How are you doing, really? 2020 has been a rough year, almost universally. What have you been up to lately? How much has your life changed over the last few months and, perhaps more importantly, has the change in lifestyle revealed a new set of priorities that you hope to carry into post-quarantine life? What have you enjoyed, and what is driving you absolutely bonkers? I would love an update from anyone who wants to share? I’ll go first, with whatever series of random ideas that come to mind.
What has life looked like for you the last several months?
I have hardly left the house and, thankfully, have the opportunity to work from home until I’m comfortable returning to the office. I am so fortune that the industry I work in has not been negatively affected by the pandemic. Since I have a history of finicky lungs, I’ve been extremely precautions. We haven’t eaten out since early March, we do curbside pickup from the farmer’s market, and gear up for our monthly Costco run (P100 masks, labs googles and nitrile gloves). I prepare meals, go on walks around the park, and visit my parents and in-laws.
I took sewing lessons as a child and have been meaning to get back into it for years, so last year I took up the hobby again. I’ve had a blast making small gifts and mediocre clothing.
Early this year, I was gifted a arrowhead plant by a farmer’s market employee and ended up loving it so much that I named her Bitchin’ Betsy and bought some more houseplants, my personal favorite being a ZZ Ravan named Aweful Jared. It’s been rewarding to watch them grow.
We’ve gone on a few camping trips to escape the heat and am falling in love with our gear all over again (especially the Marmot tent and sleeping bags). I watch critters out my window all day, including rosy-faced love birds, a chirpy black Phoebe, a woodpecker who thinks my window is a tree, cactus wrens, quail, huge lizards, translucent geckos, and lots of little gophers. The last few months have been a bit lonely, so I’ve named any of the recognizable wild visitors. At the end of the day, I am generally safe and healthy and those I care about are safe and healthy. I suppose that’s all the really matters.
What are you reading?
I picked up The Island by Aldous Huxley at a used bookstore a few years back and finally brought it along for for a weekend cabin getaway. It’s old and yellowed with a stranger’s scribbles in the margins. The book is profound and beautiful. I wish our world today was similar to that portrayed in the story, where people contribute to their community, strive towards enlightenment, and aim to minimize harm to the local environment. It sounds a bit elitist here, but it’s not. Huxley was fond of psychedelics and believed wholeheartedly that a better world was within reach. I also recently read a book on chronic fatigue syndrome, which was very eye opening. I spent years chasing individual symptoms, convinced that one thing had made me ill, when the likeliest explanation is that a series of infections broke down my biological machine, which allowed the damage to perpetuate and spiral out of control.
I’ve found myself mindlessly browsing the internet to pass the time more lately, though I can’t think of much worth passing along. I’ve been navigating away from the news and towards the stories of individuals, due to the honesty, raw emotion, and glimmers of hope. I think we all need to find some personal balm for the current state of the world.
What are you watching?
I am typically not a fan of television and, up until the last two months, I couldn’t stay awake for more that 15 minutes once I got comfortable. I just finished watching the Japanese anime series Haibane Renmei, which my boyfriend recommended. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and am still musing over the symbolism. Over the last year, we’ve watched House, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Prison Break, Letterkenny, and the latest season of Better Call Saul. I’m hoping to incorporate more documentaries because I fell like even just an hour of TV every other day is rotting my brain. If you have any recommendations for shows, movies, or documentaries, I’d love to hear them.
What have you been cooking?
Over the last few months, I’ve acquired several All-Clad stainless steel buy-it-for-life pots and pans on discount. These are solid and make cooking even more enjoyable. The farmer’s market is shut down for the summer and the particularly excessive Arizona heat decimated our garden, so we’ve been sticking to mediocre grocery store produce for our sauteed and roasted veggies. I’m getting sick of onions, zucchini, and brussel sprouts. I can’t wait for October to roll around, so we can start incorporating the local veggies back into our diet.
What have you been creating?
An old friend is expecting a baby girl and my boyfriend’s good friend just had a little girl, so I’m planning to sew up some fun little baby gifts for when we can see people again. I’ve also been trying to journal more over the last few months and finally reached a place where I can crank out more than a sentence or two. I’m hoping to blog more, even if poorly to begin, simply for the sake of exercising my creativity.
Have you reached milestones, found success, or ready to share good news?
I reached $100,000 net worth this year, despite high medical costs over the last several years. I don’t have a significant income, but have been investing since my late teens and practicing frugality, so compounding interested has quite literally begun paying dividends. After over a year following a strict and expensive nutritional protocol with rough “healing symptoms,” I am no longer weighed down by unrelenting fatigue and it feels as though the irritant in my lung has cleared. I still have some nasty, painful symptoms as my body pulls the lead and other heavy metals from my bones, but overall I am seeing progress.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m waiting for the monsoon season and hoping for some rain. Phoenix has had the hottest and driest summer on record (we just hit 50 days at 110°+ F) and it shows; we’ve had many large brush fires, dozens of mature trees in my neighborhood have died and dead birds litter the sidewalks, like something out of an apocalypse movie. We haven’t seen a drop of rain yet and the monsoon storms typically arrive in early- to mid-June. The rare lightening storm is the one thing that makes the desert tolerable, so I’m hoping we the rain doesn’t completely pass us by this year.
I’m currently researching EDTA chelation therapy, which has been recommended to help extract toxins from my body. While my fatigue has vastly improve, I still experience regular bones-being-crushed pain in my feet, legs, hand, and arms as my body pulls out toxins, and then stabbing liver pain as my body works to process out those toxins. Chelatation therapy will supposedly safely expedite the process, but it’s a lengthy and expensive treatment, so I’m very much on the fence as I’m managing alright currently. It’s not been confirmed, but I now suspect the “tumors” all over my PET/CT scan in 2017 are heavy metals deposits, rather than disseminated coccidiomycosis spores. At the end of the day, I don’t really care what it is just so long as it’s removed.
I got my boyfriend an *amazing* anniversary gift back in April and I am dying to gift it to him. I’m terrible at surprises, so I am impressed I’ve made it four months and hoping I can last another two. I’ve been so forgetful over the last few years, so I feel really proud of this tiny win. I thought about just giving him a tube of cortisone cream for that, you know, seven-year-itch but we’ll see. Prior to the fatigue becoming unmanageable, we would always embark on the steep, challenging hike on our anniversary and then run through the meadow and enjoy artisan chocolate at the peak. I’m truly hoping that can be a reality this year.
Finally, we’re saving up to move out of Arizona in the next five years. The surrounding area has been growing rapidly, creating a concrete heat island filled with angry drivers and liberal Californians. The increasing temperatures are killing native plants and driving out native animals. I need to be somewhere more alive. The desert is not, and never has been, my jam. I guess the good news is that our home value has increased by 25% in the last three years (after thirteen years valued at our below paid cost), so hopefully we have some nice pocket change for a down payment.