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May 18, 2022

World : Home on Fire

(A photo taken by G from Highway 25)

One of my monthly resolutions is to organize my photos, to prevent the surprisingly mentally taxing process of going through them years later. I was talking to visiting friends about this process, and how I choose items to print to place into physical albums. We talked about how because everything is digitized, photo albums aren't necessarily that first answer to the question of what would you retrieve in case of a fire. This made me think about how little I own that is irreplaceable - would I rush for anything in particular in case of a fire? I couldn't really think of anything I'd need or want to save. 

Later that same night, we went out for paletas (Mexican popsicles made of real ice cream), and when we came home an hour later, our kitchen stove was in flames. 

It's hard to describe the sudden terror of seeing your home alight in fire and awash in smoke. Needless to say, those few minutes between discovery and disappearance of fire are seared in my mind. (A PSA to check the expiration on your fire extinguisher - the safety officer at my clinic had recently recommended I do this during my orientation and G had literally just gotten a new one for us a month ago).

Everyone, including our cats Bishop & Monty, were safe and while there is significant damage to our stove, what I had thought earlier that day was true - nothing material is irreplaceable. 

But the corollary that I thought would reasonably follow - that replaceability signifies a lack of attachment - didn't feel as fitting for my emotional state after the fire. I was and am extremely attached to this house. I thought about how much effort we'd put into creating this home together: the dining table and bookshelf library G labored to design and build, the secondhand pieces of furniture I'd slowly collected, the few plants I managed to keep alive, all the frames that went up piecemeal over many months as we decided on which images we treasure and where to place them. I would have been so, so sad to lose all of that.  I was surprised to find myself so devastated at the thought of losing things, when we've tried hard not to accumulate.

I realized that I love our home the way I've loved the wedding planning process - not for the objects themselves, but for what we put of ourselves into them. When we first started planning the wedding, we both knew we didn't want a lot of decor because for us it didn't have a lot of personal meaning. But as we thought of ways to put what we find meaningful into physical representations, it became a loving process of creating something personal together. 

And that's what our home has been, and was envisioned to be for a long time to come. Luckily, it is all still in tact and ultimately it was a very tiny catastrophe. But the thought of more loss struck me, in how much I felt we could have lost. 

When I expressed this to G, who is undoubtedly the least materialistic person I know, he said, "Hm. I haven't really thought of that. I just keep thinking I'm glad that you and the cats are okay." And for this I love him so much.

When difficult things happen - injury, illness, accidents - what I find most absorbing is this privilege we have to process. I have space to consider my attachment and feelings of loss, because while it is definitively frustrating to recover and repair, we have the resources to do so. And even if we had really lost more, we'd be fine. I'm attached to things for sentiment, not out of necessity; how lucky we are to have the room to own sentimentality. And so I am incredibly grateful for how these events foster gratitude. 

It reminds me that we have so much, and that emphasizes the continued need to share. It also reminds me of the idea of renewal - how in Ecuador they burn effigies called monigotes at the end of the year to make way for the new one, how in Japan they purposely burn temples and rebuild them. While all these possessions represent personal journey and investment, they don't encase them. That is always still there, even if it requires healing and digging back up and remaking. We're still the people we are individually, and together; and maybe we're also a little different, a little more mixed up and stronger now.

I was compelled to write this post after the fire made me contemplate loss in a different sort of way, and I noted that the last post I wrote here that was explicitly about loss featured a painting of a multi-colored fire by my multi-talented friend Sarah. That loss - of a spirit and soul, and of all that sustains a meaningful life - is so much more real. In so many threads I think of you every day, and of how your kind of fire - the kind that breathes and gives - outshines all others. 


After writing the above, I left this post simmering in drafts for over a month. G asked me if there was something I was waiting for before posting. I'm not sure, but I think that everything in the past few years has made me reconsider the value of these individual musings, that maybe they are helpful to me personally but not that relevant to people outside my small sphere.

Then New Mexico became alight in unrelenting swathes of forest fires. Hundreds of thousands of acres burnt, hundreds of homes destroyed, thousands of people evacuated. The natural character of the desert, dry and hot, turned disastrous by what we've done to the climate - dried out our water, ramped up our sun. The devastation of this beautiful, lush land and the roots of so many families has been heartbreaking.

I see even more how extremely lucky we were, to have fire foster gratitude, when it is causing so much loss for others. In so much of this, recovery is not possible. We're not going to see these lands grow back in our lifetime or that of the next generation. Wildlife is permanently altered. The lives of people, already sustained on the edges in rural areas with few resources, have collapsed.  

Despite the beauty of this state which has captivated G and me with such fast fury, or maybe because the beauty here is so wild and remote, few people have had the chance to witness it. It makes me so sad to think of how much of it is now lost, remaining unseen to those who haven't been here and mourned by those who have. 

With all the loss of land and life here and around the world, I look back on the value of building and doing what we can in small ways to foster growth. It feels so important to make use of what we have, minding how to savor and sustain it, at the same time we accept its transience. 

Donate to people affected by the NM wildfires here.

February 3, 2022

World : Mummies & Idealists

When it comes to museums (and most things), I value smaller spaces with a narrow focus. I get overwhelmed by large buildings packed with items. I also like following the narrative of intimate, themed museums, like Boston's JFK Library and the Anne Frank House where through small pieces you traverse the trajectories of one person's life (and how that one life impacted so many others). And generally, I like collections that I can see in an hour or a little more. Santa Fe has re-ignited my interest in these spaces because it's full of cozy galleries and museums.  The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian generally has just four exhibits. The New Mexico Museum of Art, while broader in scope, is still relatively small given the size of this state. I find that I can more deeply remember several single images from these places because of the intense, compact time I spend there.

When I was in Guanajuato Mexico by myself for a couple weeks, I had a lot of free time. After Spanish class in the morning, the rest of the day was unplanned and unstructured. So I went to a bunch of museums. I visited the Museo Casa Diego Rivera, the Museo de Los Momias de Guanajuanto, Alhondiga de Granaditas, Museo Iconográfico del Quijote, and the Museo Palacio de los Poderes.  My favorites were definitely the Don Quijote museum and the Museo de Los Momias (mummies), neither of which I thought I would especially enjoy, both of which left me with images that will linger (I think, forever).

**A heads up here that if you are uncomfortable with the idea or image of death and deceased bodies (though I don't post any images here) you can scroll past this to the happier images of Don Quijote as seen through many different mediums of art. 

The Museum of Mummies contains bodies that were naturally mummified that were buried during a cholera outbreak in Guanajuato in the 1800s. Apparently the climate makes for an ideal natural environment to preserve bodies without embalming. I'm not squeamish about these sorts of things, but the experience hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. The museum contains a little over a hundred mummies. Before seeing them, I wasn't sure it that would feel like a lot or a little. It turned out that the number didn't matter so much, because the museum did an exceptional job of emphasizing the individual, and giving glimpses into each person's story (as much as could be abstracted from concrete details). The exhibits posted cards next to the mummies with narratives written in the first person, imagining the lives lived by these preserved people. I was particularly struck by a collection of three mummies who died by accident (Muertas Trágicas) - one that was mistakenly buried alive, another who drowned, and another whose body was pierced by some sort of spear or tool. Their means of death were determined by abnormalities in their body position and lung volume.  Probably the most universally poignant, disturbing, and vivid exhibit is that of a mother and her unborn child, the smallest and youngest mummy known to exist in the world. It's thought that poor nutrition contributed to the premature deaths of mother and child.

In reading descriptions of the museum, people reasonably call it "gruesome" and "horrific." For me personally it doesn't feel appropriate to label any natural process that way. It is definitely strange, and incredible, to be able to see people long after they are alive. I'm not sure how I feel about the lack of permission, but I don't think the museum capitalizes on the sensational aspect at all. It's more concerned with the way in which death can bring life into blur or focus. It reminds me too that our lives can reach beyond the boundaries of days lived, whether intended or not. One could argue that this sentiment is just part of the natural hope we all have against nihilism. But it is also a very real phenomenon when seeing the body of someone who lived almost 200 years ago makes me consider how I want to live my life. Seeing our visceral future makes me think that everything means something, and also that nothing means anything. I suppose that for me, living is the fulcrum and spectrum between these philosophies. Feeling the full weight of both ends makes it easier for me to ground myself in the middle.

I was similarly moved by the Don Quijote Museum, which is quite different on paper and in actuality to the Mummy Museum but gave me the same sense of wonder at how much one story can find its way into so many other narratives. I was staying right next to this museum, so it was one of the very first things I noticed in the city. I didn't think it would be particularly interesting, but it was so close and free on Tuesdays. This museum contains over 700 pieces of art inspired by the fictional story of Don Quijote, a man who is born of the lowest class but aspires to become a knight. The themes of the value of idealism, individual conviction that clashes with societal structure, and the falsity of assigning people to classes have spoken to so many different people in so many cultures and generations. This universal impact is palpable when seeing the shear amount of art depicting Don Quijote fighting against windmills. The art is so diverse, because the people absorbing his story are so diverse. I loved seeing the story shaped by different hands over time, like a game of telephone. And it's a comfort in these times (and all times) that so many people through time and place believe in "su idealismo porque él puede salvar el razo humana."

I love the childlike nature of these:


The powerful chaos of these:




The epic grandeur of this room, emanating from the source of just one small figure:


The dimensionality of these mediums:


The darkness of these:

 

The colors in these, that surround him but seem to not quite make it into him:



And the cross culturing of these:



Maybe in the same way that I realized we're all just turtles crawling into the new year, this museum impressed upon me that Don Quijote is unique and we can't all be Don Quijotes in the way we inspire and impact others. But the point of Don Quijote is that really, we are all like him, believing in universes unseen and spaces bigger than those we occupy. I love discovering that vastness in these tiny corners of the world, and taking it home with me. 

January 27, 2022

Self : Turtling into the New Year

In most recent years I’ve been weary of the end of the year and really embraced the new year. It may be an artificial thing, in some ways, the turning of a calendar page. But it is marked by a physical change in the universe, which I feel significant in no other way other than intuitive. (As I’m not hip, smart or woo-woo enough to know much about our connections to the physics or astrology of how the stars might align us). I also like the communality and parallel play of it - everyone experiencing a newness together, contemplating ways forward together. Anyway, all this to say that I love the openness a new year brings, and I love using that time to consider the next year ahead and make resolutions.

That isn’t to say that I have ever been into NYE celebrations. In fact I’ve had many terrible New Year Eves, most notably during my residency when I was generally working. Maybe my favorite worst NYE was when I was sick with adult hand-foot-mouth, contracted from not being able to resist cuddling my niece and nephews who had it. I’ve never had such a bad sore throat that even eating ice cream was too painful. Then the sores sequentially sprouted on my hands and feet, and they burned as badly as they were ugly. The few times I tried going out on NYE, it felt anticlimactic and boring compared to my internal image of NYE celebrations (formed by external images from TV and social media). Also, as anyone who knows me knows, I cannot stay up until midnight. In spending the last few NYEs with G, I have realized what I actually want and love about a good NYE: quiet time with cheese and someone that I’ve spent the last year with and will spend the next year with. And who also makes it a late night by going to bed by 10:30.


We do have a mobile tradition of getting fancy cheese and fancy food items, treating ourselves to a charcuterie board of items we wouldn’t normally buy. I enjoy this because it means that we don’t have to go out, and because we can do it mostly wherever we are. The first year, we were in a fairly dingy airbnb in Sonora where we spent the holiday climbing. The second year was COVID and we were quarantining at my brother’s home. The third year, this past year, we were in a somewhat run-down and very much quirky town called Truth or Consequences in New Mexico. It was actually very hard to find any “fancy” food items at the local grocery store, but we made do. We looked at all our photos from the year, and then we went to see the Turtle Ascension - this small town’s version of dropping the ball in Times Square. 


In this version, the new year happens at 10 PM because the town runs on my kind of time (they say they want to accommodate “old folks” and “young children” and I without shame align myself with the former). The turtle refers to Turtleback Mountain, which overlooks the town. I imagined a lighted turtle being pulled high up a tower, to be marveled at by us below. As we walked up, G heard the countdown happening and started running. I ran without much urgency because I figured it would take awhile for the turtle to slowly ascend. In fact, when we arrived three seconds later, the turtle had already reached its destination: above the head of some man who simply held the turtle in his hands and raised it from his waist level to the length of his arms above him.  


We thought this was HILARIOUS, and I also find it very fitting for my life, and maybe most of our lives. I think this miniature turtle journey is what a new year really is for most ordinary people: a small, slow path. It doesn’t have to be big and flashy relative to everyone else, but it fills the space of each person for themselves. 


After the whirlwind of the holidays, I have been lucky to have a lot of time to myself to consider that space, as I’m in between jobs and spending a couple weeks in Mexico taking Spanish classes that are just a few hours a day and leave me with a lot of free and solo time. 


Last year brought a lot of change for me - a move to a new state after almost a decade in my home state (and leaving my entire community of family and friends), a new job after being at my first job post-residency for five years (and leaving the best possible work community I can imagine), getting engaged and buying our first home. I’ve really loved the purposefulness of it all, being deliberate with our decisions and making choices based on our needs rather than circumstances. It’s also consumed a lot of my time and mental space, so my main goal for 2022 is to re-develop and sharpen routines (you all also know that for better or worse I’m a very structured person). I find it easiest to feel free, and open to newness, when I have a routine for fitting in my basic needs. So I have a daily routine that includes exercise, meditation, and practicing Spanish; a weekly routine that includes a check-in with G, writing, and responding to emails; and a monthly routine that includes playing a piano song, organizing my photos, and checking my finances. Change at the pace of turtle ascension variety, with all its glamour (none). 


Then there are less one-time bigger goals, one of which was to clear my email inbox. My brother once said, why delete email when gmail has so much space that it’s like unlimited? It took me years to question the benefit of this practice for myself. As a result, I accumulated about 15000 emails since 2005-ish when I first got gmail (back when I told someone “I think this ad came up on gmail because we emailed about this” and they were shocked). I didn’t want thousands of emails anymore - I find myself unnecessarily scrolling and I’m definitely a person where external clutter creates internal chaos. So I got at deleting.


The first few swathes of deletions were extremely satisfying, dumping advertisements and list-serve emails. I filtered by email addresses from administrative people in college, med school and residency. Then I filtered by all emails from certain people (exes) which gave me interesting pause but ultimately felt very right. I also cleared all my draft emails, which for awhile served as a journal of sorts (generally during arguments with exes). This made for a fast clearance. 


Then I was left with thousands of both substantive and non-substantive emails from all my friends and family over the years. I again filtered by person, remembering all the lovely people with whom I’m corresponded to varying degrees of frequency - the yearly as significant as the daily. It was like re-living our relationships, and those very different periods of my life.  It was at times hard to choose what to delete and what to keep, and I probably made some decisions that I would’ve made differently at another time in the day, and I imagine I kept a lot for now that I may feel ready to delete later. I kept emails where there was a deep sharing of a person’s state of being (or mine) and deleted emails that were more concrete updates of what we were doing. I kept emails where there was a sharing of formative experiences (particularly frequent in med school), reflections on transitions, and funny exchanges that encapsulated a person’s character or our dynamic. Sometimes I kept something small and silly because it captured a unique feeling pertinent to that time in my life, like when I wrote about how a friend “drove me around pretty Connecticut and we had an amazing almond croissant and talked to some farmers and I fell asleep in the car outside the waterfall, feeling less worried about babies.” (I had been having nightmares about babies dying, and also found several emails detailing quite vividly these dreams to another friend…I deleted those).


Because I almost always have the resolution to write more (usually unsuccessfully, but will keep trying), I also kept emails where I wrote about something I’d like to return to in the future, or other people’s writings where they shared their travels or impressions of something where I’d like to learn from their styles of expression and from seeing what other people absorb and observe in their environments. 


That sounds like a lot, but in actuality I cleared the majority of emails. The empty space in my inbox, which I have never seen, also inspired me to change the background. I have kept the same background of stones since gmail first introduced themes (I had an email where a friend and I shared our respective choices), and never thought to change it to an image more specific to me. Given how much email I have, the background barely registers to me. But now, I have this:






At first I looked at landscapes and labored for a few minutes over what would be most fitting, but then I thought less about finding something representative, and just something recent and present. So I looked at the photos I’ve taken in Mexico, and the bright simplicity of this image resonated with me, as well as how images like this always prompt me to take a picture. Serendipitously, I can only see the pots if my emails are kept at a low level so it’s a nice reminder to keep things in focus. 


I also have folders to sort emails as to-do and to-respond, so that they aren’t right in front of me every time I open my email, and I can go to the folder when my weekly routine calls for it. As someone who tends to respond to every email right away, and am constantly thinking about what I could be doing, this decluttering resolution has been a great foundation for everything else in my routine.


Nothing in my routine or my plans for 2022 can ever be fully certain, but I always appreciate the transition for the time to consider intentions and how to remain in them regardless of what actually happens. The most wonderfully heavy part of clearing my email was the presence of people - a fluctuation in who I engage with and to what degree, but steady regardless of how unsteady our lives and concrete interactions may have been. I love being turtles alongside one another, slowly ascending in small spaces everywhere.



August 1, 2020

Vision Board


It was a new year's resolution to make a vision board. During this time when I suspect we are all losing some sense of self, I felt compelled to finally complete this.

I knew I wanted it to be fairly minimal, as it's pretty easy to pare what I want and value to a few major things.

From top left working clock-wise:

Stories and images: When I was little, I had a tiny plastic yellow chair on which I placed my "prized possessions." I didn't use it as a chair (when I tried, it cracked).  It didn't serve any function other than being a display for what I loved. The rest of my room was a mess, but I neatly arranged everything on the chair. As an adult, I generally don't have many things. As anyone who's been at our place knows, much of what I own are gifts because I often don't consider buying items that might add more function or ease to my life. This desk was my friend Diana's and we kept it when she moved because I loved its antique and artsy feel, and how it's an old thing in a very modern apartment. We don't actually use it because it's rickety, but I've put all my favorite creative items on it - photo albums from when I used to print photographs, a Holga camera, all the moleskin journals I wrote obsessively in during med school (one for each clinical rotation), G's painting materials and journals, a couple envelopes from my best friend in high school with delicate lettering and stamping, a portrait of G when he did his solo JMT trip, some books whose aesthetics and languid language I love, and a box that used to be vibrantly colorful and whose backside turned blue in the sun so I rotated it in the sun until all sides matched blue. It's not so much any one thing, but a representation of how much I value words and images: capturing my own, gathering ones others create, and absorbing and sharing stories.

Sharing ice cream: I google imaged "sharing" and felt this image was pretty perfect for how I feel about sharing: the importance of giving what we have. It's not always easy to be mindful of the immensity of what I've been given, even in work where we have constant interaction with people with less, so I want a good reminder that there is nothing more to do with our gifts than to give them. A white boy sharing with a little girl of color is pretty fitting for being aware of personal privilege and the vulnerability of others. And ice cream is my favorite too.

G Looking into a Georgia O'Keefe Sky: I love this picture of G and the moment of capturing it. I've never met anyone who has given me as much space as G, who lets me have so much room for everything I hold on the surface and keep underneath. When I brought up the idea of living in New Mexico, he came with me to explore it with openness and curiosity, and I like how this comes across in this photo of him peering into a picture. I'd like to give him the same space, to be as open and sensitive to him as he is to me, to value him as a person independent of what he gives me.

Blank Space: Though I'm moderately minimalist with things, I cram a lot into my life. With people and endeavors I love, but as an introverted overthinker I could use more emptiness. I made this the center of the board, and when G saw it he asked if it represented space for more to come. I think yes, and also space for nothing and a reminder that that is okay and important.

A Cheesy Community: This photograph is a collection of name tags from my last birthday party, in which each of my friends brought a different cheese to share. So the tags have each person's name with the cheese they brought. I hold my friends very close, as individual people and as a community, and this image captures how much each one gives me and also the connection they create when they come together. It will remind me of the nourishment of friendship. And because cheese is my other favorite.

My Parents in Vietnam:  I thought a lot about how to best represent my family and what I value and want to sustain about them. I chose a photo of my parents, because everyone else I love stems from them - my brothers, nieces and nephews. But also they are what we have in common.  My brothers don't always get along, but they each love my parents more than anything, in their own ways. Growing up, they always impressed upon me how much my parents did and do for us, and it has been the driving force for everything I have and want and share.  I also want to see more of who they were before us, which is why I chose a photo from their wedding. I want to know their history and infuse my future with it. It will remind me of the privilege of coming from another culture, one that has rooted into us a faith in family and sacrifice.

Panorama from Red Rock: This is a view from my favorite place where I first climbed outside. There is so much to love about climbing, but if I had to describe it in one sentence, it would be that it gives this wide spectrum of perspective, experience and emotion. This spectrum is what I want in every part of my life, and climbing makes it very visceral and easy to see when I forget it in the midst of my day to day.

April 18, 2020

All the COVID Feels


If there's a unifying principle for what I do and seek in my life, it would be the goal to feel as much as possible. The spectrum of emotion and perspective we can experience feels layered, wide and deep, and the thing most distinctively human. It's why I love books, seeing patients, and climbing--the opportunities to access so many views outside of my immediate realm of seeing.

And so while I will always wish COVID never happened, I do have to thank it for the immense and unprecedented diversity of emotion it has bestowed upon me. When I evaluate how I've felt during this last month of COVID, I think: what did I not feel?

I feel the dizzying weight of worry pulling in so many directions. We worry as we see all at once the million ways one person and many people are fragile. It's hard to know where to begin and to continue, how to make decisions and how to allocate resources, system wide and my personal mental and emotional reserves.

I'm constantly consumed by frustration with people whose positions of power distance them from what is happening on the ground. It's draining to experience barriers of this kind, the kind that feel like they could crumble with the right reach for connection yet persist with the hardness of metal.

I'm slammed with the sudden surprise of joy. We started the mission to test our patients with a supply of 350 tests for a patient population of 65,000. The immense work for this tiny effort was both a source of hope, and a source of distraction from our actual inability to truly care for people. When this leads us to the chance to provide true access for our community, it feels like a miracle. As hard as we always work, I've never fooled myself into considering the care our patients receive as truly equitable. To shift from rationing to active outreach is new, and the trigger for my first cry of the month.

I'm stalled by panic. I don't do well with speed. I dislike the emergency room and downhill skiing. It has been draining to react and adapt to rapidly and continually changing circumstances, as I'm not naturally built for this work. I've seen hours of work washed away, replaced with gaps to be filled until that filling is pulled too. It's been good learning to develop a skill not for putting things in place, but for continually moving out of place.

I'm depressed by the ways we enclose ourselves, how it led to disaster and contributes to disconnectedness as we wade through this together and apart. Because we are all reasonably tired and protective of our individual selves, when facing others we so quickly defend, push back, stare straight ahead.

I'm connected, overwhelmed by an extreme sense of community. In this time of social distancing, I've met the highest concentration of people than I ever have. Of amazing, creative, compassionate people within and outside our organization. Anyone who knows me knows much I love my clinic co-workers; COVID gave me the chance to meet other clinics, see their different characters and same sense of deep connectedness. I'm floored by how much and in how many ways people help, how many times a day I hear that "we're in it together," and by the team that organically came together from a shared drive to be of use.

I long for so much. I miss my parents, my brothers, and my nieces and nephews. I zoom with the three kids in Colorado, each of them on their own tablet and square on the Zoom grid. All at once one dances a choreographed sequence to Baby Shark, one reads with a stuffed bear twice his size, and one tells me about his school project to start a caramel-making business. I wish I could see my newest niece grow from her babyhood to toddlerdom, mark her first year in this strange world. I miss my co-workers and our shared space, my girlfriends and our climbing and conversation and cooking, my pieces of heart in other corners of the country.

I literally ache for climbing, and mourn the relationship with rock. As days get longer, I hate my computer more and more. I remember anew how important this specific type of movement is to me, and how absolutely irreplaceable it is. I think about how I had silly thoughts of projecting 5.12 outside and now I would give a lot to do 5.6 just to be making my way up a wall. I try not to think about how long it might be before it's returned to me.

I love G and his ability to support and nourish with ease and without question. Somehow he never shows any frustration with my long days, complaints and moods, and unpredictable needs. Because I express it very little with others, he becomes a receptacle for the pressure build up of all my negative and dark feelings...thank you and I'm sorry.

I'm frustrated and am frustrating to him. It's not easy for either of us and there are eruptions of difficulties we internalize. There are pulls of distance and closeness, and gratitude for stable ground as we move.

I feel guilty that I'm absent in the relationships I prioritized prior to COVID. All the interaction that work requires drains my introverted self so much that I've been too tired to stay connected to my friends, to be really present for the little time I do have with G. I still "see" some patients with telephone visits, but I've cut down my patient time by more than half. I'm disconnected from what is happening at my home clinic where I'm supposed to be a watchful source of support, and it wasn't until a breakdown that I was aware of how much my co-workers were struggling.

I'm compelled by creativity and newness, as everyone has had to be resourceful and different in this new state of existing. I've written before about how novelty maintains plasticity, physically and mentally. I haven't pursued new hobbies, but I love seeing others do so. I have learned so much about areas of weakness for me in work, from technology to leadership, and while I long for my old job I am grateful for new skills.

I'm even more sensitive than usual to stories; my primary break these days are long runs while listening to audiobooks. I'm healthiest when I balance my book reading with real life, when the window into worlds outside of me helps me relate to the world I have. Too many books without visceral connection puts too much in my head and lends itself to sleeplessness. But it's hard to stop when the long, beautiful narratives pace and soothe my insular life. I try to think of them as building an arsenal of understanding for when I can live outside my mind again.

I'm so tired. The fatigue is unlike anything else. It's reminiscent of medical residency, with its the lack of control over when you can take a break. I'm writing this on the first day off I've taken off in a month, knowing that something could potentially interrupt my intention to disconnect at any time. Beyond that, there's the way that this virus has seeped into every crevice, such that nothing seems like true space.

At the same time its pervasiveness is maybe why this space holds so much, and I know that it will change and give more and new every day. So here's to feeling all of it.
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