Finding Myself Again

Last month was intense. At the end of the month I had both my final project for the last class I’ll ever need to take and the first draft of my book chapter. I wasn’t sure either would get done on time, but I managed to get them both done. It was taking up my brain way too much.

So I’ve been spending these last few days relaxing, decompressing, and working on getting the class I’m going to be teaching starting next week ready to go. But, the biggest thing I’ve been doing is going down an Adam-Lambert-sized rabbit hole on YouTube.

I have been a fan of Queen since I was in high school – the mid-nineties. My way in was Highlander: The Series. Because it is based off of the movie that they provided the soundtrack for, “Princes of the Universe” is the theme song. I was dating a guy who had a couple of Queen CDs that we’d throw in when we were in the car after I found “Princes” on one of the albums. When I got to college, it was the early and freeing days of file sharing, and I compiled every album they put out. I became as obsessed as I could just off of their music.

Since then, I’ve watched every documentary, every music video, multiple concerts, and become a complete Queen fan. I got pissed off when they toured with Paul Rodgers because it just didn’t feel right to me. So back in the early 2000’s when they started touring with Adam Lambert, I wasn’t interested. Not only was he not Freddie, he was on American Idol. Ugh.

At some point, I can’t remember if it was when it aired or I found it on YouTube, but I saw Adam and Queen on The Late Late Show with James Corden. That changed my mind. I understood why he was the current front man.

This past week, the documentary The Show Must Go On: The Queen +Adam Lambert Story started streaming on Netflix. I went, “Queen documentary!” and watch it. And I watched it again. And again. And again. They do a wonderful job of talking about both Queen and Adam and their work together. It inspired me to go onto YouTube to find them in concert.

I found “Queen + Adam Lambert – Live in Japan.” I think it’s one from a couple of years ago, but it’s awesome! It got me wanting to find more of them, both concerts and interviews, and then I got into Adam on his own. His music, his videos, his interviews. I have watched him perform on Idol! I never thought I’d look up American Idol clips. I probably won’t ever again. But he has me hooked.

Watching him be so open and freely himself got me thinking about myself. There have been times where I think about trying to do some makeup work but then I recoil from that thought because it might make me look feminine. But looking at the beautiful work that Adam does got me really thinking about that statement.

Yes, wearing makeup is one of the big parts of how society has constructed femininity. But makeup is not all that defines femininity. I can wear my camo pants, a tank top, with my haircut and have a completely glam face without being feminine. In fact, it adds to the “fuck you” that I love to give to gender constructs in our society. It’s why I never thought twice about cosplaying a male character as a male. I really hate – a strong word for my strong feelings – the ways that gender is defined in our society. Why can’t men wear makeup? Why can’t women have short hair? That realization has made me feel more free to have fun and take my genderfuck attitude further.

So, thank you, Adam Lambert (if you ever read this, which is probably not going to happen) for helping me realize that I can wear full-on glam makeup without being seen as feminine. I can wear makeup in a way that makes me more myself.

Out of the funk!

A few days ago, I had posted about my struggles and frustrations with trying to feel motivated to do things. The next day I had “class” where I talked about some of my blocks and got a ton of support from my cohort and professor. Having the opportunity to talk about it with other people, and just having conversations in general, really helped me wake up.

Since then, I’ve been making a point of going to bed at the same time, aiming to get my eyes closed by a certain time, and getting up at the same time. I’ve also been working on having lunch in addition to my breakfast bowl of cereal and dinner. It’s really been helping so much!

The past four days, I’ve been getting to my dissertation, book chapter, and grading. It’s something that I’ve been trying to do, but I’ve been having trouble regularly doing. Especially with the end of the semester being on Friday. At least once I get the final grades in, I can take a break from having to worry about teaching on a daily basis. Until the class I’m teaching starts up in July. Granted, I’ll probably just take the rest of May off to focus on getting the book chapter draft finished and resume working on getting the class set up in June.

All of this was to say, don’t give up! If you’re in a slump or a funk or hit the “COVID wall,” keep going! You’ll find the way to get your head clear and focused and motivated again. It will happen!

Been Feeling Funky

This past week I’ve been struggling. My alarm will go off and I hit snooze. I’ll look at the clock, see time has passed, go “I should get up,” stretch, and stay in bed. Eventually I’m able to get myself out of bed, get dressed, and get my morning bowl of cereal. Not much has been getting done after that.

It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating because I have been able to snap myself out of it by now. It’s frustrating because I have work to do, I have students to keep teaching, I have their work to grade. It’s frustrating because I have a dissertation to get started and a book chapter draft to get finished.

Instead of working on any of that, I’ve been binging TV, trying to go to sleep and reading for hours, and having a screwed up sleeping and eating schedule. The past two days I’ve been working on getting pieces made for costumes instead of getting any work done on things that need to be done, like making masks or getting grading done. It’s frustrating.

Today has been different. I still had to “force” myself to get out of bed. But it was a little earlier than yesterday. I had my usual bowl of cereal, but I’ve also had a sandwich for lunch. I watched the documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution which got me thinking about how I teach my classes and what more I should include when teaching about disability. That got me to work on my dissertation some more.

I’m trying to make conscious decisions today that will help me get out of this funk I’ve been in. I’ve spent the last two days hyper-focusing on costumes and sewing things other than masks. Losing hours of time without realizing it. Today, I’m trying to take on a number of smaller tasks so I can get more done, but also not lose track of time. It’s working so far. I just hope it carries over and I can get back to a more regular sleep and wake schedule that I’m used to.

Stay-at-home frustrations

I want to start off by saying I completely agree with all stay-at-home orders and I am not, in any way, advocating for lifting them any time soon.

I am lucky enough to have a job that I can continue to do from my home. Classes were moved online back in March and, as an instructor, I was not expected to suddenly turn my in-person class into an online class. I just needed to figure out the best way to keep the class going but in a way that students could do it online. My paycheck has not been affected, thank goodness. In fact, because I am no longer driving up to campus and back three times a week, I am actually getting more paycheck.

But, that means I’m at home all the time. I’m happy to do it to help flatten the curve, but it has gotten to me. I was expecting it to a degree, but it’s still not quite what I was figuring. When I have no reason to be up at a specific time, my sleep schedule gets all sorts of thrown off. My motivation tends to disappear as well. It’s probably due to the probably un-diagnosed ADHD I have. It tends to take a couple of weeks before that kicks in, but it always does.

Well, it’s kicked in. And not being able to go out doesn’t help. Honestly, the worst part is the feeling of being trapped in the apartment sometimes. My hubby has been increasingly working from home – thankfully. But that means he needed to get a second computer set-up going so he can work from home. There was only one place where he could set things up, the dining room table. Once we cleared off enough space, he got the computer up and running with no problems. Unfortunately it means he has to sit in front of the front door.

Usually it’s not a problem. The problem comes up when it’s nice enough outside that I want to take the bike out for a ride. I’d potentially be interrupting his work to be able to get out of the apartment with the bike. He takes calls, so he could go from doing nothing to working in a second. And with my luck, I’d be about halfway out the door and he’d need his computer. I’m just not willing to risk it. Then, of course, on the weekends, the weather gets cool and damp – the opposite of biking weather for me.

I think I’m getting out of my slump. I’ve been going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. I’m starting to get motivated more – I was finally able to finish a bunch of masks yesterday, which I will be posting about soon. But, I know, this won’t be the usual “out of my slump.” This will get me out of the slump and back into my everyday quarantine life. A life where I am happy to be up and out of bed by noon, am happy to do at least a little work on my writings, get a little grading done, and just try not to fall behind on things. Considering this is probably what life is going to be like for a while, I hope I can get a regular rhythm to things soon.

Giving the GladRags a Go

So, I finally have the chance to give the GladRags a try. Instead of posting daily about it, I’ll just stick to this one post about the week.

Day One

I started out with just the basic liner. As soon as I put it on, I was amazed at how little I noticed it. Even the most comfortable commercial pads are noticeable. They are so comfortable! I had the liner on overnight and it did its job well. Unfortunately for me, it has just a little wiggle room and that combined with my undies not wanting to never move, I had to move up just for better coverage. It might be better for the later days when I’m trailing off and know the lighter coverage is needed.

I’m up to a full pad with both inserts just to see how long they last. Right now I’m doing a lot more sitting than anything else, which means flow gets focused in one spot. That hasn’t been a problem before because the material is designed to pull things away from the center and distribute them. Maybe that will work with the inserts too.

It never reached the second insert, and even the first didn’t get much. Most of the absorption happened in the holder, not the inserts. But, then again, it’s only day 1. Flow is still pretty light.

It’s definitely worth the investment. I even ordered some more liners and pads. I want to be able to go as long as I can on these before I run out and have to switch back to mass-produced pads. This may be one of the best decisions I ever made!

Day Two

I am really glad that I bought more yesterday. Because I’ve only got so many, I used a disposable pad overnight and it took a while before I wasn’t itchy anymore. It’s not horrible, but I never realized how much it was related to the disposable pads.

After getting up for the day, I put on another full pad – both inserts in the holder – to see how long it would last. Then I discovered a problem. When I do a lot of walking, like when going grocery shopping, things tend to slide backwards. Part of that, today at least, may be due to the fact that I was wearing my newest Utilikilt, and thus there wasn’t clothing keeping things in place down there.

But the rest of the day has been great so far. Once we got done with groceries, it’s mostly been back to sitting. I’m still going on that one pad, many hours later without any leaks. Granted, I haven’t checked to see if the second insert has started getting saturation, but it hasn’t made it through it yet. It’s good to know that I can wear it for 8+ hours if I need to, at least on day 2. Tomorrow is going to be the real test.

Days Three & Four

I decided to stick with disposable for the two heavy days. I only have one cloth pad left until the new shipment arrives. I want to save it for the next day when things start to lighten up.

Day Five

Since over the hump, I figured I had enough to get me through the rest of the week without using disposable during the day. I was right! I use the last pad today with both inserts and the second insert was untouched after 12 hours! So much more comfortable!!

Day 6

Last day. I pulled out my last plus liner and was able to wear it all day without any leaks. I know they say to change them as often as you would before, but there were times I would change a pad or liner just because of the smell. Not a problem at all with these. They breathe so much more that they still smell fine even after 12 hours.

I would say this was pretty successful for a first time. As soon as I can afford it, I’m going to buy a bunch of Day Pad Plus holders to increase my inventory. My latest order of 3 Day Pads and 3 Plus Liners arrived today, making next month much easier to go without disposables. But, since each pad comes with 2 inserts, and I rarely need both, I figured more holders would be useful. Also, the plus are longer than the regular, which will be useful for not sitting around all the time and overnight.

I’m also awaiting one last order: an XO Flow. The XO Flow is their cup, which I have been thinking about trying for a while now. I figure, since I have just enough pads to get me through, I might as well get the cup and just go for it. It has a bit of a learning curve, I’ve read, so there will still be plenty of pads being used. But it can be worn up to 12 hours without having to be emptied. I’m hoping to have the hang of it by the time I’m on campus regularly again. 12 hours would cover that time and I wouldn’t have to worry about transporting pads or leaks getting to my pants by then.

It looks like I am going to be able to eliminate a little more trash every month now! Yay for GladRags!!

I am writing this on my own. GladRags is not sponsoring me in any way to write this. I simply wanted to share my experience in the hopes that it helps others.

Giving Glad a try

For a while now, I’ve been aware of GladRags, but I’ve always hesitated about giving them a try. GladRags make reusable cloth pads and pantyliners, eco-friendly alternatives to mainstream pads and liners. Their liners are one piece, while the pads have two components – a holder and inserts. When you need to, you simply take it off, leave it to soak, and snap on a new one. They get washed, dried, and used again the next month.

I am all for eco-friendly products. I’ve tried using different disposable products over the years, but they don’t quite agree with me. Some are better than others, but I’m always relieved to be done because I don’t need to use them for the rest of the month. Also, they pile up in the trash, which is not great for anyone using the bathroom.

But, they’re convenient. I get done with one, I throw it out. If I’m not at home, there’s always a trash can. That’s been my biggest reason to not get into GladRags. Well, that and the initial expense. They make bags to store them in, as well as bags for getting used ones back home without making a mess. But, it’s more money, and possibly messier while in public.

I don’t have any of those excuses right now. I’m working from home until at least the end of August. Because of that, and a lot of cancelled trips, I can afford the initial expense. And I don’t have to go all-in immediately, like I kept thinking, for some stupid reason. I can still use my disposable pads when, eventually, we head out of town. I can keep some on me in case I’m not home when I need one. I can take my time and figure out what I need during the week.

I’m even thinking of investing in a cup (probably GladRags’ XO Flow), letting the pads be for overnight and the liners to catch any leaks. Also, it would be nice to be able to go swimming no matter what time of the month it is. I’ve never liked tampons because I can’t tell if they’re full or not and I worry about leaving it in too long. Also, they leak so much that I’d wear liners the whole time, which kind of negates the point of them.

I am really looking forward to this! Less in the trash, less spent every month, more comfort for me!

Prepping for Potential Lock-down

Yesterday I saw a news report saying that Governor DeWine “said the state was prepared to engage severe control measures to slow the spread of the virus.” My interpretation of “severe control measures” is lock-down, like in California and New York. 24-hour stores are only open for so long every day. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned. We can only pick up or order food delivered. Lock-down is the only measure I can think of that’s left.

So we went to the grocery store again today. The last time we went, it was more to stock up for us than for me. Today involved more us stocking, but I also stocked up personally. I bought laundry detergent since I’m running low. I bought a variety of foods from different groups and varying degrees of life beyond today so I have options. I spent a lot of money, but I’m ready to stay home for at least a couple of weeks if I have to. So is my hubby. Unfortunately, he still needs to physically go to work because some of the things he does can’t be done from home. If they make everyone work remotely, he may not have to go in at all, but they’re not at that point yet.

I’ve taken time to get my room better arranged and rearranged the posters and art on my walls. It’s making me feel better and more productive. Now if I could just be focused enough to work on my dissertation, I’d be in better shape. But, the important thing is I tried today, and I’ll try again tomorrow. I’m just hoping teaching online will go better than I’m worrying it will.

Safely stocked up

Monday night, after the hubby got home from work and got his home set-up hooked up, we went shopping, again. Things here in Ohio have gotten pretty closed down, and people are panic buying. We wanted to make sure not only that we had food to get us through the week, now that he’d be home two more dinners than we had planned, but to have stuff in case either of us get sick in any way and to pad our stock a little bit in case the stores can’t get stocked up. Aside from some dinners, we mostly picked up soup – a variety of soup both for ourselves as well as to not deplete any one thing.

It’s so weird seeing so much bought out. I’m really hoping its more because of people like us, just trying to be ready to eat, and less because of panic buying – at least food-wise. They’ve been struggling to keep TP on the shelves, which I still don’t understand. We picked some up recently because we had been running low. I’m so glad we did.

Tonight I actually had to look at my hubby to see which option he wanted to do for dinner. We usually have things planned out and know what dinners we have. Now it’s a case of, which dinner will make more useable room in the freezer? Once that’s better, we’ll probably focus on the fridge.

This is just weird. This is a weird way to live. I’m hoping to use this time at home to get myself more organized and focused, as well as develop healthier habits. Granted, it’s hard to get out of the house when it’s raining or cold! What happened to the nice, sunny, dry weather we were having?! I just want to go out and ride my new bike! Grrr.

All Stocked Up and Nowhere to Go

Well, I have an 8-pack of blackberry Bubly, an 8-pack of cherry Bubly, 2 quarts of cold-brewed green tea, 2 quarts of cold-brewed Earl Grey, and more hot tea than I could drink for the rest of the year. I’m not great at remembering to stay hydrated when I’m home. It’s kind of like why I have a reminder “to-do” list to make sure I don’t just sit around just watching TV. By having a bunch of drink options, it helps me remember to keep drinking without getting bored.

Which is going to be an interesting feat considering I have yet to be able to take my new bike out. The day I bought it, it was just cold enough that we got a light snow. Yesterday, a back muscle decided to be a pain, which is still not playing nice today. It’s frustrating. I finally get a bike, and now I’m afraid that if I go out and use it, I’ll end up hurting myself and possibly the bike. But it’s not like I don’t have stuff to do around here. I just want to use my new toy!

Home for the semester

Not too long after I posted yesterday, the decision was made to keep classes online for the rest of the semester. Great. At least they’re allowing students to remain on campus and in the dorms if they want or need to, while encouraging students to go home if they can. This changes how I’m approaching the semester. I’m still grateful I have a week to figure things out before they need to be in place, and I am willing to change things if it works better for the students.

Last night another cancellation happened, one that I had been waiting for. I was going to be presenting at the national PCA – Popular Culture Association – conference in about a month in Philly. I had e-mailed about possibly presenting via Skype or something like it. Within hours they announced they were cancelling.

Luckily I figured it was coming and already had a list of “silver linings” ready. I used some of the money I was going to use for that conference to order a new computer from Dell. The one I currently use is pretty basic and about 4 years old. It’s not great at multitasking when audio and/or video are involved. Considering, with this COVID-19 problem happening – I’ll be conducting interviews via Skype and the like, I need a computer that can handle that without problems.

Then, today, I finally bought myself a new bike. I haven’t had a bike that fits me for decades. I need a reason to get up and be moving and be outside, and a bike is perfect for that. I went to the bike shop in town and had the most awesome experience. They told me about different options, with no pressure. They adjusted the seat and handlebars to the right height, as well as adjusting the angle on the handlebars! Once I decided on the bike, the mechanic took it back to put on the water bottle cage and give it a complete once-over so I’d be good to go. When I picked out a rack for the back and a mirror, he installed those too. He even helped try really hard to get it into my car. It won’t fit. But I was always planning on buying a rack for the back of my car so I can take it up to campus or elsewhere, I just needed to buy it today. They definitely have a new customer!

Now I’m going to have to refrain from buying other little things that I think I need but I don’t know if I will, and other little things that I know I’ll need. But at least it will keep me from losing track of the days and the time and from sitting around for the foreseeable future. It’ll give me some me time and exercise all in one! Which I really need.

Now to get ready for the weekly grocery trip. Hopefully the stores have food in them.