so after lunch at Cabo Wabo with Brian, I made a trip to a farmacia to buy pads. Hahahaha spring break fun! I also visited the mall in Cabo San Lucas and found a brewpub untouched by the spring-breakers and other cruise people, so I scored some quiet moments of peace and free WiFi before taking a tender back to the ship.

The pools and hot tubs are another big attraction of cruising. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't splurge on new swimwear, because I didn't swim at all. The pools on the ship are small and often full of children, the hot tubs are small and often full of drunk adults. I didn't want to swim while menstruating, and in general the wet humid area with lots of audible coughing grossed me out. I can go to the hot tub anytime at home, so I had no FOMO about missing the pool scene on the Lido deck. 😎

The Westerdam's next port was Loreto, where we anchored overnight and had a music festival in the town square. I enjoyed the atmosphere of Loreto much more than Cabo San Lucas; it was a small beach town that reminded me of Seaside, Oregon. Brian and I had fish tacos, ceviche and guacamole at an open-air cafe near the plaza, where we could hear the beginning of the concert without being right in front of the speakers. It was very pleasant, and we took a tender back to the ship around dusk, while the concert continued until 12:30am.

There were a lot of late-night official activities, which I missed because I'm not a late-night seamonkey. I went to bed when I felt tired, avoided activities that would tempt me to drink late, and woke up for 8am yoga three times during the week. I think my therapist and psychiatrist will approve.

Cruise yoga was Very Basic and only 45 min, but I'm glad I signed up and went to all 3 classes. The fitness trainers did their best, and I enjoyed the challenge of doing yoga on a rolling ship. I'm experienced in my yoga practice, but I always enjoy doing yoga in a group and learning from different teachers. On the last day, my teacher told me that his typical students are older and not-very-fit, and that he struggled to demonstrate poses on last week's cruise to Hawaii. It was interesting to hear about a cruise worker's personal experience, since every other crew member I talked to avoided any subject outside the transactional nature of our interaction. Could be my personal bias; I'm terrible at initiating small talk.

On about day 4 or 5, I realized I was completely tired of cruising. I was ready to end the simulacrum of life where every aspect of my existence was managed. I had Relaxed on Vacation, and emerged on the other side. The remaining challenge was enduring the final days at sea on our way back to San Diego. I kept busy by playing 3DS (constantly managing a stream of new StreetPass tags, if that makes any sense) and finishing reading a long book. It was satisfying. I had no responsibilities, no plans, and no connectivity until we docked in San Diego and started disembarkation.

The disembarkation was also a managed procedure, so Brian and I took breakfast in our room while we waited Green 3 clearance to depart the Westerdam. While waiting, I perused the Holland America brochure looking for the longest cruise possible. They offer a 16-week round-the-world Grand Voyage. 16 solid weeks of cruise life, whoa! Brian and I had a good laugh about that.

Our disembarkation from the Westerdam was uneventful, and we wandered through San Diego's waterfront park for 0.5mi, then stopped at Cafe Gratitude to hang for awhile before going to the airport. I had a CBD-greens shot and a ginger kombucha (ordered via affirmation: "I am CHILL, I am GUTSY") and felt quite healthy on the way home to Portland.

It only took a day and a half at home for the sensation of standing on a heaving deck to subside, but it made for an interesting hot yoga class yesterday morning! 🤣


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