First of all, I am excited / terrified to begin work with the Gainesville Peer Respite. The respite is going to be a community of certified mental health peer specialists that will be hosting events to raise awareness and create discussion around mental health issues as well as running a residential facility where individuals can check themselves in to receive support in a non-clinical setting. We are aiming to create an alternative to psychiatric hospitalization with all of its forms, medications, locked doors, cold and clinical environments, and professional distance of staff. The environment we create will instead be home-like, comfortable, free of labeling and judgment and diagnosis. I will be one of the peer support specialists.
I'm excited to be part of the founding team that helps to create the structure for how the organization is run in the future, as well as learning how to better support individuals that are in crisis or just need someone to listen. I'm also super-excited to be fulfilling a fantasy that I have had for the last five or so years of blending my career as an IT professional with that of a mental health professional. I really love the solitude and creativity and satisfaction of IT work, but in the past few years it has felt a little more like a way to make a living rather than something that feels like it makes a real impact in my community.
Musically speaking, I have been performing less than what is usual for me. However, I am happy to be joining the friendly folks in Mourning Glories and bringing traditional music to appreciative audiences. Additionally, I have been working hard on an as-of-yet-unnamed mandolin quartet. I have spent hours and hours arranging ragtime piano sheet music for the quartet and have found it a great source of pleasure and satisfaction. Playing a plucked string instrument (a baritone guitar with a mostly-fifths tuning) has also been a fun challenge. I have been inspired recently by friends that are taking risks and learning new instruments and performance styles to also take up a new instrument. I am thinking that taking up drums would provide the kind of challenge I am craving, and give me an outlet to my immensely rhythm-oriented musical brain. I am very much inspired by jazz drummers but not interested necessarily in playing jazz. We'll see what happens. Oh, and I have a fantasy at getting really good at arco playing on the upright bass! One thing at a time, though ;]
In other exciting news, my brother has really impressed me with his immense drive and energy with respect to his career in nursing. He recently graduated summa cum laude from his BS in nursing, has solid intensive care unint experience, and is considering a career as a traveling nurse so that he can check out various cities that he has been curious about. I am looking forward to visiting him in Portland or Austin or wherever he might end up :]
A list of things that I am really enjoying:
- I am currently reconnecting with some of my musical roots by taking the effort to properly digest the recent MASSIVE release by Autechre -- a release named "elseq" lasting more than four hours and containing multiple tracks that exceed the ten- and twenty-minute track length. I am loving how so many of the tracks rely on quite slow tempos yielding space quite long phrases filled with kaleidoscopic shards of rhythm and fragments of melodies. The disconnected and austere sound of this music can be massively comforting to me in that it provides a space within which I can just rest and have an experience that allows me to temporarily disengage the side of me that is emotionally reactive and too-concerned with my perceptions of myself and my ideas of how others perceive me. It feels intensely private.
- Graphic novels have filled a space for me that used to be taken up by TV. Graphic novels stimulate me visually, connect me to my early-childhood fascination with visual art, but allow me the creative freedom and personal control over pace and consumption that TV shows and videos fail to provide. The Alachua Public Library has a great selection of graphic memoirs and (auto)biographical works.
- Speaking of graphic novels, I am completely obsessed with Alison Bechdel. Seeing her "Fun Home" on Broadway was in my top five most moving experiences of my life. I connected very strongly to the character of the closeted father as well as the character of the awkward early 20's Alison and her gradually discovering her sexuality and entering into the world of romantic relationships for the first time.
- I love working at the Alachua County public library. Spaces where a communal experience is created that doesn't involve talking are very rare. Being both introverted but also wanting a feeling of community can feel difficult since extroversion and extroverted spaces are the norm.
- Heat. After the initial sluggishness / acclimation phase of summer is over, I thrill at how pliable my body is in the heat. I love how flexible I feel and how my joints feel less achy. I am also loving the end of pollen season!
- I am very much nourished and sustained by my current partnership. I am grateful for their loving support, smarts, compassion, energetic vitality, and grateful, also, for our shared values of non-violent communication, introspection, and consent. I love sharing yummy food and musical knowledge and cuddles and Alison Bechdel fanaticism with them. I love running into them around town and feeling my heart fill with joy and love the instant that I realize who it is that I have encountered <3