Friday, September 22nd, 2017 03:07 am
Selichot )

Rosh Hashanah )

It's genuinely disorienting to encounter all these spaces where I don't have to educate anyone or fight to be seen for who I am. Other people have already done that work, and leaders have clearly been receptive to it. (Rabbi Lippman is queer, but I don't assume that cis queer people will be welcoming to or understanding of trans people, especially nonbinary trans people.) I get to just show up and be a human being in human community. What an immense privilege. What a gift. Honestly, that might be the thing that gets me to stick with this—just the pure pleasure of being in a place where I didn't personally have to claw out a space for myself.

Josh met me and Kit in the park and we walked for a while (GMaps Pedometer says I walked 3.2 miles today, most of it pushing a heavy stroller with a heavy toddler; my feet and arms are very tired). I teased him that he should be glad I didn't make him meet the rabbi. But this is my thing, really. Maybe it's my latest three-month hobby. Maybe it'll be more than that. We'll see.
Saturday, September 16th, 2017 12:17 am
[personal profile] emelbe and I set our alarms for 02:30 and 02:35 respectively, just to be sure we got up in time to walk over to Caltech for the end of mission. We dressed and poured coffee into ourselves, made sure we had our badges, and got out the door in plenty of time to arrive before 04:00, the official start of the event and NASA TV coverage.

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Walking up to Beckman Auditorium (aka the wedding cake) from the south.

As it happened. )
Friday, September 15th, 2017 08:55 pm
Thursday was meant to be a quiet day, since we all knew we had to be up and at Caltech by 4 AM for the thing we’d all been preparing for: the actual end of mission.

In reality, there were some impromptu science meetings at Caltech, one of which I attended in the morning. I slipped out just before noon, because I had someone to meet.

I headed down from Beckman to South Mudd to see my former JPL postdoctoral supervisor, from back in those heady days when I was still a lab scientist, for lunch. I hadn’t seen him since 2006. I eventually remembered where his Caltech office was. I could’ve found the JPL one much more easily, but it would have required me to check in and get a badge, which seemed a lot of faff for lunch. Besides, there are nicer places to eat in Pasadena. Once in the correct corridor, I spotted his technician hovering outside the door, plus another UK person from the physical chemistry community whom I’d never met but knows the bloke pretty well. There were lots of smiles and hugs, and we decided to head down to a restaurant over on Lake Street.

We had a very pleasant hour of conversation, reminiscing and catching up. I had a shock on hearing that their children, whom I remembered as children or young teenagers, were now grown up and had careers of their own. Of course I knew that would have happened in the intervening decade-plus, but it’s not until you actually speak together about these things that they’re driven home to you. They were equally shocked on learning that Humuhumu has started school - and has a younger sibling! The bloke and I had been remiss in our communication, clearly. We talked of science, of course, and of politics and its effects on research direction, and of our worries about the future due to Brexit and the current US administration.

I am still kicking myself for forgetting to take a photo. You must instead picture me with a group of men: one starting to disappear into the frailty of old age, peering out earnestly from large-framed glasses, one solid and grey-haired and mostly silent with twinkling blue eyes, and one cheeky-grinned middle-aged bear of a chap with a shock of brown hair and a beard. All sitting together in a booth of a Japanese restaurant, eagerly shoveling the contents of bento boxes into our faces, occasionally bursting into roars of laughter while cheesy ‘90s music played in the background.

We parted with promises not to let another eleven years pass before we met again. I was left with the warm glow you get from (re)connecting with friendly, kind, intelligent people. It was a lovely way to buffer against the excitement and strain of what was to come on Friday morning.

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Chilling out in my JPL t-shirt before the end of mission.
Thursday, September 14th, 2017 05:05 pm
On Wednesday morning, [personal profile] emelbe and I saddled up and drove over to the Jet Propulsion Lab for a tour. We put her trusty sat nav on, and I noticed that instead of a car, the little icon was an x-wing. She turned the audio on. “Driven well you have,” said Yoda. “In a quarter of a mile, turn left. It is your destiny.”

It was decided that it was fitting for Yoda to be allowed to direct us to JPL.

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JPL tour badge with Curiosity on the front. We got to keep these.

Tour, with side trips down memory lane )
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 04:26 am
I don't want to write another huge long entry tonight, because last night's took 90 minutes and then I went to bed super late, but I do want to leave myself some quick notes on a thing. When Kit was off from daycare for a week, I was up and dressed by 11 every morning so I could do childcare. I put on real clothes and left the house every day. I did social things and I did actively fun things (not what I'm coming to think of as enjoyable sloth things, like playing video games or hanging out on Slack). My body and brain were engaged. I felt GREAT. I enjoyed every day and ended the week feeling like I'd been on vacation—like I'd gone on a holiday to New York and done all those things I'm always too busy or tired or whatever to do. And I did it while working (at night) and staying totally on top of my deadlines, even the ones accelerated by the holiday.

So I need to figure out how to do that more. I hoped a week of early rising would reset my body clock but of course I'm right back to going to bed at 5 a.m. (or later—Monday morning I went to bed at half past nine, which is not okay and has set me up for feeling like crap all week) so I will have to work on that part because I think it's pretty essential. Having something fun to get up for really helped, a thing that has been true going back to my childhood; I would be late to school every weekday morning for months but happily get up at dawn on a weekend to go to the Stormville flea market with my mother. Even more crucially, I would care enough to go to bed early—a thing I did during Kit's week off too—so that getting up early didn't wreck me and wreck the event I was looking forward to.

I don't think I can get up before 10 on a regular basis, but if I got up at 10 or 10:30 to be out the door by 11 for a ~12:00 thing someplace, that sounds doable. It just has to be a fun thing. I have an OT appointment at 13:00 and I genuinely enjoy OT in addition to it being kind of vital for my health and well-being, but it's not the exhilarating kind of fun, so going to bed early and getting up early and getting there on time are all challenging.

What are exuberant fun things that could happen around noon? I think I need something where I'm making a commitment to someone else, at least at first; I've tried setting schedules through sheer willpower before and it's never worked out. Lunches with friends? Classes of some kind? (Ideally free or cheap ones.) Swapping language lessons with someone who wants to improve their spoken or written English and help me learn to read kanji or sign ASL? A teaching or tutoring gig? (Maybe the local library needs volunteers in their adult learning center. I've sent them a note.) A crafting meetup? A chorus or other singing group? A walking club? Doing storytime or otherwise helping out at Kit's daycare? It doesn't need to be a big thing or a long thing or a very structured thing. It just has to start at around the right time of day and get me out of the house and engage my body and mind and bring me real joy. Nothing will do that as well as time with Kit, but some approximation should be possible. Suggestions are very welcome, keeping in mind that I used to write the learning section of the nonsense nyc weekly events newsletter and already know about basically every source of free and cheap educational experiences in the city. :)
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 03:31 am
I flew into Los Angeles on the Sunday before the last-while-Cassini-is-still-in-orbit-around-Saturn Project Science Group meeting began. I was feeling dodgy when I got up at 6 AM, but I napped in the taxi and took some ibuprofen, and hoped that the feeling would go away.

It did not.

I made sure my usual mobile pharmacy (ibuprofen, paracetamol, Rennie) was stocked in my rucksack before I boarded the plane, and was glad I'd done so about three hours into the flight when my fever started spiking. I alternated ibuprofen and paracetamol every two hours. The flight attendants kindly granted all of my requests for cold water/cans of ginger ale, which were frequent. It was one of the most miserable long-haul flights I've ever had.

I spent nearly all of Monday in bed apart from a brief foray out to get a hot Thai curry into my belly for lunch. This paid off on Tuesday, and I was able to spend half a day at Caltech to dial into the penultimate operations meeting. (There will be one more after the crash, but obviously we’ll no longer have an instrument status to report.) I was excited about this, because I had been saving up something for a very long time.

In fine fettle was the other option )

to be continued
Sunday, September 10th, 2017 02:45 am
What a lovely week it's been. What a lovely thing to be able to say that!

The weather has been 100% autumn and I am HERE FOR IT. Today I wore my hoodie! And zipped it up! While it was still light out! I've had my window open for three nights running. So much delicious aaaaaair.

J and I had a real date last Saturday (we went to a friend's BBQ for a bit, which doesn't sound like a date but was amazingly nice to do as two adults with no child in tow), and X and I had a real date today (we went to Coney Island for the first time in ages), and we even got a real family date last weekend where we snuggled up in my bed and watched Pacific Rim and ate popcorn. There have been lots of cuddles and hugs and smooches lately as we all savor finally being healthy. The week Kit was off from daycare was splendidly vacation-like and I came off of it feeling rested and relaxed and happy; now they're adjusting well to being back in daycare, and eating and sleeping like they're being paid for it, which means they should have a big growth spurt pretty soon. I'm having lots of fun writing fanfic for [community profile] crossovering and I just nominated fandoms for [community profile] yuletide for the first time in something like 12 years. J has been cooking a lot, and tonight we axed our towering tottering basil and made pesto, which was easy and delicious; I threw in some macadamia nuts on a whim and didn't bother measuring anything and it worked out great. [twitter.com profile] schanoes came over on Friday and we had lunch and talked nonstop for three hours. I figured out how to comb my hair while it's starting to grow out. The meeting for Kit's IFSP went extremely well and all their PT services have been renewed. They're starting to play with their food sometimes, which is a big improvement on being wary of it. It's just been a nice week.

I have to keep the focus pretty tight to write about things this way, because the land is being destroyed by fire and storm and a great many people we care about are having a really hard time right now. But that makes me cherish our little oasis all the more. We're able to offer other people shelter and support again, after months of barely being able to cope with our own stuff, and it feels so good to be able to help our friends and to have our feet on stable ground. For however long this lasts, I plan to bask in it and store up good memories to get me through the next round of challenges.