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Month 10: We’re Still Alive! (Mostly)

Sorry we’ve been a bit quiet lately. Both Brady and I have been going round and round with what feels like bronchitis or pneumonia, so we haven’t been out having adventures or doing much of anything right now.

We had a modest party planned for Brady’s 50th birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRADY!!), but he was so sick, we had to cancel it. It wasn’t much, just a small gathering of friends at our local pub, but the morning of, he just still wasn’t feeling well enough to risk getting our entire friend group sick, so we had to cancel. We’re working on a rescheduled date, once we’re both 100% better, and when we don’t have friends in from out of town (which, of course, we do this week.)

Brady’s version was a very wet cough that had him throwing up, so he had almost no appetite for weeks. Mine is a dry, hacking cough that’s been so bad, I might have pulled a muscle in my abdomen.

In addition to whatever ups and downs we may have already had, feeling like shit hasn’t helped, and the weather has been pretty awful – expected for this time of year. Rainy and cold is pretty standard for winter/spring in Lisbon, so while it’s not unexpected, it’s still a drag. Honestly, it wasn’t a whole lot better in San Diego, so it is what it is.

But, we both actually showered yesterday, and spent more than 30 minutes awake at any given time, so I consider that progress. I even shaved!

Progress: Stuff we Bought

We finally got around to purchasing a few things in the past months, some of which were just “things we missed and wanted”, and some were more necessary:

A bigger TV. (the one our furnished apartment came with was smaller than my old computer monitor in the states, and I actually couldn’t read any of the subtitles on it.)

A nail gel UV lamp. This one’s just for me (unless Brady tells me otherwise), but it’s a small thing that saves me time and money and makes me feel less gross. I used to do my own nails all the time back in the states, and not having to carve out an hour and a half (including commute) to have my nails not look like shit is worth the tiny amount of money I paid for the LED lamp. I did unfortunately learn that the base and no-wipe top coat are so sensitive to UV light that they start curing with the slightest bit of sunlight from the window, so I also had to get a desk lamp. 🙁

A real office chair for me. I spend more time working in the actual office than Brady does, and my neck and shoulders were killing me, so for Christmas/birthday, he got me a secretlabs gaming chair. Overall, I love it, but I’m juuuuust short enough that the magnetic neck pillow won’t stick if I put it exactly where I want it. I see some duct tape in my future. 😉

A vacuum. I’ve mentioned this in my Go to the Damn Mall post, but my mental health relies a lot on how tidy my space is – which is hilarious if you’ve ever stopped by unannounced, since I don’t keep a super tidy house, but when the chaos gets to be too much, a beaker flips in my head and I get very unpleasant to be around until it’s fixed.

Plants. It’s stupid, I know, but I used to love gardening, and I’ve quite missed it since moving here. It’s nice to have some green in the house and I’ve managed to keep most of them alive. The ones my cat has not eaten, anyway. (Much better since I picked up some bitter apple spray though.)

An Xbox. This is just pure creature comfort, but one of the things Brady and I used to do together to decompress after work when we lived in the states was play video games.

An Instantpot. I still haven’t actually used it yet, since my luck with online grocery shopping has been meh at best so I never have all the materials to make the things I want to make. Our local supermarket store is a Pingo Doce, which is a common chain here, but for some reason, half of my order gets refunded because they can’t find (or don’t actually have) what I selected from the website. Unfortunately, this sometimes means wasted food, since half of the ingredients I might have bought were relying on that one thing they didn’t have, so now I have all of the alt-mats but not the primary ingredient. I try to do my best to not waste that food, but it’s pretty frustrating, especially with our tiny European fridge/freezer. We’ll figure it out eventually.

At the mall I mentioned, there is a massive supermarket chain called Continente, which is great, but it’s so huge it’s actually a bit overwhelming, and it’s a half-hour train each way. Navigating a crowded metro full of irritated commuters with 5 bags of groceries is not fun, as any New Yorker can tell you. Your arms get tired, people get pissed at you, it’s just crappy.

Next time we go, which might be later today or possibly Wednesday, I’ll at least try to tackle one single recipe from my Instantpot list to get a better lay of the land. It seemed pretty pointless when Brady was still not eating much, but since he seems a bit on the mend, this week seems a good time to try that experiment.

Progress: Stuff we Accomplished

Because we spend so much time working (and such incredibly awkward hours when doing so) and we both have sometimes-crippling ADHD, we don’t have a ton of time (or focus) during the week to take care of things that other humans with better (any?) executive function would have already had handled months ago.

But we’re gonna take the wins where we can, so here’s what we’ve gotten done in the past few weeks:

  • VOTED in the U.S. Primaries! You bet your ass we did, and we will for as long as we’re legal citizens of the United States. The CA Absentee Voting process was both surprisingly manual (you send your absentee application info to an email address) and yet very well done. As soon as our votes were counted, we received a notification from BallotTrax letting us know. There’s a great resource for U.S. Democrats who need to vote from abroad available here. (There’s probably a version for other parties as well. I’m sure you can Google for that.)
  • Got our permanent SNS (Serviço Nacional de Saúde) status! While we have private health insurance through our jobs, this puts us into the public option as well. Both have their uses, depending on what you need and how long you’re able to wait, so being part of the public system is a huge relief.
  • Optometrist appointment (note: we have not yet actually picked up our glasses, but if we’re not still plague-ridden, that should happen this week)
  • Root canal 🙁
  • Brady successfully renewed his U.S. passport! (This is HUGE. He has a trip back to the states in a few months, so this was a gigantic point of waiting-on-the-process stress that’s been looming.)
  • Started the process of shopping around for mortgages. They ask for bonkers amounts of paperwork (shocker, that), but the ball is at least moving to let us know what our monthly expenses would be if we decided to buy something here.
  • Started the process to get our Portuguese licenses. This is, unfortunately, not going as seamlessly as we had hoped, at Portugal will not accept the version of our driving record that you can order off the website, and instead need something “certified”. Best I can imagine, they want something apostilled, but given that we don’t live in CA anymore, I’m not exactly sure how that would even work. Fortunately, we can drive on our U.S. licenses for a bit here, but I’d still rather fix that issue.

Not Yet In-Progress: Stuff we Still Need to Handle

This part is always a bit of a drag to revisit – it seems like such a huge amount of things we still need to handle and we’ve already been here TEN FREAKING MONTHS. I consider us to be pretty decent at adulting, and this list does keep getting shorter every month, but it’s still kind of depressing how much shit there is still left to do just to be “regular” people.

  • Get a veterinarian/groomer for the girls. Their nails are way too long, and they’re about to be due for shots and stuff. I don’t know of any nearby vets, so I think we’re going to have to try the Uber for Pets option here. Both dogs are freaks, and the cat carrier is still in the storage unit, but we’ll figure it out.
  • Look at apartments if we decide not to buy. They’re unfortunately selling our apartment at the end of our lease, and I’d really rather not be moving under duress and have them bringing people to look at the place while we’re trying to move, where we have to get the animals out of the house, clean the house for the photographers, etc. It’s always a nightmare, so I’d much rather have another rental or a mortgage standing by.
  • Get real doctor’s appointments. I’m almost out of my meds, Brady’s out of his, and we both haven’t had a general checkup since before the pandemic started. I haven’t had a mammogram, a pap-smear, nothing, in over 4 years. We did at least do the colo-rectal cancer screenings during lockdown, since they sent those by mail, but suffice to say, we’re way overdue, and with me at 48 and Brady at 50, we need to get on this stuff. This isn’t us failing at Lisbon, this is us failing at peopling, as we’ve always been bad at making appointments for these things.
  • Find a consistent barber/hairdresser. I think Brady liked the guy he went to okay, and for whoever does my hair most of the time, a barber will work for me too (assuming they’re not sexist fucksticks), but my color is a whole-ass hours-long process. I liked the lady I used last time, but she was a bit bleach-shy, and the colors she used faded weird, so I have to ask her if I can bring my own. We’ve been coloring it ourselves since then, and friends, it shows.
  • Actually rent a car. If we want to travel with the animals (versus finding a pet-sitter or pet hotel for all three of them), we’re eventually going to have to pull this band-aid off. We’re both terrified of driving here, but it’s something we’re just going to have to push through. Of the two of us, I’m the better driver, but even then, the tiny, windy Alfama streets are enough to scare the shit out of a New York City cab driver.

Wow, in writing all of this out, I realize we actually got a lot done in the past few months! Holy crap! Go us!

It can be hard to see how much you’ve gotten done when all you can see if the daily grind of work and the ominous cloud of things you still have to get done, but it’s not actually as bad as I thought.

Thanks for sticking with us on this journey!

Até breve,
Alison (aka “snipe”)

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1 Comment

  • Andra Miller
    Andra Miller
    April 8, 2024 at 8:14 pm

    Alison, this is a great progress report! So many challenges, yet so much squared away! You two have gotten through stuff I find nearly impossible, but knowing you and how you work your way through things I have no doubt all will be well. Hope you find a terrific apartment and a neat car on your continuing progress to prevail! — Andra and Mother and Andy, etc.


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