I woke to the alarm, switched it off, and lay quietly for some time, eyes open, lingering in that place between waking from a deep slumber, and truly being “awake”. It feels luxurious to be so deeply well-rested. Savoring that moment of unfolding realization that, indeed, I am “well-rested” this morning was so worth the time (and risk of falling back to sleep). πŸ™‚ The hotel in-room drip coffee tastes delicious this morning; it is flavored with contentment, and a sense of satisfaction. No idea why this particular morning feels so good, but I’m not going to argue with it.

LA dawn, poolside breakfast.

…I’m looking forward to breakfast. It was a very good start to my day, yesterday…

Considering the stress involved in my arrival, on Tuesday evening, this has been a remarkably pleasant and productive trip so far. My time feels well-spent. I feel valued and appreciated by colleagues. I’m getting things done that I’d felt were needful, and that feels very satisfying.

LA, itself, is a strange place to find myself. lol It has a polished weirdness and vaguely persistent feeling of artifice that is hard to “see through”. Yesterday morning, I watched a woman twirling on her balcony… which seemed even more peculiar when it became clear it was part of her morning workout. On my way to work, I walked past a tv show being made, which only heightened the sense of artifice that seems to permeate this area of the city. Maybe it isn’t this way everywhere in LA? Even the homeless people, at least in this particular neighborhood, seem to take their lives to the level of “craft”; their pitches are fairly similar to the approach a carnie might take, trying to bring passers-by to their schtick, before packing up and moving on to the next city. It rises to the level of performance art… definitely weird. People in the office discussed the latest “cleanse”, and seemed to be fairly serious about it. I managed not to smirk at anyone over these details; people choose the lives they live, and it’s not really for me to choose for anyone else. My teal-blue-aqua hair got more stares in LA than it ever does in Portland, which struck me as seriously humorous. However seriously silly LA sometimes strikes me, Portland is also fairly weird, and we’ve all got more in common with each other than we often care to notice. LA is, most assuredly, more… tan. lol

By the end of the day, I was surprisingly exhausted. Grand plans of walking to the marina or catching the sunset on the beach, or hanging out with local friends, or doing, really, anything at all not work-related, quickly gave way to a newly ambitious plan; having an adequate, healthy, meal, and going to bed. LOL πŸ™‚ LA… you win. I can’t keep up. πŸ˜‰

I got back to the room, put the phone on the charger and lay down “for a minute”, which became a couple hours. I got up, grabbed a bite of dinner, and returned to the room, feet aching. I took the time I needed for self-care: time in the hotel gym, a shower, meditation. I felt rested, at ease, and comfortable with myself. I thought about the contrast with my Las Vegas trip, a couple years ago, for a work conference. The self-care really matters. I exchanged a few words with my Traveling Partner – who is at home, while I travel – and read awhile, before sleep caught up with me, for real. It was a lovely day, overall. πŸ™‚

…Here it is, time to begin again. Half an hour before breakfast will be served in the hotel restaurant. Another hour before I head to the office for another work day. I give thought to the plan for the day, and work ahead of me. I check the calendar and remind myself what day of the week it actually is (Thursday, as it happens). I contemplate making the world a better place, and what that really means – and requires. I think about narrowing that down to the work pieces, and how best to craft, nurture, and maintain a truly exceptional (and good) place to work. I sip my coffee. The day, so far, is off to a good start.

My thoughts touch on love and loving, and suddenly I feel a deep yearning ache, and I’m swamped by a moment of loneliness – I miss my partner. The words form in my thoughts, and bring tears to my eyes unexpectedly. I take deep, even, breaths, and soothe myself; it’s a short time away, really, and I’ll be home tomorrow evening. I finish my coffee, and dry my tears; it’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Same routine, different location – at least for this morning bit – and I’m okay with that. πŸ™‚ My coffee is still too hot to even sip on, and made in a peculiar molded plastic drip contraption of some utterly ordinary sort. I don’t expect much of it, and I’m considering walking down the corridor to the ice machine to cool it down more quickly, just because ice is readily available…and I really want a cup of coffee, without having to see any people, yet. lol

Air travel has some uncomfortable moments for me. It wasn’t the seating on the aircraft that was the problem. It wasn’t the line to go through security. It was just… all the people. By far too many. All talking. Many grousing about absolute bullshit (much as I am right now, but a lot less of me, and a whole lot more of them. lol) I’m just saying; it was a bit much. The roughest bit was the high-pitched, fast-paced, near-continuous, over-sharing, stream of consciousness from a very insecure-seeming young woman who latched onto anyone near her and just… downloaded. Total brain dump. Unfortunately, seated just behind me on the aircraft, after having to deal with the noise and overshare in the seating area at the gate as well. Loathsome creature. Oh, sure, just one of many human beings, and ordinary enough, I’m sure. Just… fuuuuuuuuck. I did not really need that.

Seated on the plane, I expected things would quiet down. The talking woman never stopped. There was that. A man in a seat ahead of me decided to occupy his time withΒ  video game. A combat first-person shooter. The entire flight. With the volume up, no head phones. (Seriously??) O…M…G… “Complimentary PITA” (pains in the ass) served generously.

…Earplugs for the win.

Getting to the hotel looked like the easy part. I had set my expectations too high, and further, made assumptions that were incorrect. I was nearly in tears by the time I located my ride-share driver (and I assure you, I had to find him, not the other way round), exhausted, cranky from traveling without being medicated (hard to find a smoking area, especially once I was cleared through security, and I was traveling without any cannabis on me), blood sugar low, ankle screaming at me to get off my feet… I was so relieved just to finally be in a car and headed to the hotel, I almost didn’t take a moment to appreciate that in spite of all the stressors, I never snarled at anyone, never actually wept, never broke down. πŸ˜€ I sat back in the seat, took a breath, and looked around…

…So this is Los Angeles, huh? It’s very… busy.

The hotel room is a hotel room. Clean. This one is even quiet. I even (mostly) slept through the night… sort of. Weird ambient light from smoke detectors and whatnot coming from different locations and angles relative to my sleeping self resulted in some restlessness. The bed is comfortable, the linens clean, but it feels unfamiliar, and sleep was difficult in spite of my fatigue. The nearest smoking area, where I can vape, is a long corridor away from the elevator, 3 floors down, and about half a city block walk from the front entrance of the hotel. lol I’ll get some exercise, just getting a quick vape. LOL I’m settled in for a couple days, though… and I’m reasonably comfortable. It’s enough.

I crashed early… then couldn’t sleep. I read awhile, until sleep caught up with me, and the alarm went off too soon. Suddenly, it’s time to begin again, there’s a day ahead of me, I’m surrounded by the vastness of busy-ness that Los Angeles… and… I guess all that’s quite okay. πŸ™‚ All my temptingly ambitious plans about time between working hours have dissipated like dreams – I’ll be content to stay on top of my self-care, and enjoy my work gently. I hope to return home in good spirits, feeling well-cared-for and accomplished. Nothing fancy, nothing broken. πŸ™‚

…I have yet to see the dawn. πŸ™‚ It’s definitely time to begin again. πŸ˜€

It was a fairly ordinary morning…other than the luggage. I kissed my sleeping Traveling Partner good-bye before I left the house, feeling rather peculiarly, and unexpectedly, reluctant to go. Nah, I’m not worried about the trip; it’s routine. Just work stuff. Things to do that are easier there than here.

…I got all the way to the office before I noticed I forgot to bring my lunch, a generous slice of a hearty, delicious homemade frittata I had made for dinner last night. I was looking forward to it, too; better the second day, it was just that kind of goodness. πŸ˜€ I laugh at myself and wonder what else I will forget? Hopefully not my laptop. LOL

It’s all work from this point out, until I return home late on Friday evening. I mean… I’m traveling for work. The hotel is just a place to sleep, really, and I’ve certainly got enough to do to fill all three days. lol I brought a book, of course. In fact, I brought a hard bound book, and my Kindle. I brought a bound journal for personal writing and self-reflection. I brought a notebook for work notes. I remembered chargers for devices, batteries for my vape, and a power brick. I remembered e-juice for vaping. I remembered socks, toothpaste, hair ties, and medication. So far, so good. I’ve got digital boarding passes, and my hotel reservation is saved to my phone. I feel… prepared. In fact, I feel prepared to the point that I’d probably be fine if I were stranded in any urban wilderness… less well prepared were I to suddenly drop into a proper wilderness-wilderness… you know, out in the wilderness. LOL Yeah… I left all the camping gear behind. πŸ™‚

The tender, somewhat awkward, moment of conversation last night about “what if?” alerted me I am not all that well-prepared for certain other very adult circumstances. I need to update my will. I haven’t clearly and simply documented where things are, and what to do, in the event of my unexpected death…and… I gotta say, that strikes me now as fairly stupid of me. I’m 56. People die at 56 all the fucking time. I’d rather not leave behind someone dear to me to grieve while also desperately trying to figure out who to call about insurance, or where my will is located, or what utilities need to be changed over from my name to another, or… you know. Lots of details that I handle without a second thought these days, pleased to be so skillfully able to care for the day-to-day basics, reliably. It would be a dick move to fail to support my partnership with loving care and meticulous detail – since I know in advance that I’m mortal. So. There’s that to think about. 0_o

The day ahead seems… long. The plane ride will be a short one. Then… the strange solitude of a hotel room. Time for meditation, and a chance to get oriented in a new place. I don’t know what to expect… I’ll be close to the airport. Close to the beach. Close to the office. The map shows a crowded city, filled with human lives and human experiences, crowded with people, with buildings, with circumstances. I’m not interested in much of any of that. I’ll enjoy the chance to connect with some cherished colleagues with whom I am friendly; we don’t see each other “irl” very often. I’ll get some work done for which I have considerable enthusiasm – and that’s really the point of going.

…I already miss my Traveling Partner, and I haven’t even left town yet. LOL I know when he wakes, he’ll miss me, too. The days will creep or fly by – either way, the time will pass, and I’ll be happy to return home. Properly home. This shared place of ours that feels so good. Our partnership – and affection for each other – continues to deepen over time. Thinking about his smile, his rude jokes, his fun, and the warmth of his arms around me, I feel wrapped in love – and very fortunate.

My eye travels over my desk… what else am I forgetting… anything…? It’s time to begin again…

For awhile now, I’ve just been sitting here, staring at my monitor. It’s not quite 3:30 a.m., now. My heart is still pounding, and my hands are trembling. There’s nothing actually wrong; I woke up triggered, around 2:50 a.m.,Β  and I’m fighting off both confusion (from being groggy) and panic. It’s not personal, and it’s unlikely that any detail of waking me into this state was intentional, at all. I’m awake, though, and sleep won’t return in the short time left before my alarm would go off, so… I’m beginning again, a bit early, is all.

“Purple Tiger” blooming on the deck. Life is filled with small delights.

…Just yesterday, I was relaxing and giving thought to how content I am, how lovely life is, how comfortable I feel in my own skin day-to-day, and how fortunate I am to have the healthy relationships that I do. The contrast with my internal state this morning is a useful reminder that emotional wellness is built over time, and that taking it for granted is not an ideal approach to maintaining it. The phrase “the damage is done” seems fitting here. I can heal a lot of chaos and damage, over time, and doing so is a pretty extraordinary quality of life improvement, in general. What I can’t do is change what I’ve been through, or eliminate the trauma in my history, and even now, sometimes it “comes back to me” in a problematic way. I still have disturbed sleep. I still have some uncomfortable moments. I still don’t “bounce back” as easily from some emotional experiences as someone else might. “Much improved” still doesn’t mean “forever and always symptom free”.

Early hints of autumn approaching have turned up in the garden.

What a great weekend; in spite of both my partner and I being in considerable pain, we had a great time together. A local power outage ended our evening, last night. It didn’t seem necessary to stay up until power came back on. Rather unfortunately, I went to bed without really considering which lights had been on, when the power went out. I woke abruptly to bright light (when the power came back on?), confused, startled, and frightened. My Traveling Partner was up, apparently trying to make sense of whatever mess the bed linens were in, also awakened by the return of power, but at the time I was trapped in my confusion, and still startled, and I felt “trapped” in the room, and my panic started to build, quickly. I was on my way to a serious over-reaction, and chose simply to go ahead and get up, instead, hoping that pushing myself through regular morning routines would soothe me quickly, and help to calm my nerves. I was not clear on what time it actually was, in that moment.

I started coffee and dressed myself, still sort of bumbling around clumsily, not yet fully awake or entirely calmed, and doing my best to stay focused and present in this “now” moment. My heart was still hammering away in my chest, and I was feeling short of breath. My partner approached me, and asked “aren’t you coming back to bed?” I felt my jaw clench and un-clench, working to shape words that fit. I tried “the way I woke up… I won’t go back to sleep, now”. I felt self-conscious, and dreading that anything I said could “make things worse” (What things? More chaos and damage – that hell was a long time ago, in a very different relationship.) I did what I could to explain that I woke triggered without placing any blame; my PTSD isn’t something my Traveling Partner caused, and there is no circumstance under which he would trigger my symptoms deliberately. Nothing personal in any of it. I felt tears start. Neither of us reacted to that; we’re experienced with emotionality as a shitty byproduct of my chaos and damage. I turned toward my studio. He went back to bed.

One of the most horrible things about PTSD is how often there is a negative consequence to people who love us, who didn’t do the damage that made us who we are, but so often find themselves paying a pretty high price to loveΒ  us, anyway. Spectacularly unfair. I try to be considerate about that sort of thing, when I can hang on to the presence of mind it takes to do so. :-\

Meditation continues to be a key practice supporting my emotional wellness.

…It’s just two minutes shy of 4:00 a.m. now. I’m not shaking any more. My heart rate is back down to 62 bpm. My breathing feels relaxed. I feel calm. I could probably go back to sleep now, if I chose to… but the alarm would go off in 30 minutes, and I’d likely wake groggier and less well-rested feeling than I am now. I sip my coffee, and rub the sleep out of my eyes, and hope the day ahead is not an overly complicated one. I feel my anxiety surge in the background. Small things are likely to set me off today; it’ll need to be managed attentively, compassionately, and with a commitment to caring for myself skillfully. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I set a couple reminders on my work calendar to take 10 minutes to meditate during the day. Each moment today may be a needed chance to begin again; that has to be okay with me, to really get this handled well. I feel my shoulders relax. “I’ve got this…” The reassurance swells from within myself, built on experience. That feels pretty good – solid, and reliable. Safe.

I give thought to my Traveling Partner, and hope that he has returned to a deep and untroubled sleep, and wakes well-rested. I finish my coffee, and prepare to face a new day. It’s a good time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I’m sipping my coffee and trying to recall where I left off, last time I picked up Proust. I’ve never finished “In Search of Lost Time” (also published as “Remembrance of Things Past”). I’ve made progress. Started it a number of times. Enjoyed the bit of it that I’ve read; it lingers in my consciousness. This morning, though, I don’t recall where I’ve left off, and find myself contemplating starting it entirely over. πŸ™‚

It’s a gray Saturday morning, a bit muggy. We had thunder and lightening on the horizon yesterday, before dawn. There is rain in the forecast for later today. My hair is blue. LOL These details don’t contribute much to each other… I’ve only just awakened from a heavy uncomfortable sleep, waking with a stuffy head, and when I woke I had forgotten about getting my hair colored. My reflection in the mirror startled, then puzzled me, until I remembered an honestly unforgettable 8 fucking hours in the salon chair. omg. So much time. lol

…My hair looks great, lustrous shades of teal, cobalt, aqua, and electric blue. I’m eager to see it in the sunshine. I’m eager to see the startled wide-eyed gaze of a child who, for a moment, wonders if blue hair is “real”. πŸ™‚ It looks “real”, with the shades and variations, and tousled from sleep.

I arrived home to so much done around the house, and garage. Wow. Oh. And a list. My Traveling Partner left me a very short “to do list” of a couple things he’d asked if I would take care of, previously, which I had managed not to get to… so… convenient reminder, right there with the mail. lol I guess my Saturday plans are covered! (Note to self; don’t say yes to something you’re not prepared to be reminded to do…or…here’s a thought; fucking do it. You said you would.)

My coffee is good. The morning is a relaxed one. Somehow, already time to begin again. πŸ™‚