The Updates #25

Estimated Reading Time:  8 minutes

Week 25 of the updates and oh boy, it's been a week!


So little done this week. I think I got into the work for about a half hour to look at some articles.  Given this week, it's to be expected (as you'll see below).
  • 129 days until June 1
A close up show of a glass of ginger ale with ice cubs
Ginger Ale at the Diner

Work was a bit of a blur of the week (again, see below). There were still lots of moving parts as we settle into the new semester and support returning and new students and faculty. We caught a lot of the cracks in our systems and are now going to be working on improving them. Also, I'm grateful for the kindness of colleagues and supervisors who encouraged me to take the time I needed to get through this week.

What I'm Reading

Bomba! by Osamu Tezuka: I think we're in the stage of publishing Tezuka's stuff that feels dull or disappoint--things that don't feel like they represent the true "Godfather of Manga".  This story is about a boy who can summon a horse to kill people he is angry at and does so with increasing body counts.  Not sure this would have past muster 10-20 years ago in light of Columbine and the innumerable killings sense, but there's an depletion of care that you can have a graphic novel of a kid enacting his rage and no one blinks an eye.  But it's not just that which makes this graphic novel feel lackluster; the characters feel cliched and the reason for the horse's existence has not gravity to it.  

Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection by Junji Ito:  This is a solid collection that holds up Ito's typical work of uncanny and disturbing horror. If you are looking for a bit of shock in your manga, this collection will deliver.  

Girls' Last Tour, Vol. 2-3 by Tsukumizu: By contrast, these two volumes feel like a quiet, bemusing, and curious exploration of a world abandoned.  These two volumes introduce new parts of the city they are exploring and new people, but the premise continues to be two girls wandering a deserted world, trying to make sense of the absence.  It's meditative in that sense.

A tray with 72 holes filled with dirt and some of them have seedlings growing out of them
Starter Garden
The PD Book: 7 Habits that Transform Professional Development by Elena Aguilar and Lori Cohen
: One of the best books on professional development that I've read.  The authors cover everything around professional development for educational settings (in particular, but useful for any context) and find lots of ways to tease out considerations that one might not have thought of, even after years of doing this work.  Additionally, they bring a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to the discussion that I think makes the book that much more effect in thinking through the ways professional development needs to step up its game.  Definitely a book I'll be adding to the shelves for regular revisiting!

What I'm Watching

Fleishman Is In Trouble: Though the show is just a bit too white and heterosexual, it is still a really deep and real look in the mirror of mid-life in America for certain classes of folks and families in particular. The full sum (though I have 1 episode left) feels like no one gets to middlle-age without some bagage, some challenges about looking one's self in the mirror, and a sense that their relationships (and ability to have relationships) are much more tattered than they once believe them to be.  It's kinda brutal and therefore, I'm appreciating it.

This Week's Photos

Ginger Ale at the Diner: After a long Saturday night, my partner and I took a walk Sunday midday and ended up getting breakfast at one of our favorite places.  She ordered a ginger ale and I snapped this shot that I thought was just cool to look at.

Starter Garden:  We have both the basement garden and it's time to start thinking about the outside garden, so I started planted seeds in the starter last week.  Sure enough, we got some things popping through real quick and ready to start life anew.

What's on My Mind

Last week was filled with lots of feels and flashbacks.  My partner's 91-year old grandmother had been in the hospital for the past month and in the last week, her health declined significantly--enough so for her to say she had enough.  After that, she declined rapidly and it was clear she was going to pass soon.  As happens in such situations the family rallied.  Chris and I ended up doing a few overnight vigils at the hospital, tag-teaming who would be awake to monitor and help her when she needed water or anything for that matter (she was mostly unconscious).  After an overnight on Thursday, we also helped facilitate the transition from the hospital to her home (getting there in advance and clearing out a room for hospice to come in and set up a bed and oxygen and such).  We ended up leaving there and got home near midnight.  We caught up on sleep the next morning and then heard from hospice that she had problably less than 24 hours.  We headed back to the house and was with most of the family for much of the evening.  Most everyone left except for Chris's mom and uncle--and us.  We took shifts watching her and when my shift started at 2am, she was breathing but within 20 minutes or so, it appeared that she had stopped.  Chris confirmed and we called hospice and the funeral director for the next steps.  

She was the third person whom I've been in the presence of when they died.  The other two include my father (which you can read about here) and my ex-wife's father.  It's a strange and powerful thing to witness and while I won't say I enjoyed it, I am still appreciative of being able to be present and being witness.  In this case, in particular, I think my experiences previously had helped me to be a good support to a family that was at times grieving, lost, and needing some clarity (who doesn't at these times?).  

The week harkened back to so many things--not just the passing of those I mentioned above but the process of the passing--the hospital and hospice visits, the long waits, the silence, the attempts at jokes, the desire to find/make meaning out of everything, the way time goes sideways and days and nights merge and yet time slows to a crawl, the strategizing of fuel be it coffee to stay up and/or drive, or sustenance, the overdependence on carbs and sweets, the growing agitation as the days go on and patience wears thin as exhaustion increases, the navigation of how each person deals with their personal grief--there was lots happening in this week that passed.  The overnights also harkened back to the years of my life that I worked overnights and that was an interesting callback.  I think I was surprised at how easily I could maintain it (though it did take its toll). I wasn't sure I still had it in me but pacing myself, identifying windows to caffeinate myself, and taking rest where I could came surprisingly easy to me.

While it was sad to see her go and I know her family is feeling the loss deeply this week, I also know that she died in her home surrounded by family and that was important to her and them.  Wf we could all die in such a loving place, we would be quite lucky.

Words of the Year

Focus: Focus was definitely out of whack this week unfortunately.  The things I waned to get to did not happen and for this week, I'm ok with that.

Kind: I feel like I shined this week in supporting Chris and her family. I don't want to pat myself on the shoulder but I feel that I showed up in ways that were helpful, providing thoughts and approaches informed by my own experiences, and did my best to support anyone who showed discomfort. I think this can be a hard thing to manage around death because there's so much that comes up for all of us and yet, I found myself able to check most of my own reactivity (not to the family but to my own exhaustion and stress of the situation) and focus on how to best help.

Earnest: I'm pretty sure I achieved this week. There were several times with different members of Chris's family where I was able to talk and share in a way about feelings, emotions, concerns, and challenges around the process of dying that demonstrated an emotional depth that they might not have realized I had coupled with a sincerity about the rawness and vulnerability of these moments.  In particular, these are not things men are good at talking about and I was able to delve into richer conversations about what it means to feel pain, fear, shame, etc and its impact on how we act and isolate ourselves as a result.  It's hard to explain without going into private conversations but I think it proved helpful in showing some of genuine emotional challenges that I've faced and showing the need for more emotionally-focused dialogue among men. 

Till next week...

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