August 2020 in Review

Oh August, how I despise you. Honestly, it wasn’t really too bad this year, but August every year is tough. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always had depression issues in August – perhaps because it’s triple-digit heat most of the month – and those issues were made worse after some trauma in 2014 (now I have PTSD triggers, too!). So there were some definite mental health problems this month, especially toward the end. There was also a lot of stress (see School section below), more house problems (see House), and not as much exercise as I would like (um, did I mention the triple-digit heat?). But it wasn’t all bad, and I was certainly productive this month despite all the obstacles!

I didn’t read very much in August: two rereads, one book that was beautifully written but not terribly memorable (and mostly read in July), and one book I loathed. I also flipped through and read parts of Why We Sleep, hoping to get some good information about insomnia (causes, solutions, etc). While some of the information was interesting, the book was written by a man with clear biases and who spent half the book name-dropping and self-idolizing, making the whole book utterly dismissible. Sigh. Otherwise, I haven’t read much, and my audio-listening has been focused on the daily podcast drop (30 Days of Terror) from Real Life Ghost Stories Podcast.

So many of my 2020 goals are on hold this year re: covid, but I got a major one completed in August. I applied to SNHU to finish my degree, and started first term yesterday. I have to complete 17 classes to graduate, including some utterly rubbish freshman level courses (English Comp I? Really?). Hopefully I can finish in about 1.5 years, depending on fin aid. Beyond university, the only real new thing I’ve done in terms of goals is to continue my push to run, with a new one-mile PR on Aug 3rd. Of course, it’s been triple digits since then and so running is mostly on hold until we get some relief, but it’s still a fun thing to note!

Interesting developments in health this month. First, I seem to have discovered a mild allergy to peanuts, which was at least partially contributing to my anosmia issue. I have further tests to do – including the possibility of co-existing allergies – but it’s exciting to have even partial answers! Second, Jason and I both gave blood this month, and with our donation came a free covid antibody test. Both tests came back negative, meaning that either we’ve never had covid (would have been asymptomatic if positive), or we had it so far back that the antibodies are no longer around. Probably the former. Third, I got a new Ninja blender this month in order to make more fruit-and-veggie-packed protein smoothies for after lifting weights. Consequently, I’ve had far more produce in my diet, and far more varied produce, because you can do a lot with smoothies! I still eat non-pureed freggies of course, but this has increased my daily average by about two servings. Fourth, and last, I finally figured out what caused the massive weight gain of 2014-2015, and at least intellectually know what steps I need to take to repair the damage to my body (weight loss hopefully-but-not-necessarily being a side effect to said repairs). More on this in its own dedicated post tomorrow.

We’ve been hit hard the last two months with necessarily house (and related) repairs. In July, our water heater rusted through and began to leak, so we had to repair that (not to mention disassemble the walls around it to do so), and our chest freezer died and had to be replaced. August continued the trend. My car needed a new alternator (and consequently, a new battery) out of the blue, no warning. Just one day, it wouldn’t start. That was a lot of $$$ we hadn’t expected to shell out. Then just this past week, sewer gas began to leak from the master bathroom. We knew the toilet in there wasn’t level and rocked a little, and planned to replace it eventually, but “eventually” became “immediately.”

Other than the car issue, every single repair we’ve had to make over the last two months has been on an item we knew was old and about to go. We have a list, and our hope was to limp things along as long as possible while we dealt with older debts first. But at the rate that things are toppling, and with interest rates as low as they are right now, we’ve decided to look into a home equity loan. It’ll be another monthly expense, but it’ll allow us to replace several of the major things that we know could go at any time. The a/c system is the big one. It’s likely going to cost around $12k to replace, and both the internal and external units are on their last legs. We flat-out have no way to pay that in an emergency situation, so we want to get ahead of it, even if that means new debt. We’re in the process of obtaining a quote for that, and hope to use the rest of our home equity loan to replace the carpets – which are so old/gross that they’re literally making the cats sick – and the windows (at least the ones that get full sunlight all afternoon, making it an inferno in some rooms over the summer). Wish us luck in September!

I haven’t had this section in my monthly wrap-ups before, but school was a major issue of August. Laurence went back to school on the 17th, all virtual, and we’ve put him on the “stay virtual” list for at least the fall semester. Our internet isn’t the best – the choices around here are all smaller speeds because better cables/etc haven’t been installed in this part of the neighborhood – but he’s making it work as much as possible. Morrigan is back up at KU and began his half-virtual classes on the 24th. We have no idea how long that will last, and we can just encourage him to do everything he can to prevent exposure to covid.

Ambrose was also supposed to start his (virtual) classes at a local community college on the 24th, but there were problems with his counselor (first one had a family emergency and left, second one inherited the case load and took days to respond to each inquiry…) and despite a month of attempts to get scheduled, he didn’t have any classes on the 24th. He finally was able to speak to someone on the 26th, and will be in “accelerated” classes starting in October (basically, a semester stuffed into half-a-semester). Last but not least, I began my classes (English Comp I and Sociology of Social Problems) yesterday. Full time at SNHU is two classes per eight-week term, and I have my schedule set for the next few terms.

Highlights of August
With all the stress of this month, here are the few highlights that kept us going in the Gignacery!

  • new one-mile PR on 8/3 of 15:01
  • 30 Days of Terror from Real Life Ghost Stories Podcast!!!
  • we created our cat scratch wall!
  • I have a new runner’s board for medals, bibs, motivation, etc
  • new running shoes
  • the cover of the upcoming Rhythm of War release was revealed!
  • Zooming with Oisin
  • book club first book discussion
  • first time alone in the house since March! Only 90 mins but it was amazing all the same
  • wild lilies popping up in the yard

Coming up in September
Hikes are resuming! With the numbers decreasing and leveling off here, my hiking group feels comfortable opening up small, masked hikes again. I host my first one next week, assuming we’re no longer in a major heat advisory! Now let’s just hope the numbers STAY low so we can keep going rather than having to cancel all of them after two weeks again! Beyond that, September will involve pretending it’s fall outside (maybe a few whiffs or hints of upcoming fall weather?), lots of RIP reading, school stuff, some overdue medical appointments, Halloween decorating, and hopefully planned instead of emergency house-drama!

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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