I can't believe I didn't write anything this summer. It's been kind of... well, at Thursday's bullshit welcome-back-to-forced-blah-blah meeting we had to have "Circle Time", where our entire school site staff sat in a big circle outside in the glaring sun, and used 'speaking objects' to take turns sharing. Our first sharing question was to describe our summer in seven words or less. I said "Family and personal health and Lake Geneva". And that was my summer, folks. That and being enraged about Gaza and Ferguson.

I started the summer with a wretched cold that was almost Whooping Cough... it lasted for weeks and weeks, and involved extreme exhaustion. Also in terms of personal health, I spent the summer trying to deal better with my diabetes. Recording and tracking blood sugar levels, checking off pills and insulin daily, tracking (observing, more, not prescribing or critiquing) meals. It's been very good to do that, and I hope to fuck I can continue now that school is starting.

On the family health front, that really means my mother, who in addition to her COPD, is also dealing with what my sister and I have just learned to describe as Mild Cognitive Impairment, aka dementia-in-waiting. There have been signs and portents for a few years, but incidences have been increasing and finally even my denial (second only to my mother's superior powers in that area) was fractured. One example: we were getting some gas and she offered to pump it, which was nice, but once she finally figured out how to put my card in to pay for it (which failed multiple times) she tried to gas the pump rather than my car, and asked in confusion where she was supposed to put the nozzle. Pretty terrifying.

Thing is, her confusion and her issues with memory are so greatly affected by emotion and depression that it's a little hard to tell what is baseline. When she is upset and dealing with negative emotions, she is much more likely to become confused. And that gas pump episode was after a hell of a week at the beginning of the summer when I'd taken her to three doctors' appointments or tests, and then she'd had a spell of dizziness and falling that took her to the ER -- due, it turned out, to drug interactions. She hadn't told her doctor out here about one drug her doctor in Chicago had her on, and the combination of two of her pills dropped her blood pressure down to extremely dangerous levels. When she started falling and we rushed her to the ER, however, we didn't know that, and her doctor used the very scary word 'stroke'.

So. We're working on getting her to live out here in Oakland full time, and it seems like we've finally mostly won that argument, though she is not yet selling her co-op in Chicago. She has agreed in principle, though. ANYWAY, my main point is that this summer has pretty much been about dealing with all of these things. Even going to Lake Geneva for two weeks was mostly about dealing with stuff for my mom; we went together, and both stayed with my dad and stepmother. Thank fuck that they and my mom are family and friends. I can't imagine estrangement there; what a nightmare that would be. She's doing okay right now, though emotionally fragile with the recognition of this MCI stuff. My sister motivated her signing a contract with a geriatric management company out here that has assistants who do daily home visits and check her pills and get her engaged in the day, which prevents my mom from slipping into sleeping for vast portions of the day due to her chronic depression. This is a good thing, though damn, it costs up the ass.

Otherwise, I feel like I mostly used the summer to do expensive personal chores I couldn't get to during the school year, like a brake job and mundane household purchases (new desk top, new mattress topper, sheets, new external hard drive, etc.) And now it's over. I don't know. My classroom is ready (a giant thank you to my younger niece R., for helping me yesterday, photos below). I am not really thinking about teaching yet, although it starts Monday. But it's a minimum day, whatever. I'll practice their names and seating charts, even though my rosters will probably change in a week or two.

A serene empty classroom:

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My niece R-the-younger:

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September 2017

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