Our car battery died. Why is this journal worthy? You don't even drive, Mary! Because Chris is working from home (we're on day number 100+) and we only go out once a week for a grocery pickup, the car is having a bit of a temper tantrum. Even if we don't plan on heading out, we start it up to give it some love. Like flushing the toilet every so often in the guest bathroom because...it's just not getting used like it used to. Chris lets our local friends know on our Slack channel...and our friends began to argue over who was going to come over and jump the battery first! I was hoping that they'd all show up with a kiddy pool full of mud or Jello and fight for the honor. I would have sold tickets. I lost my only paying gig this year, so I was thinking about lucrative FRIEND FIGHT 2020 could be. Our friend Phoenix won the argument online and rang our doorbell. I didn't recognize him at first because he was wearing gloves and mask. I thought for a half second "What the fuck. Why is some dude ringing my shit" My muscle memory kicked in and I almost hugged him. We both stopped, awkwardly. I said "I WANNA HUG YOU SO FUCKING BAD, BRO". So instead we did the PAX handshake...which is just an elbow bump. Phoenix, Chris, and I got to catch up and talk...in person...6 feet away from each other. It was better than Slack and Discord and Zoom and DnD Beyond. It was in person. With the exception of my dentist, this is the only physical human contact I have had outside of Chris SINCE FEBRUARY So, please. I beg you all. Wear a mask. Just do it. Wear it so we can help this kick this virus and I can hug my friends and see my family again. Our car battery is still dead, by the way. The jump didn't work. But I got to see my friend and that was nice.

Here's something traumatic, thoughtful, and special: I'm gong to tell you all about the emotional meltdown I had at the dentist office last week. I will talk about anxiety, nightmares, and not too graphic dental procedure. What makes this special is that I am retelling this while STONED OFF MY ASS on these pain pills. We are talking The Midnight Gospel levels of high. Are you ready? Okay. I came from a family that values dental hygiene. My Dad was a dental tech in the Air Force, so he taught us how to take of our teeth. We had regular dental visits. Our parents never let us use the literally candy coated kid's toothpaste. Also, my brother and I never physically fought, so our teeth never suffered from fisticuffs. When I was in high school, I had to have 4 baby teeth pulled - the 2 front row baby teeth made it hard me to get my upper lip over my teeth when I smiled. That was a cakewalk because those teeth were supposed to come out. I got braces installed when I was 15. I had to evolve the way I ate and cleaned my teeth. I was at the dentist every few weeks to have bracer wires tightened. I was used to the dentist. A dentist appointment never made me nervous. Whatever discomfort I was about to feel I knew how to handle it. To this day, I can usually fall asleep in the dentist chair. Or, at least I thought that last week. Genetics are a weird thing. After all of that good hygiene growing up, I still ended up with cavities. Booo! Not fair! My back tooth was in need of a filling and decided to break when I was eating at a raw oyster bar. Yep. Broke my tooth on a raw oyster. Not the shell or a stray rock...just on a piece of something with the consistency of Nickelodeon slime. So this tooth was broken and the cavity was busy shit rocking that tooth from the inside. The dentist told me that it would have to be removed. Okay...that's a little stressful, but it's the back tooth and no one will ever see the gaping hole that you have to live with forever. Yay? Scheduling issues and the current world weirdness lead to a delay in the tooth extraction. I should have been more proactive in getting something scheduled earlier like a good and proper adult...but I was nervous. Not about pain...but just "Is this a sign for things to come? How many more teeth am I gonna lose?" So, that nervous energy is a thing! My tooth flat out protested last week. A mighty toothache settled in and I was in pain from my neck to my eyebrows. I texted my dentist. He said "See you Saturday" My dentist is currently closed and only seeing emergency cases due to the current world situation. So imagine my emotional discomfort when my dentist makes time for me during a damn pandemic. And THAT nervous energy on top of the first! Now, smash-cut with me over to the Anxiety Corner. In my Anxiety Corner, there lives my reoccurring stress dreams: -- Bubble gum expanding in my mouth and choking me to death -- My teeth shattering and falling out of my mouth These dreams like to come and get jiggy with this hot mess mind before I travel, a week or 2 before a show (convention or being stage; whichever), and before something big is about to go down. Oddly enough, I didn't have a nightmare before my appointment. I can tell you that the teeth-shattering dream was always in the back of mind since the tooth broke, so I would accidentally dwell on that first person view horror scene while upright and awake! Comedy comes in threes. That's that third level of anxiety that I packed to come with me to the dentist office! Just a one punch on this punchcard and I get a free meal with purchase of regular entree with beverage! I arrive at the dentist. It is just my dentist and his tech. That's it. No receptionists and no other patience. They checked me for fever, ask me to put gloves on, and I went back to the chair. Dentist says that he can just numb me for the extraction. No sleeping stuff, but I could have nitrous if I wanted. I politely declined and felt better about not having to be put to sleep. The numbing went in and felt like it knew it would feel from the many fillings I've had to endure. The drilling noise didn't bother me. The poking didn't bother me. But enter...the clamps. Dr. S brings out the clampy tool used to take teeth out. I've seen these before. No big deal, surly...surly? The moment the clamps went on, I began to shake. My breathing quickened. My eyes got so wide you could land a helicopter on them. Dr. S sees my body tense up and asks "Are you feeling pain? Do we need to stop for a moment?" I gently nod my head, eyes still wide. I even think to myself "BLINK. YOU ARE SCARING THE POOR MAN." The assistant gives me a rinse and sits me up. "Are you okay?" I calmly reply "I'm not going to faint or vomit. There was no pain. I'm just having a really visceral reaction to the whole situation." "Is it the procedure?" Dr S asks. Oh, honey. The tears broke through every protective barrier like the when the Hoover Dam broke in Superman. *inhales* "I was nervous getting a tooth taken out because I am losing a physical piece of myself and the pain was terrible leading up to this and I should have made this appointment sooner and now you both are here during a pandemic because I was irresponsible and I'm scared of everyone who doesn't take this whole COVID thing seriously and that clamp and the idea of and image of you yanking my tooth out was just right there and I'm afraid that it's just gonna shatter into a million pieces" I say in one breath before the first sob. Nailed it. I then, with great clarity, continue "I apologize for the trouble and I appreciate your patience while I freak out a bit." They were so kind. If it weren't for the virus, I would have hugged them both. Dr. S said that he'd use a variety of tools to lessen the need for the clamp. I gathered my courage and we continued. When he said "The tooth is officially out!", I almost cried like I did when I paid off my student loan. We did a bone graft and stitched a membrane in there. My first stitches! The whole appointment was a little over an hour. With the emotional rush assaulting me with a head on collision into my soul, it felt like I was there for 15 minutes tops. It was an afternoon of firsts - First tooth extraction First time crying at the dentist First time getting stitches Fast forward to now. The hardest food I have eaten since Friday night is a lightly toasted bagel with cream cheese. The hole in the back of my mouth is...there. It sometimes tastes like burnt hair. Brushing my teeth has become this intricate and careful choreography in an effort to not hit the wound and really put myself through the emotional roof. Antibiotics and a prescription based pain reliever (which I only take when I absolutely need to because they sometimes make me nauseous) are helping me reccop. Lots of soup, Jello, water, and tea. Chris is taking good care of me. So are the cats. There's my story. I'm still really high. But I'm hydrated and following Dr. S's orders. And my wound will heal :)

Anyone feeling existential dread on a more exponential level lately? I didn't really want to write about this. I didn't really want to dramatically throw my hat into the "This is how current world events are affecting my life" conversation. I didn't want my minor problems to be set next to the life altering problems other folks are dealing with. But since we are all in mourning and this is a safe place to express ones self...here it comes. Here's the stuff that I am thankful for and a big ol' privilege check: Chris and I are fine. He is doing the whole work from home thing. His company is going to come out of this pretty much okay. Financially, we are safe. Other than a handful of careful and necessary grocery store trips, I've been home since right before C2E2. We have books, tons of visual media both in physical and on file, plenty of music, way too many crafts, and more video games than we know what to do with. We are stocked up on supplies for the next month or so. Grocery stores and dispensaries are nearby. We've been doing our weekly teriyaki order from Miyako's via take-out. We live a clean, but cluttered lifestyle. Other than an upcoming tooth extraction, my fat ass is staying home like a good citizen. So, why on earth do I feel so god damn depressed? Well, I'll tell ya. There are so many people who are suffering from the effects of all of this. Not even touching on the virus effects...more along the the lines of businesses closing, workers being laid-off/fired/furloughed. Schools being closed. No childcare. People going hungry because they have no income. Are we going to come out of this learning and understanding more about our fellow humans? How others struggle? How broken the system was before COVID-19 came to stay in our lives? Or are we all going to go back to "normal" having not learned a god damn thing? Magically, everything became accessible that wasn't so back in February - work from home, online schooling, remote support, essential businesses delivering and/or offering curbside pick-up. Are we going to keep that up or continue to fuck over our disabled folk? I don't know. And remaining optimistic is taking up more energy than I'd like it to. As in I have to put EFFORT into being optimistic...something that I used to be able to do without effort. I wish that I could do more to help others than just stay at home, do the social distancing thing, and support local businesses. BUT it really does help. I know that it does, but because there are people out there refusing to do the bare minimum - either because they think that God will come down and protect THEM or that this is an elaborate political ploy by whatever the opposing party du jour is - it all seems so futile. The worst way this is affecting me - I can't see my family. Any of them. Yes, there is online chat blah blah blah, but my grandmother is 90 AND I CANNOT SEE HER. And if anything happens to her, she'll have to face it alone. (Although God help the person who tries to tell my mom and my uncles that they can't see their mom.) My brother works in a hospital. My parents are over 60. My uncles and aunts are all over 60. My mother-in-law is over 70. Everyone lives roughly an hour away from me AND I CANNOT SEE THEM. I can't hug them. I can't help them around the house. I HATE that. I feel like I am in college all over again. Absolutely TRAPPED. But I know that not being there physically is important and I support the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders. I just miss them all so much. The uncertainty of all this is what keeps me up at night and drives me toward my vices. Can I just stay stoned until all of this blows over? Oh, that's not healthy in any way, shape, or form? Damn. Alright then. Video games and crying myself to sleep it is, then! The postponement of events - and somehow all ended up being in September - is a bummer for sure because I miss my convention families: the out of state friends I only get to see, the businesses that I get to work for, and the people I get to work with. Guardian energy is always off the charts online, but there's nothing quite like the electricity of being there physically together. Delay of that kind of gratification is good for the soul, but we are a society of INSTANT RESULTS and I hate that I'm following that mentality. I wanna see an ocean of *SHIRT COLOR REDACTED* shirts chanting prayers to a plastic ficus. I want to hear @matt sing to us. I want to taste those tears of joy. The last time I was in Austin was in January for a wedding. I got to party with my RT family. We got to celebrate love and togetherness. We ate amazing food. We sang and danced. I can't but feel like that was the last hurrah for the foreseeable future and that TERRIFIES ME to my core. I vacillate between sadness, helplessness, and sheer terror. I'm not used to being legit scared. I've caught myself shaking in fear at one point. I don't talk much out loud. I don't know how to articulate the way the I feel. *gestures to this post* And when I try to form words with my mouth, I sound like something who absolutely did not spend significant chunks of her life talking to and performing to large crowds. Fuckin' hell. I'm a mess and I feel like I do not have the right to be even though countless experts have given us permission to feel like shit about the current state of the world... You wanna hear about something that is so small but is impacting me with the same energy as not being able to see my friends and family? My personal church is closed. Ya know...my church that is owned by a legacy problematic multi-media monopoly in California. Disneyland is CLOSED. Fantasyland is offline. It's not necessarily "OMG I CAN'T GO!". This is totally a symbolism thing for me. Something I have invested so much emotional energy and time researching. The way that costly property makes me feel when the turnstile whistles is equal to saying "I do" to Chris. I mourn for the Cast Members. I want to hug every single one of them right now. I really hope that there are people there feeding the property animals. Those cats are tough, but they are actually fed by the park. The idea of a world without an open Disney park is frightening to me...on top of all the more important and scarier shit going on. I would do anything to smell the Pirates show building right now. I want to feel that joy. No matter what your situation is during this, what you are feeling is valid. It's been said that this is a period of mourning. We are all mourning because we have all lost something - be it a person, opportunities, jobs, lifestyle, connection, routine, stability. And I am not here to tell you how you should feel or how you should mourn. You do you as long as you are not putting yourself or others in danger. We absolutely have to get through this. We have to.

I know that being 40 is supposed to kick off a mid-life crisis, but I was NOT expecting all this. If you know of organizations that are focused on helping people during this mind boggingly time of uncertainty, drop those links in the comments. Mask makers (please specify civilian use or medical grade). fundraising for communities, food banks, grass roots delivery service, businesses that are going the extra mile...just anything. We are all in this together. Be excellent to each other. Stay safe. Stay hydrated. Stay home. And wash your fucking hands <3

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